One of the most ancient cities of Azerbaijan, Sheki is rightly called the architectural reserve of the country. Of particular interest to the tourists from all over the world is the Palace of Sheki Khans (1762) – a rare example of combining the national and palace architecture traditions. It is remarkable that during the construction of the palace, not a single nail was used, and the colored glass for shebeke (national mosaic) was brought from Venice.
There are many interesting historical monuments in Sheki. To the north of the city there are the ruins of the once impregnable fortress "Gelersan – gerarsan" (“come and see“) dated by the XV-XVIII centuries. There were many caravanserais in Sheki, which was famous for its trade. Two of them are still here today; the Upper and the Lower Caravanserais, both built in the XVIII century. Not to mention the Albanian temple in the village of Kish (I-II centuries), where the famous Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl has repeatedly researched, as evidenced here by the mounted bust of the traveler.
Finally, Sheki is also famous for its mouth melting baklava, soup piti (stew with vegetables in a clay pot), and the sense of humor of its people. Due to their sense of humor, the city is twinned with the city Gabrovo in Bulgaria.
Sheki district is one of the most interesting, original and beautiful regions of Azerbaijan. The administrative center - the city of Sheki – is one of the most ancient cities of Azerbaijan and is located on the picturesque hillsides of the Caucasus Mountains in the background of snowy peaks.
Sheki is rightly called the architectural reserve of the country. Of particular interest to visitors is the palace of the Sheki Khans (1762) – a rare example of a combination of national architecture and traditions of palace architecture. You can hardly find the second palace like this by the design and interior decoration. It is known that during the construction of the palace a single nail was not used. Mosaic in there is made in traditional style Shebeke (colored glass decoration).
The old house resembling a small copy of the Palace of Sheki Khans is also of interest. The paintings on the walls there painted in oils, exquisite stained glass (shebeke) on the windows are of particular value. The central hall of the house is decorated by fireplace with calligraphic inscriptions with the wishes of happiness and well-being to this house.
Many other historical monuments were also preserved in Sheki district. To the north from Sheki near the Kish village are ruins of once mighty fortress “Gelersan – Gerarsan” (“You will come and see”). For years the fortress was impregnable to enemies and guarded the approaches to the city.
Upper and Lower caravanserais built in the XVIII century also survived to the present days. The dome of the upper caravanserai is one of the largest in the Middle East. Also the Albanian temple in the village of Kish (I-II centuries) can be noted. The temple is located on the bank of the river Kish and is built of large hewn stones called “shirima”. Temple in Orta Zayzid village (VI-VII centuries) is also built of this stone. The fortress called Maiden Tower and located in Kish village belongs to VI-V centuries. In addition should be noted the Chavur Tower (VI century), the minaret of the mosque Gileyli (IV-V centuries), the house-museum of M. F. Akhundov in Shaki, medieval tower Shinaz in the Shin village, many mosques built in the XIX century in the various villages of the district
Sheki is a sister city of the Bulgarian city Gabrovo. Residents of these cities have a lot in common, especially when it comes to a sense of humor and ability to tell jokes. There is Sheki’s theatre of laugh with summer and winter grounds in the ancient caravanserai.
Several crafts are still supported in Sheki. The city still has street names that indicate the ancient professions – Duluzchular (potters), Zargarlar (jewelers), Halvachylar (confectioners), etc. By the way, be sure to try the famous, mouth-watering Sheki baklava, which is manufactured and sold in numerous family confectionary stores in the city center.
By the way, you can stay in Sheki not only in modern hotels but also at “Sheki-Karvansaray” built in the 18th century as a place to sleep on the Great Silk Road.
Hotel – museum attracts tourists as the second most important attraction of the city after the Khan’s palace. Caravanserai still has its form of a castle with heavy gates. Here are retail shops and hotel rooms placed around the courtyard with a shallow pool. In the hotel restaurant you can taste Sheki specialities: piti (stew with vegetables in a clay pot), baklava, sorbet, etc.
Tourists can stay in the recently renovated and improved Sheki Olympic Complex. The hotel is a two-storey building and in its courtyard are also one and two-storey cottages. The hotel and cottages are well decorated and equipped with central air conditioning and ventilation. It has an indoor swimming pool, billiards, table tennis, tennis, sauna, water park, game room for kids, etc. The quality and range of services are fully comply with 5-star accommodation.
A horse tourism – travelling on horseback also can be considered as a cognitive and healthy. There are all opportunities for it in Sheki: the Republican Center of Equestrian Tourism at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan is located in one of the most beautiful places in Sheki region - the village of Dashyuz.
Several breeds are bred in the Center – Arabian horses, English Riding, German Trakhener, Akhal-Teke (Turkmen) – a total of 45 head. Horseback riders come to Sheki from all parts of republic and from other countries.
In the Center twice a year – in December and May are held competitions in Azerbaijani national game “Chovgan” (an ancient analog of the European polo) which attract teams from 16 regions of the country. Besides it there are held demonstrations in other horse games – “Sur Papag” (goal – to throw a hat into the basket), “Papag Oyunu” (goal – to disrupt hat from the opponent), wrestling on horseback (goal –to throw the opponent off the horse).
Tourists are given an opportunity not only to observe the games but also to take part in them. Before that they can be trained by an experienced coach or just simply ride a horse.
For more fun the Center has developed several (more than seven) one and two-days routes of travel to different parts of Sheki during which visitors can get acquainted with the rich nature and magnificent historical sites having a long history.
Riding the horse and accompanied by instructors guests can enjoy the surrounding beauty, views of ancient Albanian churches, fortress Gelersen-Geresen, medieval tower Shinaz and many other outstanding monuments of architecture.