Shamakhi

Shamakhi is an ancient Azerbaijan city. It started in the 5th century BC. In the 9 th -16 th centuries it was the capital of Shirvan Empire, a residence of Shirvan Dynasty it is by right considered one of the most beautiful cities of the Orient. In the mid-18 th century it used to be the center of Shamakhi Khanate.
The main landmark of the city is Gulistan fortress (11 th – 12 th centuries) – the last refuge of Shirvan Dynasty built for the city's defense. Equally interesting are the mausoleum of Addy-Gyumbez (“The Seven Domes”) with numerous burial places of Shamakhi governors, Djuma cathedral mosque (10th century, reconstructed in the 19 th century), numerous ruins of the 10 th – 17 th centuries.
Present day Shamakhi is a recognized center of winemaking and carpet weaving. Besides, it is a city of literature since it was the native land of many Azerbaijani poets. Right near Shamakhi there is an amazing place called Pirkuli famous for its snowy hills. It is probably the only place in sunny Azerbaijan where you can enjoy active winter pastime: skiing and snowboarding.

GULISTAN FORTRESS

Long time ago the Gulistan Fortress  was a very powerful structure. Its walls, according to historians, surrounded Shirvan Dynasty Palace when Shamakhi was the capital city. The earliest finds are dated the 9th century. Thus, the age of the fortress is more than one thousand years.
This legendary Gulistan Fortress  was last refuge of Shirvan Dynasty; in the Middle Ages it was repeatedly in the very center of fierce battles for Shirvan. Its walls and towers stood on the way of armies of Arabs, Seljuks, Mongols, and Ottomans. The territory of the fortress was surrounded by powerful walls with numerous round and quadrangular towers.
The winding ran from the lower part of the Gulistan Fortress to the citadel on top of the mountain surrounded by a continuous ring of powerful walls. The fortress has a long secret passage cut through the rock which is 2 m wide and 3 m high. The passage was dug for the purpose of escape. It led to the brook in the gorge. The passage has steps cut in the rock.
The fortress existed until the 16 th century. The structure suffered greatly from numerous earthquakes but its ruins have remained till now. They can be seen from far away as the evidence of rich historical past of the city

DIRI-BABA

On the way from Baku to Shamakhi, there is Maraza village known for its unique monument - two-storied mausoleum-mosque of the 15th century called Diri-Baba, located across from the old cemetery. For a long time, the local residents have kept the legend that there imperishable Saint Diri-Baba had been buried. However, many other legends and mystical details are connected with this landmark. Therefore, since the 17th century, it attracts pilgrims and simply curious visitors. The originality of this structure is that the architect "built" the tomb into rock. The impression is that the tomb is suspended in the air.
The tomb impresses with its severity of architecture, purity of lines on the background of the rough dark rock. The light and smooth surface of its walls look solemn. It is remarkable that the main floor of this structure is the second one. In front of the main hall, there is an anteroom covered with an octahedral.
There the visitors took off their hoes. From the anteroom, you get to a semi-dark staircase leading to the second floor of the tomb. The 15 sq m hall is covered with a spherical dome. On the wall cut in stone is the memorial mentioning Sheikh Ibragim I. The levels are separated by a decorative storey with an inscription that looks like a belt around the building. The mausoleum directly adjoins the rock with a grotto. This is where the actual saint's burial place is. You can get there through the narrow passage in the northern wall.
The architecture of Diri-Baba is in harmony with the picturesque environment - the landscape of rocks and green trees. The building of the mausoleum is a masterpiece of Shirvan architecture school, the beautiful creation of ancient craftsmen. The monument is under the protection of the state.
Diri-Baba tomb does not bear the complete name of the architect; there is only a piece of stone with a part of the inscription “… the son of master Gaji ” and the date of the tomb construction - 1402.

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