Sheki, a picturesque city nestled in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan, is renowned for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. For those considering things to do in Sheki, exploring the Sheki Khan’s Palace, famous for its intricate stained glass windows, and visiting the ancient Albanian church in the village of Kish, are top activities.
The city’s bustling bazaar offers a lively atmosphere, with vendors selling local handicrafts, textiles, and fresh produce. Nearby, the Sheki Fortress provides a glimpse into the city’s past, with its well-preserved walls and towers.
Beyond its historical and cultural attractions, Sheki is also known for its culinary delights, with numerous restaurants serving traditional Azerbaijani dishes, including the sweet dessert halva. For those seeking the best places to visit in Azerbaijan, Sheki’s blend of natural beauty, historical significance, and gastronomic adventures makes it a captivating destination.
Table of Contents
Attractions & Things to Do in Sheki, Azerbaijan
1. Sheki Khan’s Palace
Sheki Khan’s Palace is an exquisite example of Azerbaijani architecture, filled with intricate Islamic patterns and colorful mosaics. Built in the 18th century as a summer residence for the Khan of Sheki, the palace sits within the historic fortress walls of the town.
Travel Tip: Photography inside the palace is often restricted; however, you can take pictures of the stunning exterior and the beautiful garden settings.
2. Sheki Karavansaray
The Sheki Karavansaray was a historical roadside inn that catered to travelers on the Silk Road, offering them a safe haven. Now restored, visitors can explore the structure and even stay overnight in what once was a bustling center for merchants.
Travel Tip: Consider dining in the restaurant here to experience the ambiance of the caravanserai at night.
3. Church of Kish
Located just outside Sheki in the village of Kish, the Church of Kish is said to be one of the oldest Christian churches in the Caucasus, dating back to the 1st century A.D. The church and its surrounding cemetery have a quiet and reflective atmosphere.
Travel Tip: Visit the small museum next to the church to learn more about the archaeological findings from the area.
4. Sheki Bazaar
The Sheki Bazaar is a vibrant market where locals sell fruits, vegetables, spices, sweets, and the renowned Sheki halva. It’s a great place to witness local life and try some regional delicacies.
Travel Tip: Don’t hesitate to chat with the vendors and sample the products; you might leave with some unique spices or snacks.
5. Sheki Fortress
The Sheki Fortress is a historic fortification that has protected the city for centuries. Within its walls, you can find the Sheki Khan’s Palace and other significant buildings.
Travel Tip: Walking around the fortress walls gives you a sense of the city’s past strategic importance and offers excellent views of Sheki.
6. Albanian Museum in Sheki
This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of the Caucasian Albanians, an ancient people who once inhabited parts of Azerbaijan. The museum is housed in a beautifully reconstructed church.
Travel Tip: Take a guided tour to better understand the complex history and artifacts displayed here.
7. Silk Factory
Sheki has a long history of silk production, and at the Silk Factory, you can learn about the silk-making process and the importance of the silk trade to the region.
Travel Tip: Be sure to visit the factory shop where you can purchase authentic silk scarves and other products made on-site.
8. Seven Beauties Waterfall
A bit outside of Sheki, the Seven Beauties Waterfall (Yeddi Gozel Waterfall) is nestled in the Caucasus Mountains and offers a scenic spot for picnics and relaxation.
Travel Tip: The hike to the waterfall can be steep, so wear good walking shoes and bring water for the trip.
FAQ About Things to Do in Sheki, Azerbaijan
What are the must-visit historical sites in Sheki?
Sheki is home to several historical sites, including the Sheki Khan’s Palace with its magnificent frescoes and stained glass, the ancient fortress walls, and the Caravanserai, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich Silk Road history.
Can visitors explore the Sheki Khans’ Palace?
Yes, visitors can explore the Sheki Khans’ Palace. It’s known for its intricate architectural details and ornate decoration. The palace is a testament to the craftsmanship of the 18th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Are there any natural attractions near Sheki?
Absolutely, the Greater Caucasus mountains provide a stunning backdrop to Sheki, with opportunities for hiking and exploring the lush greenery. The Kish Albanian Church is also nestled in a scenic location nearby, which is a great spot for those interested in both nature and history.
What local Azerbaijani dishes should I try in Sheki?
In Sheki, be sure to try piti, a hearty stew cooked in a terracotta pot, and Sheki halva, a sweet delicacy made from rice flour, nuts, and syrup. Both are integral to the local cuisine and offer a taste of the region’s flavors.
Is there a market in Sheki where I can buy local crafts?
Yes, Sheki has a charming market where you can buy traditional handicrafts like Shebeke, stained glass work, and embroidery. The market is also a good place to sample local foods and interact with the friendly residents.
What activities are available for adventure seekers in Sheki?
For adventure enthusiasts, Sheki offers activities like horseback riding, trekking in the Caucasus mountains, and exploring the numerous waterfalls and rivers in the region. The varied terrain provides a thrilling experience for all.
Are there any cultural events or festivals in Sheki?
Sheki is famous for its cultural events, such as the Sheki Silk Festival, which celebrates the city’s silk-making tradition, and various folk music and dance performances that take place throughout the year, showcasing the city’s rich cultural heritage.
Can tourists visit local workshops to see Sheki crafts being made?
Certainly! Many workshops in Sheki are open to tourists. You can witness the art of Shebeke craft-making, pottery, or sweet-making, providing an authentic look at the city’s traditional arts and crafts.