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Ganja Azerbaijan – City of Treasures

With a world full of fascinating destinations, choosing the perfect place to vacation can present a challenge.  But, if you want to dive into the history and architecture then Ganja is the very place to visit.
Ganja, the second largest city of Azerbaijan, will be the perfect gift for history lovers. The city is located at the foot of the Minor Caucasian Ridge, on the Gjandzhachaj river.
The city was founded approximately in the 6th AD. Later it was destroyed by Persians and then by Arabs. In the mid-10th century Ganja became the capital of Shadadit – one of a smaller khanates on the territory of Azerbaijan.
In the mid-11th century Ganja was conquered by Seljuks, the ruling family of the Oguz Turkic tribes. In the 12th-13th centuries, Ganja became the second capital of Atabek state. In the 18th century Ganja became the center of Ganja Khanate.
Ganja was also the capital of Azerbaijan, when the country first declared its independence in 1918, thus playing a leading role in the history of the country.
During centuries-old history the city became the owner of numerous historical and architectural monuments with strongly pronounced Azerbaijan national color.
The word ‘Ganja’ means a treasury or a warehouse in Persian. Because of the city’s geographical relief, the word is also interpreted as “spacious”.  Legend says that Ganja was founded in the area where a traveler discovered immense treasure – pots full of gold and precious stones.
Today ‘Ganja’ is rightly regarded as a city with a rich culture and a historical and natural heritage. Here you will find mountains, dense forests, ancient vineyards, beautiful lakes and rivers.
The city also takes pride in the fact that the greatest Azerbaijani poet, Nizami Ganjavi, was born here. His mausoleum is the major tourist attraction. Any tourist visiting Ganja would be fascinated by the mausoleum and monument to the great poet, who made an inestimable contribution to the history of world literature.
The city’s main historical monument is the Sheikh Bahauddin Complex, dated 1606, which comprises an architectural-historical complex including the Djuma mosque (the mosque of Shah Abbas), Cekak-hamam (a medieval bath) and a caravanserai.
Djuma Mosque was constructed in the 12th century (1606) in the days of Shah Abbas whose name is also attributed to the mosque – the pride of Ganja.
The red brick mosque consists of the hall for prayers divided into two rooms (for men and women) and smaller adjacent rooms. The mosque’s windows are decorated with patterned lattices-shebeke. The mosque’s roof is a huge metal dome of 17 meters in diameter.
Soon after the mosque was ready Sheikh Bahauddin built Cekak-hamam nearby.
The bath consists of two connected halls. The big one has a pool and a fountain in the center for relaxation and the smaller – for bathing. Made of red brick the bath has two big and five smaller domes. Hot in winter, cool in summer the bath was heated by fire wood.
Since 2002 Cekak-hamam has been considered a landmark of international significance and is under protection of UNESCO.
The third subsequent structure of Sheikh Bahauddin complex is the caravanserai. Today the building of medieval caravanserai plays the role of the Temple of knowledge. In the end of the 20th century there was founded Ganja humanitarian college. The caravanserai is a two-storied building with 15 halls and 54 rooms. The building also hosts the museum of a poetess Mesheti Ganjevi.  The tomb of Jawad Khan is a monument to the last ruler of the independent Ganja khanate, who was killed during the capture of Ganja by Russian troops in the early 19th century.
Moreover, the city has several Christian churches that deserve attention. Alexander Nevsky Church was built in 1887. Interestingly, money for the construction of the church was collected by both Orthodox and Muslims of the city and its environs.  Bottle House is a local icon in Ganja. An entire house constructed entirely out of glass is unlike any most will ever see.  The house was built by a local architect, Ibrahim Jafarov, in 1967. The architect decided to build this house in memory of his younger brother and other people, who died during the World War II.
The visit to the city will not be completed without visiting incredible park Khan Baghi. Centuries-old majestic trees of the park create amazing view together with flowers and exotic plants. Green areas are combined with endless paths, neatly paved with red, white and black tiles that cut park up and down, as well as new street lamps, benches, and intricate gazebos.
Ganja is also famous for its nature, namely Goygol Lake and reserve. A large mountain lake surrounded by the mountains of the Lesser Caucasus was formed as a result of a devastating earthquake that destroyed the mountain Kapaz in the 12th century.
The color and clarity of the waters of Goygol Lake, located 1,600 above sea level is striking. The banks of the lake are covered with forests and rich of flora and fauna.
This area is ideal for swimming, walking, travelling, and family picnics. Recreation on the shore of the fresh lake is the best decision on hot days.
Journey to Ganja will give everyone a lot of fun and will remain in the memory of summer!

By Laman Ismayilova


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