Lahij, one of the oldest settlements in Azerbaijan, lies deep in the southern foothills of the Great Caucasus on the slopes of the Niyal mountain range. The barren surroundings of the village, 1,200 to 1,500 metres above sea level, are not particularly fertile, which is why the locals had to find alternatives to agriculture early on in order to secure their income. And so Lahij developed more and more into a centre of craftsmanship.
Living open-air museum
The village is also an example of the early urbanisation of the country. Lahij is home to historic buildings such as mosques and hammams, paved streets and squares, and a unique sewage system.
Being more than 1,000 years old, it is one of the oldest sewer systems in the world. The houses, the streets and even the sewage system were all built with river stones found in the area. Today, Lahij actually is an open-air museum filled with life.
That's the oldest existing house in Lahij.
Every craftsman has his own village square
The fact that the Lahij village is divided into the three parts Baadvan, Asavarro and Araghird is also exciting. Each of the three parts has its own craftsmanship and has its own village square, mosque, cemetery and hammam.
The most famous craftsmen from Lahij are the copper workers. Artefacts from the village are exhibited in numerous museums in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Europe and still fascinate today. The second most important branch of the craftsmen's village is leather processing. Shoes, belts, jackets and book covers from Lahij were appreciated far and wide.
Today, there is only a handful of companies in Lahij that process copper by hand. What can still be bought are the containers called «Guyum», which can be used to fetch water. Running water has only been available in Lahij for about 10 years. Before that, the locals fetched the water directly from the spring.
The processing of copper in Lahij is a matter for men, women have always been responsible for knotting the famous carpets.
Craftsmanship from Lahij.
Although the village is small, you can spend hours strolling along the cobblestone streets and looking at all kinds of crafts in the various studios, workshops and shops. Carpets, plates, cups, glasses, swords, knives and much more are on offer. Certain objects are nowhere else in the world to be seen, let alone bought. The mountain village of Lahij is unique in many ways.
Hiking on the holy mountain Babadagh
The uniquely beautiful nature in the surroundings of Lahij is ideal for hiking. There is a 7.7km long round trail with only 400 metres of altitude difference, on which you can discover the hills, mountains and forests in the region in a comfortable way. A little more strenuous and spread over several days is the ascent to the mountain Babadagh (3,629m). The bare summit offers a magnificent 360-degree panorama.
The ascent is strenuous, but not technically difficult. In the summer months, numerous pilgrims are on the way to the mountain, which is considered sacred in Azerbaijan.
Private tour to Lahij
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How to get to Lahij
The trip from Baku to Lahic takes three hours (185 km). Just follow the highway M4, which is in a very good condition.
From the Baku International Bus Station there are buses to Lahij nearly every hour (5 AZN). From Ismayilli the buses depart at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. every day (1.20 AZN).
There is no airport around Lahic. From the international airport in Baku it takes 3h 15min by car, from the airport in Ganja it takes 3h 30min to Lahij by car.
Lahij is not connected with the railway system in Azerbaijan.