After breakfast at your hotel in Sheki, we will start the Sheki Sightseeing Tour. Visit the Upper Town, the magnificent Palace of Sheki Khans and the Craft Museum. Built in 1797 as a summer residence for Muhammad Hasan Khan, the Palace of Sheki Khans is a masterpiece of lavish decoration. Both the exterior and interior decorations of the palace embody the architectural glamor of the ancient Sheki Khanate. In 1998, the Palace of Sheki Khans was nominated for the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. See the majestic wooden Khan’s Palace, built without a single nail and filled with some of the most impressive stained glass and Islamic miniaturist fresco work in the world today. Making this fact even more incredible are the windows colored yellow, red and blue demand a closer inspection and makes. The light coming in is mesmerizing and perfect. Individual windows with each square meter consisting of 14,000 little pieces of handcrafted wood and over 5000 pieces of colored glass. Inside there are six rooms, each with their different original purpose and intricate design. Not one inch is missed with fine detail. The ground floor has a grand reception room, a rainbow of colors hits you immediately. Thousands upon thousands of images, floral to symbols of culture. Even when you look up the mind goes into awe with the shapes and detail. Mirrors perfectly placed to capture the colored light coming in. Looking at the palace from the front you cannot miss the great big sycamore trees just in front to the left and right. Dating back as old as approx 1530 they have enabled the palace to stay standing through wind, storm, and earthquakes. Also on the grounds of the summer palace, you will find a few small museums and an arts and crafts souvenir shop. The museum housed inside the old Albanian Church displays a nice collection of textiles, carpets, and embroidery from Sheki and surrounding villages.
Continuing on your expedition around Sheki, we will visit the Upper Caravanserai, an architectural monument. It's a renovated caravanserai that housed traders, their goods and camels during the 18th and 19th centuries. For centuries, Sheki has been famous for its Caravanserais, hotels offering lodging and food for traders, travelers and merchants passing through. While modern times have seen the Caravanserais fall out of use, one in Sheki is still in operation, serving travelers from across the world as it has done for centuries. The Caravanserai was built to allow the animals to be sheltered, fed and watered on the lower floor of the courtyard, while the travelers and traders stayed on the upper balconies. Today the lower floors have all been turned into lodgings too.
Following the tour, visit a small village of Kish to enjoy a wonderful panorama of the ruins of an ancient Albanian church and the surrounding nature. The Albanian church at Kish, home to one of the oldest Christian churches in the world, thought by many to be the very first Christian church, as mentioned by St Paul in the New Testament. The Albanians (no relation to the European country of Albania) were one of the first Christian civilizations and ruled this part of the Caucasus until around the 5th century AD.
Now it is time for lunch. Piti is a traditional Azerbaijani dish - which is something of a local specialty, that you are able to try it. Piti is a chunky, aromatic stew of meat (chicken or veal), chickpeas, vegetables, and a bunch of other unidentifiable ingredients. The stew is quite fatty (sometimes with chunks of lard on top) and some pitis has a single apricot added to the mix. It is traditionally served in a small earthenware pot with lots of bread on the side. Eating piti is a bit of an art. First, tear your bread into small pieces into an empty bowl. Using the back of your spoon to keep the chunky bits in the pot, pour the piti liquid over the bread. Sprinkle with sumac and eat the sodden bread/soup as your first course. Next, you smash the remaining piti stew into a chunky paste using a special wooden pestle. (The waiter might step in at this point to help you.) Once you've finished the soup and smashed the stew, transfer it to your bowl to eat as a second course.
After the lunch, you will visit Shebeke craft workshop, Sheki Bazaar, and the local sweet bakery. You can also try the famous Sheki baklava. This sweet is much known in Azerbaijan, even not only in Azerbaijan but also in other bordering regions. Shaki baklava is the pride of Shaki population, this is a sweet, which every guest coming to Azerbaijan, has to taste. Many people say that you have to see a master cooking it, to feel this sweet. The very thin pastries on the bottom and on the top of it make it crispy, a thick layer of blended nuts inside makes it soft. It’s very difficult to cook it, and even in Azerbaijan, not every confectionery is good at it. The best option to buy the Shaki baklava is to buy it from its motherland: Shaki.
After a long day delving into the many treasures of Sheki, come back at your accommodation to wind down for a while. Then get ready for dinner in one of the best local restaurants. Before you make the return trip to your accommodation for the night, enjoy the local food, as you like.
Departure to Baku