The district of Gusar has four of the country’s nine climates. These favorable conditions make it possible to establish resorts, recreational zones, and tourism complexes there. With its rich flora and fauna, all conditions are right for ecotourism in Gusar.
Ecological Tourist Routes
The ecological routes can be divided into three directions.
In this area, there is a forest called Alistan Baba boasting seven square kilometers of greenery. In the villages situated along the road, you can buy embroidered cloth, wood engravings, and famous Sumakh carpets.
This route stretches along the Samur River. Here you can buy handicrafts, watch the national customs and traditions of the local population, as well as performances by wrestlers, and closely familiarize yourself with the lifestyle and folklore of the Lezgins. The Samur River is one of the boundaries between Russia and Azerbaijan. It is worth seeing some of the villages in this area such as:
Sudur - located 1,800 meters above sea level, at the foothills of Mount Shahdag offers fascinating scenery of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Hil - a village famous for its 19th-century mosque, is listed as a historical monument of national importance. The place-name is related to the word “Gil,” which means “clay” in English.
Hazra - an ancient village famous for the Mausoleum of Sheikh Juneyd, one of the most important historical-architectural monuments in Gusar. Sheikh Juneyd of Ardabil was the grandfather of Shah Ismail I (the founder of the Safavid dynasty). He perished in the battlefield with the Shirvanshah’s army in 1456. According to the inscription on the façade of the monument, the mausoleum was built in 1544.
The village of Hazra is also famed for its wrestlers. Local wrestling performances are amongst the most popular examples of Azerbaijani folklore. Sometimes one can see wrestlers practicing their skills in the village.
Yuxarı Tahircal - a mountain village with wonderful scenery and difficult roads. The population is engaged in beekeeping and the forests that surround the village are known for their fruit trees, especially wild apple trees.
The road along this route is covered by shells and stones. As you travel, you may come across many more places of interest, such as the following:
Anigh - The Anigh Castle Walls in Anigh village date back to the ninth century and were of strategic importance in the Middle Ages in defending the village from Arab raids. Still standing to this day, the walls of the fortress stand at 9.3 meters tall and 2 meters wide.
Mahalin Taji (or Taj Mahal of Gusar) – Anigh has a long-standing tradition of building luxurious and fashionable properties and this mosque, located in the village center, is no exception. It is believed that the person who built this mosque visited the Taj Mahal during his trip to India and liked it so much that he decided to build a similar mosque. It is believed that the mosque, which was built from raw bricks, is over 300 years old. On the walls are pictures drawn with paints made from natural vegetable roots and although the pictures on the walls have never been renewed, their colors still draw attention.
Laza - situated in a valley among the mountains and consists of two parts separated by a mountain between the Gusar and Gabala regions. The village is in the foothills of the Great Caucasus Ridge, on the slopes of Mount Shahdag (4.242 meters) and the Sah Yaylagi Peak, and can be found on caravan routes passing through the Main Caucasus. The most famous attractions in the village are a 300-year-old mosque, Haji Seyid Baba shrine, Tsar’s cave, and the old stone bridge Qonchi-Myux over the Qusarchay River.
Suvar - a place in a mountainous area within two kilometers from Laza, is the highest holiday destination and tourist base in Azerbaijan. Located at the foothills of Shahdag, Suvar is open all year round and is suitable for camping, picnics and winter activities. Tourists can visit the 3,000-meter-high Sakh plateau, the Shahnabat plateau, as well as climb the 3,751-meter-high Heydar Aliyev peak in the Qizilqaya area.
Situated at a height of about 2,000 meters, the Twin (Gosha) waterfalls are yet another beautiful spot in this area. Local waterfalls have one typical feature; they freeze in winter, and professional mountain climbers hold contests to conquer these waterfalls. Other waterfalls include; the Shahnabat, Laza, and Afurja waterfalls.
ETHNOGRAPHIC TOURISM IN GUSAR AND GUBA
The northern regions of Azerbaijan are famous for their works of art, handicrafts, metal, embroidery art, and, of course, carpets.
CARPETS AND RUGS
Carpet weaving is one of the most ancient types of folklore. There are different types of this art in Azerbaijan and the first samples of carpet weaving in Azerbaijan date back to the ninth century. The Chichi, Aggul, and Pirabadil carpets woven in this region are Azerbaijan’s best carpets and the Qollu Chichi carpet, woven in 1712, is exhibited in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art! Those who intend to see the authentic carpet-making process or wish to buy a carpet should visit carpet centers working in the district.
Copperwork is another old tradition preserved in the region. There are many workshops located close to one another where local craftsmen sell their handmade products.
Khinalig is a must-see for any traveler coming through Azerbaijan. Isolated from the outside world for thousands of years, this village of roughly 1,200 inhabitants has preserved its own unique language and way of life for generations. The village, which has been included on the UNESCO list of world historical monuments, resembles a museum in the open air.
The village called, “an island in the mountains,” is only 65 kilometers from the district center yet local residents have maintained their customs, traditions, and national costume and stand out for their external appearance. Houses built from river stones climb the mountain resembling and have primitive living conditions compared to other residences in this area. The Khinalig people have a completely independent language not belonging to any language family - only the locals speak and understand this language. Local residents often take tourists around in their own vehicles.
RED TOWN (KRASNAYA SLOBODA)
Red Town is the oldest Jewish settlement dating back to the 13th century. There are 13 synagogues in the area. The Jewish population retains their traditions and welcomes all tourists who come to visit the area. Call themselves Chugurs locals are very welcoming and are usually happy to speak to tourists and tell them about their culture, traditions, and history. They speak in Hebrew as well as in Azeri and Russian.
In the central part of Gusar, there is bazaar where people sell goods from different regions as well as fresh fruits, dried fruits and vegetables from their own fields. The prices are very affordable and one can purchase homemade jams, pickles, and many other local delicacies.