Lahıc, a village in the slopes of the Greater Caucasus, is a world in itself – mainly because of its architecture and its still active copper smiths whose hammering in the main street is the local music during the whole day.
With a car it is an about three hours ride that leads, after Absheron is left behind, first through green steppe, then through lush hills with many fruit stalls on its way and finally on a long and winding road, partly cut into steep rock walls, up to Lahıc. Chances are that you encounter sheep or cattle herds – and it seems that the animals take it with more patience than the drivers.
At the entrance to Lahıc is the paradise garden, a restaurant and basic accommodation within an extant orchard and meadows. A perfect place to have Azerbaijani breakfast with tendir bread, honey and qaymaq, a type of thick cream.
From there the road towards the village turns around a curve and then Lahıc is laid out. What I find most striking is the resemblance from the distance to mountain villages in the Alps and where I would expect a steeple is the minaret of the central mosque.
The main street has most of the stores and workshops and displays the typical architecture. The cobble street is built with rather large stones from the nearby river. The river provides also the stones for the buildings. The layers of stones are intersected with thin layers of wood that serve as buffers in case of an earthquake, a threat people live with since long times.
Nowadays the first have of the street hosts mainly the remaining few smith workshops and tourist shops, while the second half is much more quiet and has more shops for local people and smith working on daily tools. Narrow lanes lead up the hill to other parts of the village and the local museum with displays of the long history of Lahıc. From the higher lying parts one can enjoy stunning views over the roofs of the village to the mountains and their rock formations.
Back in the main street it is time to visit the shops. First let’s watch the copper smiths at their work and admire their handicraft. Certainly the smiths are used to tourists and their habit of taking pictures. They continue their work unimpressed by the foreigners. Some also use their little English to convince the potential customer of their work by explaining the long history of their shop going to the father’s father and his father and …