Sheki (Şəki; also Seki or Shaki) is Azerbaijan's true travel gem, a small city off on the forested slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Rich in Islamic architecture, Silk Road history, good food, and friendly people, this is travel and leisure in the Caucasus at its finest.
Built hundreds of years ago and recently refurbished, has a 50 person capacity conference room, restaurant, gift shops, and a çay xana (tea house). Hidden inside the corridors alongside the restaurant are rooms for parties of 10-20. During tourist season everything on the menu is available, but in the spring and fall the selection is limited to the course of the day. Service is excellent and accommodations do not get more atmospheric than this. But: don´t have breakfirst there. They will charge you 7AZN extra and offer little service - only tea and bread. Fot coffee head out on the street 50 m to the right is a teahouse. You can sit on the street and have coffee for 20 kopek.
This palace, along with the Caravansarai, is one of Sheki's true must-sees. During the city's period of independence as the Sheki Khanate, Khan Hussein constructed the palace, its gardens, and fortifications to serve as the summer palace of the Sheki Khans. The palace is exquisite, inside and out, and the courtyard boasts panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountain forests. You could make a good half day of this one site, as there are also various museums, parks, and a nice tea house right on the palace grounds.
This building was constructed by the Sheki Khans to house caravans as they passed through on the Silk Road to and from China. This was one of 5 such stops in Azerbaijan during the 18th and 19th centuries, and was the biggest caravansarai on the Silk Road in the entire Transcaucasus region. To this day, it still serves as a place for travelers to stay and eat, and also as a place where one can simply admire its beautiful architecture. In addition to being a main sight, it's also one of the city's best hotel options.
The well-groomed sports center complexes, complete with beautiful gardens, that are being built throughout the country are one of the current president's pet projects. The Sheki Olympic Complex is a little ways out of the town and getting there involves a marshrutka or taxi ride. The sports areas are available to visitors—for a price of course—including volleyball, basketball, tennis, and football. The facility has a conference room for 50 people, a dining room, and small cottages.
The latest hotel in the city, also the most expensive as it caters to wealthy Azerbaijanis from Baku and Ganja as well as Westerners (the staff speaks English and Russian). It has many amenities previously unseen outside of Baku such as in-room Internet access via ethernet, taxi service, room service, etc. There is a conference room on the first floor, a bar with coffee/alcohol, and a restaurant. Rooms range from the basic single to the Presidential Suite.
Sheki, in addition to being on the Silk Road, has itself been a major silk producer over the past four centuries, and is famous for its various silk products. Sheki's silk factory is about a 15 minute walk from the center of town. It is quite difficult to gain entrance into the factory. There is a store adjoining the factory where vendors sell some fine silk items at lower prices than what you would find at the bazaar.
This is a cottage complex with over 20 different 1-4 room cottages. In each cottage there are bathrooms, kitchens, and satellite TV. The facilities outside the cottages include a playground for children, evening shows, and a restaurant where children up to 8 years of age can eat for free. This resting zone is within walking distance of Kish's Albanian temple, Markhal, and the old fortress ruins of Gelersen Goresen.
This is a hotel of second-to-last resort (after the dismal Sheki Hotel). As you would expect, there is no "beach side" to the city of Sheki, as there is no beach. Its location near the bazaar is the best thing about the hotel, but the rooms are a bit drafty and are not so big. Another advantage is that it is quite cheap for the basic rooms. Finally, there is a small restaurant on the first floor of the hotel.
The tallest building in Sheki is actually a quite rotten place to stay. Rooms are in extreme disrepair and the service is as Soviet as it gets. At least the hotel does offer a guide service in five languages (English, Azeri, Russian, German, and French) and guests can take advantage of the 30 seat hotel bus.
A museum dedicated to the first president of independent Azerbaijan (and to the perpetuation of his personality cult), located across the street from the Sheki Olympic Complex. The museum is full of pictures, books, and statues dedicated to the man.
There is a square tower in Aidanbulag villages about 20 km (12 mi) away from Sheki. The site was used as an observation tower for the eastern frontier of the Sheki Khanate. The tower is square with circular projections protruding from each corner.
There is a labyrinth that is currently being excavated from the 4th and 3rd century BCE. It was the site of ritual sacrificing and graves. The labyrinth is open to the public. It is located in Fazil Village, 25 km (16 mi) southwest of the city.
Plays are performed in Azeri, but it still can be interesting to see an Azerbaijani interpretation. The theater also hosts other events. There is a çay xana just outside where you can grab a cup of tea before or after a performance.
This is a stop for truck drivers going and coming from Turkey, Tbilisi, and Baku. A small breakfast is included in the price of the hotel. Travelers should avoid this one, since there is no transportation to the city center.
Run by a middle-aged couple, has a nice view of the whole community of Sheki and nice, albeit pricy (for Azerbaijan) meals. 5 bedrooms for two people apiece, each decorated with Azerbaijani handicrafts and tools.
This picturesque mosque has a 40m spire, from which you will hear the resounding call to prayer 5 times a day. It was built from 1745-1750 and is decorated with exquisite geometric designs.
This is a nice park to go to and sit after a hard morning of shopping. If you are hungry, you can have a picnic on the park grounds or stop in the nearby ''Kerpish Restaurant''
A new movie theater/museum showing two movies on most weeks. Usually one is a dubbed American/European film, while the other is from either Turkey or Azerbaijan.
WWII memorials are a dime a dozen throughout Azerbaijan, but this particular memorial distinguishes itself with its impressive panoramic vista of the city.
This is an ancient fortress that aided the Sheki khanate in resisting Nadir Shah's incursions in the adjacent village of '''Kish'''.
This art gallery is located near the Palace of the Sheki Khans and features paintings by various Sheki artists and students.
This central park is quite nice during the summer, and it has a couple tea houses where you can kick back and relax.
There is a horse racing, breeding, and riding center near Sheki in Dashuz village 15 km outside of Sheki.
Made by the '''Disabled People Care Association''' in 18 A. Cabrayilov St; and mobile: +944 50 384 2035.
This museum is dedicated to one of Sheki's most famous educators and authors, Rashidbey Efendihade.
Few foreigners visit Azerbaijan beyond the capital city, Baku. In so doing, they overlook a true gem in the form of Sheki. The small city of Sheki has a whole lot to offer by way of historic attractions; in particular, the Palace of the Sheki Khans (Khansarai) is a magnificent work of Islamic architecture. Its setting is stunning; it lies in the rolling, thickly forested foothills, which spread out to the south, while to the immediate north are the dramatic, snow-capped peaks of the Greater Caucasus. The possibilities for treks into the unspoilt mountain landscapes are endless, and are alone a great reason to visit the city. But more than anything, the relaxed pace of life evident in Sheki's central market and tea houses makes the city a welcome respite from whatever cares you may have.
A relatively small city, Sheki has a population of about 63,000. It is situated in northern Azerbaijan on the southern part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, 325 km (201 mi) from Baku and not far from the Georgian border. Sheki is located at an altitude of 500 m (1,640 ft).