Lahic, located in the Ismailli Rayon of Azerbaijan, the road to Lahic is one of the most dangerous drives in the world. It follows a river with huge cliffs and some drops of 300m. Due to frequent earthquakes, it can be closed anytime. A 4 WD and an experienced driver are recommended. Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren’t your strong point.
Lahij (also known as Lagich, Lahich, and Lahic) is a small town buried deep on the southern slopes of Greater Caucasus, at an elevation of 1,375 m (4,514 ft) above the sea level. The village was isolated for centuries forcing them to develop their own language and skills. This medieval town with cobbled streets and squares is one of the most famous craft and trading centers in the Caucasus and beyond. You can spend a few interesting hours in Lahic. Walk along the cobblestone streets, visit the History Museum and the Mosque, browse the shops, have a look the the copper workshop or try to visit the carpets cooperative.
Older villagers speak a dialect that is nearer to Farsi than Azeri and claim that Lahic is named for the Persian-Caspian town of Lahijun from which their ancestors supposedly emigrated a millennium ago, bringing with them their famous coppersmithing skills. In its 19th-century heyday, Lahic boasted around 200 craftsmen, and Lahic carpets and metalwork fetched high prices in the bazaars of Baghdad. The population was around 15,000 until WWII, when the privations of war led many to starve or flee across the mountains: the road wasn’t built until the 1960s. During 2008-2009 the planned introduction of piped water in Lahic caused a great improvement in people’s lives. However, it means the end to the photogenic sight of women filling their guyum (traditional copper water vessels) at the village’s many springs.
A historical-architectural landmark in its surroundings – village Lahic, built in the 5th century B.C. on the canyon of the river Girdimanchai (Upper Caucasus).
The village is small, but very picturesque. The territory is recognized as a cultural reserve and is considered a popular touristic destination of the Great Silk Road.
Lahic has preserved its trade and craft center up to now. You can meet there unique hand-made items from copper, adorned with carving in the form of oriental ornaments, knitted and weaved goods, wood and leather ware, souvenir knives and many other.
History of the craft village
There is no exact data of the origin of the Lagich settlement and the chronicle of this place is based on the legend. According to one of them, Persian shah Kai Khosrow killed a respectable ruler of one of the cities in the struggle for power. It caused indignation of masses. In order to save own life, he fled the country. The shah found shelter in the mountains not far from current place of Lagich where he spent the rest of his life. The village was formed by his servants and their families from the tribe lagich, who settled near the shelter of their master. Gradually, the settlement expanded and turned into artisans’ center.
It was already then, hundred years ago, when copper became the main material of Lagich craftsmen. Local dwellers learned to melt it in their motherland, in Iran. In the new place, artisans developed their skills and established trade connections. Craftsmen workshops with melting stoves appeared on the territory of the village and the fame of beautiful and unique copper pieces spread around.
Lahic map made by hand
Big caravans from Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Persia, and Dagestan started to pass across Lagich. Merchants would deliver food, copper, fabric to the village and would take back cold steel, souvenirs and other copper household items with themselves.
The village developed and improved. Streets were slabbed, two and three storey houses were built. People learned to do sewerage and water-pipe channels.
As soon as Lagich received the status of the cultural object, its population started to grow. Azerbaijani village did not lose its colorful historical look. Wandering streets, one might hear rumble of ancient workshops coming from somewhere.
Copper, leather and carpet crafts are still flourishing, with only one difference that main merchants today are tourists. Moreover, local goods are supplied to many foreign shops too.
The little town is decorated with paved squares, accurate houses, and hand-made crafts shops full of interesting pieces created by the Lagichians. People here are kind and friendly, and the air is literally filled with the atmosphere of calm, coziness and unlimited talent of the locals.