Trans Eurasia travel

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Azerbaijan does not have many tourist attractions, but what it does have is plenty of quaint little mountain villages. Many of which were isolated for centuries forcing them to develop their own language and skills. And one of the more famous villages is Lahic. The quaint little coppersmith village of Lahic is a superb place to sample traditional rural life. And the experience is made richer, as several Lahici youths speak English, with more returning from Baku in summer (July to mid-September) to act as guides.

The village is, at best, around 2,000 people. They speak there own language, although Azeri and Russian can still be heard (with the occasional foreign language). The one thing you're unlikely to hear is the wind and grind of city life. Instead it's the gentle tapping sound that spills from workshops along its roughly cobbled streets that fills the ears. Here in Lahic, centuries of isolation have honed the skills of the copper smiths which line the narrow streets. The soaring peaks that surround this village make farming nearly impossible, so local people turned very long ago to crafts. Copper smithing is only the most famous. Almost everyone who lives here can turn shapeless things into objects of quiet and even mystic beauty. Carpet weaving, wood carving and a variety of other such handy crafts await the weary traveller.

Lahic is particularly famous for its coppersmiths, whose workshops overflow into narrow, stone-paved Huseynov kuc. On the upper
floors of the workshops you can sometimes still find carpet makers at work. As years go by the workshops are increasingly  transforming themselves into tourist boutiques but they remain rustic, welcoming places, where craftsmen are happy to be watched and photographed engraving intricate patterns. High global copper prices and growing tourist savvy mean that copperware is not as inexpensive as it used to be, but there are still some relative bargains to be had if you shop around.

Local Coppersmiths are renowned for producing high quality products and they can be viewed at work in many of the small workshops along the main road. Whereas Xinaliq had the jaw dropping scenery, Lahic will be remembered for its wonderful stone houses and narrow cobbled streets. If you put Lahic's houses in Xinaliq's location, you would probably have the most beautiful place on Earth.

Horses are still being ridden through the streets, whilst cows meander down other thoroughfares. At times there is certainly the feeling of stepping back in time.

One of the joys of Lahic is hiking up the steep wooded hillsides towards the bare mountaintop sheep meadows (yaylag) where flocks graze in summer and views towards the snow-topped high Caucasus can be magnificent on a clear day. Of the region's (very) ruined fortresses, the most accessible is Niyal Qalasi, about 1,5 hours sweaty climb up the Kishchay valley. With a horse and guide you could make a two-day excursion to more impressive Fit Dag castle.