Cobblestone streets and coppersmiths in Lahic

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So along with the tiny mountain village of Khinalug, Lahic is another picturesque town worth going out of your way to visit if you’re ever in Azerbaijan. It’s one of those tiny settlements that looks like it hasn’t changed in centuries, with cobblestone streets, stone housing, quaint home stays, and the occasional galloping horse wandering through town.

Lahic shady street
Quiet and shady, and always pleasant.

It’s basically like one of those old towns in the center of a major city, except that just about the whole town is the old town. While a few new hotels seem to be cropping up here and there, there’s very little besides the original architecture, especially along the main avenue, where some of those adorable wooden balconies hang over the street to offer some shade:

Lahic wooden balconies
Sometimes they’re close enough that you could jump from one side of the street to the other.

If you’re wandering through town, it’ll be hard to put the camera away, as just about any street, viewed from any angle, will look like a postcard from an ancient era, or a perfect set piece for a period film.

Lahic empty street
This is about how busy the streets are all the time.

The architecture is interesting in that they alternate between stone and wood, which offers some stability for the earthquakes that plague the region. This has proved stable enough that no one has really bothered building much else, which is both a testament to the success of the design, as well as the relatively unchanged lives of those living within the town. Though I must say that I was a little worried about this one:

Lahic shaky building

Yeah…somebody might want to look into that…

But aside from the adorable cobblestones, Lahic is also famous for its craftsmanship, which includes items like leather, wool, and carpets, but what’s most likely to get your attention is the copper. You’ll see workshops along the main street, with craftsmen hammering away on projects of all shapes and sizes, with intricate geometric details that can take months to complete.

Lahic coppersmith workshop
Tink tink tink.

You can wander right into the workshops, which are occasionally combined with souvenir stores, but are often just an otherwise unadorned workshop:

Lahic smith shop
I have no idea how they go from dark to shiny so nicely.

It’s great to see how things are made, rather than viewing just the finished pieces displayed in souvenir shops. It really provides a sense of how much work goes into these projects, and the low-tech tools look like they haven’t changed in decades, and many of them look like they could very well be the actual tools handed down through the generations, from father to son.

Aside from souvenirs and coppersmith workshops, they also had a few spice shops, selling tea, spices, and all sorts of other little culinary concoctions from throughout the region:

Azerbaijan spice market
Saffron is ridiculously cheap here, by the way. Like “amazing business opportunity” cheap. Seriously.

Aside from raising livestock, tinkering away in the copper workshops, or running a guesthouse, life in Lahic is pretty quiet, so retirees spend a lot of time in teahouses, playing backgammon with old friends.

Lahic teahouse
No matter how hot it gets, tea is still the drink of choice.

Activities within the town are pretty quiet, but Lahic is also right in the middle of the mountains, so there’s plenty of hiking to do around here as well. A few locals even shared some pictures with me of some abandoned villages nearby, destroyed by an earthquake, but whose ruins are still there, waiting to be explored. Hiking around the surrounding hills is nice, too.

Lahic also has a pretty lengthy history, allegedly featuring a sewer system that is one of the world’s oldest…though as a tourist, this isn’t the sort of thing that you’re likely to see. Mostly you’ll just wander the streets, and enjoy the views:

Lahic red tile roof
Those red rooftops are nice, too.

Despite being such a tiny village, it’s fairly well-known throughout Azerbaijan, and also gets a healthy dose of tourists, but it’s still quite charming, laid-back, and relaxing, with utterly serene streets just about wherever you go.

Lahic overhanging porch
Really, this is how busy it is all the time.

So try to stop by if you’re in the area. It’s worth a visit.

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