Zagatala (Zaqatala) is a city in the Sheki Region on the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains in northwest Azerbaijan. The wooded mountain sides, with frequent waterfalls, offer great hiking opportunities. Due to its climate, the town became a mountain health resort.
Zakatala is at an altitude of 600 m. It is 450 km from the capital Baku. The population of Zakatala city is 32,000 people (2020). Zakatala is a multinational region with 26 different ethnic groups including: Avar, Zakur, Lesgi, Kumuck, Yengloid, Ingloid, Russian, and Georgians. Zakatala city is divided into two parts by the Tala River, Zaka and Tala.
Zakatala was established in the 17th century by its namesake Zakeria. Before that, there was only a government by the name of the Jar-Balakan Community, which was established by the Avar. This community fell to the influence of the Mongolians, Persians, and finally after the establishment of the city of Zakatala, the Russians. In the 18th century, the Russian Army, under the leadership of General Sisianov, attacked Zakatala. The locals from the Jar-Balakan Community resisted General Sisianov's army heroically. Finally, General Sisianov fortified the city of Zakatala against the Jar-Balakan Community.
At this time, Dagestan’s ruler, Sheik Shamil sent a cohort of soldiers with the purpose of liberating the people of Zakatala, but despite their efforts the Jar-Balakan Community was defeated on the banks of the Alazan Rive. Thus, Zakatala fell to the influence of the Russian Empire.
After the October Revolution and the declaration of the First Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918, Zakatala was made the regional center for the northwest region until 1920. During the Soviet period, Zakatala industrialized with tobacco, wool, brick, hazelnut, wine, and dairy factories. Communal farms were established in Zakatala as well and the railroad was laid to Zakatala. Upon independence in 1991, many mosques, 2 educational institute, and several schools were opened in Zakatala.
- Spring – Especially rainy, with much of the annual 120 cm falling during this time.
- Summer – The temperature ranges from 30-35 °C and the mountains are verdant.
- Fall – The tree leaves brown and it rains.
- Winter – The mountains are covered with an average of 50-60 cm of snow.
By bus or marshrutka
- 1 Zaqatala bus station, ☏ . As of Oct 2019, service from Qax (12 trips a day), Baku (7 trips a day), Barda (2 trips a day), Gance (4 trips a day), Mingachevir (4 runs a day), Yevlax (2 trips a day), Sheki (8 trips a day),
There are two routes in Zaqatala city. #1 Gagarin Street-Bus station, #2 Galaduzu-Bus station. 0.3 manat. Pay upon exiting the bus.
Taxis are 1 manat for a trip anywhere in the city of Zaqatala. Just state the location and the driver will take you there. To go to a village, be prepared to pay 5-10 manat.
While Zaqatala is a natural tourist destination with its verdant mountains, friendly people, and liberal atmosphere, English is not widely spoken, so it would be wise to either bring an Azeri phrasebook and/or brush up on your Azeri, Russian, or Turkish before arriving.
Parks and monuments
Zaqatala is blessed with beautiful nature in this region. The town of Zaqatala is surrounded by mountains. There are 2 parks in the town. One park is named after academic Zarifa Aliyeva. The other one is named after Haydar Aliyev. This park is very beautiful and large. There are many green trees in here.
- Heydar Eliyev Park (up past the central square. Walk up the stairs and take a right, after walking 50 m there will be the park). This central park is quite nice during the summer, and it has a couple tea houses and benches where you can kick back and relax. It also has a restaurant, one museum, and an amusement park. The cost of the amusement rides is 0.2 manat per ride. free.
- Dada Gorgud Square, City Center (right in the city center). This central square dedicated to the Caucasian Mother Goose, Dada Gorgud. In the square there are 800-year-old Eastern Plane Trees and tea houses that men and women can frequent without trouble. The tea costs 0.6 manat for just tea, and 1 manat for tea, sweets, and lemon.
- Ancient Chapel (behind Dada Gorgud Square). Behind the city square there is an old chapel. Despite the lack of upkeep, it is still a beautiful structure. free admission.
Museums and galleries
- 1 Haydar Aliyev Museum, Zaqatala Heydar Eliyev Park, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 09:00-18:00. A museum dedicated to the first president of independent Azerbaijan. The museum is full of pictures, books, and statues dedicated to the man. Free.
- Zaqatala Regional Museum, Heydar Eliyev Street. In the center by the post office.. Daily 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00. A museum highlighting the unique culture, people, and activities of Zaqatala region. 1 manat.
- Zaqatala Olympic Complex (Sports Complex), Peace Street (near Heydar Eliyev Park). Daily 10:00-17:00. This is a sports complex that has a pool, basketball, volleyball, football courts and a boxing area. Admission costs 5 manat per day.
- From Zaqatala up through the Katecy River to Qabid valley, then across the two mountains to the waterfall over the Katech river. There are camping places across from the Baku road. Total length, 38 km.
- From Zaqatala, up the Mishlesh river across Julusu mountain pass through the Tala river to the Tala mountain. Total length 13 km.
- From Zaqatala, Batyomkir tower, 17th-century church, and Tala mountain, then through the Tala river to Mishlesh mountain. Total length 15 km.
- 3-day touring plan; from Zaqatala, Masec mountain pass to Cabir valley through the Catec river to the waterfall, and camping site. Then up the Silpan river across the Hamra mountain, then to Chir tower, and to the camping place in Jar. Finally, go to Shamil mountain, Kebalaba village and drive back to Zaqatala city.
Zagatala has a very nice cuisine and several restaurants. In addition to the listed restaurants, there is a restaurant in each hotel in Zaqatala.
- Suhulu-noodles with dried meat in soup
- Gutab/keta-kurd, meat, or greens placed between two tortillas
- Girs-Noodles with meat placed inside it in soup
- Walnut pilaf-pilaf with walnuts on it
- Zaqatala hazelnuts-Zaqatala is famous for its hazelnuts. You can buy them by the kilo in various stores. There is a factory on the western outskirts of the city of Zaqatala.
- Bereket Turkish Restaurant, Heydar Eliyev Avenue near the bus station. Daily 11:00-21:00. Good food. The only Turkish food in Zaqatala. 2-6 manat.
- Shamliq Restaurant(Naiq Bulaq), Near the bus station. Daily 10:00-21:00. Good food and a nice place to drink beer in the afternoon. 2-6 manat.
- Gagash Restaurant, Near Hotel Turgud by the old bazaar. Daily 09:00-23:00. Tasty Georgian Khengel. 2-5 manat.
- Naib Bulaq (5 km outside of Zaqatala city on the Baku road). Daily 11:00-21:00. Tasty foods: kabab, basdirma, qutab/keta and etc. 2-5 manat.
- Hotel Turgud, Near the old Bazaar, Nizami street. (Walk from the center East for 300 meters crossing a bridge and take a right.), ☏ . 10 manat for 2 people.
- Hotel Zaqatala, Heydar Eliyev prospect, near the central mosque. (walk from bus station towards the central mosque; the hotel Zaqatala will be on the right side of the road), ☏ . 20 manat for 2 people.
- Gala Motel, In Heydar Eliyev Park in the Gala Duzu Hotel (walk from the center north, climb the steps by the center square, walk past the pink school, and go into the park; from the park entrance, walk north until you see a big building). 15 manat for 2 people.
- Hotel Grata, Near the Ag Saray, 100, Heydar Aliyev Avenue. (walk from the bus station towards the central mosque, the hotel will be on the left side of the road), ☏ . 40-50 manat for 2 people.
- Hotel Isoil, F Emirov Street. (walk from the bus station west 400 m; the hotel will be on the right side of the road), ☏ . 35-40 manat for 1 room.
Visit some of the nearby scenic villages: