From hiking to climbing frozen waterfalls and extreme ascents of the mountains, a multitude of recreational activities can be done in this region. Unforgettable experiencec can be had during excursions through the mountains and valleys of Shirvan with its murmuring streams and granite blocks of the most diverse and unusual shapes, scattered everywhere, like giant toys.
The Ismayilli region, located to the north of the country, was once part of ancient Caucasian Albania. Here, on the top of the highest mountain, are the ruins of a medieval fortress whose construction is attributed to Javanshir, the 7th-century ruler of Caucasian Albania. The most famous and important historical monument in this area is the Maiden Tower (7th-12th centuries) – a defensive structure located on the top of a steep mountain near the village of Khanagah. Besides Azerbaijanis, other ethnic groups also live here. For example, in the well known village of Ivanovka, live the descendants of Russian Molokans that were once resettled here from central parts of Russia. And in the village of Lahij, on the bank of Rover Girdimanchay at 1,200 metres above sea level, live ethnic Tats. This village's coppersmithing traditions, as well as the art of producing colourful kelaghayi headscarves practised mainly in the village of Basqal nearby, are both included in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
This an ancient Azerbaijani city was once the capital of the Kingdom of Shirvan, the residence of the ruling Shirvanshahs and one of the most beautiful cities in the East. The homeland of Khagani, Nasimi and Mirza Alakbar Sabir, it was also from the middle of the 18th century the centre of the Shirvan Khanate. The unique nature, mild climate and natural mineral springs give this district a special beauty. A favourite peak for mountain climbers, Badabag, is also located here. The settlement of Pirguli, located 22 km from the city centre at an altitude of 1,400 m, is also very popular with tourists. It is home to the largest astrophysical observatory in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus – the Nasir al-Din al-Tusi Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory. The observatory is equipped with the latest facilities and has one of the largest telescopes in the CIS.
The rustic mountain settlement of Lahij in the Ismayilli region is well worth visiting for its authentic architecture, spectacular views and its craft traditions. Some sources say that the legendary Manomakh’s cap, worn by Russian tsars for many centuries, originated in Lahij, but the village has become especially well known for its manufacturing of knives and copperware.