The thing I love most about this Sheki (or Şəki) is that it’s just as famous for its sights as it is for its regional dishes.
The former Silk Road city sits at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains in northwest Azerbaijan, some 300 kilometres and about a 4.5-hour drive from Baku. It’s a stunning and sleepy spot, where red-tiled roofs stick out against the lush green landscape. The entire old part of the city is a recent Unesco World Heritage Site.
The main attractions is the Palace of Sheki Khans, which dates back to 1762 and is notable for its shebeke (şəbəkə) windows, similar to stained-glass but without any nails or glue to hold it in place. The Albanian Church in the nearby village of Kiş is also of interest if you want a peek into Christian Caucasian Albania or to marvel at two-metre-tall Bronze Age skeletons.
As for the food, the most iconic meal you can eat in Sheki is piti, followed by Sheki halva. Piti is a spiced lamb and sheep fat stew cooked in a clay pot and eaten in two parts: the broth is poured out and enjoyed separately from the contents, which are mashed together and eaten with bread. Sheki halva is a regional pakhlava with a 200-year history, made by multi-generational expert confectioners and lauded as a souvenir by domestic tourists. You can read more about it below.