Kiş and its ancient Albanian church

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June 15th 2009
Published: June 19th 2009
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Kiş (pronounced Kish) is just a few kilometres from Şeki and easily reached on the antiquated number 15 bus! Once you get there it's about 20 minutes up cobbled streets to find the Albanian church which is, thankfully, signposted!

The church is thought to be the oldest Christian church in the Caucasus region. It doesn't look like it because it has been completely restored. Now you can see into the crypts through glass screens and explore the church's tiny interior which is now used as a museum. There's lots of interesting information in English about the archaeological project if that's your thing! Just outside the church is a monument to Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl who was responsible for generating the restoration money from his government. He also began the theory which says that Norsk people originated in Azerbaijan!

It's worth going to Kiş just to see the church. Afterwards make sure you go to the curators house for some çay in the garden. You really do get used to drinking a lot of tea here! Refreshed, we set out to hike to the ruined castle of Gelersan Gorusan but we didn't make it! There's quite a lot of melt water in the river right now and it was a bit deep as we didn't want to take our boots off! Never mind, it made for a pleasant walk and a nice spot for lunch.

We also got to see some interesting people in the village. One woman walked just ahead of us all the way from the river back to the village. She was carrying a huge load of greenery on her back but was still just as nimble as we were! She even helped us get to where the bus was. On the way we saw quite a few men heading into the fields with their scythes. Quite sinister really!

When we got on the bus to return to Şeki we were the only passengers and the driver was delighted that Trish spoke enough Russian to have a brief conversation with him. When we reached Şeki he wouldn't accept any money from us. What a nice man!!!

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