Krasnaya Sloboda
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Krasnaya Sloboda / Yevreskaya Sloboda - Azerbaijan - location mapWith only 5.000 inhabitants, Krasnaya Sloboda is Quba's smaller sister, located on the northern bank of the gorge of the Kudyal river, just facing it's sibling.

You can enter Krasnaya Sloboda arriving from Baku and making a right turn before entering Quba or simply cross the foot bridge connecting the two towns, located between the war memorial on Krasnaya Sloboda's side and Nizami park on Quba's bank.

Krasnaya Sloboda: tin roofs and the Kudyal river - Quba in the background (photo by F.MacLachlan / Travel-Images.com)This Jewish settlement of Quba has been inhabited by Jews since the 13th century. In 1742, a local ruler named Falikhan gave the Jews, who were being persecuted by Islamic fundamentalists, permission to settle on the left bank of the mountain river Kudiyal-Chay opposite his town.

The community flourished and became known as Yevreskaya Sloboda - literally, "Jewish settlement". By 1917, when the Bolsheviks came to power, the community was renamed "Krasnaya sloboda" (Red settlement), and it had grown to 18,000 people. However, Stalin's reign of terror and forced assimilation left their mark on this mountain region. In 1937, five rabbis were assassinated, many others were sent into exile,

Azerbaijan - Krasnaya Sloboda: Kusari synagogue (photo by A.Slobodianik -Travel-Images.com)Today, although emigration to Israel has taken its toll, the main particularity of Krasnaya Sloboda is still  that it's populated mostly entirely by Mountain Jews (Jewish Tats). Nevertheless, the architecture and ambience is very similar to Quba's, although some affluence can be noticed in building refurbishment, as hard currency sent from families in Israel makes life easier. 

Before the settlement of Soviet power in Azerbaijan, i.e. till 1920, there were 11 synagogues in Krasnaya Sloboda. During Soviet times only one subsisted as such. Anyway of the 11 synagogues seven have been preserved. All seven are built of brick, the larger ones decorated with onion domes.After 1996 the state returned to the community two more buildings of former synagogues, which were restored with the help of donators. In 2001 the Kusari synagogue a two-storied, six-cupola building was re-opened. The Gilah and Karui synagogues can also be visited. The first 
is an old wooden, barn-style buiding nicer inside than outside, the latter has an interesting façade with circular windows.

Azerbaijan - Krasnaya Sloboda: Gilah synagogue (photo by A.Slobodianik - Travel-Images.com)For the nostalgic there is still a Lenin's statue near the Mayor's office and there are large jewish cemeteries. For a change of mood you can try Vurgun cinema.

Not far from Krasnaya Sloboda you'll also find the village of Khanalygh,  with an ethnic group of 1000 Tats who have preserved the original language, customs and traditions.

(165 km northwest of Baku)

see also: maps, Khachmas, Qusar, Quba, Tat, summary, places, photos
 
 
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