is a small seaside city near the southern border with Iran,
with a population of 45.000, most of which are Iranian Talysh.
The Talysh have preserved their old traditions and customs. They number
about 30.000 in an area of about 600 sq. km, sometimes referred as Talyshtan.
The name Lenkoran is said to come from the Talish words for 'Cane house', that is 'Lan Karan'. The city was built on a swampy along the northern bank of the river bearing the city's name. There are remains of human settlements in the area dating back to the Neolithic period as well as ruins of fortified villages from the bronze and iron ages.
The city is rather recent, dating from the 16th century. Lenkoran was for a long time the capital of the Talysh Khanate, which enjoyed variable degrees of independence throughout history. It was first held by Russia from 1728 to 1735, but only fell definitively to Russia in 1813, status confirmed by the Turkmenchai treaty in 1828.
The Lenkoran region is an important producer of spring and winter vegetables. Rice, grapes, tobacco, citrus trees and oak woods thrive in the warm climate. However the main and most famous crop is tea, which is processed at a local tea factories. Other industries are centred around food processing, furniture, silk, wood and fine carpets.
Take your time to taste some of the local tea. The food is also a good reason for the trip, remember to try In the local chicken - stuffed with nuts, onion and jelly and fried. The climate and the food seem to contribute to unusually long life expectations - If you are lucky you'll come across someone over 120 year old.
Lenkoran's streets are broader and reveal better urban planning than most cities in Azerbaijan. When exploring Lenkoran don't miss the 'Maiak', a cylindrical former jail, it is located in the northeast extreme of town, near the railway. The Maiak has a twin in the opposite site of town who, where Joseph Stalin is supposed to have been detained before his glory days - it has now become a warehouse
The history museum is interesting both for the collection and the building itself, it was built on the site of the Khans palace (S.Akhundov street, near the military hospital). The main mosque, located near the bazaar, is quite beautiful and there are several other not so impressive mosques. Have have a look also at the baths. For entertainment try the State Drama Theatre (28 May street).
There are lots of tanks in Lenkoran! One sits in the main square: it is made of white stone and is a memorial to Hazi Aslanov - a tank commander - another is a real tank placed on a podium in the Caspian sea. Besides the memorials Lenkoran houses a tank brigade. The local military have had their moments of fame: twice this century Lenkoran was the capital of self declared independent Talysh states. The first time was in 1919 in the confusion after the end of WWI and the initial stages of the Russian civil war, the Talysh Mugam Socialist Republic was declared, it rejoined Azerbaijan a few months later. More recently, in the summer of 1993, a new independent Talysh Mugam Republic was declared by Alikram Humbetov, with the support of the local tank regiment. However, soon after the revolt leader was arrested and the revolt collapsed.
For good quality accomodation we suggest the Hotel Qala. In the town's centre you can also find two soviet style hotels, the hotel Lenkoran has reasonable conditions, the Khazar is unpleasant as is the Girkhan, located outside town on the road going south to Astara. On this road there is also a dilapidated camping site.
The local soccer field is home to Football Club Khazar.
The beaches near Lenkoran are sandy and pleasant. Thermal sulphide, chloride, sodium-calcium waters of Andjin (Upper and Lower) mineral springs are situated 12 km to the West from the town. To the west you'll also find the ruins of Ballabur castle, near the village with the same name.
The region has a vast area of national parks, where a varied fauna and flora is preserved. Kizilagach national park, located by the Caspian on Gizil-Agach bay, hosts over 250 kinds of plants, 30 species of fish and more than 220 kinds of birds. Gircan national park which continues into Astara rayon is famous for iron-trees, "Demir-agach".
There is a nightly train from Baku, going as far as Astara. The rather decrepit airport is in the western side of the city.
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(220 km south of Baku)
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