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Another Azerbaijani Site Added to UNESCO World Heritage List

By Nargiz Mammadli September 23, 2023

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The village of Khinalig, Azerbaijan / Courtesy

Azerbaijan’s Khinalig Cultural Landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on Monday, making it the fifth site from the country on the prestigious list.

The “Cultural Landscape of Khinalig People and “Köç Yolu” Transhumance Route” was among the 22 sites named on the list at the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee being held from September 10 to 25 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“This cultural landscape is comprised of the high-mountain Khinalig village in northern Azerbaijan, high-altitude summer pastures and agricultural terraces in the Greater Caucasus Mountains, winter pastures in the lowland plains in central Azerbaijan, and the connecting 200-kilometre-long seasonal transhumance route called Köç Yolu (“Migration Route”),” the UNESCO World Heritage Convention said in a statement.

The village of Khinalig, according to the statement, is home to the semi-nomadic Khinalig people, whose culture and lifestyle are defined by the seasonal migration between summer and winter pastures, and who retain the ancient way of long-distance vertical transhumance.

There are several versions of the origin of the name of the Khinalig village. According to legends, it comes from the mountain surrounding the village, which is colored henna during the sunrise. Another version says it emanates from the name of a henna-colored plant that grows here.

According to some accounts, there is a connection between the name of Khinalig and the name of the town of Kheno in the ancient Azerbaijani state of Caucasian Albania, the remains of which can be seen in Russia's Dagestan Republic on the border with Azerbaijan.

The name Khinalig was first systematically mentioned in the 15th century (1457-1459) in Mahmud Al Khinalugi's manuscript titled "The events of Shirvan and Dagestan”, perceived as the first written source to use the village’s name.

Some historians believe that the village of Khinalig was built before Christ. It was mentioned in the books of Strabo and Pliny. Facts related to the initial settlement in the Khinalig area belong to the early Bronze Age (end of the 4th millennium BC). As a result of archaeological excavations conducted in 2010-2012, an ancient settlement called "Zangar (Khinalig)" was discovered in the village.

Khinalig became fifth cultural and natural site from Azerbaijan on the UNESCO World Heritage List, including Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, the Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace, Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs Palace and Maiden Tower, and Hyrcanian Forests.