Basqal village Ismailly Azerbaijan
Not far from it magnificent mountains rise above on 4000m. The village of Basgal is built like a fortress. In fact, the root «gal» («gala») means «fortress.» The people are Turkic in origin. There are about 1,000 houses in Basgal, clustered along the side of the mountain. In this village, no house is allowed to face the facade of another. If you want to build a house, you have to build it so that it doesn’t face the windows of another person’s house. Therefore, every house faces only the back of the preceding house. Consequently, very few houses have windows looking out onto the street. Everywhere there are stone pavements and cobbled roads. The houses are not like village cottages surrounded by big gardens or yards; rather they are multi-storied houses, much like city buildings. Most of them have balconies. The streets are narrow and winding, with barely enough room for one car to drive through. Each quarter of the village has its own water source, as there are no wells there. Mountain water that comes from springs further up the mountain is referred to as «light water» because it is more filtered and tastes better. Unfortunately, not every quarter of Basgal has easy access to «light water.» Zulfugar bey, who is originally from Basgal and now lives in Baku, spoke about the lack of agriculture in Basgal. He said that people usually plant a few flowers in their yards or have one tree in their courtyard. All kinds of produce, even eggs, have to be imported from outside. Once a week there is a big market in the center of Basgal where people from neighboring villages come and sell food. Zulfugar bey remembered: «We would always distinguish ourselves from those who came from other villages. To us, they were ‘villagers;’ we never really considered ourselves ‘villagers.’ Only after I came to Baku did I realize that we were villagers, too.» Basgal used to be famous for its silk industry. Some people believe that it was Basgal that made Azerbaijan’s silk especially «kelagays»-world-famous. Ancient silk-weaving machines are still kept in some Basgal houses today. There are two mosques in Basgal: one dates back to the 11th century, the other to the 14th century. Near the older mosque stands a huge tree that is supposedly 900 years old. It is so large (7 meters across) that there used to be a «chaikhana,» or teahouse, in the cavity of the tree. The chaikhana has since been closed for fear that it might cause damage to the tree. The village’s bath house dates back to the 16th century. There is a legend that this bath house is heated by only a single candle. In fact, there is only one oven where wood is burned for heating the water. The amazing thing about this bath house is that the oven not only heats up the water; the heat somehow gets underneath the floor and heats the whole bath house.