Zaqatala’s Russian fortress is a sprawling affair whose grey stone walls are sturdy but not really imposing. Built between 1830 and 1860, it originally guarded against attacks from the Dagestan-based guerrilla army of Shamil and later imprisoned sailors from the battleship Potëmkin, whose famous 1905 mutiny at Odessa foreshadowed the Russian revolution. The walls look more appealing from the outside.

The fortress was in military use until 2005 and several banal 20th-century buildings remain within. 'Opening times' actually refer to times when you can find someone to show you around, but the doors don't lock so you can stroll around at any time.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Azerbaijan attractions

1. Ruined Church

0.07 MILES

The overgrown ruins of this once grand, barrel-towered church sit between Old Town Square and the fortress.

2. Old Town Square

0.09 MILES

Zaqatala's Old Town is centred on a pretty garden-square, above which rise two 30m tall çınar (plane trees) planted in the 1780s. To the south, there are…

3. Historical Museum

0.21 MILES

This small museum is worth a five-minute glimpse to peruse faded photos of the area's attractions amid old pots, jewellery, jeweled horse equipment,…

4. Dance Mural

0.29 MILES

This colourful mosaic showing a couple dancing the mazurka adds an attractive aspect to the north end of Nәrimanov küç.

5. Mosque

0.62 MILES

Zaqatala's biggest new mosque has a distinctively Turkish design.

6. Car Village

3.13 MILES

Car is a chocolate-box village half-hidden in blossoms and greenery. Picturesque houses are tucked away behind mossy dry-stone walls in abundant orchards…

7. Balakən Mosque

14.07 MILES

This 200-year-old mosque is easily spotted thanks to its tapering octagonal minaret, freestanding with red-brick patterned facets. The mosque itself is a…

8. History Museum

20.32 MILES

This engrossing little museum is wonderfully old-fashioned and has very little in English, but photos show regional historical places, there's a mockup of…