Located in an area of tall mountains and deep canyons, near the Garachay and Gochalanchay rivers, Gabala is notorious for the ruins of an ancient walled city (Chukur Gabala), dating back to the 4th century BC. Situated south of Mirzabaili, 20km from the modern town, although with an area of 25 hectares the ruins of Chukur Gabala were only discovered in 1959. Since then a lot of archaeological work has been done, uncovering a wide area of urban settlement and artefacts evidencing trade links with Europe, Asia and the middle east. You can still see the remains of five watchtowers and the walls between them; burial grounds; gates; furnaces; residences; etc.
Nearby is Boyuk Amili, famous for the remains its Albanian church. After you visit the site have a look at the History museum (located in a mosque in the modern city) housing most of the artefacts found in the excavations. Among the findings there is a treasure with coins from ancient Greece, bearing Alexander the Great's image. The city has an interesting cultural centre, with beautiful Soviet mosaics, a large war memorial, numerous ancient stone houses and the Rashidbek monument, shapped as a huge book. To enjoy a good perspective of the city climb the neighbouring Kohmurad mountain, an ancient lookout position controlling the city and the mountains.
Two-thousand-year old Gabala - the most ancient city of Azerbaijan, was for 600 years the capital of ancient Caucasian Albania mentioned in the works of antique historians of the 1st century. Later in the Arabian sources it was mentioned as Khazar. At first Gabala was a part of Shirvanshahs state and later Sheki khanate. The city was repeatedly exposed to devastating invasions. But, despite of this Gabala has preserved material evidence of its civilized past. The ruins of ancient Gabala are 5 km from the present day city.
The excavation finds from the ancient settlement can be seen in the city museum. Gabala vicinities have numerous historical and architectural monuments. The modern Gabala is located on the territory of Sheki - Zakatala area practically on the border of Dagestan and Georgia . There are the ruins of the ancient city whose age is about 2,000 years in the vicinities of Gabala. 50.000 ha of its territory is covered with forests where one can find oak-trees, hornbeams, beeches, junipers, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts with the average age of over 500 years, poplars, and so on. Deers, gazelles, lynxes, wolves, bears, boars, roes, hares, partridges are the representatives of the local fauna.
Thanks to its fascinating nature with beautiful waterfalls, streams and emerald green forests Gabala has become one of the most important tourist regions of Azerbaijan.
The village of Nidzh , not far from Gabala, is known for a unique architectural monument of the Caucasian Albania - Udin Temple . The udins are absolutely special ethnic group who are considered descendants of Alabanians (only 10,000 of them left). They have managed to preserve their traditions, language, material and spiritual culture up to now. Just recently the temple has been restored and today it is open for church-goers of udin Christian community and tourists wishing to witness the most ancient landmark of Azerbaijan . The restored temple was constructed in the17th - 18th centuries on the site of an ancient Albanian church which had been built at will Saint Eliseus - the Christian ecclesiast and educator honored in the Caucasian Albania. The present day temple has been named after him.