This 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 beneficial geographical conditions, fertile soil and rich natural resources from ancient times attracted people here as to a place of inhabitation. Since the epoch of neolith the centers of sedentary-agricultural civilizations were engendered here. In the epoch of bronze and early iron in this region there were constructed fortress-cities, and this tradition was continued in the antique period. Monuments of antique period are featured by discovered here settlements and necropolis.
The date of the foundation of Lankaran is not precisely determined yet. Sights of information about Lankaran are present in records of medieval western travelers as L.Chempen (XVI), A. Oleari (XVII) and other. In that times Lankaran was a small settlement consisting of 200 houses. In XVIII several khanates, one of which was the Talish khanate existed on the territory of Azerbaijan. During period of governing of the Talish khan Garakhan (1747- 1786) the capital of the khanate was transferred from the city of Astara to Lankaran. Various foremen and architects were engaged for construction works; city has started to develop, the economic, political and cultural life of the city had developed along with its area. Such crafts as blacksmith business, production of copper items, potter business; jewelers business and other were advancing.
Lankaran started to play the important role in Azerbaijan's trade with Iran, Central Asia, India and Russia. In Lankaran there were 9 markets, surrounded with dwelling-courtyards.
In XVII the Lankaran fortress was constructed. The fortress had 2 battle towers: northern on the coast of the sea and southern above a mouth of the river Lankaran-Chay. Some contributors link an origin of the name of the city with the Persian word collocation "Langarkyunan" : ("Langar" - ship, "kyunan" - coast), other with talish words "Lan" - cane and "Karan" - house i.e. house from a cane.
In 1795 troops of the Iranian Shakh Agha Muhammad Gajar attacked Lankaran. Being unable to resist the Gajar troops, the Tallish khan Mustafa (1786-1814) evacuated the city inhabitants on the island of Sari and took a defensive position. After plundering the city, the army of Gajar has departed to the south.
Lenkoran was built on a swampy area near the river Lenkoran, therefore the name. In 1812 there was a strong fight between the Iranian and Russian armies here, and by the 1st of January 1813 the Lankaran was already seized by Russia. Later, according to Gulistan peace agreement Lankaran was attached to Russia and the city Lankaran became a center of the district. In the beginning of XX century over a number of villages of Lankaran district there waved armed movements of the population against Russian authority. After the February revolution in Russia (1917) the Soviets came to an authority in Lankaran. In the summer of 1918 the Soviet authority in Lankaran was eliminated by Denikin's white-guardians and local Russian bourgeoisie So-called "Mughan State" was founded, which in turn was eliminated by Bolsheviks on April 25, 1919. For getting into "a democratic attire" of the plans directed against territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (the first democracy in history of the East), Bolsheviks conducted the 1st regional congress of the workers-n-peasants' deputies and declared founding of the Mughan Soviet Republic with capital in Lankaran.
Being rescued from moving ahead ADR troops, on July 25, 1919 Soviets stay more in Lankaran and kept themselves on the island of Sari. After intrusion of Soviet troops in Azerbaijan on April 27, 1920, and following occupation of Baku, on May 3, 1920 governing power in Lankaran again was again grasped by Soviets. As a territorial-administrative unit, the Lankaran region was founded on August 30, 1930. In 1994 local population encountered as 196,5 thousand.
The Lankaran region takes the first place in the republic for cultivation of rice, tea, citrus, vegetables. The Lankaran land also is rich by mineral, curative sources. 29 thousand hectares of the area of the region is covered with woods. Now Lankaran is one of the developed cities of Azerbaijan. 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 crop is tea, which is processed at a local tea factories. Other industries are centred around food processing, furniture, silk, wood and fine carpets.
In Lenkoran don't miss the 'Maiak', a cylindrical former jail, located in the northeast extreme of town, near the railway. The Maiak has a twin in the opposite site of town who has become a warehouse. The history museum is interesting both for the collection and the building itself. 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. Take your time to taste some of the local tea.
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 (e.g. Gizilaghaj and Demiraghaj).
Lenkaran is famous as the place of the "long-livers" where you can even find 120 years old inhabitants. You may enjoy the delicious fish-cuisine, for example the "Lavangui" fish, stuffed with nuts and raisins.
The city's major landmark is Lankaran Fortress (18th century) and Kichik-Bazar mosque (19th). 100 km from Lankaran lies one of the most medieval beautiful cities - Khanege where you can see the fortifications (12th -14the centuries), a mosque and the tomb of Pir Hussein, a minaret and other ancient structures
Mirakhmad khan's House.
Right in the city centre there is the House of Mirakhmad khan - one of the most beautiful architectural monuments of Lankaran. The palace was constructed in 1913. The elements of national architecture were skillfully used during the house construction in spite of the fact that it was built by French architects. This three-storey palace is considered he first multi-storey building in the city. Northern and western facades of the cit were made of bricks and white stones the eastern and southern ones - from red bricks. The entrance top is decorated with the figures of mythical animals. The columns support the balcony of the second floor.