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"Gastronomy" theme of Lankaran city

The city of Lankaran is located in the south-east of Azerbaijan, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, in the direction of the Baku-Astara railway, 268 km from Baku. It is located mainly in the Lankaran lowland, partly in the foothills of the Alashar-Burovar range. The city has a population of 52,952. (According to the statistics of January 1, 2020).     

In order to investigate the origin of the word Lankaran, we must first look at the history of the use of this name. The name Lankaran is first found in medieval sources. The first information in this regard is found in the work "Safvatus-safa" authored by Tavakkul ibn Bazzaz in 1357 as "Langarkonan" place of residence. In general, researchers note that the place name "Lankaran" existed in the XV-XVI centuries.  

Some researchers have suggested that the word "Lankaran" originated in Persian, while others believe that it comes from the Talysh language. For example, in the dictionary of geographical names published in Moscow in 1906, edited by V.A. Nikonov, the word "Lankaran" was developed to mean "the place where the anchor is dropped" (V.A. Nikonov. Short Dictionary of Toponymy, M., 1906, p. 232). 

Historian-ethnographer Saidali Kazimbayoglu in his work "Saidiyya" and Mirza Ahmad Khudaverdi oglu in the work "Historical Lankaran and Talysh" supposed that the word "Lankaran" originated from the word "Langarkunan".

The exact date of the foundation of Lankaran has not been determined. In a number of books on history and ethnography, the name of the city appears in various forms as Langargunan, Lankon, Leynekaran, Lenkoran, Legokoran, etc. 

"Lankaran region was part of different Azerbaijani states - Manna, Atropatena, Sajilar, Salarilar, Atabeylar, Garagoyunlu, Aghgoyunlu and Safavis at various times. Archaeological excavations carried out in the area confirm that people lived in these areas as early as the Bronze Age, i.e. in the III-II millennia BC. Its favorable economic and geographical position, charming nature, wide connections, location on the main caravan routes connecting West and East and on the shores of the Caspian Sea have significantly accelerated its development" (S. Abdullayeva. The place and role of Lankaran in the history of statehood and culture of Azerbaijan, "525th newspaper ", 12-13.11.2015).

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Lankaran was plundered by the rulers of Gilan, Agha Mahammad Shah Gajar, and later by the Iranian ruler Fatali Shah, and was repeatedly destroyed. Talysh ruler Mirmustafa khan, who was unable to fight the Iranian aggressors alone, was obliged to seek the help of the Russians.

Lankaran was a small settlement until the 18th century. According to Ambassador Artemiy Volonsky, who was sent to Iran by Peter I, there were about 200 houses in Lankaran at that time. "Lankaran began to develop in the second half of the XVIII century. During the reign of Gara Khan (1747-1786) the center of the Talysh khanate was moved from Astara to Lankaran. There was a positive development in the economic, political and cultural life of Lankaran, crafts and trade were developed. Lankaran began to play an important role in trade with Iran, Central Asia, India and Russia. Lankaran was considered one of the main ports of the Caspian Sea. A defensive fortress was built in Lankaran in the 18th century. At the end of the 18th century, the troops of Agha Mahammad Shah Gajar attacked Lankaran. In 1812, a battle took place between Iranian and Russian troops near the Lankaran fortress. On January 1, 1813, the Russian troops headed by General P. S. Kotlyarevski captured Lankaran with a decisive attack. According to the Gulustan peace treaty (1813), Lankaran was annexed to Russia and became the center of the province" (ASE, Volume VI, B., 1982, p. 213).

Lankaran's favorable location and ability to communicate with other places by caravan and sea route led to its transformation into the capital of the Talish khanate in 1747. 

In 1826, the tsarist government permanently abolished the khanate in Talysh and it became one of the provinces of the Russian Empire. In 1896, the city self-government was established in Lankaran.

In the following years, new pages were written in the history of Lankaran as well. "After the February bourgeois-democratic revolution (1917), Soviets were established in Lankaran. Soviet power was established in Lankaran on April 14, 1918. In the summer of 1918, as a result of pressure from foreign invaders and internal counter-revolutionaries, the Soviet power was overthrown in Lankaran. On April 25, 1919, Soviet power was restored in Lankaran (see Mughan Soviet Republic). On July 28, 1919, Soviet power in Lankaran collapsed again. On May 3, 1920, Soviet power was established in Lankaran " (p. 213).

Located in the subtropical climate zone of the world, Lankaran is the second humid subtropical region in the CIS. The climate here is Mediterranean and is characterized by mild autumn, winter and spring and hot and dry summer.

Today, Lankaran is one of the rapidly developing cities of the independent Azerbaijani state. Historically, Lankaran has been famous for its high-quality fragrant tea, rice, fresh vegetables, citrus fruits, beautiful nature and natural resources. It is gratifying that this wonderful tradition continues today with the constant attention and care of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, and high results are being achieved in the region in these areas. Tea cultivation is one of the priority areas of agriculture in Lankaran, located in the subtropical zone.

The most popular local dish in Lankaran is lavangi. This dish is made of chicken or fish stuffed with sour paste, walnuts, onions and sumac, and is baked inside cylindrical clay ovens, which are traditionally used to bake the tandir bread. This rich cuisine also includes other dishes - kulcha, pumpkin and lentil pilafs, as well as dozens of dishes made from fisinjan and fish. Vegetarian dishes are prepared with onions and greens and served with thin lavash bread. All this is an indication of how rich Lankaran is in the field of gastronomy.

On November 8, 2021, as a result of the efforts of the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Azerbaijan to UNESCO, the city of Lankaran was included in the list of creative cities on the "gastronomy" theme of the network.

By the decision of UNESCO Director-General Odre Azule, 49 cities have been included in the list of "Network of Creative Cities". The network has aroused great interest in local communities and reflects the diversity of typology and geographical balance of cities with the new list. Since 2004, the creative potential of the members of the network is determined by seven themes: art and crafts, folk art, design, cinema, gastronomy, literature, media and music.    

The network includes 295 cities from 90 countries that invest in culture and creativity - arts and crafts, design, cinema, gastronomy, literature, media arts and music - to develop a sustainable urban strategy. 

On the occasion of the World Cities Day 2021, the City of Lankaran was included in the list of creative cities on the theme of "gastronomy" by the UNESCO Cities Platform. This is the third city in the list of creative cities in Azerbaijan.

On October 31, 2017, the city of Sheki was included in the "Network of Creative Cities" on "crafts and folk art", and on October 31, 2019, the city of Baku was included in the "Network of Creative Cities" on the theme of "design".