Qusar (Gusari, Ktsar)
Cities&Places Qusar is a sort of capital for the northern Lezghian minority and is home to the 'Lezghian National Theatre'. While much of the population still speaks Lezghi the town isn't visibly much different from other provincial centres. It does, however, have a fine, if distant mountain backdrop; Mt Shahdag (sacred in local tradition) is visible from the bridges and from a cliff-top teahouse at the western end of town.
A footbridge in the valley beyond leading to Qayakand village offers a short-cut to the bizarre Qarabulaq resort which is an attraction in itself and offers a nice base from which to explore the region
Qusar's finest building is the big, Turkish-style Mustafa Kazdal mosque. Built in 1998 it has a beautiful blue-tiled Mehrab and grand, spired minbar. Across the road, the historical museum's displays include a piece of German WWII plane that fell nearby in 1942.
EXCURSIONS FROM QUSAR
With a car you can get to interesting Aniq but a 4WD is needed to reach lovely Laza. The road most of the way to Hazra is smoothly paved and Hil is worth a look, but the border road, while passable, is becoming ever more degraded.
The final approach to Laza is on rough 4WD tracks across attractive grassy down-land (beware of sheep-dogs), though the worst muddy ruts have been filled with gravel allowing a daily bus to trundle along the route. The views from a bolderstrewn precipice known as the 'Gates of Laza' are particularly impressive.
Laza (Lazar, Qusari Laza)
Laza has a very picturesque mountain-framed setting. It is surrounded by curious erosion features and several high waterfalls, albeit exaggerated in volume in the famous Bahlulzade painting.
The tiny centre of the village is clustered between a rocky knob and a cliff face where you'll find the Haji Zangi Baba pir. Some of the older houses were washed away during a flood in September 1993 and have been rebuilt in a rather diffuse sprawl further south. The disused ah1317 (1899), space-ship-roofed mosque is the third to have been built on the site.
It is a gorgeous and relatively straightforward one-day hike from Laza to Xinahq (impossible by vehicle), if you have the time it's worth camping en route in the lovely meadows beneath Shahdag. Make sure you bring all your own food, water and cooking matenals - there's no firewood en route and the river-water at the camp-site is full of silt.