The Journey of the Flame today visited Sheki, sparking fascination among locals as they joined in the Festival of Fire celebrations as part of a country-wide prelude to the European Games, which will take place in Baku in 19 days’ time.
Sheki, set in the forested Caucasus mountains, is one of Azerbaijan’s oldest cities, known for its silk and weaving industries. Residents put aside their work as they welcomed the torch convoy on its journey past the region’s historical monuments.
The Albanian Church of Kish, founded by the first century apostle Eliseus, is said to be the oldest Christian church in the southern Caucasus, and proved a spectacular backdrop to the first photoshoot of the day. Next was the Palace of Sheki Khans, unique in that the six-bedroom, four-corridor masterpiece was built without the use of nails or glue.
Mammadnuru Azizov, the first torchbearer, began the relay segment of the day’s festivities before passing the flame to Agshin Ibrahimov. Zamina Rasulova, Ravan Hamzazade, Seymur Gasimzade, Bakir Khalilov, Vugar Isgandarov, Intigam Amrahov and Sadagat Mammadzade continued through Mirza Fatali Akhundzade Avenue and 20 January Street on to Heydar Aliyev Avenue. The final torchbearer, Dashgin Mikayilov, completed the 2.2km route to deafening applause as he brought his torch to the stage for the special lighting ceremony.
Local residents were later treated to a free evening event which included a spectacular fire show specially created for the Festival of Fire celebrations, which lasted fifteen minutes and kept the audience enthralled. Official mascots Jeyran and Nar mingled with spectators and watched as doves and balloons, symbols of peace, were released into the sky.
Tomorrow, the Journey of the Flame will continue to Ismayilli for a smaller welcome ceremony and on to Gabala for another spectacular Festival of Fire.
To see highlights of this week’s Journey of the Flame, please click on the following link: http://we.tl/OsCJ2CRe7y
For further information on the Journey of the Flame, please visit www.baku2015.com/flame