You know how in In Bruges, the characters keep repeating in reference to the city, “It’s like a f—in’ fairytale or something.”
That’s exactly how I felt when I went to this monastery in the tiny Azerbaijani village of Kish.
Forget Bruges, this is a fairy tale. That ‘happy place’ that people claim to go to when they’re stressed? This is it. It’s real, and it exists in the mountains of the Azerbaijani countryside.
I am not a quiet-loving person. I prefer noise, hubbub, chaos: I’ll take the soundtrack of the city over the silence of the country any day. As a child my parents had to play various music tapes to get me to sleep; these days the television (put on timer to save electricity, of course) acts as my lullaby.
This Albanian monastery took my breath away. I’ve never felt more at peace, nor more happy to be so.
From the moment I walked through the gates, I was entranced. Clouds hung perfectly, lazily, on the mountains in the distance. The gardens were silent, the rose bushes manicured and in bloom. I felt like the prince stepping into Sleeping Beauty’s time-frozen kindgom.
There was something magical about this place. Everyone could tell. The others, normally rowdy and rambunctious, finally quieted down — some walked around, exploring the tiny museum inside the medieval church, others sat on benches in the gardens and simply rested, staring wistfully into the mountains.
(Then again, I could have mistaken boredom for wistfulness, but I’m choosing to think they were as bewitched as I was.)
Maybe it was the remoteness of it all: knowing I was high in the mountains, hundreds of miles away from big cities, bright lights, first-world problems.
Maybe it was the antiquity: knowing this temple lasted from the first century, that the simple, beautiful things stand the test of time — made my present day worries seem less urgent.
Whatever it was, something in me changed that day. If nothing else, now I have a happy place…and it is just like a f—ing fairytale.
No words could describe how much I loved this place. If you ever find yourself in northern Azerbaijan, you absolutely must go to Sheki and hire a taxi driver to take you the three kilometers into the village of Kish to see this monastery.