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(CNN) — Before Azerbaijan was famous for oil, it was a land of silk and spices. At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, bordered by the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, it was an important thoroughfare on the Silk Road, the ancient web of trade routes linking East and West. By the 19th century, Sheki, on the Silk Road path through northwest Azerbaijan, was an international center for silk production. Today, it's one of Azerbaijan's most picturesque towns, filled with cobbled streets and medieval architecture: a fresh, bucolic retreat from the more arid south. CARAVANSERAI ROADSIDE INNS. High in the Caucasus Mountains, shielded from the world by forest-covered mountains, passing trader... Full story

2 August