Azerbaijan is located in the Caucasus region, a country that straddles Eastern Europe and Western Asia, so expect East and West to meet, you will find a lot of fun here. Located on the Caspian Sea, there are charming subtropical coastal resorts, or you can experience Azerbaijan’s name as the land of fire and head to fiery mountains/mud volcanoes. The hillside city hides ancient mosques and minarets, as well as some of the world’s most impressive modern architecture in the form of Baku’s flame towers, so regardless of schedule and time constraints, Azerbaijan at the crossroads of Europe and Asia offers visitors a lot of.
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These are some of the best attractions not to be missed in Azerbaijan. These places have it all, from ancient architecture to rich culture. Have a look at the list of the best places in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, on the coast of the Caspian Sea, is a rather odd mixture of the ancient walled city of Icheri Sehir and a mania for modern architecture that has led to a boom in skyscrapers, many of which are fitted with LCD screens. Among them, be sure not to miss the Flame Towers, three flame-like towers that cast a bronze glow over the city at night. The city is also home to the latest works from the Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses more than 900 artworks by artists from the region, and is well worth a visit for those interested in modern culture. You can also head to Tees Bazaar, a market famous for its cheeses and spices, to sample local produce, or try the local delicacy, kebabs, at one of the many open-air restaurants located throughout the city.
Known as the “Old Town” and “Fortress”, Icheri Seher is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the heart of Baku, and you’ll find amazing architectural feats in the city’s haven area. These include the Maiden’s Tower, which dates back to the 12th century and is part of the ancient city of Baku, and the Shirvanshah Palace, which was built in the 13th century. Come here not only for architecture but also for handicrafts such as ceramics, as well as textiles such as carpets and traditional Azerbaijani national clothes. There are plenty of shops to choose from in Icheri Seher, ideal if you want to take a leisurely stroll in the historic center of the city and have a chance to buy some souvenirs.
Located in the Azizbeyov district of Baku, Absheron National Park covers an area of 783 hectares and is an ideal place to see the amazing flora and fauna of Azerbaijan. The national park is home to a full range of native wildlife such as deer, birds, jackals, badgers, and Caspian seas. The land here is mostly dry grassland, suitable for romantic rolling sand dunes and reeds swaying in the wind. The water here is known to be very clear and suitable for wildlife, including the occasional eel. If you want to see the famous Caspian seals, you need to visit in September.
Many tourists to Azerbaijan may not know that the country has the most mud volcanoes in the world. 350 to be exact! The most famous of these is Mount Garasu, which is known to spew mud more than 1,000 meters into the air. Volcanoes occur when gas builds up underground and pushes mud up into the air as a release. The first mud volcanoes are said to have erupted in Azerbaijan 25 million years ago, and visitors to Garasu often say they resemble the surface of the moon!
The Naftalan resort is famous for the Naftalan crude oil found here, which is said to have therapeutic properties and has led to a boom in medical tourism in the region. The resort is located in the Naftalan oil field in the city of Naftalan, where tourists come to bathe in the oil or receive a range of oil-based treatments that are said to help relieve pain and heal inflammation. Whether visitors come here for health reasons or just to enjoy this unusual practice, you can still enjoy an oil bath at the resort and try a range of relaxing or invigorating oil treatments at the on-site spa.
Gobustan is often referred to in the UK as the Azerbaijani version of Stonehenge because of its prehistoric cromlech (a vertical circle of stones). However, it doesn’t end there, as Gobustan is an archaeological reserve located in southern Baku that offers insight into ancient civilizations thanks to its more than 6,000 petroglyphs spread over an area of more than 537 hectares. Gobusstein’s discovery points to evidence of habitation dating back to the Stone Age and caves and rock drawings, evidence of human settlement, and even ancient tombstones.
The Caspian Sea is actually the largest lake in the world at 371,000 square kilometers, which is a bit of a misnomer. The Caspian Sea is located in what looks like the bottom of the ocean, and the water here is already salty, although it is less salty than other oceans, which means it’s ideal for swimming as it’s less likely to cause irritation. Popular activities in the Caspian Sea include robotic tours, diving, and fishing.
Officially a protected area in 2003, Shirvan National Park lies beneath the Caspian Sea and now extends over 54,000 hectares south of Baku. This reserve is largely made up of semi-desert landscapes, which means you’ll find expansive sand dunes, a perfect haven for the deer found here, and nature lovers can also spot a variety of species including turtles, hedgehogs, forest cats, and jackals. For those more interested in birds, you’ll find swans and even flamingos in the park, which tend to congregate around the aptly named Flamingo Lake. Mud volcanoes are also common in the park, the most famous of which is Mount Pandovan, which is worth a visit to appreciate this amazing natural phenomenon. For those who want to take the time to enjoy all of the natural attractions here, there are attractive lodge-style accommodations, or, for the more adventurous visitors, camping and permits are available on the park’s north shore.
Nabran is a village turned into what looks like an Azerbaijani resort area, about a 3-hour drive northeast of Baku. The city of Nabran is located on the coast of the Caspian Sea, and one of the main attractions here is the climate, which offers plenty of sunshine in summer. As such, Nabran has a plethora of water activities to take advantage of the surrounding weather, including water parks and various pools throughout the region. In the evening, there are bars, restaurants, and nightclubs for those who want to experience Azerbaijani nightlife.
Located west of Baku, it is known as one of the oldest human settlements in the entire Caucasus, said to date back 2,500 years. Moreover, Sheki was a stop on the Silk Road and was famous for its fine silks and other textiles. This tradition is still very much alive in Sheki today, where visitors can see gorgeous embroidery and other local handicrafts. In addition to the handicrafts found in the city, there are castles, mosques, and even ancient baths, as well as the Kwan Khan Palace, which has been standing since the 18th century. This is even more impressive as an architectural marvel when you consider that the palace was built without nails at all. Be sure to check out the beautiful frescoes and carved windows when visiting.
Come to Yanardag to check out the so-called fiery vents. Yanardag can be translated as “burning mountain” and the hills here appear to be permanently on fire due to gas deposits beneath the surface of the sandstone found here. At dusk, when the flames are clearly visible, tourists flock to this impressive natural phenomenon, and the area is full of quaint tea shops where you can sit comfortably and admire the view while sipping a local beer. Yanardag differs from mud volcanoes also found in Azerbaijan in that there is no lava or mud erupting from the mountain, and the area has great religious significance. The fire is said to have inspired Zoroastrian fire worship.
Baku’s seaside parks and streets are ideal for those visiting the country’s capital, where you’ll find a plethora of activities, including old-fashioned cafes and cafés, perfect for spending a few hours or enjoying seaside classics like locally produced ice cream. The boulevard stretches 5 km along the coast from Flag Square to Baku International Port and is a great place to see the sights of Azerbaijan’s coast. There are entertainment arcades that provide fun for the whole family, and museums like the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum for those who want to learn more about the rich history of Azerbaijan’s textile industry. Visitors can also visit the Baku Crystal Hall, famous for hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, and regularly hosting concerts, music programs, and art exhibitions.
Azerbaijan has long been known as the land of fire due to the burning of oil and gas underground, which is said to have inspired fire worshippers who later established the Zoroastrian faith. In the past, burning gas vents were thought to contain evidence of gods, and ancient temples were built in these places. One of the temples is Ateshgah, located on the outskirts of Surakhany on the outskirts of Baku. Ateshgah is said to date back to the 17th century and the temple complex is hexagonal in shape. There is an altar of fire in the center, and although the natural gas that led to the original construction of the temple had been exhausted, the fire was ignited through a gas pipeline in Baku.
If you want to see burning water, you cannot miss a trip to Yanar Bulag, a strange natural phenomenon located on the road between the cities of Astara and Lankaran. Water is pumped out of the pipes, which can catch fire due to the high levels of natural methane in it, making a difference from water burning. The people of Azerbaijan believe that the water here has healing properties, and most of it is collected as drinking water for the treatment of numerous diseases.
The city of Astara is located in the Astara region of Azerbaijan, bordering the neighboring country of Astara in Iran. Known as one of the most beautiful areas in the country, Astara is surrounded by forests and mountains and has quaint local cafes and restaurants as well as museums. The museum is dedicated to archaeological finds in the area. These include coins and stonework, such as statues of people and animals that are said to be over 2,000 years old. If you venture beyond Astara, you’ll find a charming hill town with ancient mosques, towers, baths, and shrines.
Since 2017, Saba Ghani has been the chief content writer for Pakistan Tour and Travel & EMHI Solutions. You can catch her at [email protected] or Twitter
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