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Azerbaijan – The Land of Fire
March 4, 2018, 2:59 pm

Azerbaijan, in the Caucuses region, is a country that straddles both Eastern Europe and Western Asia, so expect a clash of East meets West and you will find a lot to enjoy here. Located on the Caspian Sea, there are quaint subtropical seaside resorts, or you can embrace Azerbaijan’s name as the Land of Fire with a trip to a flaming mountain or a mud volcano. There are hillside towns that hide ancient mosques and minarets, as well as some of the most impressive modern architecture in the world in the form of the Flame Towers in Baku, so whatever your agenda and time restrictions, Azerbaijan has much to offer visitors at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Baku: The capital city of Azerbaijan, Baku lies along the Caspian Sea, and is a somewhat curious mix of the old walled city of Icheri Seher, and a modern building craze that has led to a boom in skyscrapers. Of all of these, make sure that you do not miss the Flame Towers, three towers built to resemble fire that cast a bronzed glow over the city at night.

Qabala: Also called Gabala, this city is rich in ancient history, having been the former capital of Caucasian Albania for over 600 years. Archaeological remains of the former capital lie about 20km to the southwest of the present city. With its rich history, the city has a number of historical and cultural monuments of different eras. The town has beautiful camping sites, breathtaking nature, amazing recreation sites and well developed infrastructure attracting thousands of travelers annually.

Astara: The city of Astara, the capital of Astara Rayon district of Azerbaijan, is just across the border from neighboring Iran. Famed for being one of the most beautiful areas of the country, surrounded by forest and mountains, the city of Astara itself has picturesque cafes and local restaurants, as well as a museum which is dedicated to archaeological finds in the region.

Sheki City: Found to the west of Baku, this is famed as one of the oldest human settlements in all of the Caucasus and is said to date back 2500 years. Sheki City was a stop off on the Silk Road and was famous for exquisite silks and other textiles. This tradition is still very much alive and visitors here will find ornate embroidery and other local handicrafts on offer. In addition to the arts and crafts, there are also castles, mosques, and even ancient bathhouses, as well as the Palace of Seki Khans that has stood since the 18th Century.

Nabran: This is a village that has turned into something of a resort zone in Azerbaijan and is found approximately three hours outside of Baku. Nabran lies on the banks of the Caspian Sea, and one of the great attractions here is the climate which provides plenty of sunshine in the summer months. As such, Nabran has a plethora of water based activities that make the most of the ambient weather, including an aqua park and a variety of swimming pools all over the area.

Icheri Seher: Known as ‘Old City’ and ‘Fortress’, Icheri Seher is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the center of Baku. Here, you will find amazing architectural feats which include Maiden Tower that dates from the 12th century and was part of the ancient walled city of Baku, as well as Shirvan Shah Palace that was constructed in the 13th century. Come here not just for the architecture but also for the handicrafts, such as ceramics, as well as textiles like carpets and traditional Azerbaijan national clothes.

The Caspian Sea: Something of a misnomer, the Caspian Sea is actually the largest lake in the world, and measures a whopping 371,000 square kilometers. The Caspian Sea is the perfect place for swimming and popular activities here include boat cruises, diving opportunities, and fishing.

Garasu Volcano: Many visitors to Azerbaijan may not know that the country has the highest number of mud volcanoes in the world - 350 to be exact. One of the best known is Garasu Volcano that has been known to spew mud over 1,000 meters into the air. The volcanoes are caused when gases under the earth build up and push the mud high into the air as a release. The first mud volcanoes are said to have erupted 25 million years ago, and visitors to Garasu often say that it looks like the surface of the moon.

Yanardag: Come to Yanardag to see what are known as burning flame outlets. Yarnadag can be translated as ‘burning mountain’ and the hills here appear to be permanently ablaze due to the gas deposits under the surface of the sandstone found here. Visitors flock to this impressive natural phenomenon at dusk when the flames are most clearly visible, and the area is also studded with quaint teashops where you can sit in comfort and watch the spectacle as you sip a local beverage.

Gobustan: Often referred to as the Azerbaijan version of Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, Gobustan features a prehistoric cromlech (a circle of stones that have been positioned vertically). It does not end there however, as Gobustan is an archaeological reserve that lies to the south of Baku and offers a fascinating insight into ancient civilizations due to over 6,000 rock drawings that span over 537 hectares. The findings in Gobustan point to evidence of habitation dating back from the Stone Age, and aside from the cave and rock drawings, there is also evidence of human settlements, and even ancient tombstones.

Shirvan National Park: Formally established as a protected area in 2003, Shirvan National Park used to be located under the Caspian Sea, and now spans over 54,000 hectares to the south of Baku. This protected area is made up largely of semi-desert landscape meaning that you will find ambling sand dunes that are the perfect hideaway for the gazelles found here, and nature lovers may also spot a diverse array of species including turtles, hedgehogs, jungle cats, and jackals. For those more interested in bird life, you will find swans and even flamingos in the park. Mud volcanoes are also commonly found in the park, the most famous being Bandovan Mountain.

Absheron National Park: Sitting in the Azizbeyov region of the city of Baku, Absheron National Park spans 783 hectares of protected land and is the perfect place to witness the stunning flora and fauna of Azerbaijan. The national park has a whole host of local wildlife such as gazelles, birds, jackals, badgers, and Caspian seals. The land here is mostly dry steppe, which lends itself to romantic rolling sand dunes and reed like grass that sways in the wind. The waters here are also known to be crystal clear and teaming with wildlife including the occasional sea snake.

Baku Seaside Park: This is the place to come for those visiting the country’s capital. Here you will find a wealth of activities including old fashioned tea shops and cafes that are perfect for whiling away the hours or indulging in a classic seaside treat like locally produced ice cream.


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