Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan - Land of fire

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet Republic, at the Caspian Sea, an oil rich nation that enjoys a crucial strategic importance in geopolitical power in the Caucasus. Due to its location, Azerbaijan has been a gate to the east and the west, and the country was an important stopping point on the Silk Road. Over the centuries, Azerbaijan has been incorporated in most regional empires, including the Russian, Turkish and Persian Empire.

 

 With the amazing Caucasus Mountains to the north, lush valleys to the south and large semi-arid stretches in between, Azerbaijan is a beautiful country with a beautiful landscape, though it remained essentially a mystery to modern travelers.

 

 

 

Main tourist attractions

 

 

Watch the flames dance at the Yanar Dag (Mountain of Fire), a short distance from Baku, where underground gas reserves create a wall of fire 10m high.

Buy rare objects of copper, in the Persian mountain city of Lahic. It offers hiking trails, a lovely architecture and thrilling alpine landscapes.

Discover the religion of Zoroaster at the Temple of Fire Ateshgan of Surakhany.
Discover Xinaliq mountain village where you will find a unique ethnic group, consisting of 1,000 fathers who keep their original language, customs and traditions.

Take a tour of the Abshron peninsula beyond Baku and explore the XIV century fortresses built by Shirvanshahs. The best preserved buildings are in Ramana, Nardaran and Mardakan.
Explore Iceri Seher, the walled city inside Baku. Narrow streets, old houses and the abundance of mosques represent the city before the modern boom of the twentieth century.

 

Follow the multiple spiral stairs that go up the Virgin’s Tower, with a view to the Caspian Sea.
Visit mud volcanoes in Qobustan and see the stone writings from the Stone Age and the Bronze Age in a day trip from Baku.

Discover Sheki, one of the most beautiful cities in Azerbaijan, located in a mountain landscape which contains many monasteries from the eighteenth century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomy 

Daily meals consist mainly of bread, cereals, fruits and vegetables. As a snack between meals, people eat pieces of fruit dipped in yogurt. Specific cuisine reflects Russian influences, focusing on bread, potatoes and cabbage. The traditional drink is black tea with sugar cubes. Locals are perfect hosts who love to have guests at their table. Dinner may take three or more hours.

 

History 

 

In ancient times Northern Azerbaijan was called the Albania of the Caucasus. In this area there were many conflicts between Arabs, Turks and Cossacks. After the eleventh century, the territory came under Turkish domination, becoming a center of Shiite Muslim religion and Islamic culture.

 The territory of Soviet Azerbaijan was "purchased" by Russia from Persia through the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813 and the Treaty of Turkamanchai in 1828. After the Bolshevik Revolution, Azerbaijan declared its independence from Russia in May 1918. Republic was conquered by the Red Army in 1920 and annexed to the Transcaucasia Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Azerbaijan declared its independence.

 

                        Since 1988, Azerbaijan and Armenia are fighting over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Most enclaves are inhabited by Armenian Christians who want to secede from the Muslim population and join Armenia. War broke out in 1988 when Nagorno-Karabakh tried to cleave Armenia. When it came to a peace agreement in 1994, the war had already made 30,000 victims. Final status of Nagorno-Karabakh is not yet established.

 

The country hopes to escape economic hardship through foreign investment in Azerbaijan's oil resources, which are estimated to be worth millions of dollars. Since 1994 there have been signed several contracts with international oil companies and foreign investment increased.

 

 

Baku – City Of Gods

 

Baku, the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, is located in the southern Apsheron Peninsula (Abseron by other sources) on the western shore of the Caspian Sea.
The name of Baku means "City of Gods", which reflects a certain reality if we were to consider the words of the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra), whose father is said to have come from the Apsheron Peninsula, where he spent 20 years living in a cave lit by a supernatural flame. First mentioned in the fifth century, Baku city is at least 2000 years old.

 


The Capital consists of three parts: the Old City (Ichari Shahar), the new town and the town built by the former Soviet Union.

The walled city of Baku reveals evidence of Zoroastrian civilization, sasanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvan, Ottoman and Russian, a unique cultural mix and continuity.                        
For this reason this part of town was took under the UNESCO World Heritage.
Most of the walls, consolidated after the Russian conquest in 1806, still survive. The Old City (Ichari Shahar) kept much of its defense walls dating from the twelfth century.


Inside are narrow, winding streets, picturesque maze of narrow lanes (1.5 m wide) designed to counteract strong winds coming off the Caspian Sea.

The Maiden Tower, recognized as the dominant architectural symbol of Baku (Giz Galasy) is built over earlier structures dating back to VII-VI centuries BC. Although the structure appears as a fortress, it is accessible on the north side, where there is a steep stone staircase, circular, in  the exterior walls. The tower, with a height of about eight floors, has an open roof and offers a spectacular view of the entire capital.

The Shirvanshahs palace, dating from the fifteenth century is one of the pearls of Azerbaijan's architecture.
It’s worth a visit to Caravanserais (equivalent to hotels from past centuries, where caravans of camels stopped along the old trade routes).
The modern city extends to the Gulf of Baku. Among the surroundings of the city there are several islands in the bay and an island built on stilts in the Caspian Sea, 100 km from Baku. The new city, located in the south of the site, was built after the start of massive oil exploitation a century ago and has an interesting Beaux-Arts architecture.