Baku - Absheron
The capital of Azerbaijan, where past and present intricately intertwined, have always attracted tourists. Of particular interest to guests of Baku is Old City, enclosed within the fortress walls, or Icheri Sheher (Inner City). This open-air museum, together with famous Maiden Tower (XII c.) located here is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The architectural appearance of a fortress differs by its unique originality. It contains 44 monuments of medieval architecture, including the unique Palace of the Shirvanshahs, former residence of the rulers of Shirvan (XV c.). 30 km away from Baku, in Surakhani village, there is a Zoroastrian monument – fire worshipers’ temple "Ateshgah". A little further into the village of Gobustan (60 km away from Baku), there is a rare monument of world culture, one of the earliest centers of human civilization, where 4,000 rock drawings of people and animals were found. This historical-art reserve is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Of no less interest for the guests is the modern appearance of the capital. Among the new hallmarks of Baku one can distinguish the magnificent building complex Flame Towers, the sports and leisure complex Crystal Hall, which held the Eurovision song contest in 2012, the Cultural Center named after Heydar Aliyev and others. A favorite walking place for locals and guests is the City Seaside Park (or Boulevard), shining with neon lights. In Baku there are also many shopping centers, boutiques, movie theaters, concert and exhibition venues, museums, restaurants, and world famous brands hotels.
Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, a major scientific and technical, industrial and cultural center of the country.
Any part of Azerbaijan from its architectural and historical point of view can attract tourists but numerous monuments of Baku provoke a keen interest of tourists. First of all this is the old part of the city – fortress Icheri Sheher which together with the adjacent legendary Maiden Tower (XII century) is included into the list of world heritage sites. The architectural aspect of the fortress differs by unique originality; there are 44 monuments of medieval architecture. Among them: a unique Shirvanshahs’ palace, the former residence of the rulers of Shirvan (XV century), minaret Sinik – gala (XI cenetury), mosques, caravanserais, baths. This is a real ethnographic treasure for lovers of the antique.
At the distance of 30km from Baku in the Surakhani village is located not less exotic ancient monument – a temple of fire-worshipers “Ateshgah” – a page in the chronicle of Zoroastrizm. At a little distance from here in the Gobustan village (60 km from Baku) is a rare monument of world culture, one of the earliest centers of human civilization. Here were found about 4,000 rock paintings of people and animals ( petroglyphs ), 20 caves where our ancestors lived. The Azerbaijan Historical-Artistic Reserve was founded here and the monument itself was included into the list of UNESCO World Heritage.
The modern face of the city is of equal interest for the visitors. The following characters in Baku could be marked out: buildings of Flame Towers, the sport and entertainment complex Crystal Hall which held a Eurovision contest in 2012, the cultural center of Heydar Aliyev Foundation and others.
A favorite place for walks for residents and guests of the capital remains transformed and shining by neon lights city Seaside park. There is a great number of modern shopping and entertainment centers (SEC), sports centers, cinemas, concert and exhibition centers, museums, parks, etc. in Baku.
You can go to the SEC Park Bulvar, 28 Mall or Metropark where after strolling about boutiques to your hearts content you may have a lunch or dinner at many cafes and restaurants there. And for dessert you can watch the latest movie in perfectly equipped movie theatres, to play bawling or do some shooting on the rides.
By the way, the largest indoor amusement arcade in Europe – Megafon is also located in the capital of Azerbaijan. And thats not all! To the delight of devoted moviegoers the biggest in Caucasus region screen with a width of 18 meters was installed in the cinema center “Nizami”.
Baku – city of women of fashion and men of fashion. Brand stores of clothes and footwear are scattered all over the capital, the most fashionable of them – Armani, Versace, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and more lined up in orderly rows along the central Neftchilar avenue which is opposite the Boulevard. Lovers of cultural activities and good music also will not be bored. Concerts of world scene stars are regularly hosted by Crystal Hall complex and Palace named after Heydar Aliyev. You can enjoy classic and symphonic music in the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society and the State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet. Jazz fans are advised to attend concerts regularly organized in Baku Jazz Center. In addition a traditional jazz festival is held in Baku every fall.
You can also visit museums, art galleries, to go with kids to Luna Park, Circus, zoo, to go boating in Baku Venice at the Boulevard. We advise you to visit the Upland Park where the best to go up by cable car. From its viewing platform the city and the bay will be in a clear view.
To get acquainted with the rich national cuisine of Azerbaijan is also very easy, just go to any of the many city restaurants where you will be treated with love to kebabs, dolma or pilaf.
In short, no one will be bored in the capital of Azerbaijan and all will find something to their liking.
There is a large number of high quality brand hotels for the convenience of tourists in the capital: Four Seasons Hotel Baku, Hyatt Regency, JW Marriott Absheron Baku Hotel, Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel, Grand Hotel Europe, Hilton Baku, Kempinski Hotel Badamdar and others. Guests will not face to the problems with accommodation and relaxation.
Economic region: Absheron economic region
Area: 1360 km²
Populationi: 195,1 thsd person
Density of population: 143 person /km²
Number of inhabited settlements: 8 villages, 7 settlements
Absheron peninsula covering an area of 8 thousand square kilometers is an important industrial and agricultural region of Azerbaijan. Climate of the peninsula is mainly dry subtropical with mild winter and hot summer.
Washed by Caspian Sea Absheron is especially famous for its sandy beaches and numerous suburban settlements. It is a favorite place of summer pastime of metropolitan residents. Seaside resorts located near Baku – Mardakan, Buzovna, Zagulba, Bilgah, Pirshagi, Shikho, Novkhani, etc. are filled in the season with vacationers from all over the country and from abroad.
The developed infrastructure of the local beaches – hotels, water parks, restaurants, etc. creates favorable opportunities for the development of all types of beach and medical tourism.
Absheron peninsula being inhabited since ancient times has preserved a number of historical monuments: Nardaran castle with a high tower in Nardaran settlement (XIV century), Round castle (1232) and Quadrangular castle (XII century) in Mardakan settlement, fire temple “Ateshgah” (XVII-XVIII centuries) in the settlement of Surakhani, castle of the middle of XIV century in Ramana settlement and others.
If you are in Baku take some time to visit its surroundings. You will enjoy the cozy oriental style Absheron villages, ancient towers that the peninsula is rich of, Arboretum in Mardakan where the museum-house of the poet Sergei Yesenin is also located, Yanar Dagh – Mount of burning fires, and also generous gifts that the land of Absheron is full of and the hospitality of the local residents.
Distance from Baku: 104 km
Population: 15,3 thsd person
How to get to: Auto transportation: buses Baku - Khizi
At the distance of 104 km from Baku is located a mountainous region with mild and dry climate called Khizi. Here is one of the main natural attractions of the area – the legendary mountain Beshbarmag, named so because of its unusual shape resembling a stone hand menacingly raised over the ancient caravan route. At the top among the teeth of the rocks are the ruins of the sanctuary “Hyzirzinde” (eternally living Hizir).
Any traveler knows this place because it cant be avoided while driving on the road leading from the capital to the north, and tourists enjoy admiring the forbidding rock. You can exit the car, warm up after a long journey, drink tea, eat barbeque or boiled corn in season. Those interested can visit the mosque here.
There are many historical monuments in the area. Beshbarmag tower built in the middle of VIII century is located at the distance of 9 km from the center of the district. The ruins of an ancient city of V century are at the distance of 8 km and Mausoleum of Sheikh Heydar is located in Alashirin village in 5 km from the center of the district.
In Khizi district is located the one of the most beautiful parts of Azerbaijan – Altiagach Reserve, also called “Jannat Bagi” – “The Garden of Eden”. Forests cover 90% of the territory of the reserve, actually it was founded to prevent erosion in the south-eastern slopes of the Great Caucasus and for conservation of rare species of animals and plants.
There is also a small zoo for the tourists which represents the fauna of the reserve. In this zoo live as neighbors brown bears, deer, mountain goats, swans, monkeys and even pure-bred dogs. Clean air and silence occasionally interrupted by cackling geese give a rest to the soul inspired by the amazing beauty of the surrounding mountains.
Its interesting that the layered mountains located in Khizi create the illusion of a huge agate – sardonyx. They are not high, the highest point – 958 meters above sea level is on the mountain Saraku. In some areas one flank of hill is used as winter pasture and the other – as the summer one. Outputs of the different geological layers on the surface are forming a kind of original by color landscape. Experts assert that this geological phenomenon can be observed in only one place on Earth – in Death Valley, USA.
History tells us that here in Altiagach in the reign of Shirvanshahs was one or the caravan parks. And since the word “agach” means not only “tree” but the measure of the length (7km) which was once in use, then this name in translation means “six Agach”, that is 42 km, which equals the distance from here to the city of Shamakhi. Long time ago here was an ancient caravan route linking Shamakhi with Derbent. And nowadays fans of hiking make their hikes from here towards Maraza and Shamakhi.
At the distance of 8 km from Khizi there is one more recreation area where the house-museum of the founder of Azerbaijan drama Jafar Kabbarli is located. Furthermore Khizi is a homeland of another outstanding representative of Azerbaijani literature – poet Mikail Mushfig, whose house-museum is also opened to visitors.
Sixty km south of Baku, on an area of 537 hectares, there is one of the worlds largest ancient petroglyphs collections counting more than 4,000 petroglyphs. In the Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Reserve one can see the settlements of the ancient people, the remains of the large prehistoric Stone Circle and other evidences of the Stone Age and later inhabitants of the region. Gobustan petroglyphs were repeatedly investigated by the famous Norwegian explorer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, who recognized local boats petroglyphs as the oldest known images of pirogue in the world. These vessels, similar to the old Scandinavian ships, prompted him to make sensational hypothesis statement about the connection between Norwegians and Azerbaijanis. Thor Heyerdahl concluded that the ancestors of the Scandinavians were the migrants from Azerbaijan region. Of special interest of the tourists is also a stone slab with a Latin inscription dated by the first century. The stone lab was left here by XII Roman legion of the Emperor Domitian, which indicates that legion had stayed here. Cultural Landscape of Gobustan petroglyphs is listed in UNESCO World Heritage List.
Distance from Baku: 101 km
Population: 40 thousand people (updated on 1 January, 2009).
How to get to: Auto transportation: buses Baku - Maraza.
Geographically, Gobustan District is one of the closest to the capital city regions of Azerbaijan and situated on 90th km of Baku-Shamakhi Road. The administrative center of the district is an ancient city called Maraza. Not long ago, before 1990 (the year when Gobustan District was established) Maraza city was a constituent of Shamakhi District.
From this mountainous terrain the land of ancient Shirvan takes its beginning. In the 8th-16th centuries one of principal states of Azerbaijan - the state of Shirvanshahs with the capital in Shamakhi was located on the territory of ancient Shirvan. The word “Gobu” in Azerbaijani means “ravine”. By this toponym it becomes easy for us to understand what kind of landscape this area consists of – ravines, gullies, craggy canyons. It is very beautiful here in spring time – poppies, chamomiles, and irises blooming all around.
There are numerous natural and historical monuments still continuing their existence from that time. The most peculiar and attractive sight for tourists are the cave labyrinths (kures) located in a canyon not far off the town in the village of Sunlu.
The labyrinths introduce a natural galleries and grottos system. These galleries and grottos were artificially enlarged and made suitable for housing in the Middle Ages when Azerbaijan faced with internal power struggles and attacks of foreign invaders.
Here you can also observe a unique natural phenomenon, which is called Aglayan Gaya ("Weeping Rock"). According to a legend these are the tears of a mother mourning over her fallen sons-warriors. Another interesting sight near to Maraza is a mineral spring with brackish water, which is said to cure certain gastrointestinal diseases.
However, Diri Baba grand mausoleum of 15th century is the most famous attraction of the district. The majestic monument is preserved in the surroundings of Maraza City.
People of this land from ancient times were involved in the carpet weaving business. Local carpet patterns such as “Maraza”, Chukhanli , and “Jamjamli” are known all around the world. And today in Nabur Village, people still weave handmade carpets known as Nabur carpets.
Maraza is not a big city, and it doesn’t have any hotel. That’s why, for accommodation purposes, visitors can rent a room or even a house here.