Distance from Baku: 375 km
Population: 321,1 thsd person
How to get to: By air: flights Baku – Gandja, Moscow – Gandja, Istanbul – Gandja
Auto transportation: buses Baku - Gandja, Tbilisi – Gandja,
By train: Baku - Gandja
Gandja is the second largest city in the country, a monument of the ancient culture, the industrial center of western Azerbaijan. City with a history that goes back to 494 BC (in 2013 Gandja celebrates 2507 anniversary) is of great interest for tourists. This area has a rich natural, cultural and historical heritage.
There are a lot of forests, vineyards, lakes, rivers and mountains. The area is famous for many mineral springs and unique medicinal oil – Naphthalan. This natural substance is used as the most effective drug for the treatment of dermatological, rheumatic and neurological diseases. The Gandja sanatorium “Naftalan” is located in the heart of the ancient capital of Azerbaijan.
In addition in 48 km to the south-east (50 minutes) from Gandja there is a city Naftalan where are many specialized clinics.
This region is famous by its Goygol reserve which is the first reserve in Azerbaijan. A large mountain lake Goygol surrounded by the mountains of the Lesser Caucasus was formed at the result of devastating earthquake that destroyed the mountain Kapaz (XII century). The waters of the lake which is located at 1,600 meters above sew level in the picturesque ravine of Agsu river look like a large aquarium with beautiful fish fauna. Here for example lives a rare lake trout. The color and water clarity are striking: it is the purest of many mountain water basins in Caucasus. The lake is about 2,5 km long and 600 m wide and 93 m depth. It freezes from January to March.
Steep banks of Goygol are covered with dense oak and hornbeam forests. There are fruit trees such an apple, pear, cherry and plum too. In the rainy season on the shores of the lake you can pick mushrooms and berries. There are deer, wild boars, bears, wolves, lynx and many other species of animals in the forest. This area is ideal for swimming, walking, travelling, family picnics.
Gandja is a mover land of the great Nizami. Being in Gandja you can’t escape visitation to the mausoleum of the great poet with a marble monument to the poet nearby with height of 20 meters. Behind it are cast in metal figures depicting scenes from Nizami poems. There are museum, art gallery, theater of poetry named after Nizami.
City of the ancient culture Gandja has preserved the beautiful face of the city with many monuments of architecture.
There is a local fad – Bottle House, a two-storey building constructed of approximately 50,000 bottles. It was built by Ibrahim Jafarov in 1966 in honor of his brother missing in the Great Patriotic War.
Gandja has many parks and picturesque alleys comfortable for walking in the summer day, the largest and most beautiful of which is “Khan Baghi” (“Khan’s garden”), named so in the reign of Javad Khan (1748-1803).
There is also Olympic Complex with its various sports equipment and infrastructure.
You are also encouraged to visit Gandja market where you can buy and taste the local natural foods. And to have something to put them all into please pay attention to the local baskets sold here – “syabat”. Only in this amazing city they weave baskets from river cane. Although other baskets weave of course in other regions of Azerbaijan, but from river cane – only in Gandja and its surroundings.
Sure, this ancient and ever young city has an amazing aura. It attracts everyone who’s ever been here. Visit Gandja and maybe you will want to come back here not only once.
Distance with Baku: 330 km
Population: 9,3 thsd person
How to get to: Auto transportation: buses Baku – Gandja – Naftalan
Naftalan city is a well-known petroleum spa resort, the center of medical tourism in Azerbaijan. It is located 330 km west of Baku and 50 km away from Ganja, the second largest city in the country. There is a unique naftalan oil in Naftalan that has no analogues in the world. It is a viscous liquid with distinguished black-brown and brown color and a specific odor. The uniqueness and high efficiency of naftalan oil is confirmed by numerous scientific studies and more than 100 years of experience in treatment of various diseases. The curative naftalan oil in the combination with other methods of recreational therapy and natural factors (favorable environmental conditions and clean pine air) is very helpful in the treatment of musculoskeletal system diseases, as well as neurological, urological, gynecological, skin and other diseases in adults and children.
Naftalan today is a modern recreation and rehabilitation center, with natural factors, achievements of resort medicine, European comfort, Azeri hospitality and affordable prices for tickets combining to make this a unique cultural experience.
In addition, this city has unique "Museum of crutches". Here you can see hundreds of crutches of various designs and sizes. They were left and signed by those who on arrival at the resort could not walk without them.
Naftalan city is located at the distance of 330 km to the west of Baku and in 50 km from Gandja. It is a well known spa resort and the center of medical tourism of Azerbaijan which has unique natural factors that by their medical properties are never met elsewhere in the world!
The main treasure of the resort is a naphthalan oilfield. Naphthalan oil is a viscous liquid of black-brown and brown color with specific odor. Uniqueness and high efficiency of naphthalan are confirmed by numerous scientific studies and by more than 100 years of experience in the treatment of a number of diseases.
As a resort Naftalan is known since 1926, when there appeared specialized recreational and health places around the field. Patients from all over the Soviet Union came here.
Today Naftalan is a modern center of leisure and health, organically combining the natural factors, achievements of resort medicine, European comfort, Azerbaijani hospitality and affordable prices on tours.
As a part of a large state program of Naftalan’s recovery there were four sanatoriums of European standards built there and three more are in the process of construction. Among the known objects are: medical-prophylactic center Chinar Hotel & Spa, health center “Naftalan”, sanatorium “Gashalty” and others.
By the way, there is the only in the world “Museum of crutches” in Naftalan. Here you can see hundreds of crutches of various designs and sizes. They are left here and signed by those who on arrival at the resort could not walk without crutches.
In Naftalan sanatoriums offer not only treatment but also relaxation in favorable environment. Modern resorts and hotels in Azerbaijan are equipped in accordance with the latest trends of the industry of hospitality and have not only comfortable rooms but cozy restaurants and bars with a wide selection of food and drinks, indoor pools, bath complexes, spa centers and centers of leisure activities and entertainment.
It should be noted that the nature of this region is very rich and this area is characterized by the beauty of its landscapes. Staying in Naftalan you can easily visit the scenic areas of surrounding towns and villages. For example you can pay a visit to the ancient city Gandja (50 minutes by bus) which is visited by the most curious tourists.
Thus they come to Naftalan not only for good health but for bright impressions and good mood for years!
Distance with Baku: 439 km
Population: 162,8 thsd person
How to reach: Auto transportation: buses Baku – Tovuz – 9 hours; By train: Gandja – Agstafa, Baku – Gazakh, Baku - Agstafa, Baku - Tbilisi - 10 hours
Tovuz district is located in the western part of Azerbaijan on the border with Georgia and Armenia. The name of the city in accordance to the ancient Turkish written sources descended from the merge of the names of two kindred Turkish tribes – Oguz and Toguz. This merge took place exactly here, that is why it was fixed as a toponym. Tovuz has a rich history and a lot of places of interest.
Rivers Kura, Akhindja, Tovuz, Zyam run here. There are many forests on the mountain slopes rich in flora and fauna as well as places where springs are purling. It is home for wolves, foxes, hares, francolins, partridges, etc. It is permitted to hunt mostly hares and swimming birds.
The biggest tourist attraction in Tovuz is a hotel “Ayan Palace”. At the well equipped territory of this hotel a big restaurant, a banquet hall, a spa, a swimming pool and fitness centre are functioning.
Tourists often stay with local residents who rent rooms or houses. You can also rent a room at the local motel “Gunay”.
There are many restaurants in Tovuz and the largest of which are “XXI Century”, “Anar”, “Vladivostok”.
Like in most cities in Azerbaijan there is a very well equipped park almost at the entrance to Tovuz.
Distance from Baku: 384 km
Population: 59,1 thsd person
How to get to: Auto transportation: buses Baku – Goygol, Baku – Gandja
Goygol district located in the western part of Azerbaijan is one of the most picturesque regions of the country. The State Goygol reserve is located on the banks of the famous Goygol lake. The climate in this area is mostly cold and winters as a rule are always dry. An average annual temperature ranges between 4 – 10 degrees.
The centre of the district formerly was called Elenendorf. It was founded by German colonists in August 22, 1819 at the place of an ancient village Hanlyglar that later formed a base of Hanlar city. Now Goygol district illustrates the friendship between Azerbaijan and German nations. A lot of work was done here to preserve the German heritage.
The district has about 30 historical and architectural monuments of art.
The main attraction of Goygol district is the reserve of the same name founded in 1925, the first in Azerbaijan, by the way. Its total area is 7131 hectares. When the reserve was created the main goal was to preserve and in some areas to restore the mountain forest, mountain-meadow and mountain lake natural complexes. The entire territory of the Goygol reserve is devided by very deep valleys where run beautiful, though not very big but turbulent rivers.
In the reserve you can enjoy wonderful lakes (about ten in there: Maralgol, Garagol, Zeligel, Aggol, Shamilgol etc.) the most famous of which is formed by an earthquake in 1139 the Goygol lake.
In addition to a huge number of different plants in the reserve there are protected rare and endangered species. Among the inhabitants of these forests the following animals are especially protected: deer, spotted deer, wild goat, bear, hares, boars, Caucasian deer and many other unique animals.
Beautiful and diverse nature, rich flora and fauna of the Goygol national park create the necessary preconditions for the development of ecotourism in this area that will attract tourists and visitors.
Shamkir District with its administrative center Shamkir City is situated in the West of Azerbaijan, 399 km away from Baku. Favorable climate, rich cultural and historical heritage, and well developed infrastructure are the important factors, which make tourists attracted to Shamkir.
According to very modest calculations the city’s existence begins from the 5th century, and the period of 9th-11th centuries is considered to be its flourishing time. In this period Shamkir was a prosperous Muslim city actively involved into international trade activities. In 1235 Shamkir, along with Ganja was occupied and destroyed by Mongols. Later on anew city was built in this area, and the old one abandoned. There are full-scale excavations nowadays carried out in old Shamkir, the medieval ancient settlement laid on left bank of Shamkir chay River. When you look at the grand city walls that acquire an outline of fortification work; the remains of housing premises and engineering structures of the city, it is clear that the ancient urban community had high cultural standards.
special interest is also shown in so called “German pages” of Shamkir’s
history. Back in 1819, immigrants from Wurttemberg area, escaping from revolt of
Napoleon wars, came to Azerbaijan and established here first two colonies –
Yelenendorf and Annendorf (now Goygol and Shamkir cities). Later on four more
colonies found their existence in the area. Since then, there remain many
historical evidences of German “footprints” in Shamkir, among which the whole
streets with German houses built along, beautiful Lutheran Church, parks,
Winery and etc. are worthy to be mentioned. By the way, the foundation for
wine-making industry in Azerbaijan was laid also by Germans.
Speaking about Shamkir people it should be said that they are known by their entrepreneurial spirit. The whole district is full of greenhouses where the households cultivate vegetables and export the produced products to neighboring countries. And it is not a surprise that the first ever high technological greenhouse type of complex AzAgro specialized on cultivatingHollandroses in the country was established just in Shamkir.
Shamkir today is not only a city with its great history; it is also a new town that opens up the whole range of opportunities to its visitors. There is a huge Amusement Centre in Shamkir’s City Park with more than 150 breathtaking amusement rides one can enjoy. Shamkir’s "Zaka" Intellectual Youth Center’s Library is connected to Follett International, the world’s largest educational library network, which provides an access to countless eBooks and audiovisual materials. And 2 km long West Gate Shopping Arcade within its territory combines shops of the most famous local and world brands.