Distance from Baku: 311 km
Population: 98,8 thsd person
How to get to: Auto transportation: buses Baku – Mingachevir – 5 hours
By train: Baku-Mingachevir -7 hours, Baku – Gasakh – 9 hours, Baku – Agstafa – 10 hours
The industrial city of Mingachevir was founded in the late 40s, early 50s of the XX century. It is the fourth largest city in Azerbaijan by population. The Kura river on the banks of which the city is located, escapes here out of the gorge made in Bozdag mountains into Kura-Araz valley. Now the valley of the river is blocked by the hydroelectric dam. The big Mingachevir reservoir was formed in the place of gorge and large areas of dry fertile lands are irrigated by its waters and convenient ways in different directions were laid instead of former dead end road here.
Despite the fact that Mingachevir is a young city, archeological excavations that took place here have shown that the earliest human settlements at this place existed in the VI century BC – III century BC.
Today Mingachevir attracts a lot of local and foreign tourists. The city has modern buildings with interesting architecture including a large new mosque. As of particular interest of city guests are places near Kura with good restaurants and tea houses. Close to the city is an artificial lake with small beach. On the bank of Kura river is located an Olympic rowing base “KUR”. Leading athletes of the Soviet Union were preparing for the competitions here in the past. Tourists can visit an acting Olympic sport centre with pool and tennis court.
You can stay in Mingachevir in hotel “Kainat” in the western part of the city, tourist camp “Gunashli” and other recreational areas. The following out of well known restaurants can be mentioned: “Ateshgah”, “Ana Kur” and café “Kosmos”. Guests there will be served with deliciously cooked national and European dishes.
Distance from Baku: 176 km
How to get to: By road: regular buses Baku – Neftchala – 3,5 hours
Neftchala district is located at the Kura river at the place where it falls into Caspian sea, on the ancient caravan track. In old times during winter frosty days khanates located at the nearest mountainous land brought here their herds of sheep for wintering. By this reason this place was called Khangishlagi (place of khan’s wintering).
Modern name of the city is connected with rich oil and gas pools. Fauna of the district is rich and various: it’s inhabited by Persian gazelles and pelicans, moos deer. There are sturgeons as well. Here is located a Kura pilot plant on breeding of sturgeon where in laboratories this kind of fish is growing and then is thrown down to Kura with the goal of reproduction of reserves. The main part of the Gizilagach reserve that is rich in flora and fauna is located at the territory of this district.
The administrative center of the district – Neftchala city is located not far from the mouth of Kura river. The city has Cultural Center, local history museum and art gallery. Here was born a famous struggler for national independence of Azerbaijan poet Khalil Rza Uluturk. In a list of industrial plants in the district are fish plant, iodine-bromine plant, pilot plant for sturgeon growth. Such medicinal plants as mint, dog rose, licorice, horsetail, chamomile, and others are grown in the district.
At the distance of 10 km from the center in the mouth of the river at the place where Kura falls into Caspian sea you can watch a surprising show: Kura waters are separated from sea water with the help of ideal line: looks like a thin line does not let these waters to mix. Kurkosa island is a perfect place for fishing.
Distance from Baku: 126 km
By road: regular buses Baku – Salyan
By railway: Baku – Astara – 6 hours
Salyan city (which is called a “gates to the south”) is located at the distance of 126 km from the capital. This is the first stop on the way Baku – Astara. This is the only district you can walk through from entering point to exit within 1 hour 45 minutes. The district is washed by Caspian Sea at the east. Kura river flows through the territory of the district. There is a place called “Jeyran Jennety” not far from Salyan. But the main attraction of the district is the National park Shirvan created in 2003 covering an area of 55 hectares for the purpose of preservation of the local flora and fauna and in the first place Persian gazelles included into Red Book.
The park is providing with excursions for tourists. There are guest houses for the visitors there. Some explorers place their own tents.
Persian gazelles are already used to employees of the reserve but at the sight of strangers they are running away, so it is not easy to see them from the short distance. There are 34 species of birds besides Persian gazelles in the reserve and 14 of them are included into Red Book. The park is quite large and covers a territory of few districts, so it is impossible to walk it round and servants of the park provide visitors with horses and cars.
There are some small lakes densely overgrew by cane and look more like swamps at the territory of the reserve. This is a dwelling place of birds and most of them are flamingos. All this beauty is deserved watching. Salyans live at the banks of indomitable Kura for centuries. Probably this is the only place in republic where ferries are used for crossing from one bank to the other. They are working on schedule like fixed-run taxi.
In 5 km from Salyan there is a mud volcano Babazenin. Healing properties of its mud are know by many people.
Architectural monuments of the disgtrict: Gumlavar bridge (XII c.), complex of constructions Khanagah in the village of Gubali Baloglan (XIX c.).
Caravanserai “Tendirkhana” in Salyan city was built nowadays in eastern style and is well equipped with modern facilities. Visitors can familiarize with ancient Azerbaijani dishes recipes of which are carefully kept by generations.
Geychay city, which means "blue water” is located in the central part of Azerbaijan, in the northern part of Shirvan plain, 233 km away from the capital. This region is notable for its wonderful climate and the abundance of historical sites, but mainly it is famous for pomegranates. Pomegranates are historically cultivated in almost all the regions of the country, but the recognized center of the best varieties of pomegranate is the Shirvan region which is situated in the dry subtropics zone of Geychay. The Geychay pomegranates are recognized worldwide and became the symbol of "real Azerbaijani pomegranates". The secret of great taste and consistent quality of these pomegranates are the unique microclimate and soil composition, which are found nowhere else in the world. It’s not surprising that the technology of the preparing of the well-known Azerbaijani sauce "narsharab" which is boiled pomegranate juice, was invented by the locals. This popular sweet and sour sauce harmonizes perfectly with fish and meat.
It is remarkable that each fall, Geychay city holds the traditional "Feast of pomegranate", dedicated to the harvest of this "king of fruits". As part of the celebration there are tight rope walkers performance, athletes, dance groups and folk performances. Everyone can take part in various folk games, as well as get acquainted with the many varieties of pomegranate grown in this area. In honor of the guests the feast tables with delicious national dishes which were prepared in front of public, are set.