25 May 2020 / 6 minutes to read
Fiery mountains and mud springs: what to see in Azerbaijan
Hot and windswept Azerbaijan may surprise even an experienced traveler. Here, the sparkling skyscrapers of Baku organically coexist with the old houses of Sheki, the burning cliffs of Yanar Dag with the cool waves of the Caspian, bother the Persian culture and Soviet power left their traces here. If you want exotic, but you don't feel like going for it to the other end of the world, then Azerbaijan is perfect option for you, so Travellizy recommends you. City of Winds: Baku At a glance, the capital of Azerbaijan gives an understanding of how the country lives now. From the narrow streets of the historical district of Icherisheher, where it seems that you have been traveled back for several centuries, you can clearly see Flame Towers, the symbol of the future. Baku is able to please both fans of antiquities and those who prefer the achievements of modern civilization. Climb the Maiden Tower (Gyz Galasy) and look at the Palace of The Shirvanshahs, and after that make your way to Fountain Square to refresh yourself, where a cafe for every taste and budget can be found. In the afternoon, hide from the heat in the Carpet Museum or the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, and get acquainted with the modern art of Azerbaijan at the same time. And in the evening, when the heat decreases, take a walk along Primorsky Boulevard. Almost all the sights of Baku can be seen in one day. But, if you are going to stay in the city longer, then you should definitely go to the beaches of the Caspian Sea. You can get to them in an hour and a half by bus or a rented car, and the refreshing water will be especially pleasant after the hot city streets. Traces of ancient civilizations in Gobustan In the Gobustan State Reserve, it seems that because of the nearest rock, a hairy mammoth hunter, who has just finished painting stones with scenes from primitive life, is about to jump out at you. There are over 6,000 ancient petroglyphs in the reserve, and their age is thousands of years old. There are fewer mud volcanoes in Gobustan, only 350. But this amount is enough to make an unforgettable show. Gurgling mud and underground gases periodically flashing with bright fire are ready-made sets for filming a movie about another planet. The traces of human settlements in numerous caves remind us that this is still our native land. Halfway between Baku and Gobustan is the original Bibi-Heybat Mosque, built in the neo-Ottoman style. Fire Temple: Ateshgah 30 kilometers from Baku, there is an ancient temple of fire worshipers. Once, the Zoroastrians performed their services here, then the Muslims drove them out of the territory of Azerbaijan, but the temple remained standing, not subject to the passage of time. It is interesting that already in the XIX century the church was visited by Alexandre Dumas, the father, which was mentioned in his works later. The fire in the Ateshgah Temple is the result of burning natural gas, no mysticism, but it still makes a fascinating impression. In the cells, you can see scenes depicting the life of the servants of the fire. Land of Fire: Yanar Dag If the fire in Ateshgahwasn't enough for you, then go to the foot of Mount Yanardag. Here, not a lonely torch burns, but as many as five meters of land. The flames of natural gas made this area black and sooty, and the occasionally rising wind gives the flames the appearance of dancing dragons. Yanar Dag looks especially impressive after sunset or before dawn, then the illusion of an eternal fire is most complete. Oil treatment: Naftalan Oil in Azerbaijan is not only one of the country's main sources of income, but also a therapeutic agent. You can verify this yourself in the sanatorium city of Naftalan, the only place in the world where medicinal naphthalene oil is extracted. In Naftalan, with the help of oil baths, ill people literally get back on their feet; at the sanatorium, there is even a museum of crutches left by those who received miraculous treatment here. In between health treatments, you can take a walk in one of the city’s many parks. Craft center: Lahic The village of Lahic stands on the Great Silk Road, and the unique atmosphere of a medieval trading city is still preserved in it. Almost every house in Lahic is also a craftsman’s shop where you can buy jewelry, dishes, cold steel or a carpet. It is noteworthy that the village is divided into areas precisely by crafts. Walking along the stone-paved streets, you can come to the market for copper utensils, where dishes and plates are struck by fine engraving. In another area, sharp knives in painted sheath sparkle in the sun, in the next area, a potter creates a vase or a pot right in front of you. If you need the most authentic Azerbaijani souvenirs, not shop production, then you definitely need to Lahic. Mountain views: Khinalig Only a few years ago, only the most stubborn tourists reached the mountain village of Khinalig on SUVs. Now, a well-covered road has been brought up to it, and the village has turned into one of the main attractions of Azerbaijan. The houses in Khinalig are built with terraces - the roof of one house is simultaneously the yard or floor of the other. And the upper part of the village offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains with snow-white peaks. Laza, another Azerbaijani village, awaits those who want more than just stunning views, but also hiking in the mountains. It is surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs from which thin cascading waterfalls fall with trampled trails between them. Please note that a special permit will be required to go trekking through the territory of the Shahdag National Park. And the last on the top list of three most picturesque villages of Azerbaijan is Ilisu. Now, it’s hard to believe that this tiny settlement used to be the capital of the whole sultanate. From here, tourists go on simple hiking in the mountains, in the village itself, there are very nice stone houses with tiled roofs and arched doors. Pristine nature: Göygöl Göygöl National Park, spread on the slopes of Mount Kapaz, is the center of ecotourism in Azerbaijan. People come here for a relaxing holiday, leisurely walks in nature and clean air. The main attraction of Göygöl is a crystal blue lake, which was formed as a result of a large-scale earthquake almost a thousand years ago. And the main entertainment in the park is the mountain tracks, which even a beginner can master without special equipment and training. Caravanserai: Sheki Most of the inns and caravanserais, where traders traveling along the Great Silk Road stayed, have become the most ordinary hotels now. But this didn't happen to the caravanserai in Sheki, because a museum has been organized here, where you can see curious details of the life and leisure of the caravan. Outside, the Sheki caravanserai looks more like a fortress - with massive stone walls, small windows, impressive wooden gates that are closed by a special mechanism. Inside, this is a dream of fans of oriental flavor. Carpets with authentic ornaments, hammered dishes, chests in which goods were stored. It is easy to feel here like a merchant from Persia, fleeing from the midday sun in the shade of stone walls. And also, you can arrange a very interesting photoshoot. The second remarkable building of Sheki is the Palace of Shaki Khans, built in the Persian style. Its painted walls and multi-colored stained-glass windows will become not only a delight for the eyes, but also the main decoration for your Instagram. You can watch the creation of the famous stained-glass windows in the workshop, which is called shabake here. By the way, Sheki is also famous for the most delicious food in all of Azerbaijan. You will never forget homemade Sheki halva, walnut jam, lamb dishes with apples. And, most likely, you will want to take away from here a bag of oriental sweets. Azerbaijan welcomes each guest with genuine oriental hospitality, and it has a heap of impressions for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you go up to the top floor of a skyscraper or walk around the old city, bask in the natural fire or cool off in the sea, anyway, you will not remain indifferent to this beautiful country.
19 April 2020 / 6 minutes to read
The City of the Winds: what to see in Baku
Azerbaijan is a crossroads of cultures, a colorful carpet of Muslim traditions and Soviet heritage, ancient customs and new trends. And the city of Baku, the capital of the country, is the quintessence of this diversity. Medieval narrow streets and high-tech skyscrapers, hipster cafes and cozy tearooms - this city has everything you need to have a great time and bring vivid impressions and a bunch of wow photos from your vacation. Travellizy Team leaves on an unusual journey through the capital of Azerbaijan. Fortress in the city: Icherisheher It is best to start your acquaintance with Baku from its historical center called Icherisheher. Behind the massive fortress wall, you will find narrow streets between stone houses, numerous souvenir shops, cafes and tearooms. You can walk along Icherisheher for a long time and tastefully at the same time. Take a picture of fluffy Azerbaijani cats, there are no fewer of them than in Istanbul, admire the mosques, some of which are more than half a century old, bargain for a hammered tray or handmade carpet. Inside the area, you can find many interesting things and even a couple of attractions from the UNESCO list. In the area of Icherisheher, the Maiden’s Tower, which is the oldest building in Baku, is located. Its story is quite typical: an evil shah, an unfortunate bride, a tragic suicide. But in fact, this is just a legend, the tower might just as easily be a lighthouse or an observatory, its purpose has not yet been clarified. In any case, it looks impressive. Entrance to the tower costs 5 euros, there are various expositions and exhibitions inside. The second landmark building of the district is the Palace of the Shirvanshahs. Inside the complex, there is a museum now, the entrance costs 8 euros. Also in Icherisheher, Nikulin’s character shouted the famous “Damn it!”, and Ichthyander walked with Gutiyeres. It was in this part of Baku that cult Soviet films such as The Diamond Arm and The Amphibian Man were shot. The best place for walking in Baku: Primorsky Boulevard If you like space and salty breezes more than red-hot stone streets, then you will definitely like Primorsky Boulevard. The embankment with a length of 25 kilometers is a favorite place for walking for city guests and local residents, and from any point on it, you can clearly see the tall flagpole with the flag of Azerbaijan. Walking along Primorsky Boulevard is best after sunset, then it is not as hot as during the day, the lights of the buildings and fountains turn on, and in the distance, you can watch Flame Towers, the visiting card of Baku, lighting up. In the evening, you can listen to street musicians on the boulevard, ride a Ferris wheel, buy ice cream and see how modern Azerbaijan lives. In addition to Primorsky Boulevard, there are two more excellent places for walking in Baku. This are the pedestrian Nizami Street, where a huge number of cafes are concentrated for every taste and wallet, and Fountains Square. The last location will surprise you not only with original fountains, but also with benches of an unusual shape. All About Carpets: Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum There are a lot of carpets in Baku. They are sold in souvenir shops, dried on balconies and depicted in paintings, are covered on the floor in many cafes. But the main Carpet is at the end of Primorsky Boulevard. The Carpet Museum is made in the form of a huge roll, but inside... Inside, you can learn everything about carpets including the fact that the patterns are whole stories on the fabric, and the fact that there are special carpets for donkeys, and much more. Small carpets, huge carpets, antique carpets, new carpets, they all have their own history. By the way, about history, you should take an audio guide in the museum, as all inscriptions are in Azerbaijani. Also, you can see how carpets are weaved manually and get acquainted with other exhibits such as national clothes, ceramic dishes, weapons and jewelry. Entrance costs 3.6 euros, with an audio guide, it's 5.5. Eastern gondoliers in Baku: Little Venice There is a piece of Venice on Primorsky Boulevard - a shady park with canals filled with turquoise water, through which decorated bridges are thrown. Having paid 3 euros for 20 minutes, you can ride on these canals on a narrow-nosed gondola. Little Venice is a great option for a relaxing holiday and a break between walking along the Primorsky Boulevard and the streets adjacent to it. If by vacation you mean a plentiful meal and acquaintance with local cuisine, then you will find the most famous restaurant in Baku called Shirvanshah Museum Restaurant. The unique design of its halls, where there used to be baths, will make lunch or dinner truly royal. Aerial view: Nagorny Park in Baku The Nagorny Park in the center of Baku is known not only for its green alleys and excellent views of the city, which opens from the observation platforms. It is near this park, where Flame Towers, three skyscrapers symbolizing the greatness of modern Azerbaijan, are located. Climbing the upper terraces of Nagorny Park is a separate adventure. You can do this on foot, having overcome many stairs, or on the funicular that leaves from the station on Shovket Alekperova Street every 15 minutes. Climbing with the funicular will cost you only 0.45 euros, but you will have to stand in line on the weekend or in the evening. There are almost always a lot of people who want to climb into the park, but the capacity of the cabin is limited. Flame Towers that are perfectly visible from anywhere in the city are not just office buildings and a hotel. When the sun goes down, the sparkling windows of the skyscrapers turn into screens on which an impressive show is projected. On the walls of skyscrapers, you can see huge flames, the flag of Azerbaijan and other animated images. Another skyscraper located near the Nagorny Park is a 175-meter TV Tower. If you want to look at Flame Towers from top down, and not upward, go up to its top floor and have coffee in the revolving Telequlle restaurant. The second most popular and oldest park in Baku, the Philharmonic Garden, is located in the Sabail district. There are no special attractions in it, it's just nice to walk around the garden. The future is here: Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center Each building, designed by Zaha Hadid, is a true masterpiece of modern architecture that you can’t confuse with anything else. The building of the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, in the silhouette of which there is not a single right angle, stands out from other buildings in Baku. The center is interesting not only outside but also inside. Here you will find an exhibition of Azerbaijani national musical instruments, Baku Puppet Theatre, Tsereteli Museum, an automobile exhibition and much more. Seasonal expositions replace each other every couple of months and are no less interesting than permanent ones. Entrance to the center costs 8.6 euros, plus you will have to pay extra 5.7 euros for visiting the car exhibition. Is Heydar Aliyev Center alone not enough for the cultural program in Baku? Then visit the Museum of Modern Art on Yusif Safarov Street. It has world classics such as Picasso, Chagall, Dali, and masterpieces of local artists and sculptors. Warm waters of the Caspian: Baku beaches If there is time and desire, then from Baku, you can get to comfortable beaches on the shores of the Caspian Sea in half an hour. There are many of them near the city, you can get there by minibus, so take your swimwear and a towel and go sunbathing and swimming. The closest to Baku are the beaches of Shikhovo with a water park and bars. If you are with children, it is worth going to the beaches of Pirsagi, there is a smooth descent into the water and there are no waves. If you want active leisure, then go to the beaches of Mardakan or Zagulba. The latter are famous for VIP zones, chic restaurants on the beach and noisy parties in bars. The capital of Azerbaijan has everything that the tourist’s soul wants - colorful streets and wide boulevards, skyscrapers and museums, mosques and palaces. Baku is clearly worthy of close acquaintance, and this acquaintance can be the beginning of a good friendship.
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