Caucasus

Places
Travellizy team
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.
Places
Travellizy team
21 April 2020 / 6 minutes to read
Small but interesting: what to see in Armenia
Armenia is a small mountainous country that can be driven around by car easily in a couple of days. But why rush? Travellizy Team checked: so many interesting things are hidden in the Armenian mountains - from crystal clear lakes to ancient temples, from ancient fortresses to masterpieces of modern art. All this is abundantly seasoned with local residents' hospitality, delicious national cuisine and original color.   Pink Tuff City: Yerevan Yerevan is one of those cities where you need to know places to visit. If you just wander aimlessly around it, then it may seem tasteless and banal. But it is worth visiting a number of locations and attractions, and your opinion about the capital of Armenia may radically change. One of the most interesting places in the city, where it’s easy to spend a couple of hours, is the Cascade architectural park, conceived as a monument to the 50th anniversary of Soviet rule. Nowadays, it is a center of modern art, where you can see many original works of both Armenian and foreign masters. You can buy souvenirs at the Vernissage flea market, and from there, you can easily reach Republic Square, the very center of Yerevan. But it is best to come to the main square of Armenia in the evening, then coolness comes down on the city, and the fountains begin their light and music show. Would you like to taste the famous Armenian cognacs? Visit Noy and Ararat brandy factories. Are you interested in history? Do you want to know more about the Armenian Genocide? Then you should visit the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex. Do you like to take photos of mosques? The Blue Mosque is waiting for you. And do not forget to get some nourishment, eat Armenian national dishes in between breaks such as rich khash soup, kufteh meatballs or dolma (stuffed cabbage rolls). You can drink all this with strong coffee, tea or the famous pomegranate wine.   Two main temples: Garni and Geghard Garni Temple was built in the 1st century AD and was dedicated to the goddess Demeter. After 16 centuries, it was destroyed by an earthquake, but the temple was rebuilt in 1976, collecting massive stone blocks together. The construction resembles the Greek Parthenon, but Garni itself is not as interesting as its surroundings. Firstly, the hill, on which the temple stands, offers a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and gorges. Secondly, a walking route starts from Garni, which goes between an unusual kind of rocks with stone pillars of regular hexagonal shape and along the banks of a mountain river. Walking along this route, you can eat plenty of ripe cherries, drink it with cold spring water and take impressive photos of the ancient temple on the hill. Entrance to Garni costs about 3 euros, and walking along the mountain trails is free. Geghard is another iconic and super-popular monastery among tourists in the vicinity of Yerevan. Half of it is a creation of human hands, the other half is a natural formation. Having passed through the gates in the massive fortress walls and several darkened halls, you will find yourself in the caves, where hermit monks used to live.  In some rooms, space is illuminated not only by candles, but also by the sun's rays, which break through thin holes in the rock. It looks very impressive. If you walk along the goat paths around Geghard, you can get to the mountain river that seems to be playing in the sun. Locals and tourists like to relax here from the heat of the day, and thrill seekers can go over the nearest boulder, take off their outer clothing and plunge into the icy water. Going to Geghard, bring your swimming trunks and towel, just in case.   The best view of Ararat: Khor Virap Khor Virap Monastery is a symbol of Armenia, the place from which the Christianization of the country began. A capital used to be here, but nowadays, people come here for the most impressive view of the biblical Mount Ararat. According to legend, St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned in the well in the courtyard of the monastery, who converted the Armenians to Christianity. And behind the monastery walls there are excavations of that very ancient capital, the city of Artashat. If you hear cheerful music and loud screams during the inspection of Khor Virap, then this is most likely an Armenian wedding. Locals are very fond of organizing festivities on a hill overlooking the Turkish border. If you have time and energy, you can drive another 80 kilometers from Khor Virap to the south, to Noravank Monastery. The road to it is a separate cause for delight, it goes through the iron-ore red rocks, so it seems that you are on Mars.   The one and only: Lake Sevan Lake Sevan is the second symbol of the country and a favorite resort for Armenians and visitors. Along the coast of a huge reservoir, there are beaches, hotels, bars and, of course, fish markets. You can taste smoked Sevan ishkhan or boiled crayfish right here in the market. And you can stay in one of the coastal hotels for a couple of days and enjoy swimming, sunbathing and eating fresh fish. In Sevan, you can not only idly sunbathe on the beach, there will also be activities for outdoor enthusiasts. The paths of the national park, which has the same name with the lake, offer breathtaking views, and the most avid extreme sports enthusiasts can even climb the Ajaak volcano. Lovers of antiquities should visit the vicinity of the city of Gavar, there is a cemetery of the famous Armenian cross-stones (khachkars). And the most popular place on Lake Sevan is the Sevan Peninsula with the Sevanavank Monastery. If you climb the hill with the stone church before sunrise or sunset, you will see an unforgettable sight.   Wings of Tatev: Tatev Monastery The world's longest passenger cable car leads to the Tatev Monastery. A path of almost 6 kilometers will take about 10 minutes, and while riding it, you will have time to gasp with admiration more than once, looking at the landscapes floating below. A round-trip ticket will cost you 9.5 euros. By the way, under the cable car, there is an interesting bridge over the gorge, which is called the Devil's Bridge. There are mineral springs right underneath it, where you can take a dip. The Tatev Monastery itself is a complex of several buildings surrounded by walls. Like many monasteries of that period, it served as a fortification, so the stone walls look very impressive.   Cave towns: Old Goris and Khndzoresk Considering that the basis of the Armenian landscape is steep mountains, it is not surprising that the country has a lot of cave monasteries and even entire towns. Why build something if you can use the caverns and tunnels already created by nature? There is a large-scale cave town near Goris, which is 250 kilometers south of Yerevan. Literally all the surrounding rocks blacken with holes of different sizes, and people used to live here not in ancient times, but only 50 years ago. And even now, some caves are used by local residents, but already as non-residential warehouses. The second large cave town is called Khndzoresk. It is smaller than the caves in the vicinity of Goris, but a suspension bridge leads to it, from which it is as much as 60 meters to the ground.   Not only about skiing: Tsaghkadzor and Dilijan Tsaghkadzor is a popular ski resort 30 kilometers away from Sevan, but people come here not only to ski down a snowy slope for a spin. The fact is that it is also a popular holiday destination among representatives of the Armenian intelligentsia - artists, poets, writers. And many of them don't mind a long conversation with fragrant cognac. “Sunny Dilijan” is familiar to many people from the film “Mimino”. But here you can not only touch the bronze Frunzik Mkrtchan's nose, but also have a good rest in balneological and mountain resorts. Armenia, like its inhabitants, is a very hospitable, generous and interesting country. Lovers of strong cognacs and adherents of a healthy lifestyle, lovers of antiquities and admirers of modern art will definitely like it. And, who knows, maybe it is in the mountains of Armenia that you will find something very special for yourself that you have not found yet in other countries.
Routes
Travellizy team
5 April 2020 / 6 minutes to read
Mountains, wine and the sea: how to fall in love with Georgia at first sight
“Gamarjoba Genatsvale!” means “Hello, friend!” in Georgian, and literally everyone in this small country joyfully welcomes all the travelers. A tourist for a Georgian is not just a foreigner, he is a dear guest who needs to be fed, watered and brought to nature. Georgia is very difficult not to fall in love with, especially if you know its most interesting places and activities. Travellizy Team will talk about the main ones.   Take a walk in Tbilisi In the capital of Georgia, the past, present and future are organically interwoven. There are no less historical sights than fashionable cafes, and after a visiting museums and galleries, you can have a fresh churchkhela outside or drink aromatic saperavi under hot lobio in one of the restaurants on Freedom Square. The most colorful streets of Tbilisi are in the Avlabari area. Here, on the carved balconies twined with grapes, noble elders thoughtfully smoke, children play not with a smartphone, but with a ball in the courtyards, and in general, atmosphere is measured and calm. Walking along Avlabari, it’s a sin not to turn to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the residence of the Georgian patriarch. If you are so thirsty from the heat, then you can drink cold spring water in the courtyard of the old Metekhi church. Having walked enough around the ancient streets, go along one of the bridges over the Kura River to the modern part of Tbilisi. True, there are interesting places and objects from the past of the country here as well. Wander between the squat buildings of the sulfur baths of Abantubani, take a deep breath and begin the ascent to the Narikala fortress, towering above the Georgian capital.  Don't you want to go uphill on foot? Then there is a cable car starting at Rike Park. Right beyond Narikala, there is a picturesque botanical garden, where you can walk for hours. It is best to get acquainted with modern Tbilisi when walking from Freedom Square along Shota Rustaveli Avenue. If you are tired of the rhythm of the crowded capital, then you should go to the calmer corners of Georgia. 48 Hours in Tbilisi: What is Worth Seeing and Attending, and how much it Costs Relax in Mtskheta It is worth driving away just 20 kilometers from Tbilisi, and you will find yourself in Mtskheta, a stunningly calm and picturesque place, which was once the capital of Sakartvelo (self-name of Georgia). In this town with a dozen streets, there are no fashionable clubs and noisy avenues, but there are views, which deserve to be painted by great artists. Or at least, they can be photographed on your smartphone. At the confluence of the Kura and Aragvi rivers, there is a small but very colorful Jvari Monastery with stone walls of two more Georgian shrines - Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Monastery of St. Nino. On the way from Mtskheta to Batumi, you can stop by Kutaisi. The town is quite small, it has a couple of interesting places that you can get around in an hour and a half.   Sunbathe in Batumi Batumi is not only a resort city on the Black Sea, but also the business capital of Georgia. There are even more skyscrapers and trendy hotels here than in Tbilisi, and some new buildings are impressive in their unusual views. Take a walk along the long promenade to the Alphabet Tower, photograph the candle of the Chacha Tower skyscraper, look at McDonald's, which looks very unusual here. When you want something more comfortable and old, delve into the old districts of the city. The heart of Batumi is Abashidze Street. It is very convenient to explore Batumi on a bicycle, which can be taken at one of the many automated rental locations. Admire the original clock on Europe Square, count all the unusual facades in the old city. And do not miss the statue of Medea, the one that holds the legendary Golden Fleece. By the way, swimming in the sea is possible not only in Batumi, which is crowded with tourists. A much calmer place is the resort town of Kobuleti, and the black sand in Ureki is considered to be healing. The least populated seaside resort of Georgia is Shekvetli, surrounded by coniferous forest.   Go to the mountains You can do this almost anywhere in Georgia, the country is famous for its picturesque mountains and trekking routes for every taste. If you drive a car, then you should definitely ride along the Georgian military road that goes from the capital to the foot of Mount Kazbek. You will catch your breath from the views around, as you will see the bright blue waters of the Ananuri reservoir, a gorge near Gudauri, and drive along the Cross Pass. A perfect starting point for mountain hiking is the Svaneti region. Narrow paths pass by the well-preserved watch towers, which are also called Svan, and it seems that you can touch the snow-capped peaks with your hand. It is most convenient to stay in Svaneti in the village of Mestia, where the tourist infrastructure is well developed. Fans of wilder places will definitely like the village of Ushguli, which can be reached from Mestia by jeep.   Explore the caves Ancient cave cities and temples are another feature of Georgia along with cuisine and mountains. So near the town of Gori, where Joseph Dzhugashvili was born, better known as Stalin, there are ruins of Uplistsikhe. The place is absolutely fantastic, a real paradise for lovers of tunnels in the rocks, caves and ancient ruins. Another cave monastery, even larger than Uplistsikhe, is Vardzia. The temple-fortress of the times of Queen Tamara was built right on a cliff, there is always a pleasant coolness in its ridges, and next to the monastery, there is no less interesting Khertvisi fortress.   Visit the homeland of mineral water Borjomi resort is not famous for ancient fortresses or active youth life. People come here to relax, drink the famous mineral water, take a walk in nature and breathe in the clear mountain air. The Borjomi River carries its waters here, and small but very beautiful waterfalls flow down from the rocks around it.   Enjoy kebab with wine Georgia is a paradise for gourmets. Shish kebabs and lobiani, Adjarian khachapuri and kharcho soup make you salivate just from their names alone. Each region of the country has its own unique dishes or special recipes. A gastro tour in Georgia will be incomplete, if you do not try paired khinkali, poultry stew - chakhokhbili, chicken in garlic-milk sauce - shkmeruli. You should wash down local goodies with wine. You can buy it in any cafe, but of course, the most authentic Georgian wine can be found in the markets. True, during the tasting process (which any self-respecting Georgians will offer you), it is easy to get carried away and drink more wine than to buy later. In order to absorb alcohol better, bite it with suluguni cheese. The most wine region of Georgia is Kakheti. It is here that the famous Alazani Valley is located with the town of Sighnaghi in the center. You can easily hang out here for a couple of days, or even weeks. Make sure to drop by the museum of the famous artist Pirosmani and admire the surrounding landscapes from the ramparts. Georgia is very simple to fall in love with. Take good wine and delicious cheese and go for a walk in the mountains. Then go down to the warm sea to wash off your tiredness, wander along the old streets. And do not be afraid to accept invitations from local people; in many ways, Georgia can be understood through its welcoming residents.
Luxury
Travellizy team
25 February 2020 / read about a minute
Places
Travellizy Team
20 November 2018 / 6 minutes to read
48 Hours in Tbilisi: What is Worth Seeing and Attending, and how much it Costs
To get deep in Georgia for two days means getting an experience, though short still even more impressive! On my way home, while sitting in the plane, I began to think "seconds" and plan my future visit to this wonderful country.