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Overview: Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a country of revelations. Discovering the land and its people is a new and unique experience. It takes you to a different place every time. And it opens the mind to see something new.

Azerbaijan is a country that will surprise you.  Located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, the Russian republic of Dagestan to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia and Turkey to the west, and Iran to the south.

The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It is an oil rich country. Although it has a human history going back to the Stone Age, Azerbaijan is modern, contemporary and wealthy as it is now a major regional energy player.

Much of the country is temperate year-round. Nation-wide the average temperature for the year is 14-15°C.

The capital Baku is a city of surprises. Located at an elevation of 28 meters below sea level, Baku is the world’s lowest-lying national capital city. It is also the largest city on the Caspian Sea and in the Caucasus region. It is called the City of Winds as there are two main gusts to look out for in Baku – the warmer Gilavar blowing from the south, and the cool Khazri sweeping down from the north.

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Baku’s medieval core is a UNESCO-protected site surrounded by 12th-century walls, brimming with history and Eastern architecture. Here you’ll find the Maiden Tower, Baku’s most mysterious site – no one knows for certain what it was originally built for! Meanwhile, occupying the highest spot in the citadel, the Shirvanshahs’ Palace was the 15th-century residence of Azerbaijan’s medieval rulers. Beyond its main attractions, the ‘Inner City,’ as it’s called by the locals, is a labyrinth of narrow alleyways home to some of Baku’s oldest residents, as well as artists’ workshops, and souvenir stalls and traditional restaurants serving classic Azerbaijani dishes.

There are some amazing places in Azerbaijan, such as Gobustan, where the Azerbaijani people’s age-old past is dramatically brought to life in the UNESCO-listed Gobustan Reserve, where an astonishing collection of over 6,000 ancient petroglyphs chart ways of life dating back as far as 40,000 years. The reserve is located among the Boyukdash, Kichikdash and Jingirdagh mountains, about 60 kilometres south of Baku, and is also home to the remains of once inhabited caves, settlements and burial grounds, all reflecting intensive human use from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages. What’s more, just a short drive away you’ll find some of Azerbaijan’s astonishing number of mud volcanoes, one of the world’s most intriguing natural wonders.

How to get to Azerbaijan

The primary international gateway is Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku. The national airline Azal has flights from many international cities, and many international airlines also serve the country.

International trains connect with cities in both Russia and Georgia.

Things to do

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre

Being one of the most recognized architectural landmarks worldwide, the Heydar Aliyev Center is in the meantime one of the signature architectural landmarks of modern Baku. The building was designed by Zaha Hadid, a worlwide recognized architect and Pritzker Prize winner.

Baku Old City

The old city walk is very helpful for tourists to see the attractions, admire the architecture, shop in the bazaar and taste classic food.  The historic buildings transport you back in time.

The Flame Towers

A Baku landmark, these three flame-shaped towers soar above Baku and feature a stunning light show every night. Wander inside where you’ll find a hotel, residential apartments, commercial offices and a popular shopping mall.

Ganja Heydar Aliyev Park

Ganja is Azerbaijan’s second largest city (and yes, it does sound Jamaican). This park is open 24 hours a day and it is free. There are some impressive gardens and public buildings here. At night the place fills with people because the park is illuminated.

Fire Temple of Baku

Situated on the Abseron Peninsula, the Fire Temple of Baku was a place of sacrifice founded above a natural gas vent. Fire rituals at the peninsula’s numerous natural gas vents date back to at least the 10th century. An altar is situated right a natural gas vent, igniting a large flame in the middle and four smaller flames on the rooftop corners of the pavilion. Surrounding the temple altar are a number of small cells which held the ascetic worshippers and pilgrims.

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