Azerbaijan is one of the lesser-known places to visit in Asia, but that does not make it less enchanting. In fact, there are plenty of wonders to uncover in this country, starting in its capital city Baku. Its proximity to Eastern Europe makes this former member of the Soviet Union ripe with unique national treasures and one-of-a-kind fauna to see and explore. The capital city of Baku, for one, can be your gateway to Azerbaijan. Here are eight unique ways , just for your special trip to this majestic country.
The Absheron Peninsula is located in the capital city of Baku. This destination is the country’s gold mine, as natural resources such as oil, lime, sand and salt are all abundant here. The peninsula has a number of lakes, with Masazir, Khoja Hassan and Boyuk Shor being the most famous bodies of water. Several ancient oil wells can also be found within this magical region.
Old City is pretty much self-explanatory. Being the most ancient part of Baku, it is surrounded by stone walls for protection during ancient times. The ancient landmark has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its religious, political and cultural significance. The Old City still looks like ancient civilization in some parts, particularly the shops.
Upland Park is another one of the significant places that Baku has to offer. It is located at the very center of the city. One of the unique things about the Upland Park is its panoramic views of the city, Baku Bay and the seemingly endless Caspian Sea. The Park also commemorates the victims of Black January 1990 as they were buried along with the soldiers killed in the Karabakh war in the Alley of Martyrs. The park has a very calm and peaceful surrounding just as all parks should be. It’s a perfect place to unwind and destress in between your tour destinations in the city.
Heydar Aliyev was the third president of Azerbaijan. He served as the country’s leader from 1993 to 2003. The Heydar Aliyev Center was built in his honour. The 57,500 square meter building complex is known for its unique architecture. The design consists of flowing, curved style angles. It was designed by the late Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-British architect who was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize. World class exhibitions are featured here regularly, too!
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is an ancient palace that captures the heart. Located in Baku, the palace was built by the ruling royals Shirvanshahs during the 15th century. UNESCO describes the palace as one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture, and for good reason. Unlike the trends of its time, the palace’s design is very minimalistic, thus proving how advanced its East Asian architecture was considered to be during that period. The palace also comes complete with regal facilities such as baths, shrines, mosques, and tombs that give you a glimpse of how the royals had lived back then.
If you’re looking to explore the outskirts of Baku, why not start with Diri Baba Mausoleum, the famous tomb in Maraza City, Gobustan Rayon? Diri Baba looks like an ancient tomb for somebody significant. Legend has it that the imperishable Saint Diri-Baba had been buried there. This 15th century mosque has served as a landmark for various pilgrims and curious visitors from across the globe. What makes its architecture wonderful is the fact that the structure was actually intentionally built into the rock formation behind it, thus making it looks as if suspended in the air from afar.
Shamakhi is a city of rich Azerbaijani heritage. It has been the backdrop for major political events for the past two millenniums. Located in northern Azerbaijan, this destination has been a prominent trading and cultural center for centuries already. It is because Shamakhi was a key town during the Silk Road days. Some of the places to visit in Shamakhi are the Juma Mosque, Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum, Gulustan Castle, and the House-Museum of Mirza Alakbar Sabir.
Gobustan State Reserve is one of the few national historical landmarks left in the world. It was declared such by the Azerbaijan government in an attempt to preserve the ancient carvings, mud volcanoes and gas-stones situated there. There are around 6,000 rock carvings all over the reserve, a testament to the land’s primitive roots. Carvings are of primitive activities such as rituals, battles, hunting, and animals. Some of these rock carvings date back as far as 5,000-20,000 years. Almost half of the planet’s mud volcanoes can also be found in Gobustan.