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Old September 16th, 2009, 09:43 PM   #1
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Tourism | Turizm

Tourism in Azerbaijan

Brief information on Azerbaijan tourism. Azerbaijan tourism attractions and destinations. Tourism & travel to Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan - the Land of Fires!Azerbaijan - a miraculous country with its rich natural resources, and ancient culture, history and people; whose lifestyle presents a unique and harmonious combination of the traditions and ceremonies of many different cultures and civilizations.
Azerbaijan is the geographical name of the country. On one hand, this name is linked with the ancient population which lived in this region for thousand of years, and who were mostly fire-worshippers. The local population considered fire to be their God, and thus they worshipped it. "Azer" means fire. The Turkic name "Azer" was used to describe this territory for centuries. The word "Azerbaijan" originates from the name of an ancient Turkish tribe, who resided in these lands.

Azerbaijan is one of the most ancient sites of human civilization. People have been present here at every stage of their historical development. There were developed settlements in Azerbaijan even at the earliest stages of civilization.

Time has preserved a range of ancient archeological and architectural monuments for our generation. Ancient headstones, manuscripts and examples of carpets, preserved to the present day from ancient ages, can provide much insight to those who can and want to read them. If you wish to understand Azerbaijan and know of its fascinating history and culture, you need to look at this country and its people through the eyes of an old friend.

The policy of "Open Doors" carried out by the Azerbaijan government, as well as the social and economic reformation and democratization of society carried out in the Republic, have allowed many more citizens of independent Azerbaijan to expand the scope of their worldview, and to receive wonderful opportunities to visit foreign countries. Visits of foreign tourists to Azerbaijan are also increasing day by day.

Azerbaijan has great potential for the development of the tourism industry – with such fascinating sights as ancient cities, palaces, fortresses, mausoleums, and mosques. Azerbaijan has always been famous for its sources of eternal fire - the “atashgehs”. There is a place called Yanardag (blazing mountain) in Absheron and thermal springs in some parts of Nakhichievan, Kelbejar, Masali, Lenkoran, and Babadag provinces.

In Surakhani, there is a site of eternal flame. From ancient times, fire worshippers from remote places, and even Indian priests, came to Absheron in search of fire, and found it here. They built large temples here in Surakhani and in Ateshgah.

There are more than 6 thousand historical architectural monuments on the territory of Azerbaijan. The natural climatic conditions of Azerbaijan are also unique. As is well known, 9 climate zones exist in Azerbaijan, out of the 11 in the world.

Azerbaijan is endowed with picturesque natural landscapes, monuments of culture and modern tourist resorts. The Khudat-Yalama seacoast, bordered by forests, and the seashores of Absheron and Lankaran are fine places for recreation and relaxation. In these places, there are fine sandy beaches with steady water temperatures of 22-26°C for five or more months, which provide for a long swimming season. The most attractive areas for Alpinism and winter sports are Shamakhi and Gusar. Many types of animals and birds are objects of licensed hunting, and in the reserves they are very easy to watch and photograph. In particular, the Gizilagach reserve, where in the winter months more than one million individuals from two hundred species of birds of passage gather, is ideal for this purpose.

In Azerbaijan are a number of health resorts and spas, creating an opportunity for treatment of many illnesses yielding to natural therapies. Most of the resorts with mineral spas also function as tourist centers. Nakhchievan is especially rich in mineral sources; the only known deposit of medicinal petroleum in the world - Naftalan - is completely unique.

Baku and the Absheron peninsula; Nakhchivan, Guba-Khachmaz, Sheki-Zagatala, and Lankaran-Astara regions; and the historical areas of Shirvan and Ganjabasar are the most attractive for tourists in Azerbaijan. The lovely nature of these places, numerous ancient ruins, wonderful ethnographic variety and the astonishing skills of local craftsmen will leave an unforgettable impression of Azerbaijan upon its guests.

Last edited by Galandar; December 19th, 2011 at 08:05 PM.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 11:03 PM   #2
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Tours on Azerbaijan

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Big Baku

If the shape of Azerbaijan on a map is similar to a bird flying towards the sea then the bird's "beak" would be the Absheron peninsula with an ancient and ever young city situated on its southwest coast. The city is Baku - the capital of Azerbaijan.
Latitude: 390 39' N- 400 03' N
Longitude: 490 гр.39' E - 490 39' E
The population is 2000000. Even though administratively Baku is separated from Absheron suburb settlements (in a total number of 32), historically they are indivisibly linked to the capital both in cultural and economical as well as in geographical terms. Due to this, the whole Absheron peninsula including the capital is called "Big Baku".
Absheron and Baku feature major transport lines: International Airport n.a. Heydar Aliev, a big port in the Baku Bay (the biggest on the whole Caspian Sea), Baku Railway station and highways connecting the capital with the rest of the country.
Major oil and gas pipelines also originate on the peninsula. Baku is a key point of the international transport corridor (Europe-Caucasus-Asia) TRASECA, in the framework of which Azerbaijan participates in restoration of a historical route, the Great Silk Road.

CLIMATE. The Absheron Peninsula is located 29 m below World Ocean level. The climate of Baku and Absheron is of temperate warm semideserts and steppes with Absheron-specific winds. While bringing refreshment in summer the northern wind "Khazri" is chilling in winter; on the contrary, the southern "Gilavar" is heating in summer but attenuates the cold in winter. In general, however, the climate of present Baku was substantially softened by gardens and parks, lovingly cultivated by Baku citizens. While at the beginning of XX century it was often impossible to go outside due to blinding
dusty winds, today's Baku has evolved into a warm and comfortable city.

MINERAL DEPOSITS - oil, gas, building stone (limestone - "badamdash"), salt, sand, lime. Salt lakes at the Absheron include Masazir, Gala, Beyuk-Shor and Hodzhasan. There are some of the oldest oil wells in the world where people would draw oil from with buckets and the first industrial oil wells on the Absheron.

MUD VOLCANOES - A FINE MYSTERY OF NATURE. Azerbaijan is the first among the world's countries by quantity and diversity of mud volcanoes. Among 800 mud volcanoes known in different countries on Earth 400 are located within the boundaries of the South Caucasus oil-and-gas basins and among the latter 300 are located on the land of Azerbaijan, within its Caspian area of water and on numerous islands.
All known types of mud volcanoes on the world are represented in Azerbaijan. This is a genuine natural stock and laboratory of mud volcanoes. Due of this, in the last years Baku has become a center of international scientific forums on mud volcanism, geodynamics and seismicity.
Mud volcanoes also attract a great number of tourists visiting our country. Desert and rocky landscapes of Absheron with its volcanoes remind of the youth of our planet, of the ages before the advent of humans, or moon landscapes. However, the volcanoes in Azerbaijan are alive, active…

GOBUSTAN PETROGLYPHS - AN OUTDOOR MUSEUM. Prehistoric rock drawings - petroglyphs - are an art "archive" of the human evolution on Earth. The "articles" of such archives are the first transmissions from the human "I" to the outer world. There are a few of such outdoor "archives" in Azerbaijan. One of them, the largest, is located in Gobustan, at the Baku State Reserve of History, Ethnography and Arts, near Baku. It is a rocky massif on the bottom of the southeast part of the Great Caucasus Range, near the Caspian Sea and a modern highway built on the ancient Shirvan road.
A great number of rock drawings, dwellings, ancient settlement sites and mounds have been found here. D. Rustamov and F. Muradova, a married couple of archeologists who devoted 35 years to the research of Gobustan maintain that the most ancient group of Gobustan petroglyphs is the most optimistic and in spite of the basic form of self-description presents a very informative picture of the human life in the dawn of the development of humanity. They studied about 20 rock dwellings and settlements, excavated around 40 mounds and revealed 300 new rocks and stones with drawings. However, the stones of Gobustan are not only witnesses of the most ancient ages of human life. They reflect the history of the region during the period of over 15 thousands of years, from the Lower Paleolithic to The Middle Ages.
The first researcher of Gobustan who introduced this unique place to the world science in 1939 was archeologist Izhak Dzhafarzade.
By now, over 4000 petroglyphs (rock drawings in the style of wooden engraving) have been found and studied. Among these there are pictures of hunt, fishing, domestic life, group dances, various symbols including solar (fylfot, spiral, cross), constellations, men and women (interestingly, women hunted along with men), pictures of animals - gazelles, aurochs, lions, goats, pictures of reed boats, two-wheeled carts, human traces. There are remains of unique "plates" - depressions carved in stones and even ornamented. There are also unusual "musical instruments" - stones producing loud sounds, each stone with its own timbre. This is the "Gaval-Dash", the tambourine stone.
The rocks of Gobustan also retain the evidence of the presence of Roman legionnaires crossing this attractive region in the 1st century BC. A rock has been found here with the carved inscription in Latin written by Roman centurions of the XII Legio Fulminata. The inscription reads that the Emperor Domitianus Caesar Augustus Germanicus ruled in Rome at the time. Now Gobustan is nominated for the inclusion in the list of "World Legacy" maintained by UNESCO.

THE HISTORY OF ABSHERON. Favorable climate-geographical and geological conditions contributed to the fact that the Absheron was already inhabited 20000 years ago (e.g., an ancient human settlement site near the village of Yeni Surakhany). The whole peninsula is studded with ancient man settlement sites and mounds dated to the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. There are types of burial complexes with burials of anthropomorphic figures made of stone accompanied by plot pictures (villages of Dubandy, Turkani, Hashahuna, Mardakan, and Shuvelan) that are restricted only to the Absheron. More settlement sites have been found in Pirallakhi, on the lake of Zikh, in Binagadi and in Amiradzhani. This evidences that the whole Absheron was one of inhabited places in the most ancient times. However, geostrategic position of the peninsula attracted various invaders as well.
The largest settlement site on the Absheron is Mashtaga.
Here, aside of settlements dated to the Bronze and Iron Ages there are also posterior monuments: mosques: Bira Argutai (1414), Hodzha Aydamir, Gazikhana, Hodzha Kerbalai Khusein, (18th century); a mosques dated to the 13th-14th centuries with a 40 m tall minaret built later, a bath of 17th century, Ovdan (a lodgment dated to the 19th century), mausoleums: Agilbara, Hodzha Aslan, Gasanbek, Hodzha Aydamir (18th century). "Gala" if the Baku State Historical and Ethnographic Reserve located in the Absheron village of Gala. Remained in "Gala" are ancient mosques, old roads, ovdans, an ancient cemetery (15th century), baths and settlement sites dated to the Bronze Age. Gala is a typical Absheron settlement and is sometimes called "Icheri Sheher" of Azerbaijan.
Attracting a great interest among guests of Baku is the temple of Zoroastrians - Ateshgah (the house of fire) in the village of Surakhany (17th century). It is situated on a rock where natural emergences of gas on the surface have been burning for thousands of years. Near the village of Muhammedli one can observe an interesting natural phenomenon -the emergence of burning natural gases at the bottom of the mountains. The place is called Yanar Dag (The Burning Mountain"). In ancient times there were many such places in Azerbaijan.
Ancient, prehistoric tracts - complete analogs of the mystical road tracks in Malta have been found in every part of the Absheron. Many of them lead right to the sea vanishing in the depths…
In very ancient times the city became the first sea port on the Caspian coast. Both the boats of invaders and civilian trade caravans with traders traveling from Russia and European countries were plying one of the ancient naval routes along the Volga River to Astrakhan. From here they could travel further, to the southwest - across Georgia, to the Black Sea countries, and to the east - to Persia, China and India. If the whole Azerbaijan is a country on the virtual border between Europe and Asia then Baku-Absheron is one of its main gates, through which the residents of European countries would travel to unveil the lands of Asia. Also, residents of Asian and Far Eastern countries traveling to Europe did not pass Baku by. The place emerged as one of the branches of the Great Silk Road.
Some sources mention the city of Baruka located in the ancient Caucasian Albania. Scientists maintain that this is connected to Baku. Bagavan, Atesh-i-Bagavan, Bakukh, Bakuya, Bad-Kube, Baku, Baka - these are the ancient names of our city mentioned in various written sources of the antiquity.
In the period of Shirvanshahs State formation, Baku attained even higher importance. In the 12th century, after a powerful earthquake that severely damaged Shamakhi, the capital of the State of Shirvan, Shirvanshah Ahsitan I whose wife and children also died during the earthquake, relocated the capital to Baku.
Thus Baku became of the main city of the Shirvan State. Shirvanshah got a new capital, built the fortress walls of Icheri Sheher, and surrounded them with ditches. The population was occupied in crafts: carpet weaving, production of copper and bronze wares, weapons (many of them made their way to the museums of different countries in the world). Baku emerged as a strategic port on the Caspian Sea which favored its further prosperity.
Shirvanshahs built a powerful fleet on the Caspian Sea. During the reign of Shirvanshah Khalilullah the 1st (1417-1462) extensive building construction works were conducted in Baku; economy and culture were prospered, too. In 1501 Baku was captured by Shah Ismail Sefevi and during the reign of Shah Tahmasib (1538) the state of Shirvanshahs was incorporated to the state of Sefevids. After a collapse of the latter in the 18th century a new, independent Baku Khanate was established. At that time Russia began to intensify the development of its geopolitical strategies at the Caucasus with the territory of Baku being a crucial part of these strategies. In 1723 Peter I launched an expedition to the Caspian Sea. In the same year his armies occupied Caspian borderlands including Baku, Shamakhi, Shirvan, Derbent, and border towns of Iran. The wars between Russia and Iran ended in 1813 with the Gulustan peace treaty by which Azerbaijan was divided into the North and South parts. The North Azerbaijan was incorporated into Russian Empire while the South part went to Iran.

MONUMENTS OF BAKU. Among historical monuments of Baku the most exciting is the Old City - Icheri Sheher, surrounded by large fortress walls from three directions. There is a palace of Shirvanshahs with a complex of various structures: a burial vault, palace, mosque, Divan-khane, the Mausoleum of Seyd Yakhya Bakuvi (mausoleum of a dervish) - a court scientist. The palace was built by Shirvanshah Khalilullah I (1417-1462) and his son Farrukh Yasar (1462-1501). An interesting monument of antiquity is Juma Mosque with the inscription of Sultan Oldzhaytu (13th century). In the narrow streets of Icheri Sheher where the width of passages between houses are often reduced to the width of stretched arms, there are many little shops where one can buy ancient and modern wares of local craftsmen: carpets, ceramics, copperware etc. Here in Icheri Sheher, in buildings of the ancient caravanserais there are restaurants where one can taste the meals of Azerbaijani national cuisine.
Viewing the city from above, from the Upland Park of from the direction of the sea it is easily seen that the city's shape resembles an amphitheater on the slopes of rocky hills, it is like a bowl on the sea coast. Rising above at the edge of Icheri Sheher, near the big Baku Boulevard is one of the most famous historical-architecture monuments of the country, a symbol of Baku, Giz Galasy (Maiden's Tower)
Giz Galasy is dated to the 12th century, researchers maintain that the Tower was of military and defensive importance and was a part of the whole complex of defensive structures originating on the northern borders of Azerbaijan (at Derbent Fortress), Gilgichai Defensive Structures (a long wall, originating in the sea with many fortresses along its extent and ending in the mountains with a big tower called Chirag-Gala).
However, not all secrets of Giz Galasy have been revealed. For instance, there are facts supporting the view that the Tower was built in much earlier times. For many residents of Baku the Tower, a unique example of the history and architecture of the country, possesses not only cultural, defensive (astronomic) but also esoteric importance. City folklore contains many legends both about the Tower itself and about its name.
It has been speculated that on the Caspian Sea, not far from Baku, there was another tower of the same kind. However, only the following information can be considered reliable. In 1235 Shirvanshah Fariburz III built fortifications on the rocky islands of Bail bay (in the vicinity of the present Baku, the oldest region of oil production). There was a castle in a shape of an irregular rectangle with the length of 180 m and the width of 40 m. The castle was surrounded by fortress walls, 1.5-2 m thick and had a 15 m tall watch tower. Extending along the upper part of the fortress wall there was a 400 m-long inscription describing genealogy of Shirvanshahs dynasty. The inscription on one of the remained stones reads "Bender-i-Baku" (Port of Baku). It was a naval fortress guarding the approaches to the city since Shirvanshahs had a strong fleet already in the end of the 12th century. In the 13th century the fortress was besieged by Mongols who destroyed many of its structures with their battering rams but ultimately failed to capture it. The island with the castle was located 350 m from the city. After the earthquake in 1306 and subsequent increase in the Caspian Sea level the island with the castle became scuttled. During archeological excavations about 700 stones with inscriptions along with fragments and whole pieces of earthenware and copper coins of Shirvanshah Kershasb (13th century) were raised from the bottom of the sea. Some of the stones were later exhibited in the atrium of the palace of Shirvanshahs. The submerged fortress is now known as "Shahri Saba", "Sabail Castle" or "Bail Stones".
Nowadays Baku is a modern city with a delicate charming of the East and features of a modern megapolis. Here, in the capital, there are museums of: History of Azerbaijan, Literature, Musical Culture, Carpets, and Theater. There are also memorial Museums of: U. Hadzhibekov, the founder of modern Azerbaijani music, a renowned Azerbaijani composer Niyazi; composer and jazz performer V. Mustafazade, Baku-born world-famous musician M. Rostropovich, writers and playwrights G. Javid, Jabbarli, M.S. Ordubadi and a unique museum of miniature books.
There are also a number of exhibitions, concert halls, art galleries, theaters, sport complexes, stadiums, swimming pools, numerous hotels and restaurants.
Around Baku, along the whole perimeter of the Absheron peninsula there are a number of beaches. One can bathe and tan on the Absheron five months a year since there are many warm and hot sunny days. When the sun goes down and the heat of summer days fades away discos and night clubs begin their work on the beaches. At the service of tourist and vacationers are plentiful of hotels, resorts and health centers on the Caspian Coast.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #3
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Norhtern route


Khizi district is located in so called Guba-Khachmaz region and is the least distant from Baku (70 km) among all administrative districts of the republic. Climate is temperate with low precipitations. The east part of the district is formed by the Caspian coast. On the road to Khizi, 10 km away from Baku-Rostov road one can observe an interesting natural phenomenon: emergence of different geological layers on the surface forming an original pattern of landscape. Specialists believe that such geological phenomenon can be observed in only one more place on Earth - in the Valley of Death, in the USA. Here, in Khizi district, is located one of the most beautiful reserves in the country - "Alti Agac". 90% of its area is occupied by forests. The reserve has been established with the purpose of restoration and prevention of erosion processes occurring in southeast mountainsides of the Greater Caucasus and preservation of rare animal and plant species. Eight kilometers away from Khizi there is another resort named "Gizilgazma".

Siyazan district is located to the north of the capital and extends along the Caspian coast. Its climate is semi desert and dry and the landscape features fragments of sparse woods and bushes. Local fauna includes wolves, desert cats, jackals, hares etc. The coastal zone is a home to many water birds.
Located here in the Early Middles Ages was the second line of the Caspian defense zone. It has been included in the list of historical and cultural monuments of Azerbaijan under the name of Gilgilchai Defensive Structures and is protected by the state. As a part of "Caspian Defensive Structures" it has been nominated by UNESCO for the inclusion in the list of World Legacy Monuments. Archeologists revealed that Gilgilchai Defensive Construction was built in ancient times, before our era, and that it was constantly reinforced and fortified. The wall originates in the very sea (level of the Caspian Sea varies from year to year) and extends many kilometers, rising to mountains where it terminates with the grand watch tower of Chirag Gala (5th century). The tower is worth ascending to: aside of historical importance, it features an astounding view from the mountain top over the sea and nearby mountains.
Here, between the sea and ridges of the Caucasus Mountains there is a very convenient passage from Azerbaijan to the north, to other countries. The magnitude of the construction and defensive significance of the wall and fortresses (they also secured the approaches to the Great Silk Road) make them a rival of the famous Great Wall in China. However, this object has not been restored yet. Fragments of another defensive line, Beshbarmak, remained near the village of Zarat. Residents call these ruins Khizirzinda Baba. Not far from another village - Sedan, there are remainders of Dindar fortress.

Devechi district is located to the north of Baku and its eastern border extends along the Caspian coast. The name of the district originates from the word "cameleer"; evidently, it is connected to the development of caravan roads. On the territory of Devechi district, 12 km away from the coast, is located a hunting estate Agzi Bir which covers an area of 11,8 sq km. Water birds and otter hunt as well as fishing are available here. On the territory of Agzi Bir are located three communicating lakes with the outlet to the sea. With small houses and boats the place is well suited to accommodate hunters. The landscape is very diverse - plains, foothills, rocks and mountains. Very popular among local residents and tourists is Kechi Gaja with sulfurated mineral springs and a river flowing between rocks. Historical and archeological monuments of the region include ruins of the famous settlement Shabran (5th-18th centuries) near the village of Shakhnazarli. Shabran was one of the largest trade and craft centers of medieval Azerbaijan. Silk production, pottery and glass-blowing were especially developed in this area. During the excavations archeologists found fragments of a 14th century aqueduct which provided the city with drinking water from a spring located 10 km away.
The settlement Gulistani Irem (18th-19th centuries) is located in the village of Gandob. Numerous archeological objects dated to the 3rd-2nd millennia BC have also been found in the district of Devechi. One can survey the materials found during the excavation at the Devechi Museum of Regional History.

Guba district with the population is located 168 km from Baku and 600 m above sea level. It is one of the most advanced agricultural districts in Azerbaijan - local vegetables and fruits are transported to the capital's markets for sale, undergo processing at local canning factories, and are exported abroad. In spite of a large number of various fruit and vegetable species growing in the district every Azerbaijani first associates Guba with its apple orchards.
The famous Afurdzhi waterfall on Velvelichai River is included in the list of "Monuments of Azerbaijani Nature" and is protected by the state. There are other waterfalls too, attracting tourists and travelers with their uniqueness and originality. Taking tourist paths over these picturesque nature spots and climbing higher to the mountains, one can observe tall trees being alternated with bushes and even higher, by the river of Khashichai, there are thermal springs with water jetting out the rocks of a mountain canyon. These places were once visited by French writer Alexander Dumas. While taking a break at the camp near the road he was invited to the fireplace by Guba residents that had also decided to take some rest and refresh themselves. He was very impressed by the skill Gubans cut the ram with and by the taste of kebab (shashlik) which they served him. The greatest modern traveler, Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl also stopped in Guba during his visit to Azerbaijan as he had been speculating that "aces" mentioned in the "Edda" epic were the most ancient ascendants of Azerbaijanis that moved to the north of Europe during the Great Migration of Nations.
Here, in Guba district, 65 km from Guba is located a mountainous (2500 m above sea level) settlement Khinalig whose population constitutes a unique, separate ethnographic group. Residents of Hinalig speak an archaic language unrelated to any modern language of the world. The language is highly preserved although the locals also speak Azerbaijani. The phenomenon of Khinalig is a major enigma in not only in the history of Azerbaijan but in the world history, too. Near Khinalig there is a sanctuary (9th century) where natural emergence of fire to the surface of earth can be observed. Due to this phenomenon the place was called Ateshgah by local residents, the name meaning "The Temple of Fire". Remained in the village of Budug, whose population also constitutes a separate ethnic group with its rare language is an ancient construction named Dakhma - "The Tower of Silence", dated to the Zoroastrian ages. The towers were designed for Zoroastrian burial ceremonies.
Also remained in the town preserved are such historical monuments as the mosque of Sakine Khanum, Juma mosque, mausoleum of the 16th century and ancient eastern-type baths.

The district of Khachmaz occupies a part of Samur-Devechi lowlands and is located on the northwest part of Azerbaijan. It is located 157 km from Baku. On the north it is bordered by Russia. Its territory is traversed by major roads and a railway (Baku-Moscow). Climate in the district is of temperate dry semi deserts and dry steppes. Nevertheless, over 20 hectares of its territory are occupied by forests. There are three artificial lakes and plentiful of springs, including thermal and mineral. Traces of settlements dated to the late Stone and Bronze Ages have been found on the territory of the region. About 60 monuments of history and culture have been found on the territory of the district. However experts believe that their number should be much higher since the region was already densely inhabited in the earliest times. Settlements and mounds of the Bronze Age have been found near the villages of Mollaburkhan, Khulovlu, Garadzhik, Khasangala, and the Middle Age settlements - near the villages of Dzhanakhir and Bostanchi. The Mosque of Sheikh Yusuf (15th century) remained in the village of Shikhlar. It belongs to the early onset of architectural mausoleum complexes, which became widespread later, in the 16th-17th centuries. In the villages of Morug Oba, Tagar Oba and Uzun Oba remained a mosque dated to the 19th century, in Garagurtlu village - a mosque and madrasah dated to the 15th century.

Nabran is the largest recreational region in the Hachmaz district, situated on the Caspian shore. An interesting feature of the place is that right after the edge of sand the beach directly turns to a forest which hosts various tourist facilities, camps, pensions and resorts. Their conditions vary from comfortable first-rate luxury hotels and cozy cottages for small number of visitors to camp towns.

The district of Gusar borders Dagestan and is located in the northeast part of Azerbaijan It is located 183 km of Baku and 35 km from the Khudat railway station. Landscape of the territory is an alternation of mountains and plains covered with forests. There is also a beech forest called "Alistan Baba" (7 hectares) protected by the state. In mountain canyons one may observe beautiful waterfalls, the most popular of which, Laza and Shakhnabaz attract a great number of tourists and fanciers of wild nature of the Caucasus. Mountains and peaks of the district attract many climbers while local waterfalls have lately become a center of winter competitions. There is a walking path from the village of Laza to Khinalig village located in Guba district, the route becoming increasingly popular among foot travelers.
Taking a route from Gusar to the village of Sudug (75 km) located on the slopes of Shakhdag Mountain, in the village of Khazra one may survey the ancient mausoleum of Sheikh Dzhuneid (16th century), the grandfather of Shah Ismail Khatai, the founder of Azerbaijani State of Sefevids. This land, as the whole land of Azerbaijan, retains traces of ancient culture and life of its inhabitants. Remained in the villages of Khazra, Khil, Balagusar, Anig, Yasab, Keine Khudat and Gunduz Gala are ancient mausoleums, mosques, remainders of antique settlement sites and fortresses.
Gusar town is the administrative center of the district.. The town was visited by a brilliant Russian poet M. Lermontov. There is a museum bearing his name in the town.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 11:13 PM   #4
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Northwest route


Gobustan district is one of political provinces of our country's historical area called Shirvan. In the 8th-16th centuries one of principal states of Azerbaijan - the state of Shirvanshahs with the capital in Shamakhi was located on the territory of Shirvan. It was the longest-lived state in the history of medieval East. Presently, Gobustan region is located to the south of Shamakhi, 101 km from Baku. Climate in the region is predominantly semi desert. Maraza town is the administrative center of Gobustan district. It is situated on Maraza plateau, near the main roadway of the district.
Famous mounds of Sheikh Duzu, remainders of old settlements dated to the 1st-8th centuries BC, situated on ancient trade roads near the present village of Dag Kolani; the mausoleum of Diri Baba (15th century) on the town's outskirts; remainders of Shah Abbas caravanserai in the very center of the town remind of the fact that the place was already inhabited in ancient times. Since the earliest times the place has been a center of carpet production.

Present Shamakhi district is the center of the ancient Shirvan, the former state of Shirvanshahs, a historical area of Azerbaijan. It is located 120 km from Baku. It is situated on southeast foothills of the Greater Caucasus. Climate is predominantly temperate with dry summers. Landscape is diverse - steppes alternate foothill meadows and forests and the higher above sea level the colder is autumn and the later melts the snow. Overall, however, the climate is mild, soil is fertile and flora and fauna are rich. The region is attractive both to tourists and to amateur foot travelers. Those who prefer walking tours make trips from here to Guba and Ismailli. Eco tourists and simply amateur travelers are eager to see Dzhalangin forest with crabs, pear trees and cherry plum along with springs of sulfurated water in its vicinity.
Located 1400 meters above sea level, near Pirgulu village is Shamakhi astrophysical observatory (SAO) n.a. Nasireddin Tusi. The first of the largest telescopes in the former USSR was mounted here.
Historical monuments of the region include Dzhuma Mosque (8th-19th centuries), the mausoleums of Pirmardakan (13th-14th centuries), and Shakhandan (17th century), a complex of seven mausoleums named Eddi Gumbez (18th century), remainders of the legendary fortress Kalai-Bugurt near a mountain village of the same name - the fortress looks somehow attached to a steep rock. Gulustan fortress (8th-15th centuries) where Shirvanshah Shakhrur set up a steadfast defense against Persian armies - his palace and the unique water supply system: a secret aqueduct providing water for defensive walls, stone reservoir for its storage and water tower remained within the fortress. Located on the territory of the district is the reserve of Pirgulu. It was established in 1968 and consists of three sectors covering a total area of 1521 hectares, 1362 of which are occupied by forests, 8000-2000 m above sea level. The reserve's flora includes 45 rare and endemically plant species, many of which have been included in the Red List.

The district is located 185 km from Baku. Three of eight climate belts of Azerbaijan are represented on the territory of Ismailli district - temperate warm with dry winters, temperate warm with uniform precipitation (on lowlands) and cold with wet winters in mountains. The prevalent landscape of the region is mountainous. On the territory of the district there is a reserve "Ismailli" established in 1981. Its territory covers 5778 hectares.
Historical-cultural reserves have been established in Lagic and Basgal and many monuments have been taken under protection of the state, including the mosque of Bedoy Zevero (1791), Agali Mosque, Zevero spring and a mosque and bath dated to the 18th century. Other monuments include Maiden's Tower (17th century) in Khanega village, Fitdag tower (18th century) in Sulut village and many other archeological objects. Interestingly, residents link one of legends about Alexander the Great to the tower. The great conqueror allegedly stopped here and his heralds would signal from golden horns from the top of a mountain. ("Fit" is the Azerbaijani for "a signal", "whistle"). On the top of another mountain, on the left bank of Girdiman River, near the village of Talystan there are remainders of the fortress where, according to a legend, lived Dzhavanshir - one of the rulers of Caucasian Albania (7th century). In Sulut village there are also remainders of Girkhotag fortress, Kharam tower and Khiraki defensive wall as well as Juma Mosque.

Gabala district is located on the territory of Shaki-Zagatala zone, in the northwest part of Azerbaijan on the border of Dagestan and Georgia. This region has an ancient history; it was inhabited already in times the Late Stone Age. Once it was a center of Caucasian Albania and then it became a part of Shirvanshah and Sheki Khanates, in successive order. The area is rich in walnut and chestnut trees. Here originates one of the climber routes to the tallest mountain of the republic - The Mountain of Bazarduzu (4466 above sea level).
Many monuments of history and culture have remained on the territory of the district. Their list includes a mosque of the 19th century in the village of Bum, an Albanian temple of the 4th century in Amili village, the Tower of Ustaszhan (9th century) in the village of Bayramkoha, the mosque of Gadzhi-Garib and the Albanian church Chotari in Nidzh, the mausoleums of Sheikhs Badreddin and Mansur (15th century) in Khazra village, a mausoleum of the 17th century in the village of Shefili and also "pirs" (burial places of people recognized as saint and pious persons during their lives): Shih-Baba (16th century) in Hamzelli village and Komrad on the top of Komrad Mountain.
On the mountain of Yaloylu archeologists found an ancient settlement site near the village of Nidzh. Archeological culture found here is typical for the north parts of Azerbaijan and was named "The Culture of Yaloylu Tepe". Among other findings there were weapons made of iron, wares of bronze and gold, millstones etc. The most developed crafts were woodworking (in Vandam village), pottery (in Gamarvan village), carpet weaving (in the villages of Laza and Bum). In the village of Bum there is a folk ensemble Zop-Zopa which successfully performed at various festivals abroad.
The village of Nidzh in Gabala district is a place of compact residence of Udines. This ethnic group is considered descendants of ancient Albans who managed to preserve their traditions, language, material and spiritual culture to present day.
There is also a large Museum of Regional History collecting numerous archeological objects found on the territory of the district.

Oghuz district is located on south slopes of the Greater Caucasus in the Sheki-Zagatala zone. On the north this region is bordered by Russia. It is so beautiful that they call it Azerbaijani Switzerland. Slightly less than a half of its territory is occupied by forests. There are many waterfalls, sulfurated springs and thermal waters emerging on the surface. The place was inhabited already in the Late Stone Age. At the beginning of our era its territory became a part of Caucasian Albania, and in the 18th century it was incorporated into Sheki Khanate. Archeologists found ancient settlements sites near the villages of Kerimli and Garabaldir. Among the findings there were spearheads, bronze weapons, female sculptures made stone and staves.
On the territory of the district there are many ancient monuments of history and architecture: Dashuz Bridge (19th century) across Sari-Su River near the village of Khachmaz, a mosque of the 18th century in the village of Sindzhan, a mausoleum of the 15th century in Kerimli village, three-storied tower of the 14th century in the village of Muhas, Gabur defensive tower (7th-14th centuries) in the village of Khachmaz at the top of Galadag mountain, Gavurgala tower (7th century) located on the same mountain near Gabur tower but provided with drinking water, Surhaikhan tower (18th century) made of fluvial stone and located on the bank of Galachai river, near the village of Filfilli.

Sheki region is located on picturesque slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. Numerous monuments of early medieval architecture remained in the vicinity of Sheki. They include fortresses, watch towers, churches and ruins of monasteries dated to the period of Caucasian Albania. Among the most interesting objects are the monuments in the villages of Bideiz, Bash Kungut, Orta Deizit and, of course, the church in the village of Kish (2nd-4th centuries) built by St. Elias; it is considered the earliest Christian construction on the territory of CIS. Presently, the church is being restored and reorganized into a museum. The town of Sheki is the major town of Sheki-Zagatala region, one of the most ancient and beautiful towns of Azerbaijan dated back to the 1st
The famous Sheki markets were a center of trade of seeds, engraved ware, and jewelry. Sheki silk was of different types - soft and opaque, thin and translucent, matted or embroidered in gold. Craftsmen of the town made a great contribution to the development of trade along the Great Silk Road. Sheki was a center of silk production of the whole Caucasus. In 1860 about 62239 poods of silk were produced in Nuha (Sheki) province. The first silkmill was constructed here in 1861 and it was one of the biggest in the world. At the international exhibition in 1862 in London Sheki silk was awarded with the gold medal.
With their magnitude, the Ashaghi and Yukhary caravanserai (18th century) evidence the advancement of trade in the Middle Ages. Near Sheki, on the west bank of the Kish River remained ruins of the ancient fortress "Gelersen-Gorersen" (come and you will see); the name suggests that the defenders of the fortress were confident in its unassailability and in their determination not to let the enemies pass. In his novel "Khadzhi Murat" Leo Tolstoy made this fortress a place of action. The place has been visited by Dumas and Kempfer; N. Raevsky wrote in one of his letters "our camp is situated in the forest of pomegranates, tamarisks and plain trees…Nuha is marvelous".


The district of Gakh is located in the northwest part of the republic and is bordered by Georgia. In the south part of Gakh the climate is dry; in the center it is temperate hot, alternated by subtropical wet; in mountains it is cold, with uniform precipitations. As evident, four climate zones are represented here, on a relatively small territory. Temperature drops are significant: from -400 C at mountain tops to +400 C near Adjinour Lake. Located on the territory of the district is the State reserve "Ilisu" (covering an area of 9.2 hectares). The main protected objects of the reserve are middle-mountainous forests (90% of the territory). There are about 300 plant species, including 90 tree and bush species, a significant number of endemic and endangered species. The mountainous forests are inhabited by bears, wild cats and jackals. In the region of Ganyg-Airichai Valley there are good places for hunt and fishing.
There are remainders of historical monuments in the region. Mounds, found by archeologists, suggest that the region was inhabited already in the Bronze Age. An example of the original culture is the bridge Ulu Kerpu, dated to the18th century. Here archeologists found unique pitcher burials dated to the 1st century BC. Here, in Ilisu, remained a square Watch Tower, 10 meters -tall, dated to the 14th century. About the village there are many sulfurated thermal springs.
Remained near the village of Kum are monuments dated to the period of Caucasian Albania (fortress Sirtgala of 18th century, Kum Basilica, ruins dated to the 5th century, The Round Temple (7th century). In the village of Lekit there also remained a Temple Complex (12th century).

Zagatala district is located on ridges of the Greater Caucasus, in the northwest part of the republic. It is located 372 km from Baku. The northeast border of the district forms the border between Azerbaijan and Russia. Landscape is mountainous and plain; climate is cold in mountains and warm on plains. There are many forests in the area; however they are mostly located in mountains and foothills. In 1929 here, on the south slopes of the Great Caucasus Range was established a State Reserve "Zagatala", with the present area of 23843 hectares. It is located 650-3686 m above sea level and includes a part of not only Zagatala but also Belokani districts.
Historical monuments of the regions are located in the villages remained from ancient times. Remained in the villages of Gezbarah and Galal is a mosque dated to the 18th century, in Kebeloga village - two towers (14th century), in the village of Mazih - a tower of the 12th century, in the village of Yukhary Chardakhlar - Peri-Gala fortress-grotto (5th century), in Djar village - Jingez tower (14th century), in the same village there is a museum of regional history, in Pashan village - an Albanian tower (13th century), and another Albanian tower (12th century) in the village of Ahahdere. In various villages of the district, e.g. in Aliabad and Mosul remained mosques of the 19th century. In Zagatala there is a museum of regional history with a broad collection of medieval manuscripts

Balaken district is located in the northwest part of Azerbaijan, on the south and west it is bordered by Georgia and on the north and east - by Russia. It is located 394 km from Baku. Landscape is diverse, mountains are alternated by plains. On lowlands climate is temperate warm, with dry winters, at foothills it is temperate warm with uniform precipitation, in mountains - cold with wet winter (annual humidity averages over 40%).
There are many mountainous rivers and a beautiful lake near the Katekh Mountain, on the north the area is occupied by forests. More than a half of the territory of the Zagatala reserve belongs to the district of Balaken. The reserve was established in 1929, it extents along the south slope of the Great Caucasus Range 650-3496 m above sea level. By the character of vegetation the territory of the reserve can be divided into mountain-forest (67.4%), and mountain-meadow zones. Flora includes more than a thousand of species, with rare ones (hornbeams, aldertree, oaks, walnuts, chestnuts, acacia and over 30 species of herbal plants) Fauna is rich, of special interest is the habitat of black Caucasian grouse in the area.
On the territory of the region remained many historical and architectural monuments. Archeologists revealed a number of places identified as ancient settlement sites dated to the Early Iron Age. E.G. 2 km off Mahamallar village by the rock Gubek there is a cave named Noho with the traces of a site dated to the Early Iron Age. At the same place, near the village of Mahamallar, there is a pitcher burial (2nd-1st centuries BC), a pir and ruins of residential buildings (5th-7th centuries), a mosque (18th century), a tower (19th century) and stronghold walls. There are also an underground reservoir and mosque dated to the 17th in the village of Gullar, mausoleum of the 14th century in Tul, temple of the 14th century in Hanifa, mosque of the 14th century in Halatala, Albanian temples in the villages of Hanifa and Mazimchai, Peri Tower (12th century) in Gullar village on the bank of Gumbez river. There are also remainders of an early medieval settlement site at the Meklakan Mountain.
Collected in the regional museum there are articles of traditional crafts, different archeological findings suggesting that the place was already inhabited in the Late Stone Age and other items evidencing the rich history of the region.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 11:19 PM   #5
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South route


The district of Salyan is located in the southeast part of Azerbaijan, in Lankaran-Astara region which is characterized by its original cultural and historical traditions and unique flora. It is located 126 km from Baku The region is also famous for its longest-livers and special cuisine with broad assortment of fish meals. It has been inhabited since the ancient times. The district forms an original gate to this region. Major transport lines of the republic, a highway and railway connecting the rest of Azerbaijan with its south regions and also with Middle East countries, traverse its territory,
Located here is the State National Park "Shirvan" (reorganized from the reserve of the same name in 2003). The reserve was established in 1969 to protect and reproduce special plant complexes of Shirvan lowlands (semidesert and aqueous-swampy ecosystems). There is also a reserve called "Bandovan" established in 1961. The reserve covers an area of 30000 hectares. It includes parts of territories of two administrative regions - Salyan and Garadag and was formed with the purpose of preservation and restoration of the population of gazelles, water birds and little bustards.
The place is also interesting due to its archeological importance. There are a number of remained historical and architectural monuments. In the 1970-1980's a number of objects belonging to the Middle Ages were found on the territory of the district.
These settlements once were advanced trade and industrial centers as evidenced by numerous findings of goods made of ceramics, glass and stone. Due to the increase in the Caspian Sea level the settlements became scuttled. Here, in the district, there are a number of archeological objects covering the period from the Bronze Age to the Early Middle Ages. Among them there is the Marimli necropolis, necropolis of pitcher burials in the village of Gursanga, ruins of ancient settlements in present villages of Nohudlu and Mahmudabad.
5 km away from the regional center is located one of numerous mud volcanoes of Azerbaijan, Babazanan which attracts local residents with healing properties of its mud.

Bilasuvar district is bordered by Iran on the west. It is located 182 km from Baku Local climate is of semi deserts and dry steppes; the climate favors the development of cotton and cereals growing as well as cattle breeding. Like the whole territory of Azerbaijan, this area has been inhabited since the ancient times. This is supported by numerous archeological findings and remainders of architectural monuments. The monuments remind of the ancient history of the region: settlement sites like Chil Agdam, Toragay dated to the antiquity and early middle ages. Unfortunately, a majority of these archeological objects have not been studied yet.

Jalilabad region is located on the border of Kura-Araz lowlands. It is located 208 km from Baku; climate varies from temperate warm with almost uniform precipitation to semi deserts and dry steppes with dry summers. The climate and landscape favor the intensive development of winegrowing though in early times the region was a main supplier of various grains for the country. Almost 14700 hectares are occupied by forests and there are fine places for hunt. In a hunt estate Zavvar it is possible to hunt water birds. Fauna is represented by wolves, hares, badgers, foxes, wild boars, wild ducks, eagles, francolins etc.
Among other findings there were objects of material culture from the Late Stone Age. Specialists maintain that the place was inhabited by the famous tribe of Mages - one of Aryan tribes of early Zoroastrianism. There are numerous mounds, settlement sites and necropolises (from the Bronze Age to the early Middle Ages) found on the territory of the district.


Masalli district extends along the main transport line of the region; a road from the capital to the south, to Iran. It is located 230 km from Baku. One of the borders of the region is formed by the Caspian coast, another - by Talysh Mountains. Diverse landscape of the area - mountains and plains (Lankaran lowlands) underlie the climate drops - from temperate warm with dry summer to subtropical. Rivers traversing the lands of the district - Vilash, Alvadichai, Tatyan etc. empty into the Caspian Sea.
Masalli region is rich in mineral springs - both thermal and cold, some are sulfurated and enriched with other trace elements.
Located in one of picturesque mountain spots of the region is a mineral spring Istisu with medicinal water. "Istisu" is a very popular medicinal mineral water bottles of which are available in drugstores of our country.
Historical and architectural monuments of the town include a mosque of the 19th century, an ancient bath, the Erkivan tower, Museum of Regional History. There are mosques of the 16th century and the mausoleum of Seid Sadig in the nearby villages of Digah and Boradigah. Wares of traditional folk crafts (mats, shawls, pottery and woodenware carpets and jorabs) are made in the villages of Musakudja, Turkoba, Kolatan, Sigdash etc.
Located on the road from Masalli to Lankaran, on the southwest coast of the Caspian Sea (bay of Gizilagach) is the Gizilagach reserve, whose territories include the whole water area of the bay and the bordering areas of the land. The reserve was established in 1929 year to protect and reproduce water birds, swamp and steppe birds as well as water and semidesert natural complexes which are the place of wintering of birds including those in the Red List (a total of 248 species of birds and 54 species of fish).

Territories of Lankaran district occupy the east coast of the Caspian Sea and whole Lankaran lowlands up to Talysh Mountains. It is located 268 km from Baku. On the local shore of the Caspian Sea there are many fine sand beaches. Wet subtropical climate without harsh winters, dry and hot summer and rainy autumn underlie the richness of the local flora and fauna. Lankaran district is another important agricultural region of Azerbaijan, whose climate favors the growing of subtropical crops - tea, tangerines, persimmons, feijoa and lemons of various sorts. This is the main region of the country where grows the famous Lankaran tea, well compared by quality and taste with the classical Indian tea.
The reserve "Gizil Agach" is located on the southwest coast of the Caspian Sea, on the area of Gizil-Agach bay. The area of the reserve includes waters of the whole Greater Gizil-Agach bay and the north part of Smaller Gizil Agach bay, and also adjacent parts of the shore. The reserve was established in 1929 for protecting and reproducing wintering and migrant water birds, swamp and steppe birds. There are 248 species of birds and 54 species of fish.
Located on an area of 21435 hectares is the "Hyrcanian" reserve reorganized into the "Hyrcanian" National Park in 2004 (the park occupies a part of Astara and Lankaran regions).
The game reserve "Small Gizil Agach" was established in 1978 (on an area of 10700 hectares) on the Smaller Gizil-Agach bay to protect and restore the population of wintering and migrating swampy-water and coastal birds including rare and endangered species. It is bordered by the reserve "Gizil Agach".
Presently, among architectural-historical monuments remained here there are "Khan Evi" khan palace with an original ornament of the front, Kichik Gala mosque, Guldasta minaret, and the ancient bath of Gadzhi Mirza. One can learn about the history of the region in the Museum of History, the very building of which attracts special interest from the architectural standpoint. There are workshops of decorative and applied art in the town where craftsmen engrave on wood, stone and metal. There is also a theater, the first performance at which occurred in 1850 year; the returns were donated to the poor

Located high in Talysh Mountains, the district of Lerik is one of the most beautiful nature spots in Azerbaijan. It is located 325 km from Baku. A stunning landscape, clean mountain air with the balm of woods, springs, rivers, fertile soil…it is not a coincidence that this region is famous for its longest-livers.It is possible to hunt wild boars, foxes, hares and birds (ducks and partridges) The tallest peaks of Talysh Mountains are Kemur-Gey (2492 m) and Gizyurdu (2433 m).
The unique history of this region reflects the most interesting periods in the complex history of the whole country. There are plenty of cultural and historical monuments evidencing that these places were inhabited already in the Late Stone Age. E.G. cave stop dated to the Stone Age, ancient site "Giz Yurdy" near a mountain village at the level of about 2430 m.
Mausoleums include "Baba Hasan" near the village of Jonu, "Baba Isa" in the village of Mondigah, "Hodja Seid" in the village of Hanagah (14th century), "Pir Yusif" near the village of Kekonu, Dabira (12th-14th centuries) and "Khaliph Zakariya" on the road to the village of Djengemiran in which both ancient and simply old trees are protected and honored by the residents. This village was once visited by Alexander Dumas who later pictured a heroic fate of a woman from the village in one of works. Remained in the village of Lulukaran is an original mosque dated to the 19th century. Noteworthy are also numerous stone figures of rams remained in many villages.
We have already mentioned that the region is famous for its longest-livers. Shirali Muslumov, for instance, lived 163 years of active life (1812-1975) thus setting the world record. Mahmud Eyvazov lived 150 years (1808-1958). Even today dozens of longest-livers who turned 100 and yet have not lost the ability to work live in the regions.

Astara district is located on the border with Iran, in the southeast part of Azerbaijan. A part of its territory is occupied by Talysh Mountains and another part - plains which underlies the climatic diversity of the area. The forests occupy 37000 hectares. Flora is rich and diverse - wild quince, medlar, hawthorns, blackberry bushes, silk tree, evergreen butcher's broom, various lianas. The area features also famous lignum vitae (Damir Agach), a tree immersed into the water. In ancient times local residents used the tree for the production of looms and nowadays it is used for part of weaving machineries.
Fauna is none the less diverse than the flora - porcupines, roes, wolves, lynx, deer etc. The animals feel comfortable in local forests. There is an abundance of sand beaches with clean, transparent water on the shore of the Caspian Sea.
Located on the territory of the region is a part of Hyrcanian National Park, making the place attractive to ecotourists. In Astara region, near the border with Iran, in the place named Isti-Su there are medicinal springs. This is an area of tea, vegetables and citrus growing.
There is a great number of historical and architectural monuments (about 400) remained in the region. In nearly all villages there are traces of ancient dwellings. E.G., a tower in the village of Shindan (named The Tower of Babek by local residents); another tower in the village of Nudis; the Bath of Meshedi Abutalyb, the Mosques of Gadzhi Teimus and Gadzhi Jahan Bakhish in the village of Pensar; a mausoleum in the village of Shakhagach; the Bath of Kerbelai Gamid Abdulla in the village of Archivan (in the same village there is a famous sulfurated spring: its water takes fire if exposed to a lit match); fortress ruins, a mausoleum, a caravanserai dated to the 7th century and stone sculptures dated to the Stone and Bronze ages in the villages Siniyapert, Lomin and Pileken. Astara town is the administrative center of the district. It is located 322 km from Baku. The town is an important transit point on the road Baku-Teheran. Astara is a border town bounded by the sea from one side and by mountains from another. There are rice fields around the town. Fishing is also developed which is reflected by the local cuisine.
In Astara there is a Museum of Regional History with quite rich collections. The main pride of the museum is not only old coins evidencing about the advanced level of trade in ancient times but also a stone human sculpture about 200- years old.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 11:28 PM   #6
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Western Route


Hajigabul district is located in a part of ancient fruitful land of Mugan in Kur-Araz lowland. Hajigabul city, administrative center of district, is located in 113 km from Baku. Climate is semi-desert, dry and hot, winter is mild. Temperature of weather is not lower than positive 6 degree in winter. It rains less, but tugai forests and bushes exist along the Kur River. Hajigabul Lake created as a result of natural withdrawal of Caspian Sea in certain geological period is situated within this district. Bed of the lake was enlarged as a result of flood of Kur River in springtime. Now used hot waters of Ali-Bayramly State District Power Station flows into this lake. This lake, depth of which does not exceed 5 meter, is not frozen in winter. It has big importance as suitable place in winter for migrant birds, as well for water-march birds to build a nest. Many of those birds belong to unique types that face the danger of being ended.
This territory was inhabited yet 5 thousand years ago - archeologists found out ruins of cyclopean buildings in Harami Mountain in north-west of city. Petroglyphs in walls of these buildings catch the attention. There were found out images of people and extraordinary, fantastic animals on the stones near. Scientists suppose this object belongs to Eneolith era. Other historical-architectural monuments remain near Hajigabul. In Gubali Baloglan village Pir Huseyn Khanegah includes: ancient mosque with minaret, castle walls, caravanserai, living buildings (XIII-XIV centuries), mausoleum of Sheikh Huseyn, who lived in XI century, (this mausoleum that was built in honor of sheikh was erected after two centuries after his death), as well ancient bridge (XVII-XIX centuries). Glazed brick of Khanegah reflecting picture of lion is considered one of the best in the East. At the present time a part of this bricks is at The Hermitage in Saint-Petersburg and Nizami Ganjavi's Literature Museum in Baku. Gungormez defense tower of early middle ages remained in Udulu village.

Kurdemir district is situated in Shirvan, historical province of Azerbaijan, in north-west from Baku. This beautiful and fruitful land is very attractive for tourism and recreation. It sometimes is called Gulustan. Summer is hot and dry in Kurdemir. Climate is steppe. Fauna of district is diverse - there are wolf, fox, jackal, wild boar, pheasant, turac, wild duck and goose here. Kurdemir city, administrative center of Kurdemir district, is located on the left bank of Kur River, in 189 km from BAKU.

Yevlakh district is situated on the right bank of Kur River and one of biggest cities of the region called by the people Ganjabasar (it is called so because was the territory of former Ganja Khanate). Ganjabasar region covers a number of districts of Azerbaijan. These districts are similar for their joint history and geographic-climate circumstance. Yevlakh city, administrative center of Yevlakh district, is 280 km away from Baku. Yevlakh is located on the cross of numerous roads. Roads lead from here directly to Mingechevir, Sheki, Balaken, Ganja and Khankendi cities. It is not accidental that Yevlakh is called "Door of Karabakh" in written sources of XII century. Both caravans and travelers used to pass from these "doors", as well flocks of sheep used to be taken to pastures in alpine meadows. A number of archeological objects of Bronze Age and early middle ages were found out in Garamammadly, Garamanly and Khaldan villages of Yevlakh.

Fruitful land of Karabakh is one of the very ancient regions of Azerbaijan. Popular Karabakh Khanate, center of which was Shusha city, was located here in due time. There are numerous historical-architectural monuments, rich flora and fauna here. One of the colorful types of Azeri carpets - Karabakh carpet was created here, famous sort of Karabakh race horses was raised here. This land, possessing such a rich natural features, gave numerous talented writers, poets and musicians to Azerbaijan. Most popular singers - mugham singers (mugham - national musical genre of Azerbaijan) have come from Karabakh. And mugham melodies are base to national opera of Azerbaijan. Unfortunately Karabakh is under occupation of Armenians at present time.
Terter district is situated along the lower flow of Terterchay, borders upon Injechay from north. Temperature is not lower than positive 2 degree in winter and rarely exceeds 25 degree in summer. Climate is different within the district - mild and semi-desert climates are specific to different regions. Just because of such a changeable climate sheep-breeding is widespread here. Khachinchay crosses this district.
In due time this territory was a constituent part of Albanian state, which was one of early state institutions (Manna, Mydia, Atropaten, Caucasian Albania) of Azerbaijan. Like other Azerbaijanis, Albans also believed in religion of Zoroaster in ancient times, converted to the Christianity later.
Terter city is administrative center of Terter district. City is situated on the both banks of Terterchay, 332km from Baku. Agriculture and cattle-breeding, as well ancient folk arts such as carpet-weaving, weaving and sewing are developed here. Terter city, located on the ancient caravan way, was called Chaparkhana in due time. A number of architectural monuments exist in Terter, Kengerly, Garadagly, Gaynag, Azad Garagoyunlu villages of district.

Patients coming to sanatoriums and pensions of this resort city are treated with Naphthalan oil and solutions made of it. Naphthalan oil is very effective for treatment of injures, dermatologic, nervous, urologic and gynecologic diseases, liver, joints and soft tissues around joints. Naphthalan city was built in the place of the same-called small village. The word 'naphtha', which is the base of this name, means 'flowing, leaking' from language of Mydia that was one of the ancient state structures in Azerbaijani territory. Yet a few thousand years ago Azerbaijanis were able to use the naphthalene for different purposes. Not only local residents used Naphthalan oil to treat the wounds, also soldiers of Alexander of Macedonia, Roman legionaries and Vikings, as well alans, khezers and reps of other tribes that attacked Azerbaijan in due time used Naphthalan oil to treat their wounds. Naphthalane used to be exported as well. It was transported to other countries - Kiev Russian State, Central Asia, Afghanistan, India, Persian Gulf countries through caravan routes. Famous traveler of middle ages Marco Polo called the Naphthalan oil 'magical solution to treat dermatologic diseases'. When oil industry started to rapidly develop in Azerbaijan in XIX century, number of European engineers, manufacturers and bankers increased much in Azerbaijan. In 1874 German engineer Yeager took interest in what the local people said on Naphthalan oil and regulated the production of 'Naphthalan" ointment in Germany. He exported that solution to different countries. Obviously, Germans producing solutions in base of Azerbaijani Naphthalane were good managers because this solution was used not only in European countries. First-aid set of Japanese soldiers included jars containing naphthalane ointments during Russian-Japan war in 1904. This ointment was used as first-aid means. It was written on those jars: 'One having this solution should not be afraid of any wound.

Ganja city - is located on the banks of Ganjachay in Ganja-Gazakh lowland. City is divided in two by river. Two climate zones exist here - mild-hot semi-desert and dry steppe climate, as well mild hot climate. Number of population of city is 302.000. City is situated in 375km from Baku. Ganja is the second biggest city of Azerbaijan. There are Ganja State University, Academy of Agriculture, Ganja Branch of National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, Scientific-Research Cotton-growing Institute, Experimental Agriculture Station here. Modern Olympic Sport Complex was built in city.
Ganja is one the most ancient cities, which played important role in history of our country in different periods. Arabs called this city Ganza. During excavations conducted in Ganja archeologists discovered ancient habitations of II century B.C., many archeological objects belonging to Bronze Age around Ganja.
History of Ganja includes its destruction by invaders and revival after that. Ganja was destroyed in Khazar-Arab wars by foreign invaders, tribes such as the alan, Mongol, Georgian kings and Osmanly. After destruction of residence of Christian head of Albans in Barda in XI century, his residence was moved to Ganja. Christians and Muslims used to live in peace together in Ganja, goods taken to Black Sea coasts from Eastern countries were transported through caravan ways crossing this city. In XII century Ganja was capital and residence of feudal lords. But at the time two strong quakes happened in the city. As a result of quake happened in 1139 Ganja was destroyed, nearly 250,000 of city residents died. One of peaks of Kepez Mountain fell and created Goygol Lake by blocking the way of Agsu River.
Hajikend resort zone is located now near Ganja. There are numerous tourist routes, pensions, tourist bases and rest houses here.
“Goygol” State Reserve is first in Azerbaijan. area of this reserve created in 1925 in order to protect and study ecologic systems of middle mountainous, forest and partly subalpine areas, as well Goygol, Maralgol, Zeligol and other mountain lakes, consists of forests and mountain meadows. Goygol, which is located in south of Ganja at the north foots of Murovdag, in 1566m above sea level, is rightly called pearl of Azerbaijan lakes. This reserve that is the first in Caucasus is consisted of two parts - main part and branch called 'Forest of Eldar Pine'. Distance between the two parts of reserve is 80-85km. Ganja got own history-regional geography museum. There are very interesting findings of Bronze Age among exhibits of museum.

Khanlar district is situated at the foots of Small Caucasus, a bit south of Ganja. Agriculture is well-developed in this district, which has very nice landscape. Climate is mild hot. There are many bird nests here. Ganjachay and Gushgara rivers are best places for hunting and fishing. Highest peak of district is Murovdag range that is located in 3724m above sea level. This district is very popular among tourists and ecotourists. They lodge at houses of local people and surrounding villages. Administrative center of Khanlar district is Khanlar city located in 384km from Baku.
Khanlar city was built in XIX century by refugee Germans in place of ancient village called Khaniglar. They planned this city with order specific to themselves and called it Yeleniyendorf in 1819. Tourists visiting this silent and green city travel from there to tourist zones on different routes. Archeological findings belonging to Bronze and iron ages confirm that this city possess ancient history. Lutheran Church (1854), 'Ikigozlu Korpu' (XVI c) and 'Uchgozlu Korpu' (1896) on Ganjachay have remained safe till now as historical-architectural monuments. Monuments remained near Khanlar include castle of XII century in Zurnabad village, Mausoleum of XVI century in Sari Gaya village, 'Ag Korpu' of XII century in Topalhasanly village, a number of historical monuments in Chaykend village.


Dashkesen district, located at the north-east foots of Small Caucasus, is ore producing center of Azerbaijan. Temperature is strictly changeable. 20 degrees of frost in winter (this is not characteristic for Azerbaijan) and 35 degrees of hot in summer like in Absheron, climate of which is semi-desert. District attracts both tourists and people resting with its fresh air, mountainous grasslands rich with alpine meadows, springs.
Archeologists found out ruins of ancient habitations belonging Stone Age in areas of Khoshbulag, Zagaly, Gurbulag, Emirvar, Bayan, Darderya villages of this district. Two ancient stone bridges built on the Gushgara River and mausoleum in Ahmadly village are historical-architectural monuments remained till now. Monastery built in Gushchu village in 487 is safe. There are ruins of Christian temple of XV century in Bayan village.
Administrative center of district is Dashkesen city, which is located in 397kn from Baku.

There are many archeological objects of Bronze and early Iron ages in Shemkir district. They mostly were discovered in Chenlibel, Seyidler and Garajaemirly villages. There are also a number of historical-architectural monuments o middle ages: castles in Tatarly and Ashagi Seyfelly villages, bridges in Tehneli village and on the Zeyem River, Christian churches in Yukhari Chaykend, Guneshly, Dag Jeyirly villages. There are beloved places of fishers here - Yenikend dam on Kur River is specially popular.
Shemkir city, administrative center of district, can be reached in an hour with a car from Ganja. Shemkir is 417km away from Baku.
There was a small colony called Annenfeld of German refugees here in XIX century. Like in Khanlar, residents of this colony also left here a number of streets that are ideally smooth and Lutheran church. According to written sources and archeological information this city was built in V-VI centuries on the bank of Great Shemkir River near current Mukhtariyyat village, 20km from modern Shemkir.
Two ancient castles belonging to XVII century remain around modern Shemkir. These are Shamkhor Castle and Koroglu Castle (name of this castle was chosen as our national symbol in honor of hero Koroglu, who bravely fought against despots).

Gedebey district is situated in Small Caucasus Mountains, as well in high mountains (height of Goshabulag peak is 3549m, Gojadag peak is 3317m) and mountains with middle height. Different levels of territory above sea make climate changeable. Climate, specific to tundra, of mountainous area partly transfers into dry climate accompanied with hot summer. Distance between district center and Baku is 462km.
There is good circumstance within Gedebey district for fishing in Shemkir River. There is special fishing farm near Galakend village. Flora and fauna of Gedebey district is rich and various. 'Gizilagaj' reserve is located within this district.
Ancient cultural monuments that entered Azerbaijani history under name of Khojaly-Gedebey Culture - Cyclopean buildings belonging to Bronze age, as well 'Gedebey Treasures' - domestic appliances and ancient jewelry jugs, silver coins belonging to XVI century - reign of Shah Tahmasib were discovered here. These coins were used in from Tebriz (current Iran) to Shirvan and Ganja. Historical-architectural buildings that are safe within district include Tagly Korpu (XIX c), Gulle in Gala village (XVI c), Giz Galasi in Soyudlu village (or Namerd Gala - IX c), Christian temples of early middle ages in Novosaratovka, Soyudlu, Chanakhchi and Kilevi villages.
Territory of Azerbaijan was paid attention by some of popular western owners. For instance, The Brothers Nobel became rich due to Baku oil. Germany's 'SIEMENS' company built two copper-smelting plants in Gedebey in later XIX century. 25% of all the copper smelt in Russia of czar was carried out at these plants. The brothers Siemens took interest in history of this extra-ordinary land and organized implementation of archeological excavations in this region.

Tovuz District of Azerbaijan is situated in west of republic, borders on Georgia and Armenia. Kur, Akhinja, Tovuz, Zeyem and other rivers cross territory of this district. There are many forests, springs, rich flora and fauna (wolf, fox, rabbit, turaj, partridge) on the mountains. Climate is dry, mainly rabbit and water birds can be hunted.
Ancient monuments have been preserved in Tovuz district. Most interesting ones of them include temple of XII century in Kirzan village, mosque of XVII century in Yanigly village, mausoleums in Gazgulu village, castle in Alibeyly village and etc. There are also numerous archeological objects of Bronze, Iron and early Middle Ages here.
Administrative center of district - Tovuz city is 457km from Baku. Like majority of Azerbaijani cities, Tovuz also was built in place of ancient habitations belonging to Stone and Bronze ages. This city left the traces in genetic memory of people as if to remind the places where our fathers replaced each other during millenniums.

Agstafa district is situated at the foots of Great Caucasus Mountains, in frontier of Azerbaijan with Georgia and Armenia. Climate is mild. Local people are engaged mainly in cattle-breeding and agriculture.
Garayazi State Reserve, covering 4,9 thousand hectares of area on the bank of Kur river, was created in 1978 to preserve and restore tugai forests around Kur, Garayazi lowland and middle flow of Kur river. Major object protected in reserve is tugai forestland.
'Garayazi-Agstafa' Reserve that was established in 1923 in area of 12,0 thousand hectares, is located within Agstafa district. Goal of creation of this reserve was to protect Caucasian deer, pheasant, partridge, other types of unique animals and birds and lift their number. Reserve is situated in thick forestland in middle flow of Kur River, in border between Georgia and Azerbaijan. Flora and fauna of this reserve is identical to ones of 'Garayazi' Reserve, which directly borders on it.
A number of historical monuments were discovered within district: ancient habitation called Molla Nagi Tepesi of Paleolithic age near Kochasger village, Gulle of XVII century and Mosque of XIX century in Girag Kesemen village, mosques of XIX century in Kolkhalvaly, Garahasanly, Dagkesemen and Duz Gishlag villages and etc. There are too many monuments here belonging to Stone, Bronze and Iron ages. These facts show that level of habitation of this region was very high in ancient times. There is need for detailed study of all these archeological objects and realization of new excavations.
There are defense castle and cave-monasteries, built in Caucasian Albania during early Christianity, near herdsman places, which are grasslands for sheep flocks in summer, in Keshikchidag Range in upper part of Agstafa city. This zone was banned to visit during UUSR, because military units of TransCaucasus Military Division were located there. This is why that unique complex was not studied in required manner. It was prohibited zone, many of ancient images in caves were wiped off with artillery fires. This complex, which belongs to Caucasian Albania - one of state structures of ancient Azerbaijan, is studied at present time by archeologists of National Academy of Sciences.
Agstafa City is situated near Georgian border, 479km from Baku. City was built in 1914 as railway junction. The city, territory of which was small then, was called Yelizavetinka.

Gazakh district is situated near western borders of Azerbaijan. In general, Gazakh and Agstafa districts are considered western borders of not modern Azerbaijan only as well state of Caucasian Albania. Division of this region into two independent administrative districts - Gazakh and Agstafa districts took place not long ago. There are historical monuments (architectural and archeological monuments) here that are preserved by state: Sinig Korpu (XII c), Damjili Cave, Temple of V century in Yukhari Eskipara village, Sheker Gala Temple of XV century, Didevan megalith Defense Castle, Temples Complex of Alban era (VII c) in Dash Salahly village, Goyazan Mountain (last middle ages), which is attractive with ruins of castle walls, and ruins of ancient city recently discovered near that.
There are many ancient habitations within Gazakh district: caves periodically inhabited by Neanderthals in Avey Mountain, between Dash Salahly and Kemerly villages, Injesu River valley, north-east parts of Small Caucasus, settlements of Cro-Magnon men near Damjili cave in Avey Mountain, Khal-Khal city place near beautiful pinky-golden Gizil Gaya and ruins of castle walls were found out. This territory is supposed to be one of summer residences of Alban rulers. Without implementing any excavations, archeologists found here numerous ruins of ceramic appliances of Bronze Age on the surface of ground. In due time Albans destroyed troops of Roman Pompey here. Ancient written sources say about this: '10,000 horsemen and 60,000 pedestrians of Albans were fighting against troops of Pompey'. Barrow graves of Bronze Age were discovered in Berkin Agzi canyon, which is located a bit west of Gizil Gaya. All these historical objects (except Sinig korpu) are nearby Gazakh city. Due to efforts of initiator men of this land, numerous archeological artifacts have been collected and exhibited at local Regional geography museum.
Gazakh, which is the last biggest city in western frontier of Azerbaijan, is homeland of talented poets and writers.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 11:31 PM   #7
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The ancient Karabakh is the heart of Azerbaijan, the land that gave the country a great number of talents. Karabakh is not only the unique nature, the landscapes included in the List of Natural Monuments of the Republic; it is also a constellation of gifted individuals - poets, writers, musicians, khanendes (performers of mugam - the national music). Karabakh is the cradle of the Azerbaijani music. The nature and resources of this ancient land leave no one untouched. Probably that is why this beautiful land is occupied now…

The district of Barda is located in the center of the Karabakh Plain, in the northwestern part of the Kura-Araz lowlands, on the bank of the Terterchai River. The region is also traversed by the Khachin River. The Kura River flows along the border of the district. The large Upper Karabakh channel has been built in the district. There are two beautiful lakes along the road from Barda to Terter and one more (Agali) is located near Barda.

Forests occupy 6856 km of the district's territory. The land features many relict trees; there are oaks, hornbeams, garagaches, walnuts and plane trees. The fauna includes wolves, foxes, jackals, wild boars, hares, pheasants, gooses, francolins etc. Hunting and fishing are available.

Natural conditions favor melon, cotton and grain growing.

Until the collapse of the USSR, the district was an All-Union Sanatorium and a popular resort, largely owing to the land, rich in healthful mineral springs. The most acclaimed are Istisu, located 3 km. from Barda, and the spring near the village of Muganli.

The town of Barda is located 314 km from Baku. In Arabian written sources (Ibn Khovgal), Barda, located in the western part of Azerbaijan, was mentioned as "The Mother of the Arran Towns". In the past, the town was a key stop on the Great Silk Road. Barda was known to the neighboring nations already two thousand years ago. There was even a legend claiming that the town had been founded by Alexander the Great; the legend was mentioned in the works of such ancient authors as Balazuri and Kazvini. Since the 6th century BC, Barda became the capital of Caucasian Albania.

Archeological expeditions revealed ruins of an ancient town near present Barda. Numerous objects found there evidence the high level of culture, trade and crafts: jewelry, forging, pottery, silk production, woodworking and carpet weaving.

This was a town with advanced infrastructure: archeologists found underground water communications and sewer systems built with the use of ceramic pipes. The streets of the town were cobbled; red brick was used in construction works. Money was coined at the mint. The findings indicate established links between Barda and the adjacent towns of Azerbaijan and the whole Middle East. Archeologists have also found objects of material culture covering the period from the 2nd millennium BC to the Late Middle Ages. Many architectural monuments remained to the present day. They include remainders of the famous bridge across Terter (7th-9th centuries), the mausoleums of "Akhsatan Baba", "Guloglular" (with the burial of Bakhman Mirza Gadzhar, a famous scientist) built by Akhmed Ibn Ayub al-Khafiz, an architect, "Imamzade" (scientists believe this mausoleum to be the place of Sheikh Ibragim's burial). There is also a square-shaped cob fortress.

As the capital of Caucasian Albania, Barda became the religious center of the Albanian Christian Church in 552. Christianity in Caucasian Albania was introduced by Syrian missionaries.

However, since the first half of the 7th century Barda became an arena of Arabian - Khazar wars. During the reign of Caliph Muawiyah (661-680), Barda was restored and surrounded with fortress walls. The Arabs garrisoned the place as an outpost against Khazar invasions. The population of Barda at that time was estimated at100000 inhabitants - quite large for a town in those times. That is why Mugaddasi, an Arabian writer, called Barda "The Baghdad of this region".

Since the collapse of the Caliphate and until the nearly end of the 10th century, Barda was a part of the Salarids State. There is an interesting event in the history of Barda. In 944 Vikings, heading out the Kievan Princedom and sacking everything there was to sack, reached Kura. According to the records, the Vikings troops were quite large in number, from 30 to 50 thousands men. For a short time, they managed to capture and hold Barda. However, after a few months the Vikings, many of which had died of unknown illnesses, left the town without a fight.

More serious were results of the Mongol raids. The town was severely damaged during the invasion of Tamerlane (15th century). After the devastation by Persian Shah Nadir in 1736, the town did not recover. It fell into decay and became merely a small populated place within the Karabakh Khanate (the end of the 18th century).

In the past, Barda comprised the sharply delineated center of the town - Shahristan, surrounded by fortress walls, and Rabata - residential quarters of artisans, craftsmen and merchants. There were quarters of blacksmiths (present village of Gara Demirchiler), potters, stonemasons, wood engravers tanners etc. It was a town of beautiful fabrics, ceramic and glass ware, embellishments made of common and precious metals. A great number of the famous "Karabakh Type" carpets (both with and without nap), made by Azerbaijani craftsmen, were produced in Barda. This was a genuine Town of Craftsmen, praised by the famous Azerbaijani poet Nezami Ganjevi in his poem "Islander-Name".

The ancient town was glorified by Gazi Mahiatdin Bardi, a prominent political figure of the 14th century, progressive jurist and scientist Muhammed Ibn Abdulla Abubekr Bardi (died in 961), renowned in the East, the author of "The Answer to Dissidents" (regarding the Muslim law). His works indicate democratic and progressive views of their author.

Remained on the territory of the district are numerous ancient architectural monuments. They include the Mausoleum of Khanaoglan (17th century), a caravanserai (18th century) in the village of Shahbulag, a mosque (17th century), The Palace and Mosque of Panahali-Khan, "Gutlu Musaogli" mausoleum (14th century) in the village of Khachinturbetli, two mausoleums and a mosque in the village of Papravend, a cave temple dated to the Christian period of Caucasian Albania, carved out on the northern slope of the Bozdag Mountain.

The town of Agdam is the administrative center of the district, located 362 km from Baku. Agdam was also one of the large towns located on the Karabakh plain. Turkic tribes would often build small defensive fortresses on lowlands (the word "Agdam" is translated from the ancient Turkic as "a small fortress").

Later the word gained its modern meaning of "light, white" - connected to the fact that one of Karabakh Khans, Panahali, built a house of white marble here, in the 18th century. It was a whole complex of harmonic structures - an imaret of white stone.

The town houses an unusual museum - The Museum of Bread. The museum's collections include unique artifacts - archeological findings relevant to bread and grain growing. There are petrified seeds, grain graters, hand mills, ware, ancient books, manuscripts, various documents describing the history of tillage, farmers' tools (sickles, ploughs, threshing boards) etc.

The town of Shusha is located 373 km from Baku. The town's name owes much to the splendid clean and transparent air of the land. "Shusha" is literally translated as "glass" (Azerbaijanis usually associate clean air with transparent glass). This is one of the most beautiful towns of our country, blessed by nature with unique springs - Isa Bulag, Turshsu, Sakina Bulag, Isti Bulag, Soyug Bulag, Yuz Bulag, Girkh Bulag, Charikh Bulag and many others.

The foundation and subsequent prosperity of the town are connected to strengthening of the Karabakh khanate. From two sides the town is screened by remained city walls, once heavily fortified. The town was founded by Panahali Khan, a Karabakh ruler (1756-1757). He built a fortress here and named it Panahabad. Later it was renamed into Shusha, the name of a village nearby. Panahali Khan also built other fortresses - Bayat, Shahbulag and reinforced the fortress of Askeran. In the 18th century Shusha emerged as on of the most important towns in Azerbaijan. It was surrounded by tall and thick fortress walls. A number of craftsmen's quarters were built, merchant routes connected Shusha with Persian towns and Moscow, the town began coining its own silver money - Panabadi.

Travelers have always admired this beautiful town, located high in the mountains. "Its houses are regular, beautiful, tall and lit through numerous fine windows. The town is built of stone from the rocks it is situated on. Every street is cobbled with wide slabs; roofs are made of boards" - these are the impressions of V. Vereshagin, a Russian painter.

The quarters had indoor galleries with stone pillars, market squares were large and the town's main square - Meydan - housed rows of shops and a two-storied caravanserai. There was also a cathedral mosque with two minarets.

Located near the border of the town was the "race track" - Dzhidir Duzu. It was located near the deep canyon of Dashalty. Steep staircase steps of Girkh Pilakan (forty steps) led downwards to the river of Dashalty, to the secret cave of "Khazina Gala" (the fortress of treasures). Every guest of Shusha would visit this place.

To count all ancient monuments of architecture and art in Shusha is not an easy thing to do - only the number of architectural monuments is estimated at 170, monuments of arts - 160. They include house museums: of Khurshud Banu Natavan, a poetess, museum of General Mekhmandarov, a participant of a heroic defense of Port Arthur, prominent composer Uzeyir Hadzhibekov, singer Bul-Bul, poet and painter Mir Mohsum Navab, there are the castles of Ibragim Khan and his daughter, Gara Beyukkhanum, "Ganja Gates", the fortress wall etc.

The town is often called the "conservatoire of the East". Shusha is a hometown to many prominent Azerbaijani singers, musicians, great composers and conductors - Dzhabbar Garyagdi Oglu, Gurban Primov, Bul-Bul, Seid Shushi, Khan Shushi, Rashid Beibutov, Uzeyir Hadzhibekov, Niyazi, Fikret Amirov and Suleyman Alasgarov.

It is also a hometown to writers S. Akhundov, A. Agverdiyev, N. Vezirov, poetess Khurshud Banu Natavan, poet Kasumbek Zakir, sculptors and painters T. Narimanbekov, Dzh. Garyagdi and others.

Located near Shusha is the town of Khankendi, first mentioned in written sources of the 9th century. It was founded by a Turkic tribe whose name, Verande, became the original name of the town. In the end of the 18th century the son of Panahali Khan, Mehti-Kuli Khan founded a large settlement on this place and later gave it to his wife, Peridzhan Begim. In the 1923 the town was renamed into Stepanakert but after the collapse of the USSR it regained its original name.

The district of Kelbadzhar is located on the slopes of the Lesser Caucasus. Its administrative center is the town of Gelbedzhar (translated as "high pass" or "highland"). The town is located 445 km from Baku.

The area is famous for its mineral springs, including thermal ones. The most famous of those, Istisu ("hot water") gave the name to a local resort. Other healthful springs are located 2000-2400 m above sea level, on the banks of the Terter River. In terms of chemical composition their waters are almost identical or even superior to waters of the world-famous Karlovy Vary springs (Czech Republic).

It has to be mentioned that natural landscape, historical-architectural monuments, transit-communication set of Nagorny Karabakh and surrounding districts, occupied by Armenia, have been destroyed by Armenians, in a word, tourism infrastructure of top the region has fully been destructed.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 11:34 PM   #8
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Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic

Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) is located in the southeastern part of Azerbaijan. Nakhchivan is separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by a narrow reach of a foreign country - once it became possible due to the conflict of Russian and Persian imperial interests. NAR is located on the southern slopes of the Daralaya Mountains and southwestern slopes of the Zangezur Mountains.
This is a mountainous area - over 30% of its territory is located 600-1000 m above sea level. The tallest mountains of the region are Kapudzhuk (3904 m) and Ilandag (2385 m). The climate in the republic is strongly continental; temperature varies from +43C in summer to -30C in winter. Humidity is low. Flora is represented by beech, oak, walnut, willow and wild pear; there are many herbal plants. Fauna includes bears, wild boars, foxes, hares, wolves, stone martens, bezoars and Asian mouflons; birds - Caspian snowcock, alpine accentor, crag martin and rock partridge.
There are numerous ruins of ancient towns, towers, fortresses and mausoleums remained all over the region. This land has always been attractive to invaders because of both its important strategic position and natural deposits. In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great sacked and burned out the whole region. After that, Nakhchivan was annexed by Persia. In the middle of the 17th century, the Nakhchivan Khanate was formed; however, at the beginning of the 19th century the khanate was incorporated into the Russian Empire.
The city of Nakhchivan is the capital of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan. It is located on the right bank of the Nakhchivanchai River, 1000 m above sea level, 560 km from Baku. This is one of the earliest large cities of Azerbaijan and the ancient East. The history of the city dates back to the earliest ages. Archeologists have found objects of material culture dated to the 2nd-1st millennia BC.
The residents link the history of the ancient settlements in the area of Nakhchivan with the legend of the biblical patriarch Noah, who escaped the Deluge. The earliest written source to mention Nakhchivan is the works of Ptolemy (2nd century). He mentions Nakhchivan under the name of "Nahsuan".
The city is located on the crossroads of ancient trade routes. Once it was a part of one of the states of ancient Azerbaijan - Athropatene (4th-3rd centuries BC). In The Early Middle Ages, the links between Nakhchivan and the countries of Asia Minor, Middle East and Transcaucasia became especially close.
French travelers Pierre Chardine and Dubois de Monpierre and British traveler Porter noted that this was a splendid city with well-preserved architectural monuments of the antiquity. Turkish traveler Evlija Chelebi was enchanted by the city's baths with the water pools daily scattered with rose petals.
Nakhchivan is a homeland of the national leader Heydar Aliev.
In present Nakhchivan, close attention is paid to the development science and education. There is a university, a branch of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, the Academtown. Schools are not set aside, too - old schools are being restored along with building of new ones - e.g. a large, finely equipped school n.a. Heydar Aliev. The city houses the Palace of Culture, Dramatic Theatre, Puppet Theater etc. The finely equipped Olympic Sport Complex has been built recently.
Museums - Carpets Museum, Historical Museum

The district of Ordubad is bordered by Armenia on the north and east and by the Islamic Republic of Iran on the south. It is located in the eastern part of NAR. The climate is contrast - cold winters, hot summers. The flora and fauna are rich and the air is exceptionally clean. Many herbal plants and fruits grow in the district. There are many historical monuments dated to the Bronze Age: stone sculptures of rams, remainders of ancient settlements dated to the 2nd-1st millennia BC in the village of Sabir, ruins of the ancient town of Gilan by the village of Aza, medieval buildings in the villages of Kilit, Velaver, Ailis, Aza, Kotam, Bilev and Vanand. There are also ruins of the ancient town of Anabad, the Shahtakhty Tower near the village of Andemidzh, mosques of the 19th century, a mausoleum of the 14th century in the village of Der, a bridge (1826) near the village of Aza, ruins of a bath (14th century) in the village of Der and many other monuments.
On the Gamigaya Mountain, 60 km to the south of Ordubad, there are unique petroglyphs dated to the 3rd-2nd millennia BC. There are thousands of drawings picturing people, domestic life, and hunt, real and fantastic animals. The town of Ordubad is the administrative center of the district. This is the second largest town in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. This town has been known since the 12th century. It is located 850 m above sea level. For its ancient history, the large number of historical monuments, the exterior almost untouched by new buildings and the preserved domestic life of its residents, the town has been named the State Historical-Architectural Reserve.
Its monuments include the Juma Mosque with unique arched recesses of the elevation, the Dilbar-Mosque, the Afgan Tower and an eyvan of the 18th century, numerous ancient chashme (buildings near springs), the Geysariya indoor trade complex with round domes (19th-20th centuries), an ice-house and mosques of the 18th century, two-storied madrasah and many others.

The district of Dzhulfa is located to the east of Nakhchivan city. It is dry, hot in summer and freezing in winter. Total amount of precipitations is about 220-600 mm. There are rivers of Alindzha, Gardara and Araz (along the border with Iran). Very beautiful and unique are mountains along the road to Dzhulfa: the geological factor (the composition of layers, age etc.) has influenced their appearance - the mountains resemble huge, dome-shaped, fantastic structures. The mountains of Dzhulfa are forested, with beech, hornbeam, oak; fauna includes wolves, foxes and hares.
On the bank of the Araz River, there are remainders of ancient structures. These are a caravanserai (13th century) - one of the largest on the territory of Azerbaijan, and the remainders of a bridge dated to the beginning of the 14th century, built by decree of Nakchivan Khan Khakim Ziya Ad-Din. There is the small Gulistan mausoleum (13th century) near the village of Dzhuga and more mausoleums near the village of Der (particularly well preserved is the Tower Mausoleum (15th century). There is also the fortress of Alindzha (12th-13th centuries) and a number of other monuments and ancient ruins. The town of Dzhulfa is located on the bank of the Araz River, on the border with Iran. Located on the opposite bank of the Araz River, almost symmetrical to the Azerbaijani Dzhulfa, is its Iranian namesake. In the past, there was an ancient caravan route connecting Persia with Shirvan, Georgia and Dagestan. Now here is located a border checkpoint.

The district of Babek is bordered by Armenia on the north and by Iran on the south. Northern and southeastern parts of the district feature mountainous landscape, while southern and southwestern parts are predominantly lowlands. The tallest peaks are Kechaltepe (2740 m), Garagush (2617 m) and Buzgov (2470 m).
The district is rich in mineral springs (Sirab, Gakhab, Vaikhir) and deposits of rock salt. It is traversed by the Nakhchivanchai River and its branch called Dzhakhrichai; there are reservoirs - Araz, Nekhra, Uzunoba and Sirab. There are no forests. Native industries include wine, grain and melon growing as well as cattle breeding.
Located on the area of the district are such famous archeological monuments as Gultepe and Gultepe-2 along with the ancient ruins of Abasabad, Vaikhir and Aznabyurt. The town of Babek is the administrative center of the district.

The district of Shakhbuz is located in the northern part of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. This is a mountainous land. The tallest peaks are the Salvatly (3160) and Kechaldag (3115) mountains; there is also a mountain pass called Bichanak.
Like the rest of the republic, there are many underground waters, including mineral - Badamli, Batabat, Karvansara and Bichanak. There are also deposits of brimstone, construction materials and peat. The district is traversed by the Nakhchivanchai River and its branches - Kuku, Shakhbuz and Salvarty. Lakes - Ganligel, Batabat. The mountains are heavily forested.
The town of Shakhbuz is the administrative center of the district.There is a resort called "Badamli" (1400 above sea level), located near the mineral water bottling plant of the same name.

The district of Sharur is located in the western part of the republic. On the south, this area is bordered by Iran. Northern and western parts of its territory feature mountainous landscape with the Daralaya Mountain Range. The tallest mountain is Galingaya (2775 m). The climate is semiarid. Local rivers are branches of the Araz River (Arpachai etc,).
The district's numerous historical monuments include ancient settlement sites dated to the Bronze Age on the banks of the Araz and Arpachai Rivers. Found in the cave of Gazma were stone and obsidian instruments dated to the Middle Paleolithic Age; examples of skillfully made decorated ceramic ware have been found in the village of Shahtakhty.
Archeological excavations near the villages of Arbatan, Vermaziyar, Garagasanli, Babeki and Kosadzhan revealed the settlement sites of Kelukler, Kehne, Arbatan, Kehnekend and Kultepe, the memories of which had been living in minds for ages.
The town of Sharur is the administrative center of the district. On the other side of the railway, there is an old town with baths, bazaar and mosques.

The district of Kengerli is located between the districts of Babek and Sharur. The southern part of the district is bordered by Iran, the northern - by Armenia. The landscape of the district is predominantly mountainous; it is located on the Daralaya Plateau. The climate, like in the rest of the autonomous republic, is strongly continental; it is very hot in summer and chilling in winter. On the territory of the district runs the Araz River that flows along the border between Azerbaijan and Iran.
Mountainous landscape, climatic conditions and lack of small rivers underlay the features of the indigenous fauna, which is represented largely by semidesert and mountainous species (bushes, herbage and scarce trees).
This is an agricultural district with advanced tobacco, cine, grain, vegetable and melon growing.
Like the rest of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, there are many ancient monuments, evidencing that the land was inhabited in earliest times: the Chilkhangala mounds, the Gazma Cave and the ancient settlements of Galadzhig, Govurgala, Damlama, Gulamtepe and Balatepe.
There are also newer monuments - the Jami Mosque (18th century) in the village of Khok, a mosque of the 18th century and a bath of the 19th century in the village of Shahtakhty.
The village of Givrag is the administrative center of the district. It was founded only in 2004. Givrag is located on the Nakhchivan-Sharur highway, 30 km from the capital (Nakhchivan) and 6 km from the Araz River.
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Old September 17th, 2009, 01:14 PM   #9
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This is exactly what Kiwi Rob needs to see. Baku isn't one of the best cities in the world, but the culture, people, history and nature of Azerbaijan as a whole are fascinating. These tours along with eco-tourism are what the Azerbaijan Tourism authority need to pursue, and I know these are things they are already trying to do. I lived in Azerbaijan for 6 years and it is still my favourite out of the 36 countries I have visited.
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Old September 17th, 2009, 09:11 PM   #10
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Thanks for nice words about Azerbaijan.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 07:54 PM   #11
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Azerbaijan Tourism Portal
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 04:30 PM   #12
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 09:40 PM   #13
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Mountaineering in the Azerbaijan Caucasus

Even if you're not a real mountaineer Caucasus offers some fabulous climbs. You'll need an experienced guide (reckon on approx /day), one or two porters/camp guards (/day), horse for for load (/day) and good weather as there is no shelter on the flinty upper slopes.

Climbing Shahdag ('King's mountain', 4243m) takes you along a relatively narrow ledge and up a glacier for which crampons and an ice axe are normally necessary. The final stretch is somewhat anticlimactic except for the little Lenin statues at the summit, but the views from base camp are stunning. Coming via Laza you'll typically need four days from Baku. Driving via Xinaliq it is just about possible in 48 hours given perfect weather, but 3-4 days is normal. The same goes for Tufan Dag ('hurricane mountain', 4191m), climbed from the north, starting nearby. Tufan Dag's elegant triangular peak is unusual in having a small lake way up above the tree line at 3800m. Three sub-peaks to the west at about the same altitude there is a grave and some animal bones which may mark the site of the now vanished Hun village of Askikand.

Bazarduzu ('marketplace', 4466m) is the highest Caucasian peak east of Kazbek and has the added curiosity of being partly in Russian Dagestan (no checks). The climb involves scaling a scree-sprinkled glacier. Visible in the valley below are some aged graves of bygone traders whose summer markets gave the mountain its name. Roughly halfway to 3527m Riistamboz, is a curious point from which two streams flow in different directions, one south to Qamarvan near Qabala, the other north, eventually to form the Qusarchay river.

Our team can organise the climbing to Shahdag, Bazarduzu, Tufan as well as Bazar Yurt (4110), Qyzylqaya(Heydar Zirvasy - 3758 m. that was firstly pioneered in 1998 on the 75-th anniversary of Azerbaijan president Heydar ALiyev) and Ataturk Zirvasy (3786) named after the president of Turkey.

Shahdagh is not the tallest peak in the Caucasus - that would be Elbrus in the Russia Federation at 5,642m (18,619 feet). Nor is it the highest point in the vicinity of Azerbaijan - that would be Bazarduzu at 4,466m (14,738 feet), located on the border with Dagestan. But Shahdagh qualifies as the highest mountain point completely within the borders of Azerbaijan, and indeed, it's a pretty decent challenge for the novice climber. Its summit peaks at 4,243m (14,002 feet).

Folloiwng are the notes of American expat working in Baku (Dave Puls) that he published in on his ascend to Shahdag:

My friends and I accepted the Shahdagh challenge last June [2000]. Under the guidance of experienced Azerbaijani mountain guide Elchin Mammadov and our enthusiastic leader, Dave Askeland, who had attempted Shahdagh once before, 13 of us set off from Baku on a warm summer's morning for the four-hour drive to Laza.

I should mention that there are at least two locations known as Laza in Azerbaijan. This Laza can be reached via the northern highway through Guba, to the west of Gusar. The drive beyond Gusar was rewarding in itself, as we passed vast, lush green meadows running to the edge of sheer drop-offs and spectacular waterfalls along the way. The famous "Gates of Laza" are formed by a crack in a rock wall, through which the road passes and frames a breathtaking vista of sheer cliffs and waterfalls cascading along the far side of the valley.
Just beyond Laza, the road ends. It's there that an enterprising family has built a lodge at the foot of a waterfall. At the time we went, the accommodations were still under construction, but they intended to open them for business by the fall of 2000. In our situation, they willingly kept watch over our vehicles for the few days that we would be hiking, but I can imagine that this lodge could provide a restful night's sleep prior to a climb or even for just a weekend trip to Laza itself.

Golden Peak
Soon after arriving there, we sorted out our gear one more time, slung on our packs (averaging 40 pounds apiece), and started up the trail. The narrow path hugged the left side of the valley as we headed upward. We figured walking for just half a day would be a good way to break in our climbing legs - not to mention our backs!
We camped that night on a grassy hillside at the very foot of Gizilguy, which translates as Golden Peak, although we had no clue of what a spectacular view it really would offer, as low gray clouds had hung over us for most of that day.
But that evening we "got our socks knocked off" as we discovered the real meaning of the peak's name when we took a stroll along one of the ridges and watched the clouds part just before the final moments of daylight. The setting sun lit up the mountain peak like a golden flame. We took it as a promise of great things to come.

Shahdagh in View
The morning brought blue skies that delighted us for the rest of the trip. I'll never forget the breathtaking views of treeless, emerald grassy slopes interrupted only by bare limestone rocky peaks against the deep blue, high-altitude sky. What an unexpected impressive delight!
By mid-morning of the second day, we were finally staring at our destination, the sheer south face of Shahdagh itself. It looked so formidable. It was hard to imagine an easy route to the summit. All we could do was trust our guide to get us to the top.
Elchin rigged up a rope to convey both packs and climbers across the boulders and the muddy river below. Somehow he succeeded in making the river crossing seem simple. Beyond, we paused to take in the expansive green meadow at the foot of the vertical mountain face, where sheep were grazing on fresh June grass. A small brook of clear spring water trickled nearby. This meadow in itself would have made a fantastic endpoint for any backpacker interested in a serene destination that was just one day's hike from the trailhead. There was plenty of grass to share with the sheep!
The ascent beyond was a grueling climb as we lugged our full packs up to the first point above 3,000 meters. Our steps became shorter; our breaths, deeper; and our breaks, longer. The air, now much thinner, made us mount more slowly. Camp that night was a grassy perch nestled beside snow-covered rocky cliffs and the drone of a waterfall. Looking back on the elevation that we had gained that day and the towering peaks to the south, we gained a great sense of satisfaction for all our efforts.

Birthday Celebration

Celebrations come in many shapes and in many places. That day we commemorated my son's "coming of age" - his 13th birthday - with a backdrop of one of the grandest views I have ever enjoyed. Nor had we forgotten to bring refreshments to mark the event - instant cheesecake - from a box, of course! That night, we slept soundly at Birthday Base Camp, readying ourselves for the all-day climb the next day to the summit - our ultimate destination.

Grueling Climb
Some trails are obvious. You simply follow a well-worn path. Others are so daunting that it's best to fix your eyes on the person directly in front of you who, in turn, doggedly follows the guide. The trail beyond our base camp definitely fell into the latter category. At first glance, it seemed there would be no other way up the cliff face other than a technical, rope-assisted climb to the top. But Elchin once again demonstrated his ingenuity and knowledge of the area by leading us between boulders and rock walls along a narrow path around a precipice and up to the stark plateau above.
From there, the summit of Shahdagh was visible and would only require a short amble along a gradual incline, followed by a brief scramble up a narrow snow chute further on. But distances, like our breath, seemed short at this altitude. It turned out that we still faced several hours of physical and mental challenges. Fortunately, the weather was kind to us. Our trek continued under warm, windless conditions, the clear skies giving us views of snowy peaks in the far distance to the south and into the Dagestani Caucasus range to the north.
Crampons (climbing irons) and ice axes were helpful when we reached the steep, snow-covered route prior to a final, gradual grade to the summit. At this point we met our greatest challenge. Steps had to be kicked and hacked out in the snow one by one to ascend the steep glacier on its north face. Those of us hikers tailing the end of the line certainly had the advantage of the leaders' efforts, but even so, each step was an arduous chore. But falling behind was its own mental torture to the point of quitting. In fact, we almost did, twice, but the thought of watching others reach the summit and listening to their stories of triumph later on drove my son upward, determined to conquer the summit despite the grueling, step-by-step effort. Admittedly, it was an invaluable lesson in perseverance.

Shahdagh Summit
Gradually, the severity of the incline decreased and we found ourselves just 200 meters from the nondescript, rounded summit. Our spirits rose as Elchin announced that we had made it and pointed to a small pile of stones and the summit marker just ahead. I'm sure we would have lurched into a run to the spot if the lack of oxygen had not held us back. A metal pole crowned by a single star marks the summit. Numerous keepsakes marked the spot, including two white and black busts of Lenin, obviously left by hikers of earlier eras, metal signs with greetings in Russian and an empty champagne bottle. We planted the flags of Azerbaijan, the United States and a prominent U.S. oil company!
From the top of Shahdagh, you really can't discern that it's not the highest peak in the Caucasus. From that point, we were able to see the Caspian Sea far beyond the mountain ranges. The view brought pause as I reflected back on my hectic, harried life in Baku. My thoughts turned to the war that was going on just beyond the horizon to the north over in Chechnya. It was so hard to imagine war so close when nature seemed so peaceful and tranquil from our vantage point. What a contrast!
Sitting there on the Mountain King, my view had changed. My perception of Azerbaijan suddenly rose above the dry, brown, sea-level life on the Absheron Peninsula to which I had become so accustomed. Here was fresh air. Here was verdant green and the deep, azure blue sky unique to high altitudes. Here was nature at its finestright here in Azerbaijan! As in so many summit experiences, there was more to it than simply reaching the top.

Returning to Camp
The fair weather continued. And we basked in the sun, drinking in the view. Soon it would be time to make our way back to base camp. It was amazing how easy the return trip seemed. Slopes that had been so imposing on the way up were transformed into snow slides with the help of our crampons and ice axes on the way down. That evening was spent recalling the challenges and lessons learned.
Morning's sore muscles and blistered feet reminded us of the miles traveled. Nonetheless, we were able to pack up and hike the entire distance back out to our vehicles by 3 p.m. the same day. The shepherds we had met earlier in the trip waved to us as if we were old friends. Even the sheepdogs seemed less threatening on our descent. Perhaps a visit to the top, where one can see most clearly, is something we all need from time to time.
Dave Puls is a geologist who has worked in Baku since August 1998. Besides studying rocks, he enjoys touring the countryside of Azerbaijan and meeting the people who live there. Others who joined this trip were Nathan Puls, Dave and Bonnie Askeland, Mike Dublin, Tina Ohmann, John and Jay Adams, Calvin Tiessen, Jay Randall, Tammie Lenert, Todd Huegenin and, of course, their guide, Elchin Mammadov.


Day 1
Departing Baku early in the morning and taking the main highway north, along the Caspian Sea. Pass through Guba, continue on to Gusar and take the east road up the north side of the river valley into the mountains. Along the way to Laza, one will pass through Chilagar and Jagar, cross a bridge and continue on to Zindanmurug and the fabulous Gates of Laza before descending the hillside into the village of Laza itself. Reaching trailhead, by moon a short drive beyond Laza at the foot of a beautiful waterfall and small creek. First camp, four-hour hike up the trail.

Day 2
Breaking camp and starting hike by 9 a.m. Continue on the left side of the main drainage until the river crossing, which is done usually at a bend in the river adjacent to a huge grassy meadow at the foot of the south face of Shahdagh. Crossing the river with the aid of a rope and some rappelling over boulders. The trail beyond the meadow follows a double stream drainage just to the east of Shahdagh.

Day 3

Base camp to summit and return. Leaving camp at 6 a.m., summit at 1 p.m., and return to camp by 5 p.m. Slow pace according to professional guide; most do this trip in eight hours. Frequent clouds can make finding the return trail difficult. A GPS device (global positioning system) could come in handy. Bring sunscreen, extra clothing and lots of water.
Day 4
Base camp to trailhead. Leaving camp at 8 a.m. Arriving at trailhead by 3 p.m.


Duration - 6 days
best season - summer; winter climbings are for relatively experienced mountaineers
complexity - moderate, "1b" according to former Soviet standards

Day 1. Leaving Baku for Laza village, transfer to Qarabulaq spring, overnight stop (tents)
Day 2. Crossing to Shahiaylag(2000 m), overnight rest at the foothills of Shahdag
Day 3. Acclimatisation(getting ready for the ascent, this extra day is just in case of
bad weather, lagging behind the schedule, etc.)
Day 4. Ascent. Start at 7:00. Overnight stop.
Day 5. Descent to Qarabulaq. Overnight stop.
Day 6. Return to Baku

Overnight stops are in tents. Two nights might be arranged in Laza village.

Bazarduzi (4466) / Bazaryurt (4110) - 8 days
Tufan (4170) - 7 days
Heydar Zirvasi/ Ata-Turk(3786) - 5 days

Climbing Shahdag

If you want to climb any of the highest mountains, a guide is pretty much essential. We have tight contacts with Mountaineering Association (Alpinistskiy Klub)and experienced climbers. Three of the big four Azen mountains (Tufan, Bazarduzu, Shahdag) are approached by walking up the valley from Laza (Qusar Laza) or by driving the extremely rough river-bed route by 4WD via Xinaliq to the very foot of Shahdag.
The fourth great mountain of Azerbaijan is 3629m Babadag. Somewhat away from the group described above, it can be approached from the north by following the Qarachay river south from Ruk or from the south via Sumagalle/Istisu (tough) or Lahic/Zarat Baba following a rough pilgrims' trail. On the top, prayer ribbons and cairns mark Hazrat Baba pir, honouring a mysterious Albanian-era holy man who climbed the mountain and then disappeared, advancing directly to heaven.

Since every ascent has to be thoroughly planned depending on the time of the year, number of people, route, physical training of every participant we do ask to give us a couple of days for planning your personal route and giving quotations. Just contact us and let us know about your preferences and requirements.

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Old September 23rd, 2009, 02:48 AM   #14
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Nabran is a popular resort and municipality in Khachmaz Rayon of Azerbaijan. It has a population of 1,313. The municipality consists of the villages of Nabran, Dalğalı, Turist, Meşəli, Günəşli, Samurçay, and Şimal.

It is located on the Caspian seashore in a forestland. Nabran is a settlement that spreads for several kilometers. Houses, hotels, entertainment facilities and restaurants are located along the left side and the beach is on the right side of the road that runs along the shoreline.

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Old September 23rd, 2009, 03:00 AM   #15
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Historical places in Baku

Maiden Tower

Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs in Inner City of Baku.

The Fire Temple at Suraxany and its surroundings

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Old September 23rd, 2009, 03:14 AM   #16
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Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape

Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape or simply Gobustan (Azerbaijani: Gobustan) is a hill and mountain site occupying the southeast ending of the Big Caucasian Ridge, mainly in the basin of Jeyrankechmaz River, between the rivers Pirsagat and Sumgait. It is located west of the settlement of Gobustan, about 40 mi (64 km) southwest of the centre of Baku.

The territory of Gobustan is cut up with numerous, sometimes rather deep ravines (in Azerbaijani: gobu). That is a suggested origin of the Gobustan geographical name.

In 1966 Gobustan was declared a national historical landmark of Azerbaijan in an attempt to preserve the ancient carvings, relics, mud volcanoes and gas-stones in the region. The mountains Beyukdash, Kichikdash, Jingirdag, and the Yazili hill were taken under legal government protection. These mountains are located near the Caspian Sea, in southeast part of Gobustan.

In 2007 Gobustan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be of "outstanding universal value" for the quality and density of its rock art engravings, for the substantial evidence the collection of rock art images presents for hunting, fauna, flora and lifestyles in pre-historic times and for the cultural continuity between prehistoric and mediaeval times that the site reflects.[1]

Archeological site

Two huge blocks of stones pressed against each other forming a natural shelter for the ancient natives of Gobustan.Throughout many centuries under impact of the sun, wind, seismic activity and various atmospheric precipitopn blocks of stones broke away from the edges of a vast layer limestone and rolled down the slopes. Here, in the area displaying the fantastic scene of destruction the huge blocks of stones and rocks chaotically pressed against each other formed about 20 big and small caves and the canopies serving to the natives as a natural shelter.

The archeological value of Gobustan was solely discovered through fluke when a group of men go in there to mine for gravel in 1930. while the zone are abundant in boulders and stun formations, one mine employee noticed the scarce carvings on the rocks. They also discovered these man-made caves wherein more of the drawings can be found.

Prehistoric carvings

Petroglyphs in Gobustan, Azerbaijan, dating back to 10,000 BC indicating a thriving culture.

Gobustan is very rich in archeological monuments, the reserve has more than 6,000 rock engravings dating back between 5,000 - 40,000 years. The site also features the remains of inhabited caves, settlements and burials, all reflecting an intensive human use by the inhabitants of the area during the wet period that followed the last Ice Age, from the Upper Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. The site, which covers an area of 537 ha, is part of the larger protected Gobustan Reservation.[3]

Most of the rock engravings depict primitive men, animals, battle-pieces, ritual dances, bullfights, boats with armed oarsmen, warriors with lances in their hands, camel caravans, pictures of sun and stars.[4][5]

The petroglyphs and rock engravings are an exceptional testimony to a way of life that has disappeared in the way they represent so graphically activities connected with hunting and fishing at a time when the climate and vegetation of the area were warmer and wetter than today. The famed Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl returned many times to Azerbaijan between 1961 and his death in 2002 to study the site in his "Search for Odin".

Iskhag Jafarzadeh who was one of the pioneers of Azerbaijan archaeology and ethnography, excavated over seventy artifacts on Azerbaijan's territory and studied the Gobustan rock paintings.[6] In 1948, during the Gobustan expedition, he discovered the Latin rock inscription near mountain Boyukdash, some 70 km far from Baku, which is the easternmost Roman evidence to be known.[7].

Petroglyphs from Gobustan are depicted on the reverse of the Azerbaijani 5 manat banknote issued since 2006.[8]

Today Gobustan is the most popular state reserve and is an invaluable treasure-house of Azerbaijan. For other state reserves see State Reserves of Azerbaijan.

See also: Environment of Azerbaijan

Rock formations and caves in Gobustan in 1987.Climate of Gobustan is a dry semi subtropical one, with rather soft winter and very hot dry summer. An atmospheric precipitation and small springs of Big Caucasus area.

The presence of rare and wild flora testifies that climate of Gobustan some tens of thousands years ago was damper, an atmospheric precipitation dropped out enough and springs were abounding with water.

In the remote past, the flora and fauna of Gobustan were incomparably richers. Its landscape represented a kind of savannah wiuth corresponding climate. Here were large herds of wild bulls, goats, deer, wild horses, donkeys, wild boars, and gazelles hunted by lions, wolves, wild cats and leopards.

Vegetative world of Gobsutan has a character more common for deserts and semi deserts. It consists of ephemeris grasses and bushes, wormwood and similar long-term plants. Among heaps of stones and rocks a wild rose, a dwarfish cherry, Hibernian honeysuckle, a juniper, wild pear, wild fig, wild pomegranate, grapes and some other kinds of trees and bushes are rather often met decorating the stern langscape.

The fauna of Gobustan has strongly grown poor for last decades of years. The natural inhabitants of Gobustan now are rare foxes, jackals, wolves, hares and wild cats, mountain chickens, wild pigeons, larks alongside with numerous snakes and lizards and some others.

Mud volcanoes

Main article: Mud volcano

A series of mud volcano's in Gobustan, Azerbaijan.The term mud volcano or mud dome is used to refer to formations created by geo-excreted liquids and gases, although there are several different processes which may cause such activity. Temperatures are much cooler than igneous processes.

Mud volcanoes are one of the visible signs of the presence of oil and gas reserves under the land and sea in the Caspian region. Gas seeps are a related phenomenon.

Azerbaijan and its Caspian coastline are home to nearly 400 mud volcanoes, more than half the total throughout the world. In 2001, one mud volcano 15 kilometers from Baku made world headlines when it suddenly started ejecting flames 15 meters high.[9]

Many geologists as well as locals and international mud tourists trek to such places as the Firuz Crater, Gobustan, Salyan and end up happily covered in mud which is thought to have medicinal qualities.[10]

On the avarage, every twenty years or so, a mud volcano may explode with great force in Gobustan, shooting flames hundreds of metres into the sky, and depositing tonnes of mud on the surrounding area.

The appearance of the Zoroastrian religion in Azerbaijan almost 2,000 years ago is closely connected with these geological phenomena, and Azerbaijan's etymology - Land of the Eternal Fire derives from its Zoroastrian history.

Gaval Dash
Apart from petroglyphs, there is also this musical gemstone known as Gaval Dash. It makes a tambourine-like sound when it is hit in different points. Among the stone books there are a big flat stone formed out of 3 supports. Suffice it to touch the object with a small stone, musical sounds come from it.[11] The Gaval Dash have been formed due the combination of unique climate, oil and gas which can be found in the region of Azerbaijan.[12]

The Gaval Dash can only be found in Gobustan, Azerbaijan.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 03:16 AM   #17
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Yanar Dag

Yanar Dag (Azerbaijani: Yanar Dağ). translated as "Fire Mountain", is an ancient and visually stunning fire which blazes continuously on a hillside on the Absheron Peninsula on the Caspian Sea.

Flames shoot into the air 10 feet along a 30 foot wide ridge on a limestone hillside known as Yanar Dag near Baku, the capital of oil-rich Azerbaijan.[1] Only a handful of fire mountains exist today in the world and most are located in Azerbaijan. Due to the large concentration of natural gas under the Absheron Peninsula, natural flames burned there throughout antiquity and were reported by historical writers such as Marco Polo.

The naturally occurring fire burns most impressively at dusk, when both tourists and locals sit at a nearby teashop deriving inspiration from the spectacular sight. The numerous links to fire in the folklore and icons of Azerbaijan are attributed to a connection to the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, which first appeared in this region over 2,000 years ago.[2]

Yanar Dag continues to inspire artists; in recent years a Finnish opera[3] and a French Canadian stage play[4] have been named after the fiery mountain.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 05:14 AM   #18
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Main Museums in Baku

In the years following independence, a lot of attention has been poured on the museums by the government, mainly as a way of weaving and reinforcing national identity. Museums serving the Soviet ideology are now themselves part of history. E.g. the Lenin museum now houses the magnificent collection of the Museum of Carpet-Making and Folk Crafts, previously located at the Djuma Mosque in the Old Town. Sign of the times!

Azerbaijan also has a tradition of "house museums", the former houses of the famous and powerful now open to the occasional visitor and mainly of interest to the researcher with a specific interest. Some house museums host interesting event but most tend to be rather dull and repetitive, on the other hand most are free.

History Museum

4 Zeinalabdyn Taghiyev St., Az1005
Tel: 994 12 493-36-48, 493-74-48 Bul-bul Memorial Museum (singer)
15 Bul-bul Av., 370000
Tel: 994 12 493-56-97

Historical & Architectural museum (Shirvan shahs' Palace)

65 Asaf Zeinally st., Az1004
Tel: 994 12 464-11-44 492-22-25, 492-09-13

Azerbaijan State Museum of Art (R.Mustafaev)

31, Istiglaliyat st., Az1001
Tel: 994 12 492-57-89, 492-51-17

Nizami Museum of Azerbaijan Literature

53 Istiglaliyyat St., Az1001
Tel: 994 12 492-18-64, 994 12 492-74-03 Museum-Apartment of Abdulla Shaig (writer)
21 Abdulla Shaig St., Az1006
Tel: 994 12 492-74-33

State Museum of the History of Religion

15 Uzeyir Hajibeyov St., Az1000
Tel: 93-07-08 Museum of the History of Medicine
18 Najafgulu Rafiyev St., 370025
Tel: 994 12 466-00-48, 466-01-97

Museum of Carpet-Making and Folk Crafts

123a Neftchilar Av., Az1000
Tel: 994 12 493-05-01, 493-66-85 Museum of Natural History (Hassanbey Zardabi)
3 Lermontov St., Az1006
Tel: 994 12 492-06-67

Museum of Theatre (Jafar Jabarly)

44 Hamid Sultanov St., Az1073
Tel: 38-43-50 Museum of Education
11 Niyazi St., 370001
Tel: 994 12 492-04-53

Museum of Musical Culture of Azerbaijan

9 Mejidov St., Az1601
Tel: 994 12 492-53-06

Museum of Independence

123a Neftchilar Av., 370000
Tel: 994 12 493-92-93, 493-30-17 Memorial Museum of Mammad Said Ordubady (writer)
19 Khagani St., Az1000
Tel:994 12 498-55-85

Memorial Museum of Hussein Javid (writer)

8 Istiglaliyyat St., Az1001
Tel:92-06-57 House-Museum of Uzeyir Hajibeyov (composer)
67/69 Shamil Azizbekov St., 370009
Tel:994 12 495-30-61, 495-25-34

House-Museum of Samad Vurgun (poet)

4 Teymur Aliyarbeyov St., Az1000
Tel:93-56-52 House-Museum of Jafar Mammadguluzade (writer)
6 Suleiman Taghizade St., 370001
Tel: 994 12 492-24-09

Bul-bul Memorial Museum (singer)

15 Bul-bul Av., Az1000
Tel: 994 12 493-56-97

Museum-Apartment of Niyazi (conductor)

21 Bul-bul Av., Az1000
Tel: 994 12 493-18-36

Museum-Apartment of Azim Azimzade (artist)

157 Dilara Aliyeva St., Az1014
Tel: 994 12 494-05-69

Museum-Apartment of Abdulla Shaig (writer)

21 Abdulla Shaig St., Az1006
Tel: 994 12 492-74-33

Museum of the History of Medicine

18 Najafgulu Rafiyev St., Az1025
Tel: 994 12 466-00-48, 466-01-97

Museum of Natural History (Hassanbey Zardabi)

3 Lermontov St., Az1006
Tel: 994 12 492-06-67

Museum of Education

11 Niyazi St., Az1001
Tel: 994 12 492-04-53

Memorial Museum of Nariman Narimanov (statesman)

35 Istiglaliyyat St., Az1001
Tel: 994 12 495-05-15

Memorial Museum of Mammad Said Ordubady (writer)

19 Khagani St., Az1000
Tel: 994 12 498-55-85

House-Museum of Uzeyir Hajibeyov (composer)

67/69 Shamil Azizbekov St., Az1009
Tel: 994 12 495-30-61, 495-25-34

House-Museum of Jafar Mammadguluzade (writer)

6 Suleiman Taghizade St., Az1001
Tel:994 12 492-24-09
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 05:49 AM   #19
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Goygol lake in Xanlar district of Azerbaijan


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Old September 23rd, 2009, 06:08 AM   #20
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Carpets of Azerbaijan

Azeri Carpet: Baku - Simurg

Azeri Carpet: Mughan

Azeri Carpet: Quba - Ugah

Azeri Carpet: Quba - Qonaqkend

Azeri Carpet: Quba - Zeyve

Azeri Carpet: Karabakh - Zili

Azeri Carpet: Shirvan - Arjiman

Azeri Carpet: Quba - Orduj

Azeri Carpet: Quba - Qolu Chichi

Azeri Carpet: Quba - Qymyl

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