Azerbaijan — Attractions
Azerbaijan’s attractions range from the ancient to the ultra-modern. Highlights include the Petroglyphs of Gobustan, the mud volcanoes, Beshbarmaq Dag (Five Finger Mountain), and the famous old city center of Baku, which is home to UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Maiden’s Tower. Most can be explored on foot, especially the Icheri Sheher (Old Town) and the mountain city of Sheki. It is easy to get from one place to another on public transportation, minibus or by driving.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Icheri Sheher is Baku’s walled old town which can be walked in just one day. Main attractions include the strange and mysterious Qiz Qalasi or Maiden’s Tower (7th to 12th century) and The Palace of the Shirvan Shahs, which is the city’s centerpiece. The Maiden’s Tower offers an excellent vantage point for 360-degree views of Baku. Icheri Sheher is 22 hectares large and contains hundreds of cultural and historic monuments. The fortress walls are about 3.5 meters thick and 8 to 10 meters tall.
Address: The State Historical-Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher, downtown Baku (along the coast), Republic of Azerbaijan.
Atashgah Fire Temple
Located in the Absheron Peninsula, the Atashgah Fire Temple, also called the “Temple of the Fire-Worshippers,” is a religious historical castle in the suburb of Surakhani. Currently a museum and a World Heritage site, it is shaped like a pentagon and has a courtyard with a tetrapillar altar in the center, which are surrounded by cells for monks. Flames randomly erupt from the floor due to the high concentration of oil and natural gas in the area. The Azerbaijan place dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries and was abandoned in 1883 because of the oil boom.
Also known as, “Gobustan,” this open-air museum is home to Neolithic rocks with ancient drawings that date back 12,000 years. Home to some of Azerbaijan’s famous mud volcanoes, these wonders of nature may spontaneously erupt or spout flames. They are also known for their medicinal qualities, as is the case of the Firuz Crater. Tourists flock to Gobustan to hear the one-of-a-kind musical Gaval Dash gemstone, which makes a sound similar to that of a tambourine when hit.
Azeri National Costume Museum
Housed in one of Baku’s most resilient structures, the Azeri National Costume Museum was opened in 1995. Also known as “Doll Museum” its collection of hand-woven Azerbaijan dolls wearing traditional costumes is an impressive highlight.
Address: Corner Gorky Avenue and Tolstoy Avenue
Phone: +994-12-493-66-85, +994-12-493-05-01
Caravansarai is among Sheki’s most distinctive historical monuments. Sheki Khans constructed the building as part of the five stops for caravans passing through the Silk Road to and from China. Nowadays, it is a preferred stop for travelers who want to eat or stay for a while, especially since a part of it has been transformed into a hotel. Even visitors who can’t stay are welcome to admire the lovely architecture.
Address: M.F. Akhundov Avenue 185
Phone: +994-177-431-72, +944-177-448-14
Located in northeastern Azerbaijan, Khinalug is a remote, but stunning mountain village that once served as the hub for Zoroastrianism. The present-day inhabitants are believed to be the descendants of Caucasus Albanians. Walking is the best way to explore this remote village where plenty of camping and hiking opportunities await visitors.
The Palace of the Sheki Khans, this is yet another must-see attraction in Sheki. It was constructed by Khan Hussein in celebration of the independence of the city as a Sheki Khanate. Aside from the majestic palace, Khansarai is known for its fortifications and gardens. The palace is the summer home for the Khans, so it is lavishly adorned inside and out. Various parks and museums are also within the grounds.
Momine Khatun Mausoleum
The city of Nakchivan’s main attraction, the Momine Khatun Mausoleum is a well-restored 12th century edifice also referred to as “Atabek Gumbezi.” Momine Khatun was the Atabek Eldegiz emirate ruler Eldegizid Atabek Jahan Pahlivan’s wife, and the monument has 10 sides, all intricately decorated with Kufic script, geometric patterns and turquoise-glazed bricks. The building dates back to 1186.
Address: Nakhchivan City, Nakhcivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan
The Latif Karimov Carpet Museum
Also referred to as the State Museum of Azerbaijan Carpet and Applied Art, the museum is centrally located in Baku and houses a collection of Azerbaijani rugs and carpets made using different weaving materials and techniques from various eras. Dating back to 1967, it was first housed in the old town’s 15th century Juma Mosque. In 1992, the museum was moved to its current location, which was once the Lenin Museum. Courses on carpets, applied arts and public lectures are offered, along with a bookstore selling info on carpet art and Azerbaijani crafts.
Address: Neftchiler Avenue, 123 A.
Phone: +994-12-493-05-501, +994-12-493-66-85
Situated on the outskirts of Ganja, this tomb was built to honor Nizami Ganjavi, a 12th century poet, and has been popular with devoted pilgrims for centuries. The tall, cylindrical structure is surrounded by gardens with metal statues showcasing some of Nizami’s epic poems. The mausoleum itself is made of solid granite blocks from Ukraine.