The 13 best places to visit in Azerbaijan

 

Built in 1967, in the south east of the country within the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh Republic of Artsakh is the Grandma and Grandpa sculpture, known as We Are The Mountains. Made from volcanic rock, it depicts the mountain people of Karabakh and has become the symbol for this unofficial republic, appearing on both coins and the coat of arms. Its location within the pocket of land between Armenia and Iran, under the control of ethnic Armenian separatists means very few foreign tourists venture into the region.

13. We Are The Mountains

 

Built in 1994 at the beginning of the countries independence in the north of the capital, Baku, is the impressive Heydar Mosque. Standing at 95 metres (312 ft) high to the top of the minarets, this modern structure designed in a traditional architectural style is a very fine looking religious monument.

12. Heydar Mosque

 

Completed in 1997 just south of the capital, Baku, on the coast of the Caspian Sea is a re-creation of the 13th century Bibi Heybat Mosque, which was completely destroyed as recently as 1936. This large religious building with its two towering minarets is seen as one of the finest pieces of Islamic architecture anywhere in Azerbaijan.

11. Bibi Heybat Mosque

 

In the eastern suburbs of the capital, Baku, is what remains of a 17th century 'Fire Temple' known as the Ateshgah of Baku. This castle like religious temple was used as a place of worship, harnessing the natural gases to create what was seen as a holy fire. In 1883 AD when oil and gas plants were opened nearby, extinguishing the natural fire that fed the Ateshgah, the complex was abandoned, later turned into a museum and declared a state historical architectural reserve.

10. Baku Ateshgah

 

Built in 1996 in the middle of the capital, Baku, is the 310 metre (1,017 ft) Baku Television Tower, the tallest building in Azerbaijan and one of the most prominent landmarks of the city. From the rotating restaurant on the 62nd floor visitors can look out over Baku from a height of 175 metres (574 ft) above ground level.

9. Baku Television Tower

 

To the north of the Baku TV Tower stand three enormous skyscrapers known as the Flame Towers, the tallest and most well known skyscrapers in the country. Completed in 2012 and standing 182 metres (597 ft) high, these distinctive buildings come alive at night when the 10,000 LED panels are turned on to create a fire display that can be seen across the entire city.

8. Flame Towers

 

Dating from the 6th to 8th century in Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is the Alinja Fortress, which because of its majestic location atop a mountain is sometimes referred to as the Machu Pichu of Azerbaijan. One of the most powerful fortifications of its time, mentioned in many historical sources, the fortress has seen conquering, destruction and rebuilding throughout the centuries. In beautifully rugged mountainous surroundings, the Alinja Fortress is undoubtedly the most spectacular landmark in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

7. Alinja Fortress

 

In the west of the country, within the Lesser Caucasus Mountains is the 128 square kilometre (49 square mile) Göygöl National Park, protecting an area of outstanding natural beauty. Mountainous and almost completely forested, the centre piece and most well known landmark of the park is the Göygöl Lake, set within untouched natural terrain it is the cleanest and clearest in Azerbaijan.

6. Göygöl National Park

 

In the extreme north of the country on the border with the southernmost point of Russia is Mount Bazardüzü, standing at 4,467 metres (14,656 ft) above sea level it is the tallest mountain in Azerbaijan. Surrounded by other high peaks and deep valleys within the Greater Caucasus range, the area is undoubtedly some of the most rugged and beautiful the country has to offer.

5. Mount Bazardüzü

 

High in the mountains of the Quba Rayon in the middle of the Greater Caucasus range is the ancient isolated village of Khinalug, also written as Xınalıq among many other versions, one of the oldest continuously inhabited locations in the world, with a history spanning over 5,000 years. Due to its incredible location in one of the most remote areas of the country, Khinalug is often cited a premiere destination for adventurers.

4. Khinalug

 

On the countries eastern coast near the Caspian Sea, south of the capital, Baku, is the very small  5.3 square kilometre (2 square mile) Gobustan National Park, an area of hills, mountains, deep ravines and 300 of the worlds 700 mud volcanoes. The park is most famous for its rock art engravings that depict hunting, lifestyle images, and flora and fauna from medieval and pre-historic times. For this the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site of outstanding universal value.

 

Pictured is a Gobustan mud volcano.

3. Gobustan National Park

 

Around midway between the Russian border and the capital, Baku, in the Greater Caucasus mountain range is an area dubbed the Candy Cane Mountains. Iron compounds in the earth reacting with groundwater has created a painters palette effect making for an unusual, and beautiful sight.

2. Candy Cane Mountains

 

At the heart of the capital, Baku, is the historic old town, still surrounded by the ancient walls that have protected the city since the 11th century. Walk the narrow streets between the medieval buildings with their wooden balconies and go in search of the 15th century Palace of Shirvanshahs and the 12th century national emblem, the Maiden Tower, two of the cities most important monuments. The Walled City Of Baku along with the Maiden Tower & Shirvanshahs Palace have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. Baku Old Town

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