Azerbaijan Central and Eastern Europe Europe


Stories and Photos from my travels around the Land of Fire.

Destination 》EuropeCentral and Eastern Europe 》Azerbaijan

Year Visited: 2018 – June

After a month in Thailand, I flew to Baku, Azerbaijan to start my 5 months long backpacking trip through Central and Eastern Europe.

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet Republic lying in the Caucasus region of Eurasia at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

Azerbaijan has long been called “The Land of Fire” due to the phenomena of “burning hillsides” caused by gas seeping through fissures in the earth. Azerbaijan has vast reserves of oil and subterranean natural gas. Roman records dating back 2500 years ago suggest oil extraction took place on Azerbaijan’s Absheron Peninsula. And Byzantine accounts in the 5th century claim to see ever-burning fires across the landscape. Venetian explorer Marco Polo wrote of the mysterious phenomena when he passed through the country in the 13th century.

Azerbaijan is a small country, easy to travel around. I made Baku, the capital city, as my base, explored the ancient city and made day trips to the places of interests around this small country.

İcheri Sheher (İçərişəhər) or Inner City is the historical core of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The Old City, surrounded by walls, is the most ancient part of Baku, and was a major trading post on the Ancient Silk Road. In December 2000, İcheri Sheher, the Old City of Baku, including the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower, became the first location in Azerbaijan to be classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

One of the main entrance gate of the İcheri Sheher or Inner City.
Welcome to the Inner City, the Ancient part of Baku. A beautiful Manhole Cover with Coat of Arms of the Inner City.
İcheri Sheher is still protected by wall.
At the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a 15th-century palace built by the Shirvanshahs and described by UNESCO as “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture”.
Interior of the Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
Interior of the Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
Interior of the Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
Interior of the Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
Interior of the Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs.

The Maiden Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage site and symbol of the city of Baku, is the most ancient monument of Icheri sheher (Inner City). Some evidence suggests that the construction of the Tower might have been as early as the 7th-6th centuries BC.

Photos below are of İcheri Sheher ((Old City), the historical core of Baku.

Exploring İcheri Sheher (Inner City) of Baku.
Exploring İcheri Sheher (Inner City) of Baku.
Exploring İcheri Sheher (Inner City) of Baku.
Old Woman begging out side a Mosque, cat is giving her company.
Sculpture of three cats looking out of window in the İcheri Sheher.
One of many Souvenir shops in İcheri Sheher (Inner City) of Baku.
A very creative artist!
Perfect location in the old town for a quick breakfast, lunch, and people watching. Fresh bread from Tandir, in India it’s called Tandoor.
Breakfast in the İcheri Sheher (Inner City) of Baku.
Fresh Qutab (Kutab), an Azerbaijani stuffed flat bread.

Baku is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. Baku is located 28 metres (92 ft) below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world located below sea level. The modern city of Baku, a capital city of an Oil rich country, has many Parisian-style and futuristic buildings

A beautiful Manhole Cover, with Baku’s Coat of Arms.
The Flame Towers, the iconic modern landmark of Baku, are the three flame-shaped towers symbolize the element of fire – historically resonant in a region where natural gas flares shoot from the earth. The buildings consist of residential apartments, a Fairmont hotel, and office blocks.
Dənizkənarı Milli Park, Baku Boulevard, a promenade established in 1909 which runs parallel to Baku’s seafront
All fluid folds, the curving Heydar Aliyev Center is named for Azerbaijan’s third president. Extending on eight floor levels, the center accommodates a 1000-seat auditorium, temporary exhibition spaces, a conference center, workshops, and a museum.
I Love Baku sign in front of Heydar Aliyev Center.
City of Baku, a view from Heydar Aliyev Center.
City of Baku, a view from Caspian Waterfront
Though it looks similar to the Sydney Opera House, the DENIZ Mall, located on land reclaimed from the Caspian Sea, will be a 120,000m² entertainment, retail, leisure and dining destination over five floors. A ‘flame’ tower is the centerpiece of this landmark scheme which is also made up of eight star-shaped wings inspired by Azerbaijan’s national emblem.
The Akhundov Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, formerly known as the Mailov Theater, an opera house in Baku, built in 1911.
A beautiful building on Niyazi street near Baku Boulevard. I don’t know the name of this building.
Nizami Museum of Azerbaijan Literature. The museum is one of the greatest and richest treasuries of Azerbaijani culture. The sculptures of the eminent Azerbaijani poets and writers are placed on the façade of the museum.
Nizami Street, a pedestrian only street.
Nizami Street, a pedestrian only street with many shops, restaurants and cafes. A view from my Hostel’s Balcony.
Sculpture of a girl with lipstick and mirror at the Fountain Square. The area near Fountain Square is a public gathering place, especially after business hours and during the weekend. It is an attractive tourist destination with many boutiques, restaurants, shops, hotels and passage.
Side streets around Fountain Square and Nizami Street are full of restaurants and bars, I made new friends from Iran, spent couple of days together exploring the city and enjoying local cuisine.
With my friends from Iran.
Azerbaijan Food.
One of the most beautiful restaurant for Traditional Azerbaijani meals
One of the most beautiful restaurant for Traditional Azerbaijani meals
A very laid-back bar serving Chilled Beer at a reasonable price.
Enjoying Xirdalan Lager, the most popular Beer in Azerbaijan.
FIFA World Cup time, cheering for the National team of my new friends from Iran.

I made couple of day trips from Baku to visit few places of tourist interest.

Yanar Dag, meaning “burning mountain”, a natural gas fire which blazes continuously on a hillside near Baku. Flames jet into the air 3 metres from a thin, porous sandstone layer. Marco Polo mentioned numerous mysterious flames that could be found all over the region at various places of the Absheron Peninsula.
Mud Volcanoes at Gobustan (Qobustan). Azerbaijan is home to nearly a half of the world’s mud volcanoes. Mud Volcanoes are like geysers, but with mud.
Bubbling Mud Volcanoes at Gobustan (Qobustan).
Mud Volcanoes at Gobustan (Qobustan).
Gobustan (Qobustan) Rock Art Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has an outstanding collection of more than 6,000 rock engravings, on the average dating back to 5,000-20,000 years.
Gobustan (Qobustan) Rock Art, rock engraving dating back to 5,000+ years.
Ateshgah, known as a Fire temple, is a castle-like religious temple in Surakhani town, a suburb of Baku. Based on Persian and Indian inscriptions, the temple was used as a Hindu and Zoroastrian place of worship. The temple was built during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was abandoned in the late 19th century. The natural eternal flame went out in 1969, after nearly a century of exploitation of petroleum and gas in the area, but is now lit by gas piped from the nearby city.
Ateshgah, a Fire temple.
The temple has a small statue of Lord Shiva, to show that it was used as a Hindu and Zoroastrian place of worship.
The scripts above the entrance door are written in Sanskrit and Persian, some other doors have scripts written in Punjabi language too.

After exploring Azerbaijan for a week, I took an overnight train from Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia.

By Window on The World

In May 2017, 23 days before I was going to complete 50 years, grabbed an opportunity and took an early retirement.. Picked up a backpack and traveling ever since.. Love to travel around the world, experience different culture, local cuisine & drinks .. and take pictures.. so far been to 108 countries and still counting...

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