Most interesting wonders of Azerbaijan
Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Azerbaijan.
- Dashgil mud volcano – Absheron Region, Baku District. Large mud volcano which erupts every 6 – 32 years. Volcano has complex morphology, with numerous bubbling mud pools, some 20 cones, 10 sinter mounds, diameter of the crater is more than 200 m.
- Gobustan mud volcanoes – Absheron Region, Baku District. Large group of mud volcanoes in unusual, oily desert. These volcanoes emit cold mud from time to time.
- Kyaniz-Dagh mud volcano (Kyanizdagh) – Absheron Region, Baku District. Tallest mud volcano in the country with the approximate height of 500 m.
- Lokbatan mud volcano (Lok-Batan) – Absheron Region, Baku District. One of the largest and most active mud volcanoes in the world. Well known is the eruption in 2003 when tall flames rose above the volcano.
Other natural landmarks
- Arkevan hot springs – Lankaran Region, Jalilabad. Group of hot springs with mineral water. These springs are used by local people as a balneological resource.
- Binagadi asphalt lake – Absheron Region, Baku. Group of tar pits which has formed over thousands of years. Throughout this time in the lake have fallen numerous animals whose bones have been well preserved. Diversity of species found in this lake is very high – 41 species of mammals, 110 birds, 107 insects, 22 plants etc. These finds provide much knowledge about the past environment in this region.
- Jermajur hot springs – Yukhari-Karabakh. Group of hot springs, includes permanent spouters similar to geysers. Here are interesting sinter formations including small sinter terraces. Temperature of water is 60° C.
- Tnjri (Skhtorashen plane-tree, Şıx Dursun plane-tree) – Yukhari-Karabakh. Giant plane-tree (Platanus orientalis). Circumference is 27 m, height of the tree – 54 m. Tree has a hollow with area of 44 m². Between the roots of this tree starts Tengru spring.
- Yanar Dag – Absheron Region. Natural eternal flame – gas fire which blazes since ancient times. Air here smells like gas and flaming area is up to 10 m tall. Flames are 1 – 3 m tall. Nearby are Yanar Bulaq – burning springs: streams which can be ignited with a match.
Man made landmarks
- Beyudash Mountain (Gobustan petroglyphs, Qobustan) – Absheron Region, Baku District. One of areas in Gobustan National Park which is rich with cliff carvings made 4 – 40 thousand years ago, man made caves and other prehistoric settlements and even megalithic structures. Other areas are Kichikdash, Quanyzadag (large mud volcano), Djingirdag, Yazily Hill. Here are found more than 6,000 petroglyphs which show very diverse scenes, signs and ornaments, also cupules. Area contains also two Gaval Dash stones – stone plates which upon impact emit loud sounds. These stones most likely were used in prehistoric rituals.
- Dubendi Cave – Absheron Region, Baku District. Cave shelter with interesting group of petroglyphs, depicting seven people with upraised arms and two bulls.
- Gamigaya Petroglyphs – Nakhichevan Region, Ordubad. Near the mythical mountain summit (Gapyjiq, 3906 m) are found some 1,500 etched petroglyphs which were made in the 4th – 1st millenium BC, Bronze and Early Iron Ages. Here are depicted animals, fantastic beings, symbols, also some groups of dancing people.
Other prehistoric landmarks
- Azykh Cave – Yukhari-Karabakh. Group of six caves – prehistoric shelters, some of the oldest known proto-human habitations in Eurasia. Here has been found a 300,000 years old jaw which, possibly, belonged to a Neanderthal. Oldest layers of shelters could be created by 0.7 – 1.5 million years old culture – one of the oldest in the world.
- Yeni Turcan cart ruts – Absheron Region, Baku District. Deep ruts in the natural stone ground which look as if they were left by some enormous car in soft mud. Origin of such "cart ruts" has not been explained but it could be linked to the builders of megaliths.
- Baku Old City – Absheron Region, Baku. Old city within fortification walls with numerous historical buildings. Development of this city started in the 12th century AD, some structures could be from the 7th century AD. City walls were built in the 11th – 12th century. There have been discovered underground passages under the city.
- Khinalug – Quba-Khachmaz Region, Quba District. More than 5,000 years old village high in the Caucasian mountains. Local people speak in a distinct language – Khinalug language. In village and its environs are located many monuments of history including Zoroastrian temple (in the site of natural gas emanation), holy caves and many somewhat mysterious archaeological landmarks.
- Neft Daşları (Oil Rocks) – Absheron Region, Baku. Industrial settlement built 55 km from the shore in the Caspian Sea. This town is the oldest offshore oil platform in the world and consists of very impressive system of 300 km long bridges – platforms which were built on submerged ships. Neft Daşları is a town with more than 2,000 people, 9-floor houses, food production facilities, culture palaces etc.
- Tigranakert of Artsakh – Yukhari-Karabakh. Ruins of ancient Armenian city which, most likely, was founded in the 1st century BC. This former city had an area of some 50 ha and there have been uncovered parts of fortification walls and basilica.
- Chiraggala Fortress – Guba-Khachmaz Region, Shabran. Ruins of large fortress, built on the hilltop in the 4th – 6th centuries AD as a part of the fortification system between Caucasian Mountains and Caspian Sea. Fortress is built in the top of forested hill.
- Maiden Tower – Absheron Region, Baku. Massive, fortified tower, built in the 12th century as a part of Baku city wall. One of symbols of Azerbaijan. Tower is 29.5 m tall, there are many legends about it and many guesses about the former use of it.
- Mardakan Round Castle – Absheron Region, Baku. Massive donjon – round, 16 m tall tower with a wall around it. Castle was built in 1232.
- Ramana Tower – Absheron Region, Baku. Magnificent fortification tower which was constructed in the 12th – 14th century.
- Sabayil Castle – Absheron Region, Baku. Ruins of castle in the sea. Castle originally was built in 1232 – 1233 on a dry land but during a strong earthquake in 1306 the castle turned into ruins and submerged. Only in the 18th century it rose slightly above the sea level. There is underground passage from Old City to Sabayil Castle.
- Shaki Fortress – Shaki-Zaqatala Region, Shaki. Large fortress with 1.3 km long walls, built in 1743 – 1755. Walls are up to 8 m tall. 21 fortification towers have been preserved.
- Yezidabad Castle – Nakhichevan. Ruins of mountaintop Sassanid castle which was built in the first half of the 7th century AD.
- Juma Mosque of Shamakhi – Daglig-Shirvan Region, Shamakhi District. Second oldest mosque in Caucasus, built in 743 – 744. Current structure is younger because the mosque was frequently rebuilt due to earthquakes and war damages.
- Muhammad Mosque in Baku (Siniggala) – Absheron Region, Baku. Medieval mosque, built in the 11th century AD. Site of legends.
- Palace of the Shirvanshahs – Absheron Region, Baku. Large memorial and sacred complex. Initially, in the 15th century it was built as a memorial complex at the burial of Helwati Sufi saint and, contrary to its name, was not used as a palace but rather as a shrine and healing institution. Whole complex of buildings is impressive and ornate.
Christian monasteries and churches
- Amaras Monastery – Yukhari-Karabakh. Armenian Apostolic monastery which was founded in the early 4th century AD. Current church was rebuilt in the 19th century. Here, in a crypt under the altar was buried St. Grigoris (died around 330 AD), the first patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
- Basilica in Qum village – Shaki-Zaqatala Region, Qakh. Ruins of Christian basilica which was built in the 5th – 6th century AD, in the times of Caucasian Albania.
- Dadivank – Yukhari-Karabakh. Armenian monastery, built in the 9th – 13th century (largely restored in the 21st century). Here is buried St.Dadi, disciple of Thaddeus the Apostle who brought Christianity to Eastern Armenia.
- Gandzasar monastery – Yukhari-Karabakh. This Armenian monastery developed since the 13th century. Now this is extensive complex of old buildings behind protection walls. Church (Gandzasar Cathedral of St. John the Baptist) was built in 1216 – 1238 and is one of most prominent achievements in Armenian medieval architecture.
- Kish Church – Shaki-Zaqatala Region, Shaki. One of the rare preserved Caucasian Albanian churches, built in the 12th – 13th century. Church was built over much older cult site from 3,000 BC.
- Gulustan Mausoleum – Nakhichevan. Remnants of large, very ornate mausoleum. Structure was constructed in the 12th – 13th centuries.
- Mausoleum in Karabaglar village (Qarabağlar, Garabaghlar Mausoleum) – Nakhichevan. Unusual, very ornate mausoleum which represents a tower which consists of 12 half-cylinders. This building most likely was constructed in the 12th – 13th centuries.
- Momine Khatun Mausoleum – Nakhichevan. Beautiful mausoleum which was constructed in 1186 – 1187, one of the highest achievements in Azerbaijani architecture. This approximately 25 m tall tower rises above a vaulted crypt.
- Yusif ibn Kuseyir Mausoleum – Nakhichevan. Small, very ornate mausoleum which was built in 1161 – 1162.
- Ateshgah of Baku (Atashgyakh) – Absheron Region, Baku. Important center of Zoroastrian religion, a temple which was built in the 17th – 18th centuries AD. Holy fire was extinguished in 1883 by the flow of natural gas caused by oil industry. Shrine evolved in the site where natural gas leaves the ground and natural fires often were observed. Shrine exists since the 8th century AD at least. Today here stand massive, castle-like structures.
- Besh Barmag Mountain (Beş Barmaq) – Absheron Region, Khizi District. Easternmost mountain in Caucasian Mountains. This large monolith somewhat resembles five fingers and is sacred place with mythical properties attributed to it. At the mountain are located ruins of ancient structures, built in the 6th – 7th century AD. Here are found several interesting petroglyphs as well as large geoglyph – snake-like carving on the hillside.
Other man made structures
- Flame Towers – Absheron Region, Baku. Group of three futuristic skyscrapers which resemble flames. Buildings are 190 m tall, covered with glass and whole facades are lighted with LED elements thus turning towers into giant display screens.
- Ismailiyya building – Absheron Region, Baku. Very ornate building, built in Neo-Gothic style in 1908 – 1913. Originally it was constructed for the Muslim Charity Society but now it houses Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan.
- Khodaafarin Bridges (Khudaferin Bridges) – Yukhari-Garabakh. Two impressive bridges over Aras River. One of the bridges, with 11 arches, was built in the 11th – 12th centuries, the other one (with 15 arches) in the 13th century.
- Palace of Shaki Khans – Shaki-Zaqatala Region, Shaki. Historical summer residence of Shaki Khans, constructed in 1797. Valuable are frescoes from the 18th century.
- Parigala (Peri Gala) – Shaki-Zaqatala Region, Zaqatala. Somewhat mysterious structure built in the cliffside 300 m above the ground. This limestone structure with three rooms most likely was built between the 4th and 5th century AD, in Caucasian Albanian period.
Described wonders of Azerbaijan
Few countries have such unusual, exotic landmarks as Azerbaijan. Here are found such natural and man made wonders as:
- Mud volcanoes – almost 400, more than half of these unusual natural landmarks are found in Azerbaijan.
- Natural eternal flames (ateshgahs) – these torches of natural gas have served as sanctuaries of Zoroastrians.
There are found other unusual landmarks, e.g. Neft Daşları – town which is built in the sea, with 300 km long bridges.
Most likely the largest plane-tree (Platanus orientalis L.) in the world grows in Karabakh. This tree, reportedly, is more than 2,030 years old and its trunk has a circumference of 27 m.
For Westerners, the modern state of Azerbaijan may be hard to pinpoint. This small, oil-rich country in the southern Caucasus, on the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea, only made its way on to the contemporary world map after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. As the world shrinks and competition for precious resources intensifies, the direction this strategically and economically important country takes will affect us all.
Perched beside the oil-rich Caspian Sea, compact, hospitable Azerbaijan is astounding in its scenic variety. Painted moonscape deserts, snow-capped Caucasian peaks, subtropical forests and flower-filled grasslands all lie within a few hours’ drive of Baku, the artistically-vibrant, cosmopolitan capital with its UNESCO-recognized walled Old City.