Situated in a mountainous area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is a country slowly making its mark in the tourist map. A mix of historically important places, skiing destinations, natural wonders, and museums, makes the country a great holiday spot. Here are some of the most interesting facts about the country!
1. Azerbaijan is home to the first known fireplace and one of the ancient proto-human habitations in the human history that date back 700,000 to 500,000 years ago. The Azikh Cave, which is also the largest cave in Azerbaijan covering eight thousand square meters, is one of the proto-human sites in Azerbaijan.
2. Baku is also home to Little Venice, a man-made waterway that flows between shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.
3. The Burning Mountain is a rare natural wonder in the Absheron peninsula. It burns all year round due to natural gas escaping from the ground.
4. It also has a burning spring (Yanar Bulag) in the city of Astara in southern Azerbaijan. The water originating from the spring has unique high Methane content which sets it to fire when ignited.
5. The Gobustan Nature Park has got thousands of rock paintings that give a peek into the lives of the pre-historic inhabitants of Azerbaijan.
6. By the number of mud volcanoes, Azerbaijan ranks first in the world. There are about 350 out of 800 mud volcanoes, in Azerbaijan. As opposed to usual volcanoes that spew lava, mud volcanoes can be very cold, just near freezing.
7. Over in the town of Nakhchivan, is an oddly-shaped mountain bulging randomly out of the ground, with a dent at the top, which is allegedly the site where Noah first landed after the flood. The city and region even derive their names from the legend, as Nakhchivan means “Noah’s town.”
8. The people in Azerbaijan hang bread from trees. No, there’s no superstition behind it and the reason is rather adorable. Bread is considered sacred in Azerbaijan, and it’s something you’re supposed to share with friends. Wasted bread isn’t thrown away, as it’s considered too important to be discarded. People even say that they’ll occasionally kiss bread they find on the ground, and place it on a higher surface, off the ground and away from the dirt. So, when there’s leftover bread from a meal, they might just hang it from a tree.
9. Azerbaijan boasts the highest number of mammal species of any European country; an amazing 107 species of mammal have been recorded in Azerbaijan, 3 of which are endemic.
10. The settlement of Neft Daşları started life as an oil rig and a couple of elevated walkways in the Caspian Sea: today, it’s an entire stilted city. It was built in 1949, and communities have cropped up around bakeries, shops, cultural areas, hostels and hotels.
11. Azerbaijan hosts an interesting (ahem) competition each year – in the ‘Seven Beauties’ competition, 7 girls are given different coloured threads and crochet hooks and asked to crochet a pair of quality stockings. Whoever finishes the best quality pair of stockings first, wins!
12. The world’s first oil well was drilled in Bibi-Heybat (Absheron peninsula), Baku during 1847-1848 by Vasiliy Semyonov. The depth of the well was 21m.
13. Drinking tea is a large part of Azerbaijani hospitality and often takes place before a meal. They do, however, drink it in a seemingly unusual way – you must pop some sugar or jam into your mouth before sipping the tea and combining the two in your mouth.
14. Baku is home to the world’s largest KFC. KFC has more than 18,875 franchises in 118 countries. The fast food chain was founded in 1930.
15. The country also boasts the world’s only miniature book museum. The museum also has a miniature copy of the Holy Quran from the 17th It was opened in 2002 by Zarifa Salahova.
How to reach?
As there are no direct flights from major Indian cities to Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, the airlines will stop over at Dubai, Istanbul, or Bahrain. You can fly to Azerbaijan with airlines like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Emirates, and Gulf Air.
Sheki: Sheki is a small town near the border of Georgia that served as a prime trading post on the Silk Road. This tradition is still very much alive in Sheki City today, and visitors here will find ornate embroidery and other local handicrafts on offer. In addition to the arts and crafts found in this city, there are also castles, mosques, and even ancient bathhouses, as well as the Palace of Sheki Khan that has stood since the 18th Century.
Quba: One of the most interesting Azerbaijan places to visit will be Quba. Located near the Caucasus mountains, Quba offers this refreshing green landscape, making it the perfect getaway for those of you who are tired of the hustle and bustle of big cities.
Mud Volcano: The mud volcano is one of its own kind in nature and considered as a bizarre natural phenomenon of Azerbaijan. Located in the desert area of Baku, these mineral concentrated volcanoes rests at the coastline of the Caspian Sea. Unlike in other countries that have this natural phenomenon, the mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan are typically cool to the touch.
Yanar Dag: Located in the Absheron Peninsula, Yanar Dag is a mound of dirt that would look like an ordinary hill, except there’s a perpetual fire coming out of the ground on one side of it. Visitors flock to this impressive natural phenomenon at dusk when the flames are most clearly visible, and the area is also studded with quaint teashops where you can sit in comfort and enjoy the view.