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AZERBAIJAN


Location - Caucasus, Europe; Capital - Baku; Population - 10 million; Currency - Manat MORE AZERBAIJAN

Baku is situated on a claw of land known as the Absheron peninsula, and I took an excellent day-tour of its sights with Vadim via indy-guide, as well as spending a half-day in Sumqayit - October 2018.

 

azerbaijannote2An outline of Azerbaijan. Note the region of Nakhchivan separated from the 'mainland'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azeroldnote4An old, post-Soviet note displaying the Maiden Tower in Baku's Old Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan139But first up were the mud volcanoes near Qobustan, about an hour's drive south of Baku

 

azerbaijan133There's a collection of these volcanoes belching out gas about 10km south of Qobustan

 

azerbaijan143Light the gas for a temporary fire, but watch your fingers! And everything else.. - Qobustan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan148There's nothing quite like mud, mud, glorious mud, but you can also dip your hand in as it's cold to the touch - Qobustan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan152Check out the Caspian Sea oil rigs from the volcano site - Qobustan

 

azerbaijan156 Head back north to the Qobustan Petroglyph Reserve at Qobustan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan157The reserve is home to ancient rock carvings which are 5,000-20,000 years old - Qobustan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan159Can you make out the reed boat above some (much larger) humans? - Qobustan

 

azerbaijan169The presence of shells in the rocks indicates the area was under water at one time - Qobustan

 

azerbaijan167Here I stand on a rock outcrop at Qobustan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan171On the return to Baku and the Absheron peninsula we stopped at Shixov beach

 

azerbaijan170Old oil drilling platforms lie just off the beach - Shixov

 

azerbaijan173Close by is Bibi-Heybat Mosque, recently reconstructed after the original was destroyed in 1934 as part of the Soviet anti-religious campaign - Bibi-Heybat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan175The mosque overlooks an area known as the James Bond Oilfield after scenes were used in The World Is Not Enough - Bibi-Heybat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan176Nodding donkeys are used to extract oil - Bibi-Heybat

 

azerbaijan177Much of the Absheron peninsula is dominated by the black stuff in some form or another: nodding donkeys, oil derricks, rigs & platforms, run-off pools etc - Bibi-Heybat

 

azerbaijan179The site of the 18th century Suraxani Fire Temple (aka Ateshgah Fire Temple) was used as a Zoroastrian, Sikh and Hindu place of worship - Suraxani

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan182The gas is now piped, the natural gas beneath the temple having burnt out - Suraxani

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan188Next up was Mardakan Tower, a square 22m fortress tower rebuilt in the 14th century - Mardakan

 

azerbaijan191Take in views of the Absheron peninsula from the tower - Mardakan

 

azerbaijan192A shrine with a strange story is Pir Hasan, where people have bottles smashed over their heads as a cure for nerves. I didn't see this in action but I'm sure I heard the sound of breaking glass; I'll stay nervous thanks! - Mardakan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan195The other fortress tower in Mardakan is the 13th century, 15.5m-high round tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan193A few kms north is Mardakan beach, a popular public beach with facilities - Mardakan

 

azerbaijan194But on a cool October day this was the only guy braving the sea - Mardakan

 

azerbaijan197Ramana Fortress is perched on a hilltop, providing views of oil mess - Old Ramana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan200Oil derricks and polluted run-off pools form a depressing landscape in front of the castle - Old Ramana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan198And let's throw in a nodding donkey on the roadside - Old Ramana

 

azerbaijan209Yanar Dag, or Fire mountain, has been burning natural gas since the 1950s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan212A shepherd accidentally set it alight with a discarded cigarette, so the story goes, and it's been burning ever since - Yanar Dag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan219Waiting for the train to Sumqayit - Baku

 

azerbaijan229Sumqayit is Azerbaijan's third-largest city and lies on the north western side of the Absheron peninsula

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan223The dove sculpture lies on the top of the promenade steps leading down to the beach - Sumqayit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan228There was a lot of building work going on close to the beach when I visited. Hopefully it's to make the beach a focal point as it's a good, wide stretch of sand - Sumqayit

 

azerbaijan227It was a sunny day but except for a few couple of dog walkers there was noone on the beach - Sumqayit

 

azerbaijan231Between the promenade and the beach are a couple of tree-sheltered cafes - Sumqayit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan221This memorial commemorates the Xocali massacre by ethnic Armenian forces on 26 February 1992. Xocali (or Khojaly) is a town in Nagorno Karabakh, a disputed region belonging to Azerbaijan but occupied by Armenia - Sumqayit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

azerbaijan222Next to the Xocali Memorial are lines of martyr gravestones, many of whom died in 1993 during the summer. Please correct me if I'm wrong but I'm guessing they died during the Nagorno Karabakh War of the 1980s & 90s - Sumqayit

 

azerbaijan220One more picture of former president Heydar Aliyev before I leave - Sumqayit

 

azeroldnote1I bought a Soviet-era note (with the head of Lenin) in Baku

azeroldnote2On the reverse there's a list of Soviet republic currencies - Som, Manat, Ruble etc

 

 

Website and content Copyright © 2008-2019 Mark Wilkinson. All rights reserved.

 

LINKS

www.advantour.com - Central Asian tour operator but website has a wealth of information

http://azerbaijan.travel - Azerbaijan tourism

https://caravanistan.com - Main resource for all things Central Asian - extremely useful

https://indy-guide.com - Central Asia website where tour guides offer their services

https://ticket.ady.az - Azerbaijan Railways

 

I am not responsible for the content of external websites.

 

 
 
 
   
 
   
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