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NAKHCHIVAN (Azerbaijani enclave)

Location - Caucasus, Europe; Capital - Baku; Population - Nakhchivan - 460,000; Azerbaijan - 10 million; Currency - Manat MORE AZERBAIJAN

I flew into Igdir in the extreme east of Turkey before catching a bus to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, a little known sliver of Azerbaijan isolated from the rest of the country by Armenia. I'm always interested in these weird products of geo-politics, so headed off to my second ex-Soviet piece of strangeness (after Kaliningrad) - April 2019.


azerbaijannote2The 5 Manat note displays a map of Azerbaijan with the exclave of Nakhchivan bottom left, separated from the 'mainland'









nakhchivan359If you're lucky with the weather the sight of Mt Ararat is a brilliant introduction, rising above Igdir and Dogubeyazit in far eastern Turkey


nakhchivan361Mt Ararat, or Agri Dag in Turkish, comprises two peaks - Greater Ararat and Little Ararat, with the former being 5,137m and the latter 3,896m. In Christianity it's regarded as the resting place of Noah's Ark


nakhchivan362I took these photos from the Turkey/Nakhchivan border while hanging around for the bus to clear customs. Not a bad view while you wait.. - Mt Ararat













nakhchivan367Nothing to declare officer. A car ready for inspection at the Turkey/Nakhchivan border, with Mt Ararat behind














nakhchivan1The long covered walkway past duty free on the Turkish side of the border. Buses from Igdir leave from the otogar east of town and took around 4h45m to Nakhchivan City (not the quoted 3hrs) - 2hrs of driving and the rest waiting for the bus to clear customs. Shared taxis may be quicker and allegedly go from Rus Bazaar or Baladiya in Igdir, though I can't confirm this. I didn't have to take my luggage off the bus when leaving Turkey (or leaving Nakhchivan) but had to when entering - Turkey/Nakhchivan border


nakhchivan4I got off the bus at Qivraq, the crossroads for Qarabaghlar, where luckily there taxis were waiting. Via several phone calls to the driver's English speaking family, I negotiated a drive to Qarabaghlar, Duzdag and then to Nakhchivan City for 30AZN, with waiting time


nakhchivan6The main (only?) reason for visiting Qarabaghlar is the Jehan Kudi Xatun Mausoleum















nakhchivan7The mausoleum is thought to date back to the 14th century - Qarabaghlar















nakhchivan9The tomb tower of the mausoleum complex - Qarabaghlar


nakhchivan12The renovated blue tile-work of the tomb tower - Qarabaghlar


nakhchivan15It was raining heavily so it was a relief to go inside, where former and current presidents Heydar Aliyev and his son Ilham Aliyev welcome you.
But there was a bigger welcome from the friendly husband, wife and daughter who look after the site, maybe surprised by my unscheduled visit - Qarabaghlar












nakhchivan8My friendly taxi driver Dilaver walking towards the mausoleum - Qarabaghlar















nakhchivan19My first look at Ilan Dag, or Snake Mountain, on the way to Duzdag


nakhchivan21Duzdag, a few kms from Nakhchivan City, is a sanatorium built in a Soviet-era salt mine, a quirky and interesting place to set eyes on


nakhchivan29The physiotherapy centre benefits asthmatics, among others, due to its dry air. Patients receive treatments and can stay overnight inside the salt cave. Two km away is a 5-star hotel - Duzdag














nakhchivan27Tourists and guides can walk along the main corridor but my driver was told to wait at the reception cafe - Duzdag
















nakhchivan33My 'room with a view' at Grand Hotel Nakhchivan was pretty special: Ilan Dag stands in front of snow-covered mountains - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan36aDirectly below the hotel construction was ongoing on a fancy new shopping, restaurant and office complex - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan50The Grand Hotel Nakhchivan is a bit of a trek from the city centre, about 20mins, but cheaper than the Hotel Tabriz at 35AZN/night with buffet breakfast and reliable wi-fi.
I heard the electricity and plumbing can be sporadic but this only affected me for 20mins during a 4-night stay (if the electricity goes, the water follows) - Nakhchivan City












nakhchivan37The view from my fifth floor hotel room - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan39I love this view, immediately above the airport, but again taken from my hotel room - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan402,415m Ilan Dag is an iconic mountain that can be seen from so many places in Nakhchivan - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan48 The clocktower belonging to the new shopping complex next to the hotel - Nakhchivan City
















nakhchivan53 Kazim Qarabekir Pasa Mosque is just off Aziz Aliyev Road, behind a shopping centre.
This is near where the bus to Ordubad stops, though it could be quite full when it arrives from the main station - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan52Also behind the shopping centre is a very local fruit & vegetable market - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan54I took a taxi to the war memorial and gardens, opposite the main bus station in the north of the city, and worked my way south. It's topped by a huge Azerbaijani flag at the base of which, fittingly, is a flag museum - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan60 What looks like a Soviet-era socialist realist mural on the wall of the bus station - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan57Colourful lighting on the road to the bus station - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan65I read of the amusing lengths locals go to to add balconies to their homes, and then add extensions to balcony extensions. It's really in evidence here! - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan68A statue of the third president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, stands outside a museum in his honour - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan73Heydar Aliyev ruled Azerbaijan between 1993 and 2003, his son Ilham taking over just before his death. Guess where Heydar was born? Yes, in Nakhchivan City. It must be difficult floating above clouds, he's doing a good job..














nakhchivan76Opposite the Heydar Aliyev Museum is the theatre, or the Nakhchivan State Musical Dramatic Theatre to give it a much longer name - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan78Behind the theatre is the House of Hussein Cavid, a writer in the early 20th century who was exiled to Siberia by Stalin - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan81Former president Heydar Aliyev set in front of Ilan Dag - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan82An outdoor chess board stands opposite a Nakhchivan government office - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan89Besides a display of 'fish footprints', the History Museum has a room highlighting the 1992 Khojaly massacre during the Nagorno-Karabakh war - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan91A statue representing the legendary tales of Dede Qorqud sits in front of the Tabriz Hotel - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan93Chaikhanas/chayxanas, or teahouses, are very popular in Nakhchivan - at least they are if you're a bloke, though western women can usually get away with a visit. This one is in front of the Tabriz Hotel, which busied up once the football started - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan128The top floor restaurant of the Tabriz Hotel affords good views of the Araz River and Araz Dam Lake that separates the enclave from Iran - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan100The snowy peaks of Iran rise above the Araz Dam lake - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan97The red-brick building, formerly the Zaviya Madrassa, now houses the tourist office, and the slightly obscured sand-coloured tower behind is a tomb tower known as a turbe - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan107A bust of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern day Turkey - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan110Hazrati Zahra Mosque was financed by Iran - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan146The (very pink) Blue Mosque lies in the city centre - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan111Opposite the Blue Mosque is an artificial pond with a cafe, near to which stairs lead up to a small bazaar area - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan120As far as I know the Khan's Palace no longer hosts the carpet museum, instead explaining the khanate's history in the palace rooms (upstairs only) - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan127The 18th century palace was home to Rahim Khan - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan132Besides Ilan Dag, Nakhchivan's other iconic landmark is the Momine Khatun Mausoleum - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan139The tower, originally from 12th century, is 26m high - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan135The mausoleum is thought to be the final resting place of Shemseddin Eldeniz, founder of the Atabey dynasty, and his wife Momine Khatun. However their graves were moved to St Petersburg - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan153The approach to the mausoleum at night - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan141Next door is a display of ancient stone rams and gravestones - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan148Acami Nakhchivani was the architect responsible for the Momine Khatun Mausoleum - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan150The pillared columns of Heydar Aliyev Palace - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan200There's several electronic clocks displaying a map of Azerbaijan. Note they include the occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh (as does the 5 Manat note, top of page) - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan158The mountains of Iran rise behind construction works on a new mosque - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan156This cemetery and memorial may be for those who have died in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, though I may be wrong. Clarification welcome - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan160 Next to the cemetery is a museum dedicated to the wars Azerbaijan has been involved in, particularly the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, represented here - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan161Opposite the museum is Imamzade, where 18th century leader Abu Mustafa Bahdur Khan is buried - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan163An off-beat attraction is between Imamzade and the castle, a hotel-restaurant complex edged by a pond full of big fish - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan165The finishing touches are being done to a ship-restaurant, presumably ready in time for the summer - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan169This guy was walking around the mosque's dome using a suspended rope. It looked a bit precarious! - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan162Steps lead from the Imamzade up to the citadel walls and the fortress itself - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan172On the left are the very reconstructed citadel walls - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan182Inside the citadel - I get the impression it's very much a total reconstruction from virtually nothing - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan188But it's a good place to take in views of Iran opposite and there's a couple of spots for a relaxing drink - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan183Nakhchivan's claim as the 'Land Of Noah' is based on the monument on the left, Prophet Noah's tomb - Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan176It is said that beneath this glass dome is the grave of the Prophet Noah though Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan all make similar claims - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan180Hard to see here due to the cloud but local legend has it that the cleft in Ilan Dag's peak was caused by Noah's Ark hitting it on its way to settling on Mt Ararat - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan177It's those Iranian mountains again, across the Araz Dam Lake - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan178This peak lies inside Nakhchivan, all seen from the citadel walls - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan192Spotting a Soviet-era Lada in Azerbaijan is relatively easy - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan195One of the better turbes (tomb towers) to visit is that of 12th century relgious leader Yusuf Ibn Kuseyir, a short walk from the Grand Hotel Nakhchivan - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan197Like all the other tomb towers I saw, the inside is very empty - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan198These two ladies helped me with directions to the turbe which is hidden down an alleyway - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan199Thank you ladies. And back to the hotel.. - Nakhchivan City


nakhchivan203Koroglu was a mystical warrior from the 16th century - Nakhchivan City















nakhchivan205The welcome sign when arriving in Nakhchivan City from the north of the enclave. By the way all signs say Naxçıvan rather than Nakhchivan
















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LINKS - Azerbaijan tourism - Main resource for all things Central Asian - extremely useful - Local news and stories - tour agency specialising in Nakhchivan - Azerbaijan Railways - contains travel articles on Nakhchivan


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