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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

LINKS

http://azerbaijan.travel - Azerbaijan tourism

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

http://nakhchivantoday.com - Local news and stories

www.natigtravel.com - tour agency specialising in Nakhchivan

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

www.visions.az - contains travel articles on Nakhchivan

 

I am not responsible for the content of external websites.

 

 
 
 
   
 
   
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