AZERBAIJAN – KEEP EXPLORING!
Private or group tour, length of tour customized.
Day 1: Home country-Baku Arrive in Baku International Airport.
Private transfer to your hotel with the Professional guide
Overnight at your hotel (check in after 14:00)
No lunch and dinner in HB or FB options
Day 2: Baku-Gobustan-Baku
Breakfast at your hotel.
Visit to the Martyr's Avenue, located on the higher slopes of the city's west-end. This is the best place for viewing the city and the Bay of Baku. A beautiful photo shoot.
We proceed to the Old Town-Icheri Sheher, which is also a fortress. The heart of the historic city is Ichari Shahar (the Inner City, or Old Town). While Baku had a reputation of a city blighted by old extraction, it has recently been completely transformed into a gorgeous capitol city of seaside promenades and extraordinary architecture, including Zaha Hadid, Sir Normal Foster and others from the list of the most famous architects of our time. Gone are the crumbling Soviet buildings of the 1960’s, replaced by brand-new, limestone-clad almost Parisian architecture of the new Baku. In many ways, this is a city, indeed country, reborn with the oil wealth that for the first time is being spent at home. The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited parts in the region – and indeed in the Middle East. Archaeological digs have revealed Bronze Age burial chambers, dating Baku to over 1,500 years old. This is the most popular area of the city, a maze of alleys, dead ends and caravanserais sometimes called the 'Acropolis of Baku.' You’ll see carpet shops and cafes and you shouldn’t miss a stop into a tea café to sample hot lavash bread as it is pulled straight from the clay ovens that greets you as you enter.
Later, your guide will take you to the Shirvanshah’s palace that was built between 1761 and 1762, and is surprisingly small. Here in Old Town, you’ll also see the Maiden Tower and can climb to the top for a wonderful panoramic view of the historic neighborhood. Lunch at the local restaurant.
Depart to Gobustan. This open-air historical-artistic preserve with Neolithic rock drawings. It has come 6000 inscriptions that go back 12000 years (along with 2000- year-old Latin graffiti to boot). Stone Age folks sporting loin-cloths pose, hunt and boogie down in the petroglyphs. Their dances are thought to have been accompanied by the melodious strains of the Gaval-Dashy (Tambourine Stone) – a rock that has a deep, resonating tone when struck. Because of huge rocks, leaned heavily, 20 caves and tents formed there, which were shelter for inhabitants in bad weather. Gobustan is included to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Gobustan reserve clearly showing the longships that led Thor Heyerdahl to trace his Viking roots here. "Scandinavian mythology describes a god called Odin that came to northern Europe from a place called Azer. I have studied the writings and concluded that it is not mythology. It is real history and geography” wrote Thor. He found similarities in the drawings to those found in Scandinavia, particularly some in Alta, Norway. According to Icelandic Sagas, written in the 13 th century, the Norse God Odin (Wotan) migrated from the Caucasus in the first century AD. By local legend a skeleton found underneath Kish temple near Sheki (Azerbaijan) showed these early Vikings to have been two metres tall, and blond with blue eyes.
You will also have a chance to visit quite a unique site where 300 of the planet's estimated 700 mud volcanoes sit Gobustan, Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. Many geologists as well as locals and international mud tourists trek to such places as the Firuz Crater, Gobustan, Salyan and end up happily covered in mud which is thought to have medicinal qualities. In 2001 one mud volcano 15 kilometers from Baku made world headlines when it suddenly started spewing flames 15 meters high.
Dinner at the local Restaurant.
Overnight at your hotel.
Day 3: Baku-Shamakhi-Sheki
Breakfast at your Hotel.
This morning we travel by road to Shemakha, for a long time the capital and trade Centre for western Azerbaijan and now a small town. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence. It is famous for its traditional dancers, the Shamakhi Dancers, and also for giving its name to the Soumak rugs.
In its history eleven major earthquakes have rocked Shamakhi, but through multiple reconstructions it maintained its role as the economic and administrative capital of Shirvan and one of the key towns on the Silk Road. The only building to have survived eight of the eleven earthquakes is the landmark Juma Mosque of Shamakhi, built in the 10th century. The Juma Mosque, is a very large and attractive building. Construction date of the mosque743-744 – relies on research of a geological commission coming from Tbilisi, which was led by Prince Shahgulu Qajar. This date was defined with Arabic ligature on the facade of the Friday Mosque, stating the year 126 according to Islamic calendar as the establishment year.
Lunch at the local restaurant,
Later we will visit Yeddi Gumbez 'Seven Tombs', yet only three of these desecrated octagonal royal tombs remain reasonably complete. Yeddi Gumbaz mausoleum – is a cemetery located 1,5 km south to Shamakhi where three mausoleums from “Yeddi Gumbaz” group are still saved. Other mausoleums of the group are partly destroyed and are without cupola or walls. The mausoleum belongs to the beginning of the 18th century. This architectural monument was built for a family of Mustafa khan – the last khan of Shamakhi. The name of the architect – ustad Taghi – is also known due to a ligature on the mausoleum. The monument belongs to Shirvan-Absheron architectural school. The most ancient of them is dated to 1810, which is testified by a ligature carved on the mausoleum. This mausoleum is eight-edged. Its external edges have niches, which are covered with arch shaped half-cupolas.
Drive to Sheki – it is one of the most ancient settlements and cultural centers of Azerbaijan. Situated 2,300 feet above sea level, like an amphitheater surrounded by mountains and forests of oak trees, Sheki rises above fertile pastures and fields. It was founded more than 2,700 years ago on the southern slopes of the Major Caucasus Mountains chain. During its millennial history the town was devastated numerous times, so most of the historic and architectural monuments currently preserved date from the XVIII-XIX centuries. In the town you will see brick houses, shaded streets, weeping willow trees, and canals carrying spring water. Sheki is famous for the Royal Summer Palace of Sheki Khans with magnificent frescos (one of them is 80 feet long) and exquisite stained glass work. It was constructed in 1762 without a single nail and is one of the most marvelous monuments of its epoch.
Visit "Yukhari Caravanserai" an architectural monument. The setting here is stunning - lying in forested hills with views of the Caucasus. You will then drive into the countryside to the village of Kish with the oldest church in the Caucasus dating from the first century and enjoy walks in the surrounding Caucasus foothills.
Dinner at the local restaurant.
Overnight at your hotel.
Day 4: Sheki - Lahij - Baku
Breakfast at your hotel
Depart to visit Lahij a craftsmanship village located at the hills of Greater Caucasus Mountains: This village is located in Ismayilli, which is one of the most beautiful corners of Azerbaijan lying at the foot of the Great Caucasian Mountains - the land of rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Three climatic zones are represented at the same time in this region, ranging from snowy mountains to hot planes. The itinerary crosses Lahij village famous for its skilful craftsmen. This village is inhabited by hereditary braziers, tanners, engravers, potters, and blacksmiths, metal and wood carvers. During the excursion you will see the bridge connecting two villages, the stone water-pipe of the 16th century, and specimens of dwellings of the 19th century with wall paintings, Museum of regional studies where ancient carpets and brass articles are kept.
Lunch at local restaurant
If enough time visit Nidj Udin village to see temple in Gabala: The It is known for a unique architectural monument of the Caucasian Albania - Udin Temple. The Udins are absolutely special ethnic group who are considered descendants of Alabanians (only 10,000 of them left). They have managed to preserve their traditions, language, material and spiritual culture up to now. Just recently the temple has been restored and today it is open for church-goers of Udin Christian community and tourists wishing to witness the most ancient landmark of Azerbaijan. The restored temple was constructed in the17th - 18th centuries on the site of an ancient Albanian church which had been built at will Saint Eliseus - the Christian ecclesiast and educator honored in the Caucasian Albania. The present day temple has been named after him.
Depart to Baku Arrive and dinner
Transfer to your hotel Day
5: Baku – Absheron - Nakhchivan Breakfast at your hotel Visiting the local Bazar to see local art of shopping. Like in many Middle Eastern cultures, the bazaar is the place where seasonal and local produce is offered as juiciest melons, sweet-scented peaches, great tomatoes and etc.
You will visit the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center. The Heydar Aliyev Center is a 619,000- square-foot building complex in Baku, Azerbaijan designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and noted for its distinctive architecture and flowing, curved style that eschews sharp angles. The center is named for Heydar Aliyev, the leader of Soviet-era Azerbaijan from 1969 to 1982, and president of Azerbaijan from October 1993 to October 2003. The Center houses a conference hall (auditorium), a gallery hall and a museum. The project is intended to play an integral role in the intellectual life of the city. Located close to the city center, the site plays a pivotal role in the redevelopment of Baku. The Heydar Aliyev Center represents a fluid form which emerges by the folding of the landscape’s natural topography and by the wrapping of individual functions of the Center. All functions of the Center, together with entrances, are represented by folds in a single continuous surface. This fluid form gives an opportunity to connect the various cultural spaces whilst at the same time, providing each element of the Center with its own identity and privacy. As it folds inside, the skin erodes away to become an element of the interior landscape of the Center.
Lunch at the local restaurant
Later your guide will take you to the Baku Fire Temple, known locally as the Atashgah. This is a castle-like Hindu temple and monastery complex in Surakhani near Baku. The complex is now a museum and is no longer used as a place of worship. Local legend associates the temple at Surakhany with the fire temples of Zoroastrianism, but this is presumably based on a misunderstanding of the term 'Atashgah,' which in Azerbaijani is literally any fire-place, but in Zoroastrianism is synonymous with Middle Persian Atashdan, the technical term for the altar-like repository for a sacred wood-fire.
Visit Yanardagh – Burning Mountain - One of the oldest and most attractive sights on Absheron is at Yanardagh in Mehemmedi settlement. Its name translates literally as ‘burning mountain’ and this is no fancy: it really is burning! The hillsides are embraced by fire day and night. YanarDag is a natural gas fire which blazes continuously on a hillside on the Absheron Peninsula on the Caspian Sea near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, which itself is known as the "land of fire." Flames jet out into the air 3 metres (9.8 ft) from a thin, porous sandstone layer.Yanar Dag is also known by other names such as "pilpila", "bozdagh", "ahtarma" and "gaynarja." Unlike mud volcanoes, the Yanar Dag flame burns fairly steadily, as it is not a periodic eruption, but a steady seep of gas from the subsurface. It is also claimed that the Yanar Dag flame was only noted when accidentally lit by a shepherd in the 1950s.There is no seepage of mud or liquid, which distinguishes it from the nearby mud volcanoes of Lokbatan or Gobustan.
TRANSFER to the TERMINAL 2 of Baku International airport.
Flight to Nakhchivan at 18:40 and arrive in Nakhchivan at 19:40 Travel to Azerbaijan’s isolated enclave Nakhchivan, the Azeri enclave wedged between Turkey, Iran and third country. Known as the land of Noah, it shares no land border with Azerbaijan and the only access is by airplane.
Nakhchivan, the land of the ancient Azerbaijan, is one of the places of civilization in the world. The people of Azerbaijan created an old and rich culture in this land. The richest historical, scientific and cultural heritages of the Azerbaijan people were formed in this land.
Transfer to your hotel and check in.
DINNER at local restaurant.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 6: Nakhchivan
Breakfast at your hotel Visiting of Prophet Noah’s Tomb: This is one of the important places on the territory of the autonomous republic related to the Flood. It is claimed, researched and confirmed that Prophet Noah has been buried here. As Prophets Noah and Adam lived in the same period of time in history, both were caught by the Flood 10,000 years ago. The graves of Noah’s wife and mother are in the town of Marand, in Southern Azerbaijan (southwestern Iran). It is strongly believed that Noah’s own grave is in an area called Kohnagala (old fortress) in the town of Nakhchivan. This place is visited by people as a Pir (place of worship). Large-scale archaeological excavations have been carried out here in recent years.
Visiting XII century Momina Khatun Monument: This tomb is viewed as a magnificent monument of the national architecture and a pearl of the Eastern architecture. It is also called the Atabay tomb, or the Atabay dome. Once 34 meters high, the tomb has crumbled over time. It is now 25 meters high following the latest restoration. Until the nineteenth century, there used to be several other buildings, including a mosque, near the tomb. The monument is the emblem of the town of Nakhchivan. It is also the beauty of the town. The tomb was built in 1186 in memory of the mother of Atabay ruler Mahammad Jahan Pahlavan. It is called the Taj Mahal of Nakhchivan.
Visiting Yusif Ibn Kuseyir Tomb: It is the result of high engineering that the tomb of Yusif Kuseyir oglu is the only monument among the tower shape tombs of Azerbaijan in which the pyramidal cover reached our time over the last 800 years undestroyed. The inscription of the tomb says that “This tomb belongs to Yusif Kuseyir oglu, Khaja, glorious chief, wise man of religion, the blessed man of Islam, the leader of the sheykhs”. That inscription shows the tomb was built in 557 by Hijri, in the month of Shavval (Christianity 1162). But in the inscription from the main facade in the left, the name of the engineer of the tomb “It is the deed of Ajami Abubakr oglu Nakhchivani, builder”.
Visiting Khan’s House: This house, built in keeping with the Eastern architectural style of the 18th and 19th centuries, was a home of the Nakhchivan ruler Rahim khan. The house has a basement and eight large rooms. It is located in the Gadim Gala (Old Fortress) quarter, 50-60 meters from the Momina Khatun tomb. The network (shabaka) style was widely used in the windows of the building. The house was built on a high hilltop called the “Khan height”, which makes it look extremely magnificent and beautiful. There is a spectacular view of the town from this point.
Lunch at your leisure.
Travel to Garabaghlar village of Sharur region to see XII century monument: The Mausoleum is located in a village of the same name. You can tell that looking at the ruins of small mausoleums scattered over ancient sepulchral fields and the fortifications with towers. Once there were 10,000 houses, 70 mosques, mausoleums 40 of them with minarets. One of them - Garabaglar (named after the place) has survived until now and making impression on the numerous visitors. The mausoleum is only a part of the complex in the center of which tower slender minarets connected (in the middle) by the portal. From a distance this structure looks similar to the city gate. There are no ruins of fortifications, instead of them stand rectangular prisms on each side of the minarets.
Visit Duzdagh Salt mines Hospital – a unique asthma bronchitis treatment center in the world: The salt mines for natural medical treatment of asthma and bronchitis. The medical treatment is made by keeping the patients in the empty salt mines for several hours per a day. This is physiotherapy hospital Duzdagh (Salted Mountain) for natural medical treatment of asthma and bronchitis. The Asthmatics are staying in the mountain Duzdagh about one month for asthma treatment. The treatment gives on 80% of positive result. Very interesting place and unique. Duzdagh also extracts food salt.
Dinner at one of the local restaurants.
Transfer to Hotel, free time, rest.
Day 7: Nakhchivan
Breakfast at your hotel
Meeting your guide and driver at your hotel lobby and start the tour. You will visit Alinja Fortress - one of the strongest defensive construction of the XII century. During Turko-Mongolian conqueror Timur’s attack to Nakhchivan in 1386-1399 the fortress served as a head quarter and place of treasure of ruling Atabayler dynasty. After 14 years siege Timur’s army was not able to occupy the fortress.
Lunch at the local restaurant
Later you will visit to “Ashabu – Kahf” Caves (as stated in Koran surah 18 - al-Kahf "The companions of the cave” based on old Greek legend “Seven sleepers of Ephesus“). There is also an Anglo-Norman poem, "Golden Legend" related with the same legend. German, British, Slav, Indian, Jewish, Chinese, and Arabian version of this legend exist also. Drive back to Nakhchivan city Visiting Nakhchivan carpet museum Dinner at the local restaurant. Transfer to airport at 19:30 Flight to Baku at 21:00
Arrive and transfer to your hotel
Overnight at your hotel
Day 8: Baku-Home country
Breakfast at your hotel
Check out by 12:00
Transfer to the Baku international airport and flight to home country.