From the time Azerbaijan gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and the petroleum boom in the country, the region has been developing fast as a major tourist centre. Every city in the country has got its own related testimonials and experiences, which focus on the region's ancient history. Also with time, new construction projects along with improved technology are coming together to provide a wonderful blend of contemporary services & entertainment and classic Azerbaijani culture & history.
The Palace of Shirvanshahs ( Wikipedia )
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs, located in Baku, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 15th century by the Shirvanshah dynasty. This monument is the biggest piece of architecture under the Shirvan-Absheron branch and includes the main building, Diwan Khana, The Mausoleum, The Palace Mosque and The Palace Bath-house. The construction of the palace was initiated under the rule of Ibrahim I of Shirvan dynasty. The Palace is open to visitors from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Frokor
Maiden Tower (Qiz Qalasi) ( Wikipedia )
The Maiden Tower is one of the most dominant architectural pieces, due to its vague design and the stories that surround it. Said to be built in the 12th century originally on the shore of Caspian Sea (later due to land reclamation, the tower is no more near the Caspian Sea), it was supposed to serve as a watch tower. But the construction and architecture, points the needle to nearly 2,500 years back. It's an important part of Azerbaijani history considering that it features on the country's currency notes and other documents.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Fariz Abasov
Atashgah Fire Temple ( Wikipedia )
The Atashgah Fire Temple or the Fire Temple of Baku is situated at Surakhani near Baku. This castle-style temple was nominated for World Heritage Site status in 1998 and declared a historical-architectural reserve by decree by the Azeri President in 2007. The inscriptions in either Sanskrit or Punjabi state that the place was a Hindu place of worship, unlike claims indicating it was a Zoroastrian Fire Temple. Today, it houses a museum and is no longer used as a temple.
Yanar Dag ( Wikipedia )
Yanar Dag, translated as the "burning mountain" is a hillside near Baku that continuously vents flames of fire all year round, a process that has been going around for 1000 years. Natural gas vents on the sides of the mountain make sure that the flames don't subdue despite of rain.
Oil Rocks ( Wikipedia )
Azerbaijan made advancement in its economy due to its oil reserves. So the oil rocks complex near Baku has become an attraction for many. But prior permission from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan is needed to view the complex.
Public Baths (Hamam) ( Wikipedia )
A hamam or public bath is a type of a sauna that originated in the Middle East. In Baku, the main "hamam" lies near the Baku Soviet Metro railway station as it is the oldest public bath in the city. Known as Hamam Mahallesi, different days are allotted for men and women with Monday's and Friday's for women and the rest of the days for men. Another public bath, only for men, is located in the old town and is known by the name of Teze Bey Hamami. This hamam is a little expensive as they offer a variety of baths like Turkish, Finnish, etc.
Icheri Sheher ( Visit Site )
Icheri Sheher or the Old Inner City is the oldest part of Baku and is surrounded by fortification walls dating back to the 9th century. The streets inside the historical core of the city have been designed to block the strong winds coming from the Caspian Sea.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Khortan
Nizami's mausoleum (Tomb of Nizami) ( Wikipedia )
Situated just outside the city of Ganja, the tomb was built in honour of poet and writer Nizami Ganjavi. The monument was rebuilt in 1991 on the existing old structure which dated back to the 1940's. The mausoleum is 20m tall and the area surrounding it displays the poet's books inscribed on metal.
Juma Mosque of Ganja (Shah Abbas)
The Shah Abbas or Juma Mosque includes two a 17th century minarets built as a tribute to the independence of Ganja from the Osman Empire. The red bricked building has been designed by Sheykh Baga-ud-din and has been decorated by "Shebke" stained glass paintings.
Old Prison & Lighthouse (Maiak)
This is quite a famous place in Lankaran and the story goes that the prison held Joseph Stalin for a time. A historical monument that became well-known when the then President of Azerbaijan helped Stalin escape from the prison through an underground tunnel.
Tomb of Seyid Khalifa
The tombs of Seyid Khalifa are situated in the village of Jil, nearby Lankaran. The tombs are supposed to have been built in the 19th century with tall and heavy stones / slabs inscribed with pictures of arrows, shields, words, footprints and hands. The place is famous because it is the burial place for many religious saints who came to Lankaran to spread Islam.
Yanar Bulag, meaning "burning spring" is a hot water spring that emits water and fire simultaneously. The water is said to have remedial properties. It is located on the highway that joins Lankaran and Astara.
Nearby Lankaran is the Ballabur village where once stood the ancient Bazz castle used by Khuramid chief, Babek to defend his kingdom against Arab invasion. Babek lost and was beheaded and the castle was also demolished, but its remains can still be seen.
Caravansarai (Caravan Palace)
Located on the M.F. Akhundov Avenue, Caravan Sarai or Caravan Palace is a historically cherished monument that was built by the Sheki Khans. The Caravan Palace was built as a resting place for the caravans that passed along the Silk Road through Azerbaijan. The site on which Caravan Sarai is built is said to be one of biggest stopovers for caravans in the Caucasus region. The Caravan Sarai has been decorated with traditional stained "Shebke" glass and frescoes and finds its notation among many poems of Ajerbaijan.
The Juma Masjid is a mosque built in the 16th century. Like any other mosque, it includes all regular features like the place where the Imam gives his lecture, mihrab pointing towards Mecca, and minarets through which Islamic followers are called during prayer rituals. But the highlight of this mosque is the 40m tall spire from where one can hear echo of a prayer.
Khansarai (The Palace of the Sheki Khans)
Khansarai or The Palace of the Sheki Khans has been the summer residence of the famous Sheki Khans and its palace, gardens and fortification walls has been constructed by Khan Hussein. The palace offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and you can also have a look at the tea house, parks and museums nearby the palace.
Sheki has been an important city along the Silk Road and a major manufacturer in silk products for the last four centuries. It's difficult to see the working of the Silk Factory which is situated nearby the town, but one can buy silk items from the adjacent store.
Hiking is great in the northern region of Azerbaijan with a wide range of hiking & walking routes available. In Sheki there are many hiking trails such as the Sheki-Bash Kyungyut-Bideiz-Sheki route, Sheki-Kish-"Gelersen-Gorersen" fortress-Sheki route, Sheki-Oraban-Bashkeldek-Keshnazar-Gyurgala-Sheki route and the Sheki-Ortazeyzit-Bashzeyzit-Quzuyolu-Khanyaylagi-Markhal-Sheki route. The mountains, vivid scenery, bonding with local Azerbaijani's, having the local "Chay" and "kebabs", is a dream come true.
Albanian Mosque is an Islamic religious place, built in the 4th century. A similar mosque can be found in Qabala which today is a city in Sheki region, but served as the capital of Albania for past many centuries.
Mosque of Sheikh Yusuf (XV)
The monument is one of the earliest constructions which was built in the mausoleum style and later extensively used in the 16th and 17th centuries. Sheikh Yusuf who was a renowned philosopher and writer has been buried along with his wife and four sons in this mosque.
Heydar Aliyev Park
A beautiful, well designed landscaped park with an array of sites which includes a park, cafe, the Heydar Aliyev Museum, tea houses, a chess school and the Khazar Cinema Club.
Sarkartapa is an archaeological site that belongs to the Bronze Age. It is also known as the Sarkar Winter Camp and is an interesting place for those who love to research on human life in prehistoric times.