ART & CULTURE

The cultural life of Baku enchants both residents and guests of the city with its broad-ranging evening programs, regardless of whether it is a business day or at the weekend. There are many museums and private exhibitions of popular artists, vintage theaters and amazing performances, art galleries and monuments to local and international artists, installed in Baku’s wonderful parks, where you can enjoy good times with your family or simply by yourself. 

Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall

The design for this oil-boom era masterpiece at the corner of Philharmonic Park is said to have been inspired by the Opera de Monte Carlo. It was built between 1910-1912 and originally served as a summer club for wealthy Baku residents, who attended for banquets, shows and other entertainment. In 1936, it was reorganized to house the Philharmonic Society that aimed to promote Azerbaijani classical and folk music and the following year it was named after the famous Azerbaijani composer Muslim Magomayev. The building reopened after renovations in 2004 and today continues to play a key role in advancing Azerbaijani classical and national music.

Chenlibel Park

Another notable park of Khachmaz is Chenlibel, which got its name because of the town associated with Koroglu, the national epic character, who led people in their struggle against unjust rulers. The central figure of the park is a monument to Koroglu, who is on a horse with a sword in his hand. In the park there is a variety of children's attractions, colorful sculptures, benches, and pavilions.

The Museum Center

The Azerbaijan Carpet Museum was created in 1967. The museum’s new home was built within the National Seaside Park by decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, signed in 2007. and was designed  based on  the plans of the Austrian architect, Franz Yants. It  opened its doors in 2014. Today, the museum, an example of modern Baku architecture, functions not only as a storehouse for art and carpets, but also as a center for research in the field of carpet weaving and a place to exhibit the high level skills of our people.

Heydar Aliyev Center

The iconic Heydar Aliyev Centre was designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and is famous for its distinctive flowing, curved style that eschews sharp angles. As a brilliant piece of post-modern architecture, the building’s shape is an eternal cycle, connecting the past with the present. The building houses a conference hall, gallery halls, museums and more and seeks to unite people of diverse backgrounds in a place of shared ideas. The building won the London Design Museum award in 2014.

National Museum of Art

The National Museum of Arts of Azerbaijan is a rich treasury of our national values and universal cultural heritage, where today more than 17 thousand art objects are stored. The museum was established in 1936, and in 1937 its first exhibition was opened. The age-range  of the treasures held by  the National Museum of Arts of Azerbaijan covers the period from the 4th millennium BC to the present day.

Momina Khatun Mausoleum

Outstanding architectural monument, Momina Khatun Mausoleum, was built in the western part of the Nakhchivan City in 1186, by the famous Nakhchivan architect Ajami Abubakir oglu. The mausoleum was built by the order of Shamsaddin Eldaniz, the founder of the Azerbaijan Atabay state, over the grave of his wife Momina Khatun. The words are written on the monument, "We're leaving, but dreams remain. We are dying, but the foundation remains." The mausoleum was restored in 2003. 

Azerbaijan State Opera

The theater was built in 1910 by a famous architect named Nikolai Bayev and, as with other examples of Azerbaijani architecture from the beginning of the 20th century, it blends elements of baroque, rococo and Moorish styles. This building is closely connected with the development of Azerbaijani opera, which began in 1908 with the first opera in the Muslim East – Leyli and Majnun – composed by one of the finest composers of the 20th century and the founder of Azerbaijani classical music, Uzeyir Hajibeyli.

The Museum Center

During the Soviet era, a branch of the Moscow Museum named after V.I. Lenin was housed here. The building was designed by the architect Hasan Majidov in 1961. In 1991 it was renamed the Museum Center. The Museum Center consists of four floors. Here can be found a  conference hall, the Azerbaijan State Museum of Musical Culture, the Museum of Independence of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan State Theater Museum named after J. Jabbarly, as well as the Gallery of Arts and the Information and Education Centre named the Russian Museum.

Garabaghlar Mausoleum

Located in the village of Garabaghlar, Kengerli District, this monument belongs to the 14th century. It is assumed, however, that the minaret was built at the end of the 7th or early 8th century. Inscriptions, made as ornaments on minaret walls and connecting these minarets, indicate that this mausoleum was built by the Elkhani ruler Hulagu Khan in honor of his wife Mehriban Guti. This historical monument was restored by the order of the national leader Heydar Aliyev.

NATURE

The nature of Azerbaijan – partly wild and deserted and partly covered with the remains of ancient forests, is a never-ending marvel for any traveler. The flora of Azerbaijan is exceptionally rich. It brings to mind a large national carpet, thanks to its brightness and the variety of rich colours. The terrain of Azerbaijan is densely carved by many rivers and mountain streams, some of which form noisy waterfalls, echoing deep into the mountains.

Hirkan National Park

The Hirkan National Park is one of the pearls of Azerbaijani nature located in the south of the country, in the heart of the Talysh Mountains. Here, you won't find any camping areas, cafes, bars, restaurants and other such delights of modern tourism because this area is home to a natural wilderness dating back 60 million years with its own truly unique flora and fauna. This region has existed since the Ice Age and could easily be called a botanical garden. The Hirkan Ironwood tree, which is endemic to this area, not only survived the Ice Age but also indirectly became one of the reasons for the oil boom in Azerbaijan. 

Lake Batabat

Batabat is a mountain lake in the mountains of the Shahbuz region in Nakhchivan. This picturesque reservoir is surrounded by alpine meadows near the source of the Nakhchivan River at an altitude of 2,500 m above sea level. This lake is most famous for its floating peat island and crystal-clear fresh water. This area is incredibly scenic.

Goy-Gol Lake

The Goygol National Park is home to a number lakes, the most stunning of which is Lake Goygol, considered by many to be Azerbaijan’s most beautiful. It came into being after a 12th-century earthquake sent rocks crashing down from the peak of the now iconic Mount Kapaz and blocking a river flowing below. The deep blue lake (Goygol means 'Blue Lake' in Azerbaijani) sits at 1,500 metres in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains and is surrounded by lush forests inhabited by a variety of wildlife, including red deer, vultures, bears and lynx. Given the beauty of Lake Goygol and the surrounding forest landscape, for centuries the area has been a source of inspiration for Azerbaijani artists, writers, artists and musicians.

Shirvan National Park

The main attraction in Salyan is the Shirvan National Park, created in 2003 on the basis of a nature reserve that existed here since 1969. It covers a territory of 55 hectares and was founded to preserve the local flora and fauna, especially the goitered gazelle which is listed in the Azerbaijani Red Book of rare and endangered wildlife. Besides gazelles, the park is one of the best places in Azerbaijan for bird watching; 14 species living here are also listed in the Red Book. In autumn and winter flocks of flamingos gather at Flamingo Lake. Entrance costs 2 manats and tours are available in the park. This is a quiet oasis which is well worth the approximately one-hour drive from Baku.

Zagatala Reserve

Formed in 1929, the Zagatala Reserve is located on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountain range and covers an area of 25,200 hectares. On its territory are over 800 species of flora including chestnut, walnut, hazelnut, oak, beech, hornbeam, elm and other valuable species of tree. The reserve is also home to 37 species of mammal (deer, wild boar, brown bears, martens, badgers, wild cats, lynx), eight species of amphibian, 12 species of reptile and 104 species of bird. 

Philharmonic Garden

This green oasis just outside the medieval walls of Baku's Old City is actually the oldest park in Baku and is still often referred to by locals by its old name of Governor's Garden. Its origins date back to the 1830s when it began as a small area of fruit trees which gradually expanded with ever more exotic plants and trees until by the end of the century it had developed into a fully fledged city park. Today it's still one of the most pleasant spots in the city to go for a walk.

History

Azerbaijan possesses a rich history of statehood which extends over a period of approximately 5,000 years. The first state organizations here first appeared at the end of the 4th millennium and the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. Due to its advantageous geographical location and favorable climate, Azerbaijan has from ancient times attracted great interest from various empires and states. In the period from the 3rd century to the 7th century AD, Azerbaijan was occupied first by the Iranian Sassanid Empire, and then by the Arab Caliphate. Both empires relocated a large population with Iranian and Arab origins to the country. However, it was the Caliphate and Islam, which they practiced that played a key role in the history of the formation of the peoples and the state of Azerbaijan. It was with the adoption of the Islamic religion that the history of Azerbaijan began to undergo radical change. Islam gave a strong impulse to the formation of a unified nation, language, customs, etc.

Sheki Khan's Palace

A unique architectural monument of the khanate, the Sheki Khans' Palace was built in 1762 by Huseyn khan and sits shaded by huge chinar trees within the khan's fortress at the top of this charming Silk Road city. The palace windows are stunning examples of the ancient art of 'shebeke' – wooden lattices filled with stained glass and put together without glue or nails! After visiting the palace you can also visit the nearby shebeke workshop to see how intricately these vibrant lattices are formed.

Gobustan

The Gobustan Preserve, under an hour's drive from Baku (60 km) in eastern Azerbaijan, is home to over 6,000 ancient petroglyphs, the oldest of which are thought to date back some 40,000 years. Scenes depict people, animals, dancing and hunting rituals, battle scenes and camel caravans, and form an unparalleled insight into life in this region in pre-historic times. Here you can also discover the 'gaval dash' musical stone that gives off a tambourine sound when tapped rhythmically with smaller stones, as well as an inscription left by a Roman legion in the 1st century AD. All of this and more is neatly unravelled and explained at the excellent on-site museum. 

Icheri Sheher

In ancient times, Baku was one of the most densely populated cities not only in the Southern Caucasus, but in the whole of the Middle East! Icherisheher – the old town at the heart of the city – now acts as something of an open-air museum, preserving ancient history, cultural heritage and architecture to present day. Centuries ago, crowded market squares, streets and large estates emerged in Icherisheher; the Old City’s Maiden Tower and the Palace of Shirvanshahs are even included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Icherisheher is a home to a wide variety of handicrafts, such as pottery, metal and glassware.

Khudaferin Bridges

Khudaferin Bridge was built in 1027 by Fazl, son of Muhammad, the ruler of Shaddads (Fazl ibn Muhammad) on the River Araz. The bridge has traces of the Azerbaijani school of architecture. During the march of Agha Mohammed Shah Gajar to Azerbaijan a part of it was destroyed and later restored. Part of the bridge, built on natural rocks, has been preserved until today. The second Khudaferin bridge consisted of 11 sections and was built in the 13th century during the Ilkhanids. 

Yanardag

Azerbaijan has been historically known as the Land of Fire because of its rich oil and gas resources, and the natural fires that blazed for millenia on the Absheron Peninsula greatly influenced the beliefs and traditions of the local people. You can still see an example of this natural phenomenon 25 kilometres from Baku, at a place known as Yanardagh (which translates as 'Burning Mountain'), located in the village of Mahammadli. The natural subterranean gas that seeps up to the surface is constantly ablaze, giving this mountain its famous burning look. To protect Yanardagh and attract tourists here, this area was declared a historical, cultural and natural reserve in 2007. 

Maiden Tower

The exact date of construction of the Maiden Tower is unknown. In the 12th century the Maiden Tower became part of the defensive system of Baku and was the main stronghold of the Baku fortress - one of the most powerful fortresses of the Shirvanshahs. But later studies of the Maiden Tower completely refuted all previous assumptions about its defensive purpose. In the XVIII-XIX centuries, the Maiden Tower was used as a beacon. On the facade of the tower from the entrance side there is a stone with an inscription in Kufic handwriting which  says: «The Tower of Masud, the son of Dawood.» Since 2010, with the aim of popularizing the Maiden Tower, the International Festival of Art «The Maiden’s Tower» is held, in which artists from various countries adorn the tower with mock-ups.

Nizami Ganjevi Mausoleum

The first mausoleum at Nizami's tomb was built in the 13th-14th centuries. In 1947 a new mausoleum was built and the current building dates back to 1991. Near the mausoleum is a sculpture depicting the great poet surrounded by the characters of his works and an artificial lake and five fountains symbolize the five major poems of Nizami, known as the 'Khamsa'. Nizami Ganjavi is a world famous Azerbaijani poet and thinker who lived and created in 12th-13th centuries and whose knowledge extended far beyond literature to medicine, theology, philosophy, music, arts and astronomy.

Ateshgah

The Ateshgah fire-worshipping temple, located on the Absheron Peninsula on the outskirts of Surakhani village, 30 km from the centre of Baku, was a shrine at different times for Zoroastrians, Hindus and Sikhs. The current buildings at the temple complex date back to the 17th century and consist of a pentagonal complex with an open courtyard in the middle of which is a temple altar that served as a place of pilgrimage for Indian fire-worshippers. Currently the complex functions as a well-designed museum and is often combined with a trip to nearby Yanardagh, the Burning Mountain, to discover more of Azerbaijan's fire legacy.

Shirvanshah's Palace

The palace was the former residence of the rulers of the Shirvanshahs. It is a complex where, in addition to the palace itself, can also be found a courtyard of the Diwankhana, the courthouse,  the Shirvanshahs’ burial vault, the palace mosque of 1441 with its  minaret, the bathhouse and the mausoleum of the court scholar,  Sayid Yahya Bakuvi. The palace complex was built in the period from the XIII to the XVI century. On the palace itself, no inscriptions have survived. Therefore, the time of its construction is determined by the dates on the inscriptions on various architectural monuments, which relate to the palace complex. In 1964, the palace complex was declared a museum-preserve. 

Food & Drink

The fame of rich Azerbaijani cuisine has probably gone around the world and back several times. It is most likely that you won’t have enough time to taste the whole variety of national dishes available, but nevertheless, this section will help you easily choose an appropriate style and venue to suit your taste. It should be noted that the capital will not only let you taste local dishes, but also dishes of other nationalities and countries. International franchises, authentic cafés, luxurious restaurants, open-air playgrounds, cozy wine bars and noisy pubs, along with other exciting locations will suit anyone who is ready to experience local delights, by getting to know local people through their sumptuous cuisine.Known as one of the cradles of world wine-making, Azerbaijan is likely to be a revelation for wine connoisseurs. 

Azerbaijan Pilaf

Plov, or Pilaf, is a traditional food in Azerbaijan as well as other places in Asia and Eastern Europe. Azerbaijani pilaf uses saffron-flavoured rice cooked with aromatic herbs, fried meat and vegetables. Different restaurants have their own styles, meaning you won’t get the same taste twice. Most restaurants serve Plov. Consider sampling it in Baku.

Dushbara

Dushbara is a traditional Azerbaijani dish consisting of meat-filled dumplings cooked in a flavorful lamb broth. According to local customs, every woman in the country needs to know how to make the dumplings as small as possible, so that at least ten of them can fit in a tablespoon. The dough for these tiny dumplings is made with flour, eggs, salt, and water. The broth is typically enriched with saffron, while the filling is made with ingredients such as ground lamb, onions, salt, and pepper.

Bozbash

Bozbash is like a bucket of vitamins served in a single meal, as it is loaded with vegetables and herbs. The Azerbaijani dish in which these ingredients are served is inseparably linked to a mutton broth. The cooking process to make bozbash starts with putting two or three mutton chops into boiling water, along with yellow peas, and cooking them for about two hours. Peeled and sliced potatoes and fried tomato mash are added into the mutton broth before the pot is closed tightly for the final stages of cooking. Patience for another half an hour is rewarded with a unique hot and delicious soup that gets served with dried mint or chopped coriander.

Shah Plov

A dish worthy of a king - or perhaps simply the main course of a wedding ceremony - shah pilaf (translated as crown pilaf) is a traditional Azerbaijani meal infused with a medley of local aromas. It goes through several stages of preparation before reaching its distinctive final shape.

Lulya Kebab

This is a favorite of Azerbaijan cuisine, having similarities to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Various kinds of seasoned meat and vegetables are skewered and barbequed. If you go for a meal with a local, more likely than not, you’ll have a kebab.
Lyulya Kebab is a particular type of kebab that consists of mouth-watering barbequed minced lamb on skewers.

Azerbaijan Pahlava

Pakhlava, also called Baklava, originates in the Middle East. The multi-layered sweet pastry stuffed with nuts and flooded with syrup makes a scrumptious treat. Locals eat Pakhlava during Novruz, the Iranian New Year in March, to celebrate the coming of spring.

Kufta 

Kufta, or meatball, is prepared in all regions of Azerbaijan and cooked with lots of mint mixed into the ground beef – the core ingredient for making kufta – as well as rice, salt, and ground black pepper. Rolled and shaped into circles within the palm of one’s hand, the meatballs are boiled in a clear broth along with peas and herbs. After 30-35 minutes of cooking, kufta is ready to be served. The strained saffron sauce is an optional dressing to add some additional flavor. 

Qutab (Kutab)

Qutab is a savory crepe -  Azerbaijan Traditional food. The only qualifier to this dish is that the crepe must be filled with herbs. After that, creativity is welcome! Try different meats, cheeses, herbs, or spreads and discover your favorite Qutab combination.

Azerbaijan Dolma

Minced lamb meat and rice infused with herbs and spices wrapped in either cabbage or vine leaves make Azeri Dolma. This type of Azeri food has more than 25 varieties depending on the region and the season. Dolma uses vine leaves in the winter and spring, eggplants and peppers during the summer and cabbage leaves in autumn.

Azerbaijan Halva

If you have travelled around Eastern Europe and the Middle East, you’ve probably tasted halva. Azerbaijan’s version is different and is produced only in the mountainous region of Sheki. Few people know the secret recipe for this sugary confectionery, making it somewhat unique to the area.

Piti

Piti is a traditional and delicious dish from the town of Sheki, in Azerbaijan.

It's a mix of lamb meat, cooked with chick peas, chestnuts and fat. Everything is cooked in a ceramic pot. Lamb meat is the base of many meals, in Azerbaijani cuisine. It can be cooked in a variety of ways and every province or region has its own recipe.

Piti is a specialty of Sheki, an ancient city on the Silk Route, in Azerbaijan. It comprises ingredients such as lamb, saffron and local spices.

Our Most Popular Indoor & Outdoor Attractions

Tufandag Ski Resort

Tufandag Mountains Resort is 4 km from the city of Gabala – the ancient capital of Caucasian Albania. The distance from the international airport of Gabala is 20 km, and it's 220 km from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Tufandag is well equipped and can accommodate up to 3,000 people at a time. It has restaurants, cafes, bars, a ski school for adults and children, ski equipment rental and a repair service operates on the territory of the complex.

Dushbara

Dushbara is a traditional Azerbaijani dish consisting of meat-filled dumplings cooked in a flavorful lamb broth. According to local customs, every woman in the country needs to know how to make the dumplings as small as possible, so that at least ten of them can fit in a tablespoon. The dough for these tiny dumplings is made with flour, eggs, salt, and water. The broth is typically enriched with saffron, while the filling is made with ingredients such as ground lamb, onions, salt, and pepper.

Bozbash

Bozbash is like a bucket of vitamins served in a single meal, as it is loaded with vegetables and herbs. The Azerbaijani dish in which these ingredients are served is inseparably linked to a mutton broth. The cooking process to make bozbash starts with putting two or three mutton chops into boiling water, along with yellow peas, and cooking them for about two hours. Peeled and sliced potatoes and fried tomato mash are added into the mutton broth before the pot is closed tightly for the final stages of cooking. Patience for another half an hour is rewarded with a unique hot and delicious soup that gets served with dried mint or chopped coriander.

Children Snow Sledging

If you are over 4 years of age, energetic and thirsty for fun, sledging is perfect for you! Hold onto the
sledge tightly and have fun in the children’s area. Adults can recall their childhood while watching their
children sledding.

Azerbaijan Pahlava

Pakhlava, also called Baklava, originates in the Middle East. The multi-layered sweet pastry stuffed with nuts and flooded with syrup makes a scrumptious treat. Locals eat Pakhlava during Novruz, the Iranian New Year in March, to celebrate the coming of spring.

Kufta 

Kufta, or meatball, is prepared in all regions of Azerbaijan and cooked with lots of mint mixed into the ground beef – the core ingredient for making kufta – as well as rice, salt, and ground black pepper. Rolled and shaped into circles within the palm of one’s hand, the meatballs are boiled in a clear broth along with peas and herbs. After 30-35 minutes of cooking, kufta is ready to be served. The strained saffron sauce is an optional dressing to add some additional flavor. 

Shahdag 

Spa & Wellness

The essential relaxing element of any stay at Shahdag Mountain Resort is indulging its spa treatment. The Ovdan Spa at Shahdag Hotel & Spa is one of the best spa services in the region. Enter the purifying hammam, let the dry heat of the sauna reinvigorate you, or simply take a swim in the pool. For a more exclusive experience, the Wellness Area counts an amazing VIP Spa Suites.

Azerbaijan Halva

If you have travelled around Eastern Europe and the Middle East, you’ve probably tasted halva. Azerbaijan’s version is different and is produced only in the mountainous region of Sheki. Few people know the secret recipe for this sugary confectionery, making it somewhat unique to the area.

Piti

Piti is a traditional and delicious dish from the town of Sheki, in Azerbaijan.

It's a mix of lamb meat, cooked with chick peas, chestnuts and fat. Everything is cooked in a ceramic pot. Lamb meat is the base of many meals, in Azerbaijani cuisine. It can be cooked in a variety of ways and every province or region has its own recipe.

Piti is a specialty of Sheki, an ancient city on the Silk Route, in Azerbaijan. It comprises ingredients such as lamb, saffron and local spices.

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