HEALTH TOURISM

With its rich natural resources ranging from oil deposits to mineral waters and mud volcanoes, some of which are considered a remedy for many diseases, Azerbaijan is well-known as a healing hub of the Caspian and Caucasus region.

Scattered throughout Azerbaijan’s southern zone, encompassing the regions of Masalli, Lankaran and Astara, are a plethora of local healing hot springs, all of which bear the name Istisu, meaning “hot water” in Azerbaijani. Some serve as small sanatoriums lost in local villages offering simple bathing booths to cure aches and pains with the hot mineral-rich water that’s been flowing naturally from underground for hundreds if not thousands of years. Others have been transformed into five-star spa centres offering massages and much more besides the traditional thermal water therapy.

Thermal water therapy in the south

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There are more than 30 deposits of thermal mineral waters with different concentrations, sulphur levels and organic substances in the Caucasus and three of them are located in the charming city of Gabala at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains. The city’s Yengija and Gamarvan thermal springs have been healing locals for centuries and today are the source of balneotherapy treatments at world-class health and wellness resorts in Gabala, a scenic city where you recuperate to a mountainous backdrop. The spectacular Chenot Palace Health Wellness Hotel offers a wide range of innovative treatments including detox and anti-aging programmes as well as cryotherapy.

Gabala thermal springs

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Salt therapies are offered in health resorts all over Azerbaijan, but for the most authentic experience head to Duzdag, 12 kilometres from Nakhchivan city. Duzdag or ‘Salt Mountain’ is a former salt mine whose underground tunnels have been converted into a leading salt therapy centre serviced by a wonderful team of physicians and physiotherapists. The mountain is thought to contain some 130 million tons of pure natural salt, prized for its ability to cure allergies, asthma and pulmonary disorders. For the full experience, soak up the salt and silence while overnighting in one of the centre’s underground caverns.

Duzdag salt therapies

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Naftalan – is a resort town named after a rare type of oil which for centuries has been extracted and used here to cure all sorts of ailments. According to popular legend, the oil’s healing properties were first spotted by a Silk Road merchant who left one of his sickly camels by a pool of oil and later returned to find it fully recovered. Later, the town’s sanatoriums were a big hit with Soviet health seekers suffering from skin, muscle, joint and bone conditions, and following a decline in the 1990s, Naftalan has recently re-emerged as one of Azerbaijan’s leading health tourism destinations. Treatment typically involves taking daily baths of crude oil at one of the town’s many health and wellness centres.

Naftalan crude oil baths

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Baku boasts a series of excellent five-star hotels with soothing spas proposing a phenomenal range of treatments, relaxing therapies and good old-fashioned pampering. These two health and wellness centers also offer fabulous relaxation packages: located in the city center, the Gazelli Wellness Center has a broad selection of services ranging from detox to dermatology, physiotherapy and beauty treatments. On the Caspian coast, meanwhile, is the Sea Breeze Anti-Aging Center, which combines soothing sea views with the best traditional and non-traditional treatments to boost health and longevity. Yoga and fitness classes are also available.

Baku luxury spas

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