Azerbaijan: Eastern tale on the European way

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Main facts:

  • Capital city: Baku

  • Language(s): Azerbaijani

  • Currency: Azerbaijani manat, AZN

  • Population: 9,574,000

  • Timezone: UTC+4

  • Main religion: Islam

  • Standard of living (subjectively): medium

Top 10 interesting places and activities:

Approximate costs (person/day):

~€ 5-20

~€ 0,5-3

~€ 5-10

~€ 2-6

Sights map of Azerbaijan

Travel around Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a country with a very ancient and eventful history. Caucasian tribes of Albanians lived here BC and left a lot of artifacts that are now stored in the National Museum in Baku. In the Middle Ages, the local territory was controlled by the Arab Khalifat, which brought Islam to these lands and persisted until the beginning of the 11th century, when the weakening of the khalifat led to a national uprising and the creation of a new state under the rule of the Shirvanshah dynasty. One of the palaces, founded by the descendants of this dynasty, has been preserved to this day in the center of the Old City in Baku and receives tourists as a historical and architectural heritage.

At the beginning of the 13th century, the region was conquered by the Mongols, who retained their power over the local population until the collapse of the empire. In the 16th century, attempts to create a single state on the territory of the Caucasus turned out to be in vain because of the warlike Turks (Ottomans), who had been tormenting local tribes for 400 years. At the end of the 18th century, Russian troops invaded here during the war with Turkey, seizing the entire territory of modern Azerbaijan and controlling it until the collapse of the Russian Empire. In 1918, after the formation of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan as independent republics, separate territories of Azerbaijan (including Nagorno-Karabakh) inhabited by Armenians refused to submit to the power of the new country, which resulted in bloody battles that continued until the collapse of USSR, and then - during the armed conflict with Armenia - until 1994. This conflict has not been resolved to this day, by the way, there is no escalation of the conflict.

Today, Azerbaijan is a prosperous state of Western Asia, whose main income comes from oil deposits in the Caspian Sea and the nearby coast. Thanks to the strong policies of President Heydar Aliyev, the country ended military conflicts with Armenia and came to stable development and well-being. The current president, Ilham Aliyev, is the son and successor of his father who continues the policy of turning the country into a prosperous state, maintaining at the highest level the cult of patriotism and national pride in the personification of his father.

Hospitable and kind people live in Azerbaijan, ready to share personal stories about life in the country. Despite the traditional for eastern countries, active trading and noisy temper, Azerbaijanis are characterized by restraint and a penchant for compromise. There are many policemen who control the calm order of life and are ready to help. By the way, most of the population (mostly young) speak English well, so that the language barrier does not arise here.

Want to see the best sights of Azerbaijan? Book our author tour!

If you are going to travel around the country (and I strongly recommend it) - get out to the ancient cities of Shaki and Ganja. The first is famous for the incredible beauty of the Shaki Khans Palace listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the second, being the second largest city in the country, is not inferior to Baku in beauty and national traits. The largest park and museum in the country is located here - a tribute to national leader Heydar Aliyev! It is best to travel around the country by train: thanks to government subsidies, their cost is extremely low (8 hours on the road ~ 5 EUR) and a convenient schedule allows you to save a lot on housing. Consider that the local population outside the capital does not live very richly, and therefore offers high prices for taxis or accommodation. Do not hesitate to bargain or look for more accommodating people, the price can quickly fall by 2-3 times!