Where is Azerbaijan On the Map?

Monday, June 24, 2019

Where is Azerbaijan on the map?

It's important to know where is Azerbaijan when you plan a journey. That's because Azerbaijan is an intense cultural mix. It's also important because Azerbaijan has a lot of different climate zones, from mountains to desert.

The land where is Azerbaijan may be both European and Asian. Situated between Europe and Asia, near the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is home for Muslim people. Over 95% of Azerbaijanis declare themselves Muslim. 

They also have Turkish, Iranian, and Russian influences. As a result, Azerbaijani language is a Turkic language, while their modern habits are strongly influenced by the Russians (they drink vodka although they are Muslims). After a long period of Soviet domination, Azerbaijan is a European country with modern views and old traditions.

There are plenty of reasons to find out where is Azerbaijan. Starting with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Persian architecture, and finishing with amazing landscapes and unique scenery, Azerbaijan may be a very interesting holiday destination. Tourism in Azerbaijan has registered a considerable increase in the last years, and the country is working to develop new ways of attracting tourists.

If you want to learn more about the countries in this region, make sure to check out our TurkeyArmenia, and Georgia guides!

Best Time to Visit Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is perfect to visit all year-round.
Azerbaijan is perfect to visit all year-round.

If you plan to visit Azerbaijan, you should know that this country has nine climate zones. So, there is no best time to visit, but the best time to enjoy yourself. And this depends on what you plan to do. 

For example, if you are heading to the ski resorts in the Caucasus Mountains, then winter months are what you need. With plenty of snow, sunny and cold days, and exquisite landscape, ski resorts like Tufandag and Shahdag are waiting for you during your visit in Azerbaijan. 

Spring months are perfect for trekking and traveling around the country. If you love seaside holidays, visit the Caspian Sea resorts. Summer can be scorching here, with temperatures up to 40 °C, so relaxing on Azerbaijan beaches is exactly what you are looking for.

Persian influences are all over the Caucasus region. The Persian New Year is celebrated at the end of March in this area. Called Novruz Bayram, this festival welcomes spring with parties, traditional food, and drinks. This is a unique event, a perfect opportunity to get to know local culture and traditions. 

Novruz Bayram is not the only Azerbaijani festival.

Here is a short list of festivals in Azerbaijan you can put on your agenda:

Gurban Bayram

Gurban Bayram, the Festival of Sacrifice.

Image Courtesy of  TDH

Also called the Festival of Sacrifice, Gurban Bayram is a Muslim holiday celebrated all over the world. It is dedicated to Abraham, who agreed to sacrifice his son as a sign of obedience to God. 

On Gurban Bayram people wear their best clothes and traditionally sacrifice their best animal. Large processions take place, and prayers are chanted. 

The date of the festival is different each year (in 2019 it will be on August 11th).

Ramazan Bayram

A delicious Ramadan feast.

Image Courtesy of  Tiga

The biggest Muslim holiday, Ramazan Bayram is celebrated with feasts and prayers. People share gifts and sweets. It is a beautiful moment to be in Azerbaijan, to learn and understand their religion and culture.

International Women Day

International Women Day in Azerbaijan.

Image Courtesy of United Nations Blog

Celebrated internationally on March 8th, International Women Day is an occasion to focus on women issues. Movies, events and conferences take place in Azerbaijan.

Victory Day

Victory Day is still celebrated in Azerbaijan.

Like many of the former Soviet countries, Azerbaijan also celebrates Victory Day. It was the day when Soviets defeated Germany in the Second World War.

Victory Day is celebrated every year on May 9th.

Republic Day

Republic Day in Azerbaijan is celebrated on May 28th.

Celebrated on May 28th, Republic Day is the day when Azerbaijan became the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918.

Day of National Salvation of Azerbaijani People

National Salvation Day is dedicated to Heydar Aliyev.

Image Courtesy of Office Holidays

This day is dedicated to Heydar Aliyev, who on June 15th, 1993 was elected Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijani Republic. His election was the start of the economic development of the country. 

This day is a public holiday in Azerbaijan, and it is celebrated with fireworks, traditional music and dances, and popular games. It is an opportunity to discover modern Azerbaijan and its history.

How to Get Around Azerbaijan

Many roads in Azerbaijan are still under development.
Many roads in Azerbaijan are still under development.

After you find out where is Azerbaijan, get your Azerbaijan visa and start planning your journey. First thing you need to do is book a flight. Baku Airport, the gate to Azerbaijan, is considered among the most beautiful airports in the world. Millions of people come here every year using international flights but also using internal routes. 

If you want to drive around the country, you should know that several new highways are under construction. Azerbaijan development is felt on the roads too. More and more people use cars, which can lead to heavy traffic, especially in the cities. For a trip to the mountains, a 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. Also, in the countryside, you should be careful because not all the drivers follow the rules.

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, has metro, buses, and taxis. Public transport in Azerbaijan is cheap and safe but can be crowded. Taxis can also be used for trips outside the city. Negotiate the fare before the trip.

What to Do in Azerbaijan

What to do in Azerbaijan? Luckily, there are a lot of interesting things to see and experience during your stay!
What to do in Azerbaijan? Luckily, there are a lot of interesting things to see and experience during your stay!

There are many exciting places to see in Azerbaijan, but Baku is probably what Azerbaijan is known for the most. The capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, is a beautiful city with coastline along the Caspian Sea. It is famous for its old medieval town, a true collection of landmarks. 

The most iconic of them is Maiden Tower, a XIIth century building full of mysteries and legends. Some say it is a pre-Islamic construction, maybe a temple of Zoroastrians. Since 2001, Maiden Tower is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Historical Monuments. 

To be sure you don't miss important parts of Baku's history, follow this list of places to visit:

Palace of the Shirvanshahs

The magnificent palace of Shirvanshahs.

Built in the XVth century, the palace is also a UNESCO World Heritage Historical Monument. It is situated in Baku Old City and is a complex of buildings: the main palace, a mosque, a mausoleum, a reservoir, and a former bathhouse, gates, and portals.

Baku Ateshgah

Baku Ateshgah or the Fire Temple of Baku.

Also called the Fire Temple of Baku, this temple is situated in Surakhani Town, a suburb of Baku. It looks like a castle but was used as a Hindi, Sikh, and Zoroastrian worship place. 

Built in the XVIIth century, it was a pilgrimage place for many years. Today it is a museum. Baku Ateshgah is a national historical and architectural reserve and was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bibi-Heybat Mosque

The reconstruction of the Bibi-Heybat Mosque can still make your jaw drop.

The mosque was built in the XIIIth century but completely destroyed in 1936. Today you can see a reconstruction, but this place is the spiritual center of the Muslims from this part of the world. It is also called "the mosque of Fatima", as Alexander Dumas named it in 1840.

National Museum of History 

National Museum of History will teach you everything you need to know about history of Azerbaijan.

Hosted by a XIXth century building, this museum will teach you everything you need to know about the history of Azerbaijan. It is the largest museum in the country, but also a beautiful building, with oriental and occidental features.

Fountains Square in Baku amazes with its light show at night.

But not all you can see or do in Baku is related to history. Take, for example, the Fountains Square, built during the Soviet regime in Baku. In the evening, the fountains offer a show of lights. The area is full of restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and cafes.  

Baku Museum of Modern Art is an example of the developing modern culture of Azerbaijan.

Baku Museum of Modern Art is another example of the way Azerbaijan develop its cultural life. Opened in 2009, the museum is an eco-cultural zone and features projects in collaboration with other cultural spaces from all over the world.

Novkhany Beach in Baku.

If sightseeing offers you cultural and historical adventures, Baku beaches offer relaxation and a glass of tea on the Caspian Sea shore. You can find wild beaches with free entrance (like Novkhany and Mardakan) or luxury resorts (like Nardaran). The Caspian Sea generously offers smooth water and soft sand on all beaches.    

A well-preserved Palace of Shaki Khans.

Azerbaijan has other regions and cities which deserve a visit. Take, for example, Shaki and its magnificent palace built in the XVIIIth century. The Palace of Shaki Khans is well preserved and in a continuous restoration process. Its interior and exterior decorations are delightful. The palace also has fountains, stained-glass windows, decorative tiles, and mosaic.

Gobustan National Park is famous for its mud volcanoes.

Another good example is the Gobustan National Park. Situated not far from Baku, Gobustan National Park is famous for its mud volcanoes, ancient carvings, and gas-stones. It is one of the few examples of prehistoric life in the Caucasus Mountains. Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape has dated 40,000 years ago and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This has also a geological value. Some say that almost half of the world's mud volcanoes are here. An incredible surreal landscape is enough reason for a trip to the Gobustan region.

The Mount Shahdagh region can fill your entire journey.

For winter sports and trekking enthusiasts, Mount Shahdagh is the best offer Azerbaijan has. With an altitude of 4,243 meters, fancy ski resorts, and prehistoric caves, this region can fill an entire journey. It is so popular that gourmet festivals are organized here, featuring Italian, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisines.

What to Eat in Azerbaijan

Cuisine of Azerbaijan is similar to the food of neighboring countries.
Cuisine of Azerbaijan is similar to the food of neighboring countries.

Azerbaijan cuisine is a must if you are tempted by international cuisine. In countries where food is a profound part of traditions and culture, it's always a good idea to look for local products and dishes. Food can be even a religious experience, as happens in countries where bread is a holy food.

Add the fact that Azerbaijan has nine climate zones and you'll have a rich and diverse food culture.

Here are some of the Azerbaijan cuisine's stars:

Soups

They can be cold or hot. It's hard to choose, because they are so many of them:

Piti
Piti is a mutton soup with vegetables, fat, and spices.
Piti is a mutton soup with vegetables, fat, and spices.
Kufta-bozbash
Kufta-bozbash is a soup from mutton bones with vegetables and meatballs (also mutton).
Kufta-bozbash is a soup from mutton bones with vegetables and meatballs (also mutton).

Dyushbara

Dyushbara is a traditional soup with dumplings.
Dyushbara is a traditional soup with dumplings.

Dovga

Dovga is a soup made of yogurt.
Dovga is a soup made of yogurt.

Khamrashi

Khamrashi is a soup with homemade noodles.
Khamrashi is a soup with homemade noodles.

Image Courtesy of  Bears Kitchen

Lyulya Kebab

Lyulya Kebab is a lamb kebab cooked on skewers. It's not the only kebab you can find in Azerbaijan, but it is the best one.
Lyulya Kebab is a lamb kebab cooked on skewers. It's not the only kebab you can find in Azerbaijan, but it is the best one.

Dolma

Dolma is lamb and rice wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves.
Dolma is lamb and rice wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves.

Baliq

Baliq is grilled fish on a skewer, served with sour plum sauce.
Baliq is grilled fish on a skewer, served with sour plum sauce.

Qutab

Qutab is a a flat bread or a pancake filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables.
Qutab is a a flat bread or a pancake filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables.

Lavangi

Lavangi is a chicken stuffed with onions, walnuts, and dried fruits.
Lavangi is a chicken stuffed with onions, walnuts, and dried fruits.

Image Courtesy of The Star

Plov

Plov is a popular rice dish served with meat.
Plov is a popular rice dish served with meat.

Shekerbura

Shekerbura is a sweet pastry filled with nuts, served for Novruz. It is a dessert prepared in group for a special occasion.
Shekerbura is a sweet pastry filled with nuts, served for Novruz. It is a dessert prepared in group for a special occasion.

Pakhlava

Pakhlava is a special dessert for Novruz, with many recipes and secrets. They all have a thin dough, a lot of nuts, and a sugar syrup. Pakhlava can also have honey and spices.
Pakhlava is a special dessert for Novruz, with many recipes and secrets. They all have a thin dough, a lot of nuts, and a sugar syrup. Pakhlava can also have honey and spices.

Shor Gogal

Shor Gogal is a pastry filled with spices (like pepper, cumin, and anise).
Shor Gogal is a pastry filled with spices (like pepper, cumin, and anise).

When it comes to drinks, the long Soviet history made vodka a common thing in Azerbaijan. But not as common as black tea. Black tea can be found in restaurants, cafes, and tea houses. You can have it on the beach, near a pool, or in a ski resort. It's an everyday drink, and if you are not a tea drinker, you should make an exception for this one. 

Sherbet is an Azerbaijani equivalent of ice-cream!

Another popular drink is Sherbet. Made from fruits (berries especially), Sherbet is a cold sweet drink, perfect for a summer day.    

Now You Know Where is Azerbaijan and What To Do There!

Now that you know where is Azerbaijan, would you add it to the list of countries to visit?
Now that you know where is Azerbaijan, would you add it to the list of countries to visit?

Finding where is Azerbaijan might come as a surprise for someone from Western culture. Azerbaijan is complex, diverse, and amazingly engaging. From high, snowy peaks to luxury seaside resorts, from ancient cultures to European and Asian influences, Azerbaijan is a piece of jewelry ready to be discovered

It doesn't seem to follow any rules but its own. Everything is an ethnic mix, from religious traditions to food. If you don't speak their language or Russian, it may be difficult, but an adventure shouldn't be easy. And if you are not looking for an adventure, a tourist’s tour or an all-inclusive resort will help you have an enjoyable experience without lifting a finger. Azerbaijan will soon be on the world's favorite destinations list.

Monica Radulescu a freelance writer for aSabbatical.com
Travelling is a joy. It's a way to become a better and wiser person. Mountain paths and road trips are my favourites.