My next trip brought me back to the Caucasus, after being in Georgia and Abkhazia (still part of Georgia) 3 years back, it was time to visit the region again by going to the land of Fire aka Azerbaijan. It was a short trip this time to its capital Baku which in Azeri language means the city of winds cause there is wind everyday, although it’s pretty alright for me coming from Belgium where it’s wind and rain for most of the year.
Baku is laying at the Caspian sea, no wonder there is wind but it’s good cause it can be pretty hot out here. 24 degrees Celsius in October not bad at all and the sun was more than welcome for me.
Why is it called the land of fire ?
Because the people who used to live here before the Islam and Soviet times where Zoroastrians, Zoroastrianism was a type of religion that had influences from the old Persian empire and the ancient Indian Hindu time. Zoroastrians were worshipping fire and near Baku I visited their fire temple of Atashgah.
What did I do in Baku ?
I visited the old town as well as the modern part of the city with the Flame Towers and the Heydar Aliyev Center by architect Zaha Hadid.
Another modern building near the Caspian Sea is the Carpet museum.
In the old town I visited mosques, caravanserai, Maiden Tower from which you have a view over the city of Baku, The palace of Shirvanshahs and more.
Places visited outside Baku but near the capital on a half day trip were : Atashgah, burning mountain Yanartag and the Ramana Castle.
The tour companies in Baku also offer day trips to Qobustan park with its petroglyphs and the mud volcanos. I didn’t do the last one since I have seen petroglyphs in Kyrgyzstan and mud volcanos in Yellowstone or something very similar to it.
I personally was not interested in stones and mud, but if it’s your thing then go and book this tour when you are in Baku
Outside Baku, Azerbaijan is different , landscape, roads , houses it all changes and it seems there is a big gap between those who live their lives in the great capital city and those who live in the countryside.
I saw oil fields and the impact the black gold has on the environment and found this more interesting to see all these oil derricks going up and down pumping it up out of the oil wells, then a park with petroglyphs on stones.