Azerbaijan is an old coutry, which is situated on the acient Silk Way between Asia and Europe.
Azerbaijan its name, which is thought by some researchers to mean the 'Land of Fire' and 'Land of Wind'.
And you may discover this magical place for yourself in a short time.
1 DAY- Baku
Arrive in Baku and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax.
2 DAY- Old City and Highland park
Old city or Inner city. You will see the highlights of Old City, including the Shirvanshakhs' Palace, Maiden's Tower, Juma Mosque, antiques and carpet shops. Have lunch. Proceed with sightseeing tour across the city. Pay a visit to Martyr's Alley, located on the higher slopes of the city's west-end, this is the best place for panorama viewing of the city. After that we will have a walk along Baku Boulevard, the second longest one in the Europe. We can get a boat and make 30 minutes trip in the Caspian Sea, the biggets lake of the world. Return to the hotel.
DAY 3- Baku - Absheron Peninsula
Gobustan (-included into the UNESCO`s World Heritage List )- Located in 65 km away from Baku. The monument Gobustan was the settlment of the people of the Middle Stone. There were found more than 6000 human and animal drawings on 750 rocks, and other writings. There were founded 20 shelters under rocks in Gobustan. The monument that has the area of 537 hectares presents us rare evidence about the first human`s life and living, as well as religious faith.
Mud vulcano- Azerbaijan holding the first place in the world for the number of mud volcanoes, always fascinates tourists coming to visit the volcanic eruption. Thus, 350 of nearly 800 mud volcanoes in the world, are located in Azerbaijan. Sometimes the flame height over volcanoes reaches 1,000 meters. The mud volcano erupted in Azerbaijan in 2004 fell into the Guinness Book as the world’s largest mud volcano.
DAY 3- Baku - Absheron Peninsula
Our first stop is Yanardagh, though it is rather just a hillside than a mount. The word "Yanar" in Azeri language means "burning", and "Dagh" - "mountain". And this is real a burning mountain - not metaphorically, but literally. Once in Absheron it had been a lot of places where natural gas coming out from the earth to the surface ignited spontaneously, but with the start of mass extraction of oil and gas in Absheron these places started to disappear. At present, it is the only place of this unique natural phenomenon - the output of natural gas to the surface.
Our next stop is Ateshgah - the Fire Worshippers' Temple located in the village of Surakhany. It was built on land where natural gas burned eternally by Zoroastrian believers who travelled from the province of Multan in India to worship.
Our tour will end with a photostop at Heydar Aliyev Center - a cultural center that includes the Auditorium (convention center), a museum, exhibition halls, administrative offices. The project center has been designed by renowned British architect Zaha Hadid.
DAY 4- Shemakha-Basgal-Lahij Tour
We start the way to Lahij village. On our way through Shemakha we will stop to check Juma mosque (8 century) and Seven Domes mausoleum both sites located in Shemahka.
The ancient town of Shemakha is located at the foothills of the Big Caucasus Mountains Chain. The general elevation of Shemakha is 800 meters over the sea level. One of the most ancient oriental trading cities, it claims to be the city of Kmakhia mentioned by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolomy in his book 'Geography'.
Then final leg of the journey to Ismayilli, which is one of the most beautiful corners of Azerbaijan lying at the foot of the Great Caucasian Mountains - the land of rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Three climatic zones are represented at the same time in this region, ranging from snowy mountains to hot planes.
In the Basgal Village, there is "Kalagai Silk Center" where all the kalagai traditions have been completely restored. Thus, the most valuable kalagais, which contain 6 or 7 colors, are still produced in Basgal. The Center has a unique interactive "Kalagai" museum. Visitors can not only learn about the history and traditions of kalagai, but to watch live the process of making kalagai and even participate in it.
The itinerary crosses Lahij village famous for its skilful craftsmen. Lahij is a historical and architectural reserve with no hint of modern times. Village population consist of Persian-speaking people. Village is located at the height of 1211 m, on the left bank of the river Girdimanchay.
Day 5- Gabala-Sheki-Kish
Gabala is situated within 225 km from Baku and was built 1800 years ago, out of which 600 it had served as the capital of Caucasian Albania. Located in an area of tall mountains and deep canyons, near the Garachay and Gochalanchay rivers, Gabala is notorious for the ruins of an ancient walled city (Chukur Gabala), dating back to the 4th century BC. Situated south of Mirzabaili, 20km from the modern town, although with an area of 25 hectares the ruins of Chukur Gabala were only discovered in 1959. Since then a lot of archaeological work has been done, uncovering a wide area of urban settlement and artefacts evidencing trade links with Europe, Asia and the middle east. You can still see the remains of five watchtowers and the walls between them; burial grounds; gates; furnaces; residences; etc.
Our program also includes visit to the village of Nij, not far from Gabala, known for a unique architectural monument of the Caucasian Albania - Udin Temple. The Udins are absolutely special ethnic group who are considered descendants of Alabanians (only 10,000 of them left). They have managed to preserve their traditions, language, material and spiritual culture up to now. Just recently the temple has been restored and today it is open for church-goers of udin Christian community and tourists wishing to witness the most ancient landmark of Azerbaijan . The restored temple was constructed in the17th - 18th centuries on the site of an ancient Albanian church which had been built at will Saint Eliseus - the Christian ecclesiast and educator honored in the Caucasian Albania. The present day temple has been named after him.
After checking Gabala landmarks we will be go to ancient Sheki. Sheki is one of the most famous and ancient places of Azerbaijan dates back 2500 years. City is situated 700m above sea level like an amphitheatre surrounded by mountains and forests of oak trees this ancient city was long famed as a silk centre and an important stop on the Great Silk Route. Sheki is long famed as a silk centre and an important stop on the Silk Road. Sheki still has the site of a huge factory that was once the Soviet Union's largest silk plant.
The tour will be started from visiting 18th century Sheki Khan's Palace- Khan's summer palace with magnificent frescos (one 24 m long) and exquisite stained glass work (northern part of the city). Sheki History museum with artifacts from several periods, but notorious for pieces relating to silk manufacturing and trade.
On this day we will visit also sweet shops of Sheki, a lot of souvenir shops and workshops where make exquisite stained glass work named Shabaka and workshop of national musical instruments.
Also we will visit the Albanian church located in nearby Kish village. Legend say that church was built in 78 AD, but the researchers place it a few centuries later.
Upon our return to the hotel and having a local style dinner we will have a free time with an opportunity to enjoy a scenic view of Caucasus mountains.
Day 6- Qax (Gakh)
After breakfast we will leave Sheki for the tour in surrounding areas. Our first stopover will be in the Qax region where we will visit village Qum and see ruins of 5th century church and 19th century mosque. In the center of Qax we will see Georgian Orthodox church. Then start way to Ilisu village. Visiting there 18th century Sumug Tower, ruins of 17th tower, ancient mosque, remains of the bridge dating from the 18th century and very beautiful waterfall. After finishing tour in Qax and Ilisu have a lunch in one of the local restaurants with panoramic views over surrounding mountains. After lunch drive back to Sheki and have free time.
Day 7- Mingechaur- Ganja
After breakfast transfer to Ganja through Mingechavir. Mingechaur is located on the Kura River. It is well-known first of all for its water basin which local residents call 'Mingechaur Sea'. It provides nearby areas of the republic with fresh water. Located on the coast of the water basin is the tourist center with a magnificent view on the sandy beach. But it is not only the "sea" that attracts tourists.
Ganja is Azerbaijan's second-largest city. The city is situated on a foot of the Small Caucasus, on the Ganja River, south of the Kura River in a rich agricultural area. It is in a middle of the way between Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, and Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia. There are many ancient historical monuments: mosque of Albanians, Ganja Gates (X-XI c.), Palace "Dar-us-Soltan" (XII c.), towers, medrese, bath-house, Caravansarai, Imam-zade Complex (XVI c.), Juma Mosque (1606). To the south of Ganja between the emerald alpine forests is hidden the azure lake Goy-Gol (Blue Lake). On slope of mountains surrounding the lake there are unique creations of nature: "Stone circus", "Chingil", mystical caves and grottos.
Overnight in the hotel.
Day 8- Transfer
Departure for Baku / or to Azeri-Georgian border point at Red Bridge depending on your further travel plans