6 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Azerbaijan

Jul 22, 2021

The West's perception of the old Silk Road is dominated by images of the Silk Road of yore—China's economic powerhouse of the Middle Ages.

True, China's astonishingly well-preserved and artfully crafted imperial city (complete with golden roofs, golden pagodas, and marble buildings) stands as a window into ancient times. But many travelers nowadays are also making time for the more intimate, unique, and surprisingly grand European-influenced town of Baku, with its perfectly preserved old town, the Baku Tower, and the remnants of its world-class architectural heritage.

Azerbaijan has what other places in the former Soviet Union don't: rich oil, natural gas, and other mineral reserves, which have allowed it to maintain a proud place among nations.

Few people now can leave Azerbaijan without experiencing a small dose of opulence and luxury. But for many, the most appealing aspect of Azerbaijan is its growing appeal as a unique travel destination, with its complex and intriguing history, beauty, and palpable spirit of innovation. Be sure to use this opportunity to visit the capital and highlight the most worthwhile spots with our top attractions in Azerbaijan.

Baku

Baku, the capital and main port of Azerbaijan, is one of the most exciting cities in the ex-Soviet Union. Unlike the rest of the country, it has the feel of a Western city and offers a range of fun and interesting things to do. The city's economy is based on oil and gas, and this also dominates its public life. There is a bustling nightlife and great fun at the clubs, with dancing often the main attraction. On the Baku River, visitors can watch the world's only river-based roller coaster known as the Maiden Tower. If they fancy a different type of thrills, the city offers numerous bungee jump facilities. After the day's activities, the city has a number of upscale places to eat. For a more local experience, there are lots of cafes around the city where you can enjoy a bowl of soup and a hot drink. The city also has a large aquarium, which can be visited by tourists and locals alike.

Juma Mosque

Photo of Juma Mosque, Shamakhi
Juma Mosque, Shamakhi: en.wikipedia.org

Juma Mosque (Juma Bulvar), named after the 12th century Muslim conqueror Alp Salih Ayaz Juma is the largest mosque in Azerbaijan, built in 925 by the Karakhanid emirs of Ghazni. The yard features a triumphal arch and horseshoe arches. The interior contains gold-dipped columns, marble tables, alabaster-mosaic walls, and a large floral carpet. The courtyard hosts a vibrant sound and light show every evening. Highlights of a visit include touring the mosque and seeing the intricate carpets, the 10-meter-high Alp Salih Ayaz Juma; the ornate Juma Kazaly Mosque; the unusual and colourful Masudbeyev Madrasa; the Hashim Madrasa, which contains many of the 10th century's treasures, and other mausoleums; and the tombs of Karakhanid emirs, built in the 12th and 13th centuries. The mosque is set in a large courtyard flanked by a number of small residential mosques.

Shusha

Photo of Shusha
Shusha: en.wikipedia.org

Shusha is a city situated on the banks of the much-photographed Juma River in a vast plain on the periphery of the modern Republic of Azerbaijan, once a major center of the Khanate of Kokand, an old state in the Central Asia region of the Russian Empire. Shusha was known for its highly refined sugar, timber, textiles, and other industries, and to this day still boasts a vibrant population of artisans, farmers, and entrepreneurs. What sets Shusha apart from the rest of Azerbaijan is its dramatic and often beautiful setting. Between the river and the ancient city, lush parklands, orchards, and working farms extend over hundreds of square miles. The Kishlar River, which drains from the Shusha plain to the Syr Darya River, is the most striking feature of this urban oasis. The country is still recovering from a devastating earthquake in 1988, the Tsunami that struck in 2004, and the Russo-Georgian War that began in 2008. These hardships have impacted the state of the roads and transport systems, although it has been a priority of the current regime to rebuild and modernize the infrastructure. There are numerous places of interest in Shusha. In the old town, tour the old Khan's Palace, Chahar Bagh (an old orchard), Zagulcha Bazaar (the old silk market), and try to experience the quiet peace of the groves of walnut trees that grace this part of Azerbaijan.

Gobustan

Photo of Gobustan National Park
Gobustan National Park: en.wikipedia.org

Gobustan, or Gobustan Reserve, lies within the borders of Azerbaijan, on the southern slopes of the Kopet Dag mountains. This part of the Kopet Dag Mountains are the only mountains of Asia with truly magnificent cliffs, towering up to 4,000 meters. Most of the cliffs are covered in lichens, giving them the most fantastic shades of green and red and yellow. This part of the Kopet Dag mountains has been protected by the state since 1963, and was declared as a UNESCO site in 2001. Some of the cliffs in this part of the world were used for such renowned movies as The Hidden Fortress (Kita no kuruma) in 1966 and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Merchant of Four Seasons (Unternehmen der vier Jahreszeiten) in 1976. Some of the mountains in Gobustan include Kalmaga Chai, Chai Ganjali, Daghi Chai, Dal (Stone Wall), Jalali (12km from Gobustan, facing the city of Sumqayit, a kind of Dinaric Sandstone formation in white and red colors), Faranshar, Jushusar, Karada, Lutem Kazad, Sandali Chai, Burtun Kul, Kebriz, Serenidaz, Bahar Chai, etc. The following rivers have their origin in Gobustan: the Verem, Araz, Charasi, Fuzlu, Baikad, Nagus, and Chal'li. Gobustan is also one of the possible candidates for the European Geoparks Network.

Shamakhi

Photo of Shamakhi
Shamakhi: en.wikipedia.org

Shamakhi is one of Asia's oldest and most active riverside cities. It has been in existence for over 3000 years and has survived many major earthquakes and plagues. In the 19th century, during the period of Russian colonization of Azerbaijan, it was the only city that could resist the onslaught of Russian Cossack and Mongolian raids. Shamakhi is one of the oldest cities in the world and many of its original buildings dating from the 8th to the 12th centuries remain. Shamakhi is famous for its use of khokhloma or brightly colored ceramic tiles, which cover most of the city walls, the palaces and tombs of the rich, and, of course, the bazaars. The central square, which attracts shoppers throughout the day, is the famous Buzand fortress. Just outside the city walls are the tombs of Ali ibn Hassan-Ghiya. Many of the buildings and bazaars have been renovated to resemble the 14th and 15th century and this alone has added a unique atmosphere to the town. Shamakhi, located on the shores of the historic Caspian Sea, has an airport and is served by ferries from Baku and Batumi.

Quba

Quba is one of a number of Azerbaijani villages close to the ancient city of Baku and is known for its pretty villages and stunning red tilled land. Along with its neighbors Tovuz and Lankaran, Quba is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is at its most beautiful in spring, when the land is sprouting wildflowers and fields of green are carpeted with wild herbs, scented grasses and flowers. The hills are covered in myrtle and borage and the sunsets over the mountains of the north are magnificent. Quba is also renowned for its wonderful all-seasons subtropical climate. In winter the air is crystal clear and the temperature at nights is almost cool. You can get here via the Baku - Tovuz - Quba line and a branch line from Tovuz. The line takes 40 minutes from Tovuz and you can also make other interesting stops.