There are many interesting places worth visiting in the surroundings of Baku. One of these places is the Gobustan Reserve. The archaeological reserve is located to the south of Baku, which is a valley located between the south-eastern slope of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea, and part of which is a cultural landscape of rock paintings, located in the territory of 537 hectares.
In 2007, the cultural landscape of rock carvings of Gobustan was included in the list of monuments of World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
Azerbaijan leads in the number of mud volcanoes. In Azerbaijan there are about 350 of 800 mud volcanoes. Volcanic mud is an excellent remedy for many diseases.
There were approximately 200 large eruptions of mud volcanoes on the territory of Azerbaijan from 1810 to the present time. The eruption of mud volcanoes is accompanied by strong explosions and underground rumble. The height of the flame above the volcano reaches 1,000 meters. It is recommended to visit the mud volcanoes, either before or after a trip to the Gobustan Reserve because of their close location.
Azerbaijan is often called “the land of fire”, it is not a coincidence. Since ancient times, travelers wrote about how the flames break through the ground and even under the water all over the Absheron peninsula.
Yanar Dag is a spectacular demonstration of it. Today in the world there is a small amount of natural gas combustion sources, most of them are in Azerbaijan. Natural eternal fire of Yanar Dag is caused by leakage of natural gas from a large deposit under the Absheron peninsula. Ignition of this fire occurred in ancient times. It was described also by Marco Polo.
Most brightly these fires are seen at dusk. These fires are the object of worship by followers of Zoroastrianism.
You can get to Yanar Dag by bus or taxi.
Qala Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum Complex
The complex is located 40 kilometers from the center of Baku. Here you can see how Azerbaijanis of the period from the XVI to XIX centuries lived, what was their eating habits, and how they managed their household.
The complex presents rock paintings, gavaldash, pottery, household items, jewelry, weapons and coins, preserved ruins of the ancient settlement, dating from the III-II millennium BC. to the Middle Ages. The Reserve itself is located on the spot of one of the most ancient human sites in Absheron, which was and continue to be an archaeological site. According to scientists, the first settlements appeared here 5000 years ago.
Many interesting discoveries related to ancient times and the middle Ages were made in this area. For example, an incredible exhibit, a real home of an ancient human made of animal skins draws attention. The object is preserved and presented to visitors of the museum in its original form. Samples of ancient ceramics, crockery, stones with mysterious images are of great interest. There are also two underground passages discovered. One of them leads to the sea, and the other – to the capital.
The reserve attracts many tourists today. And not just foreigners. “Qala” is a favorite trip destination of the capital’s schoolchildren and young people. There are interesting programs, in which anyone can participate. You can try yourself in being a blacksmith, baker, potter, camel driver.
The temple of fire worshippers Ateshgah is 30 kilometers from the center of Baku. On the outskirts of Surakhani settlement.
The current Ateshgah was built in XVII-XVIII centuries on the site of “eternal”, inextinguishable fires – burning natural gas output. It was built by Hindu community based in Baku, the majority of which originated in North India and belonged to the Sikh caste.
In Surakhani there was the sanctuary of the Zoroastrians – the fire-worshipers, who came here to worship the sacred fire. It is assumed that this first sanctuary dates back to the beginning of our era. After the Arab conquest of Azerbaijan and Baku, and the adoption of Islam by its residents, Zoroastrian fire temple was destroyed. Many Zoroastrians, which did not convert to Islam, had to go to India.
The XVII century sources mention Hindu pilgrims who arrived in Baku to worship fire.
Rich Indian merchants started to construct buildings on the site of the ancient sanctuary of fire-worshipers – Zoroastrians. The earliest construction of the temple dates back to the year 1713. The temple-altar belongs to the most recent ones, built, as the inscription says, with funding from the merchant Kanchanagar in 1810. During the XVIII century chapels, cells, and caravanserai grew around the sanctuary, as extensions to each other. In the cells of the monument there are inscriptions carved in stone, in Hindu writing fonts – davanagari and gumruki.
Ateshgah is mentioned in one of the novels of Jules Verne, through words of Claudius Bombarnac, the hero of the novel, Jules Verne described the Ateshgah:
“I should have liked to visit the famous sanctuary of Atesh Gah; but it is twenty-two versts from the town, and time failed me. There burns the eternal fire, kept up for centuries by the Parsee priests from India, who never touch animal food. In other countries these committed vegetarians would be considered just vegetables lovers.”