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      Short Tours in Azerbaijan                           

  Tour in Baku and Absheron Peninsula           
  Cultural Tour (3 days)

Azerbaijan is the country of ancient history and culture. Here is more than 6 thousand historical-architectural monuments. It is a lot of centuries back present region served as a crossroads of trading ways from Asia to the Europe, was a key part of caravan routes. Already then numerous merchants, travelers, ambassadors, historians, ethnographers marked interesting historical-architectural monuments.

Day 1   City of Baku / Icheri Sheher

Meeting at the airport. Check-in at the hotel. Visit to Memory Alley – "Shehidler Khiyabany", panoramic view of Baku city from the park. Boat trip in Caspian Sea Baku bay. Visit to the State Carpets museum. Over the last 10 years, under the influence of new economic and social conditions, the appearance of Baku has noticeably changed. Today, the city’s look significantly differs from what it was during the Soviet period. The modern city of Baku consists of the Old Town, the downtown, the two residential zones, and the industrial and oil-processing zones. The City Tour places the greatest emphasis on the Old Town, the historical part of the city.

The center of Baku is the Old Town, which is also a fortress. Most of the walls, strengthened after the Russian conquest in 1806, survive. This section is picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient buildings. Part of a palace, a mosque, and a minaret date from the 11th century.

The Downtown, also known as the Boom Town, is a business and entertainment center of Baku. It is also the city’s historical part, erected in the end of the 19th century. The Boom Town has interesting beaux-arts architecture; there are numerous mansions built by oil barons, and other grand buildings built during the oil boom that began in the 1870s. Fine arts, history, and literature museums are located there, all housed in the mansions of pre-revolutionary millionaires. As a result of the prestigious location of the area, various businesses enterprises prefer to place their offices there.
The Boulevard is a broad and shady pedestrian walkway, running along the edge of the Caspian Sea in the downtown. At its center, just across busy Neftchilar Avenue, a huge Stalinist-inspired office building is located, which is the house of the government of Azerbaijan. Along the canals there are rides and other amusements – outdoor cafes and restaurants, a long jetty, a chess pavilion, and billiard tables. The Terrace Disco and Garden Bar complex, popular among unattached Azerbaijanis and foreigners, are located here.

The Fountain Square is famous not for its fountain, an oblong, cement structure installed during the Soviet era, but for the stately 19th- and 20th-century buildings on the square. Many shops, restaurants, and outdoor cafes, as well as a number of bars frequented by foreigners, lie within walking distance of one another, making the square Baku’s social hub.
The Azadlyg Square is a large parade square facing the Seaside (Primorsky) Park along Baku Bay.

Boat Tour
The Bay of Baku is the natural harbor for Azerbaijan’s capital city and the main port of Baku. It is located in a wide curve on the southern side of the Absheron Peninsula, sheltered by the Baku archipelago. The excursion gives you a great opportunity to have a splendid panoramic view of Baku from the sea, and to see the city’s nice beaches and the bay itself dotted with oil derricks. Your guide will explain you the history and other peculiarities worth knowing of the Caspian Sea. Visit to medieval fortress of Old Baku - "Icheri Sheher"15-17 c.c., "Maiden Tower " – 9 c., the Complex of Shirvan Shahs’ Palace -15 c. medieval CaravanSaray -15c., medieval Markets square, handmade carpet’s workshop art studio. The Old Town, called Ichari Shahar in Azerbaijani, extends from the curve of the Baku Bay through the hills behind it, and much of the area is closed to vehicular traffic.

The Old Town is a warren of narrow alleys and winding passages neatly hemmed in by high fortress walls. The low, stone walls of the Palace of the Shirvan-Shahs, built in the 15th and 16th centuries, belie the grandeur of the masonry and inscriptions on the royal chambers, mosques, and mausoleums within the compound. Located in the heart of the Old Town, the royal complex contains a domed pavilion, a small two-story palace, courtyards, a royal mausoleum, and a mosque. On the edge of the Inner City the legendary Maiden’s Tower commands a sweeping view of the bay. The purpose of the 100-feet high tower, which was built in the 12th century, is unknown, although popular legend tells that a maiden was locked up here. Two caravansaries, the ancient inns, dating back to the 14th century, stand behind the Maiden’s Tower in the Old Town. The inns were built for traders from Pakistan and Central Asia, and today serve as restaurants. The Synyk Kala Minaret, located in Baku’s Old Town, is the city’s oldest building (1093). The Lezgi Mosque constructed in the 12th century stands near the center of Baku’s Old Town. Although the palace and adjacent houses, mosques, and Turkish baths are not as well-preserved as the visitor might hope, the ancient streets and passages are slowly taking on new life as foreign companies take up residence in Baku’s most prestigious neighborhood. The Philarmonic Halls near the Old Town frequently offers performances of mugam, the traditional Azerbaijani style of music and singing.

Day 2   Absheron Peninsula / Gobustan

THE LAND OF FIRE AND CASTLES. Tour of the Ateshgyakh Fire-Worshippers’ Temple, 3 hours. The Ateshgyakh Fire-Worshippers’ Temple (18th century) is located within Greater Baku in the village of Surakhany (9 miles from Baku). The historical roots of the monument go back to the days when Azerbaijan statehood was only taking shape and establishing itself, and Zoroastrianism, the central part in whose ritual is played by fire, was the dominant religion in the country. People worshipped fire, seeking its protection against adversity and oppression and begging it for happiness and well being. These ancient fires are believed to have given Azerbaijan its name, which is thought by some researchers to mean "a land of fires." Medieval Azerbaijan carried on trade and exchanged cultural values with many countries; one of them was India. Thus it happened that these structures were built one after another for a century and a half, from the late 17th to the mid - 19th century. That is why the Ateshgyakh Temple looks not unlike a regular town caravansary - a kind of inn with a large central court, where caravans stopped for the night. As distinct from caravansaries, however, the temple has the altarin its center with tiny cells for the temple’s attendants- Indian ascetics who devoted them to the cult of fire- and for pilgrims lining the walls. The inscriptions on stones set in the walls, made in Sanskrit and Hindi, testify to the Indian origin of the fire-worshippers’ temple at Surakhany. In the course of time, the "eternal fires" of Absheron ceased to be viewed as divine. The heat they give has been placed at the service of the people, and today gas serves people economic and every day needs. And only the place where the fires used to burn still remains in the memory of the people under the name of Ateshgyakh (home of fire). Today the temple is a unique monument of world culture.

Absheron Peninsula
The Absheron Peninsula, an extension of the Caucasus Mountains, juts 35 miles into the Caspian Sea, the largest inland sea in the world, covering 386,400 sq. km. (149,200 sq. miles). The wide plain contains ravines and salt lakes, and some parts are frequently flooded by tides. Vineyards and tea plantations are located here, but the region is particularly noted for its oil deposits.

On this excursion you will be informed about the story of oil development in Azerbaijan. Even in ancient times oil was known to exist on the Absheron Peninsula, and there were various religious cults connected with the oil and gas fields. Your guide will tell you about different methods of oil extraction both ancient and modern. You will be introduced to non-traditional uses of oil, to the present situation within the oil industry in Azerbaijan, and to the oil development prospects in the country.

You will visit the oldest oil producing fields on the Absheron Peninsula, observe the natural gas outlets (Yanar Dag – "Burning Mountain") and mud volcanoes together with the current on- and offshore fields.

The Absheron peninsula, being a part of Shirvan, was the site for a peculiar type of defensive structures to have originated and developed due to special social, historical and natural conditions. Vast Gobustan semideserts separating the peninsula from the inland country, relatively distant caravan routes, valuable oil and salt resources, and abundant madder and saffron fields the latter being the main export from of old, were the aspects that determined the peculiar development of Absheron and its certain economical and political isolation. Need for protection from foreign invaders attracted by natural resources induced local feudal lords to erect fortified castles some of which stand today, too. There are two of them in Mardakan, one with a round tower, and a larger one with a square tower. The larger castle dates from the 14th century and is immediately visible as you approach Mardakan, although it is not built on a hill. This tower is about 25 m tall and has five floors. Within the walls there is a well and receptacles hewn from the rock for storing grain. Near the castle is the 15th century Tuba-Shakha mosque, containing an exhibition dedicated to the castles in the Absheron peninsula. The smaller castle was built in the 13 th century and its design is similar to that of the Ramana castle (between Baku and the airport): a round central tower surrounded by a wall. There is a forth castle at Nardaran. 14th century castle, located in the northern extreme of town, with a round tower surrounded by walls, nearby you can enjoy a nice view of the Caspian Sea.

Tour of Gobustan
Gobustan (the territory of Gobu) is famous for its archeological monuments. Travel 30 miles southwest of Baku along the Caspian shore to the volcanic desert, where rocks covered with drawings stand amidst chaos of stones and mountains. There are more than 4,000 rock drawings left by artists of the Neolithic period. They depict the customs of ancient tribes, hunting scenes and dances, the way they filled the ground, their everyday life. The range of themes is wide and the vividness with which they are executed can well evoke envy in a modern artist. Near Mt. Beyukshad there is a large, stone-enclosed circular plot with an altar in the center, where ritual ceremonies were held. Not far away on the mountainside is a Latin inscription carved more than 2,000 years ago.

Caves and rock outcroppings surround this village, whose name can be translated as "ravine land". The spurs of the Great Caucasus Range descend to the Caspian along the Djeirankechmez river. Settled since the 8th millennium BC, the area contains thousands of rock engravings spread over 100 km2 depicting hunting scenes, people, ships, constellations, animals, etc.

The oldest petroglyphs date from the 12th century BC. Later, the European invaders also left their marks: inscriptions left by Alexander the Great's cohorts in the 4th century BC and 2,000-year-old graffiti written by Trajan's Roman legionnaires! Should you want to get the perfect photos as seen on the postcards, the trick is simple: fill the carvings with toothpaste.

The petroglyphs of Gobustan were discovered accidentally by quarry workers only in the 1930s. In addition to the rock carvings, traces of Mesolithic period occupation are to be seen, with numerous burial mounds and graves, the most interesting at Firuz, where eleven skeletons were found. Don't miss the Gaval-Dashy, a resonant stone that rings like a gong when struck.

Based on the archeological finds and on content of the petroglyphs, recently it has be theorized that a connection exists between the ancient Azeris and the peoples of Scandinavia, which is not surprising at all, since some of the original habitants of the region, the Medes, were not a Turkic people, but an Indo-European people.

Besides being famous for the petroglyphs the Gobustan are also has some amazing landscape, particularly an area filled with mud volcanoes, which provide a quasi-lunar horizon. You can find the most spectacular mud volcanoes about 7km south of Gobustan near the road to Alat.

Long after you have left Gobustan you will remember the drawings that have come down to us from the remote part.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 3   Departure
Leisure day.
Transfer to the Airport.
  Other details available upon request
  Note: Duration of the tour must be fit to your arrival and departure Flights.
Package Includes:
Airport - Hotel - Airport Transfer
Inland transportation
Tour Guide
Hotel Accommodation (in the cities) Double room
FB Meal: BLD
Museums Entrance fees
Package Excludes:
Air fare
Single room supplement
Meals except described
Alcoholic beverages
Travel insurance

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