life through the lens
home destinations a-z the big trips about me world beers newspapers updates/links top fives freestyle




Location - Caucasus, Europe; Capital - Baku; Population - 10 million; Currency - Manat MORE AZERBAIJAN

Baku is situated on a claw of land known as the Absheron peninsula, and I took an excellent day-tour of its sights with Vadim via indy-guide, as well as spending a half-day in Sumqayit - October 2018.


azerbaijannote2An outline of Azerbaijan. Note the region of Nakhchivan separated from the 'mainland'









azeroldnote4An old, post-Soviet note displaying the Maiden Tower in Baku's Old Town









azerbaijan139But first up were the mud volcanoes near Qobustan, about an hour's drive south of Baku


azerbaijan133There's a collection of these volcanoes belching out gas about 10km south of Qobustan


azerbaijan143Light the gas for a temporary fire, but watch your fingers! And everything else.. - Qobustan















azerbaijan148There's nothing quite like mud, mud, glorious mud, but you can also dip your hand in as it's cold to the touch - Qobustan














azerbaijan152Check out the Caspian Sea oil rigs from the volcano site - Qobustan


azerbaijan156 Head back north to the Qobustan Petroglyph Reserve at Qobustan















azerbaijan157The reserve is home to ancient rock carvings which are 5,000-20,000 years old - Qobustan















azerbaijan159Can you make out the reed boat above some (much larger) humans? - Qobustan


azerbaijan169The presence of shells in the rocks indicates the area was under water at one time - Qobustan


azerbaijan167Here I stand on a rock outcrop at Qobustan

















azerbaijan171On the return to Baku and the Absheron peninsula we stopped at Shixov beach


azerbaijan170Old oil drilling platforms lie just off the beach - Shixov


azerbaijan173Close by is Bibi-Heybat Mosque, recently reconstructed after the original was destroyed in 1934 as part of the Soviet anti-religious campaign - Bibi-Heybat














azerbaijan175The mosque overlooks an area known as the James Bond Oilfield after scenes were used in The World Is Not Enough - Bibi-Heybat














azerbaijan176Nodding donkeys are used to extract oil - Bibi-Heybat


azerbaijan177Much of the Absheron peninsula is dominated by the black stuff in some form or another: nodding donkeys, oil derricks, rigs & platforms, run-off pools etc - Bibi-Heybat


azerbaijan179The site of the 18th century Suraxani Fire Temple (aka Ateshgah Fire Temple) was used as a Zoroastrian, Sikh and Hindu place of worship - Suraxani















azerbaijan182The gas is now piped, the natural gas beneath the temple having burnt out - Suraxani















azerbaijan188Next up was Mardakan Tower, a square 22m fortress tower rebuilt in the 14th century - Mardakan


azerbaijan191Take in views of the Absheron peninsula from the tower - Mardakan


azerbaijan192A shrine with a strange story is Pir Hasan, where people have bottles smashed over their heads as a cure for nerves. I didn't see this in action but I'm sure I heard the sound of breaking glass; I'll stay nervous thanks! - Mardakan














azerbaijan195The other fortress tower in Mardakan is the 13th century, 15.5m-high round tower















azerbaijan193A few kms north is Mardakan beach, a popular public beach with facilities - Mardakan


azerbaijan194But on a cool October day this was the only guy braving the sea - Mardakan


azerbaijan197Ramana Fortress is perched on a hilltop, providing views of oil mess - Old Ramana















azerbaijan200Oil derricks and polluted run-off pools form a depressing landscape in front of the castle - Old Ramana














azerbaijan198And let's throw in a nodding donkey on the roadside - Old Ramana


azerbaijan209Yanar Dag, or Fire mountain, has been burning natural gas since the 1950s














azerbaijan212A shepherd accidentally set it alight with a discarded cigarette, so the story goes, and it's been burning ever since - Yanar Dag














azerbaijan219Waiting for the train to Sumqayit - Baku


azerbaijan229Sumqayit is Azerbaijan's third-largest city and lies on the north western side of the Absheron peninsula














azerbaijan223The dove sculpture lies on the top of the promenade steps leading down to the beach - Sumqayit














azerbaijan228There was a lot of building work going on close to the beach when I visited. Hopefully it's to make the beach a focal point as it's a good, wide stretch of sand - Sumqayit


azerbaijan227It was a sunny day but except for a few couple of dog walkers there was noone on the beach - Sumqayit


azerbaijan231Between the promenade and the beach are a couple of tree-sheltered cafes - Sumqayit














azerbaijan221This memorial commemorates the Xocali massacre by ethnic Armenian forces on 26 February 1992. Xocali (or Khojaly) is a town in Nagorno Karabakh, a disputed region belonging to Azerbaijan but occupied by Armenia - Sumqayit














azerbaijan222Next to the Xocali Memorial are lines of martyr gravestones, many of whom died in 1993 during the summer. Please correct me if I'm wrong but I'm guessing they died during the Nagorno Karabakh War of the 1980s & 90s - Sumqayit


azerbaijan220One more picture of former president Heydar Aliyev before I leave - Sumqayit


azeroldnote1I bought a Soviet-era note (with the head of Lenin) in Baku

azeroldnote2On the reverse there's a list of Soviet republic currencies - Som, Manat, Ruble etc



Website and content Copyright © 2008-2019 Mark Wilkinson. All rights reserved.


LINKS - Central Asian tour operator but website has a wealth of information - Azerbaijan tourism - Main resource for all things Central Asian - extremely useful - Central Asia website where tour guides offer their services - Azerbaijan Railways


I am not responsible for the content of external websites.


world beers