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NAKHCHIVAN (Azerbaijani enclave)

Location - Caucasus, Europe; Capital - Baku; Population - Nakhchivan - 460,000; Azerbaijan - 10 million; Currency - Manat MORE AZERBAIJAN

I took the 09:30 bus to Ordubad from the main bus station, taking around 1½hrs, returning by taxi via the stunningly located Alinca Castle and Ashabu Kahf - April 2019.


azerbaijannote2An outline of Azerbaijan on the 5 Manat note, with Nakhchivan separated from the 'mainland', bottom left









nakhchivan218Driving past the mountains of Iran, showing how close the border is - Nakhchivan City to Ordubad


nakhchivan212It used to be problematic taking photos in the general direction of Iran but no-one seems to mind anymore. However I'm sure walking in sensitive border areas (eg Julfa?) - and especially near Armenia - and snapping away is still likely to land you in hot water - Nakhchivan City to Ordubad


nakhchivan207The Iranian mountains rise above the border town of Julfa. If you have an Iranian visa it's possible to cross the border here














nakhchivan230aThe bus drops you off close to the 18th century Qeyseriyye(?) which is home to the town's Historical Museum - Ordubad


nakhchivan231There's some intricate tilework on this domed building - Ordubad


nakhchivan224The museum was formerly a bazaar, restaurant and also a religious sports venue - Ordubad














nakhchivan230An ancient petroglyph from Gamigaya in the north east of Nakhchivan, on the border with Armenia. See the animals carved in the granite - Ordubad














nakhchivan220This lady showed me around the museum and ended by asking for a selfie. I don't think they get too many English speaking independent tourists - Ordubad


nakhchivan232Opposite the museum is the 17th century Cuma Mosque. Not very mosque-like, maybe because it was once the offices of an important Persian official - Ordubad


nakhchivan240The small old town is worth a wander - Ordubad














nakhchivan242An ripe-old tree stands next to a communal bathing house and mosque - Ordubad














nakhchivan239Walking through the old town - Ordubad


nakhchivan238The slightly decrepit-looking mud brick buildings of the old town - Ordubad


nakhchivan237The town is surrounded by mountains on three of four sides - Ordubad















nakhchivan251These yellow gas pipes are a mess! They follow the gates and doors, up, down and around.. - Ordubad














nakhchivan255The view from the top of town next to the river - Ordubad


nakhchivan260This teahouse has a great location above the Ordubadchay River - Ordubad


nakhchivan264But this is the teahouse hangout for the older guys, along the main road next to the bus drop-off point. It was here that I asked around for taxis to Alinca Castle/Ashabu Kahf/Nakhchivan City, quoting 60-80AZN with waiting time - Ordubad













nakhchivan267Take in some lovely mountainous scenery between Ordubad and Nakhchivan City














nakhchivan269Hiring a taxi allows a bit more freedom to take photos, and the windows are more likely to be cleaner! Always useful for a clear photo.. - Ordubad to Alinca Castle


nakhchivan271Driving along the main road linking Ordubad and Nakhchivan City - Ordubad to Alinca Castle


nakhchivan272We turned off the main road and headed for Alinca Castle, passing the very impressive Ilan Dag. At 2,415m it's not the highest in Nakhchivan (that's 3,904m Mt Kapudzhukh on the Armenia border). The cleft caused by a Noah's Ark bump (?) is more evident here













nakhchivan284The start of the Alinca Castle trail begins with a museum of some sort (closed when I was there), set in front of Ilan Dag


nakhchivan285And these are the steps to the top, all 1,500-2,000 of them (depending on what you read - I didn't count!) - Alinca Castle


nakhchivan292 The views as you climb are fantastic, a great excuse to rest legs and lungs - Alinca Castle














nakhchivan298And this is the great view at the top, which reminds me so much of Peru's Machu Picchu - Alinca Castle














nakhchivan297The castle itself is just the remains of 7th-11th century foundations - Alinca Castle


nakhchivan302A distant snowy peak from Alinca Castle


nakhchivan309Me admiring the panorama. Believe it or not the photographer was my taxi driver Zeynal, who climbed the steps with me! - Alinca Castle















nakhchivan303The mountainous scenery from the castle walls - Alinca Castle















nakhchivan311These guys were locals from Nakhchivan City who'd made the trip, taking time out from firing up a makeshift shisha - Alinca Castle


nakhchivan316This is quite a well known mountain in Nakhchivan but I can't recall the name of it - Alinca Castle


nakhchivan318I think the village nestling at the mountain base is Alinca - Alinca Castle















nakhchivan326As if 2,000 steps weren't enough, I took a few more - my driver declining the invite this time - to the religious shrine of Ashabu Kahf


nakhchivan329It's a network of caves that some say are connected to the Koranic tale of seven holy men falling asleep in a cave for 309 years - Ashabu Kahf


nakhchivan331 Many pilgrims come here to view the caves and pray at the mosque - Ashabu Kahf














nakhchivan329aAs well as the mosque, pictured, cafes and souvenir shops line the entrance to the site - Ashabu Kahf















nakhchivan340The following day I took another taxi tour, this time with my first driver Dilaver, to Lake Batabat with stops at Heydar Aliyev Reservoir and Lake Uzunoba, which cost 80AZN. This is the scenery along the way, as we slowly, then steeply, gain altitude - Kolani


nakhchivan339It's those convoluted gas pipes again, these ones snaking around road junctions. Weird - Bichanak















nakhchivan338Bichanak is the last village before reaching Lake Batabat














nakhchivan333I didn't expect snow! Snow and ice on a lake means not much of a lake to see - Lake Batabat


nakhchivan336It was a very windy day in Nakhchivan City and up here, exposed at 2,500m altitude next to the Armenia border, it was rocking the car. Time to leave.. If you come here, come when it's warmer - Lake Batabat


nakhchivan350On the return we stopped off at Heydar Aliyev Reservoir, though access through the main gates was off-limits, I guess because it's government property. It's not top of the list of attractions but easy to see from the main road














nakhchivan355My last stop was just outside Nakhchivan City at Lake Uzunoba


nakhchivan356There's a couple of lakeside restaurants, as well as the opportunity for watersports such as jetskiing - Lake Uzunoba


nakhchivan358 Rainclouds close in on the lake - Lake Uzunoba















nakhchivan353Black tea is the drink of choice in Nakhchivan, served with sugar and lemon - Lake Uzunoba
















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LINKS - Azerbaijan tourism - Main resource for all things Central Asian - extremely useful - Local news and stories - tour agency specialising in Nakhchivan - Azerbaijan Railways - contains travel articles on Nakhchivan


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