The Republic of Azerbaijan is located on the shores of the Caspian Sea, in the east of the Transcaucasus. Some sources attribute this vast state to Front Asia and the Middle East, while others add belonging to Eastern Europe. It is the largest country in the Transcaucasian region and by area (86,600 sq. Km), and by population (about 9,6 million people). If we talk about the world ranking, here too, not the lowest positions are given to Azerbaijan: the republic is in 92nd place in terms of the number of citizens living in it and in 112nd place in terms of territorial dimensions.
The main city of Azerbaijan is Baku (the capital). The largest cities of the republic, such as Ganja and Lenkoran, are also well known. The official language is Azerbaijani.
Azerbaijan is a country of many confessions and nationalities. Most of the population is Muslim, but there are also Christians and Jews here.
To this day it is quite difficult to determine the identity of the state. On the one hand, one can say that Azerbaijan is already Europe, on the other hand it is still Asia. Cultural roots are closely intertwined with Turkey, but they were strongly influenced by the Persians and Russians. Traditional Azerbaijan is an empire of carpet weaving, Zoroastrian temples, fragrant black tea, many types of pilaf and a huge variety of historical and cultural attractions telling about the life of mankind since ancient times.
The first settlers appeared on Azerbaijani lands over 1.5 million years ago. This was favored by good climatic conditions and the rich nature of the region. And today in certain parts of Azerbaijan you can find signs of ancient people. You can plunge into antiquity in the cities of Sheki, Shamakhi, Chukhur-Gabala, the ancient temple complex Ateshgah and in the reserved Gobustan , which keeps traces of rock art - petroglyphs, which, according to experts, are at least 4000 years old.
A modern, vibrant life is raging in the capital Baku. It is the largest urban settlement of the Caucasus and the largest port on the coast of the Caspian Sea. Filled with the lights of Baku, it is famous for a huge number of souvenir shops and shops, shopping malls of various subjects, countless cafes and elite restaurants. Catering establishments attract visitors with their comfort and color, a mixture of traditions of East and West. Here you can relax and enjoy a hookah, a tasty and satisfying meal with beautiful music and exquisite oriental dances.
The Azerbaijani people are friendly and hospitable, you can always turn to local people for help - it’s not accepted here. Well, with the national Azerbaijani cuisine, probably no other kitchen in the world can compare! In addition to excellent taste, local dishes benefit the health and prolong life.
|Official Name||Republic of Azerbaijan|
|Form of Government||Semi-presidential Republic|
|Population||9.89 million (~ 114 inhabitants per km²)|
0.5% Other religions
|Time zone||UTC + 4|
|National flag||Azerbaijan flag|
Table of Content
Cities and Regions
The main cities, provinces, regions and attractions in Azerbaijan:
Azerbaijan's capital, the largest and probably the most cosmopolitan metropolis in the Caucasus , experienced in the 2010s a tremendous transition to a remarkable cosmopolitan city with an extraordinarily modern ambience in which the Orient and the Occident merge harmoniously and functionally. The Baku Tower , which after the construction period from 2015 to 2019 at 1050m height to become the largest skyscraper in the world, is one of a series of impressive projects that will further refine the face of the city.
Baku attracts travelers with its beauty, hospitality and many attractions. Probably not a single tourist will remain indifferent to the entourage of Baku Embankment, the greatness of the famous Flag Square with the highest flagpole, which is the second largest in the world, the beauty of the “ Fire Towers ”, similar to fiery languages. "Old Baku" is a storehouse of antiquities.
In contrast to the modern part of the city is the history of Baku, which already since the 4th century BC belongs to an area with a true high culture. The historic old town , which is partially surrounded by a protective wall, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and should definitely be visited during a visit to Baku from close range. Here, visitors can take a closer look at numerous sights dating back to the Middle Ages, including the 12th-century Maiden's Tower , which is known as the symbol of Baku. The nearby palace of the Shirvanshahs, an impressive architectural masterpiece, is also worth a visit. Among the other worth seeing places of the city is the Museum of Modern Art and the State Circus of the country with its impressive acrobats.
For many visitors to Baku, a boat trip on the Caspian Sea is one of the highlights of a stay in this special city. When the weather is fine, you can spend a quiet day relaxing on the beach.
The city of Sheki in the central north of Azerbaijan is regarded by many visitors as a true pearl among the tourist destinations in Azerbaijan. In the small town near the mountainous Caucasus, there is a rich historical heritage of Islamic architecture, much history related to the Silk Road, an often acclaimed local cuisine and friendly residents. Two impressive sights, the caravanserai and the palace Khansarai, are among the most interesting sights in Azerbaijan. The impressive view of the mountains of the Caucasus, the environment inviting for hiking and the sympathetic teahouses of the region allow visitors to spend some time here enjoying unique travel experiences.
At the caravansary , located on MF Akhundov Avenue, travelers can learn about historic caravans and their influence. Here was one of the largest resting places for caravans within the entire Caucasus region. In the palace of the Khan are idyllic gardens, through which visitors can roam while they let their thoughts run free. From the inside of the property visitors can enjoy impressive views of the surrounding mountains as well as nearby tea houses, parks and museums.
In the Scheki silk factory , which is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, travelers can marvel at the way silk has been produced in this place over the centuries, a factor that contributed to the city's reputation as a nationwide renown. Right next to the factory is a small shop selling fine silk products at a price that is cheaper than at the bazaar. The mosque Juma Masjid from the 16th century impresses with its 40m high tower from which one can always hear the echo of a prayer.
The city of Ganja, which was founded in the 6th century AD and is now known as the second largest city in Azerbaijan, was, like many other places in the country, besieged, conquered and controlled by various powers throughout its history. It was repeatedly destroyed and suffered from earthquakes and other forces of nature in the region, but was constantly rebuilt and brought to new splendor. In the 10th century, it rose to the capital of one of the countries that existed on the soil of today's Azerbaijan.
Historic architectural landmarks
Buildings that have survived for centuries include the Gei-Imam Building , the Juma Mosque and a variety of picturesque houses. The inhabitants of Ganja are especially proud of the poet Nizami Gyanjevi , who was born in this city. Its mausoleum is visited by a large number of visitors every year. In the historic old town are the remains of buildings, some of which date back to the 12th century. Ruins of towers, fortresses, mosques and bridges create a historic ambience.
Sumgait follows in third place of the largest cities in Azerbaijan. The city, which was able to reach a certain prosperity, is relatively close to the Caspian Sea, about 30km away from Baku.
Sumgait is now considered the largest industrial city of Azerbaijan and serves as a production base for more than 30 larger companies, which primarily produce and process products from the chemical and metal industries . The University of Sumgait is one of the best in the country.
The city of Khachmaz, which is very popular among visitors to Azerbaijan, impresses with its historical sites, impressive buildings and museums.
Numerous objects that played a significant role in the history of Azerbaijan can be seen at close range here; including a fourth-century mosque , the ancient city fortress of Sarkatapa , a church from the historic kingdom of Albania, and a museum devoted to arts, crafts, culture and magic around rugs.
The city of Lankaran, located in the southeast of today's Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea, is considered one of the most beautiful, warm and interesting cities in the country . The excellent climate conditions with lots of sun, beach and water, the extraordinary architecture in this special place as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes make Lankaran an undiscovered pearl of the Caucasus region. Hot springs attract visitors as well as the city's historical and cultural attractions.
One of the most visited places is the distinctive Lankaran Castle , built in the 18th century with its towering towers and a characteristic moat. The city's museums include the memorial of the esteemed Major General Hazi Aslanov and the Museum of Regional History, mainly consisting of the collection of Mir Akhmed, which can be found in his former home. The old prison, larger mosques, Russian Orthodox churches and the lighthouse are also recommended as stops during a visit to the city.
The ancient city of Shamakhi, which has been inhabited since the fifth century BC, was once the proud capital of the Shirvan Empire from the 9th to the 17th centuries and is often referred to as one of the most beautiful cities in the Caucasus. The impressive 11th-century Gulistan Fortress and the Addy-Gyumbez Mausoleum with its seven domes serve as a final resting place for many former rulers.
Despite the country's primarily Islamic outlook, wine production is flourishing in Shamakhi. Another strongly represented industry is the production of carpets. Numerous writers of Azerbaijan were born in Shamakhi, which also gave the city the name "City of Literature". Not far from Shamakhi is the Pirkuli region, probably the only place in the country where skiing and snowboarding is established in a grand style.
The fourth-largest city in Azerbaijan, Mingachewir, which today has about 100,000 inhabitants, is also known as the " city of lights " because of its hydroelectric power plant (Mingachevir Dam) . It was founded in its present form under the influence of German prisoners of war in 1948.
The Mingachewir Historical Museum, opened in 1968, has about 15,000 exhibits divided into a Martyrs' Memorial and an Independence Museum. The polytechnic institute of Mingachewir is one of the better educational institutions in the country.
The city of Naftalan in western Azerbaijan impresses its visitors with an offer that is absolutely unique in this form worldwide. Here can be bathed in petroleum ! According to a local doctrine that Marco Polo already wrote about, this has a very positive effect on the bodies of the bathers. First, the bath in the oil to stimulate the metabolism, on the other hand is spoken of a disinfecting effect. Although some scientists believe that various ingredients of the oil are counterproductive in terms of health, the particular bathing experience has been considered a phenomenal blessing for centuries.
It is hardly surprising that even the name of this special place has to do with the black gold. The word "Naftalan" consists of the Greek word for oil ("Naphta") and the Azerbaijani ending "alan". In a special healing center, skin and bone diseases are treated with the help of oil in Naftalan.
The republic of Nakhichevan , which has a population of about 400,000 , officially belongs to Azerbaijan, but has its own constitution and parliament . It is the only part of Azerbaijan, which borders on a short strip of land Turkey, a country, which is culturally traditionally relatively closely connected with Azerbaijan.
The attractiveness of this place lies already in its special position as an exclave separate from the heartland of Azerbaijan. Numerous remains of ancient cities, towers, fortifications and tombs adorn the landscapes and should be considered during a visit closer.
Azerbaijan is an old state. Its history lasts for more than 5 thousand years. The first settlers chose these fertile lands in the 4th century BC. e. At certain historical periods, the strongest states, such as Caucasian Albania and Atropatena, were located on this territory. It is the inhabitants of these countries who became the ancestors of the indigenous Azerbaijani people. Then, in the 2nd century AD e., Azerbaijan was occupied by Iranian Sassanids, and the land came under the jurisdiction of the Arab Caliphate, which served as the settlement of the territory by Arabs and Iranians.
The turning point in the history of Azerbaijan was the adoption of Islam in the 7th century AD e. Religion actually began to unite peoples, form one language, create new customs, traditions. The subsequent political upsurge of Azerbaijan is associated with the appearance on the territory of several states: the Shirvanshahs, Ravvadids, Sadzhids, Salarids, and Sheddadids. Historians call this time the Renaissance.
16th to 19th century
Azerbaijan was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. Persia, however, was able to regain it. Russian Tsar Peter I gained control of Baku and other areas of Azerbaijan in the 18th century. The Ottomans took over Nakhichevan. Under Nadir Shah, however, the Persians were able to win back all of Azerbaijan. Due to internal problems of the power elite of Persia, Azerbaijan gained a quasi-independence, however, the north fell back in the early 19th century completely to Russia. The Russians were particularly interested in the rich oil deposits around Baku. Crude oil was already an important export commodity in the early Middle Ages, and it still contributes greatly to the economic development of the country today. However, on a grand scale, the promotion of black gold began during the Soviet era. Since the 1870s, Russian rulers have been organizing local oil production to ensure that the supply of oil-based products to the Russian domestic economy has been achieved without the need to turn to countries that are not controlled from Russia could become. As late as the 1890s, the area around Baku became the largest oil producing area in the world and also supplied Western Europe with valuable raw materials and corresponding processed products.
In 1918, Azerbaijan became the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. The invasion of the Red Army in April 1920 quickly put an end to her and left the country under Russian control until the end of the Soviet Union. Stalin planned that the Caucasus region should have existed only under Russian sovereignty, and that war and chaos would break out if the Soviet Union were to cease to exist as a military power on the ground. His plan succeeded. A patchwork landscape with Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh (on officially Azerbaijani soil) and Azerbaijanis in exclaves within Armenia and in Nakhichevan, separated from the heartland by Armenia, numerous military conflicts and diplomatic silence between Armenia and Azerbaijan are still the result. Since the existence of Azerbaijan as an independent country, the political situation can be described as relatively unstable. There were many changes of power and serious corruption allegations against various rulers of the country caused internal problems.
The economic development of the country has been progressing unabated since the turn of the millennium. The authoritarian regime continues to have a bad reputation internationally, which intensified during the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. In principle, Azerbaijan is currently working to bring itself closer to the West.
Visitors with passports from the following countries do not require a visa for stays up to the days specified but wish to stay for longer you need to take visa:
15 days - Iran
30 days - Turkey
90 days - Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
Visitors who are citizens of the following 93 countries can apply for an e-visaincluding USA, Australia, United Kingdom, China, Hong Kong, Macau. The e-visa is valid for a single entry, tourist purpose and a maximum stay of 30 days.
Special provisions related to Armenia
Anyone who has an entry in the passport that indicates that he / she has visited the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh will not get a visa for Azerbaijan. In addition, travelers who already have a visa but have in the meantime received an entry stamp from Nagorno-Karabakh will be refused. The same procedure (rejection) also applies if the Azerbaijani authorities are informed otherwise that someone has visited Nagorno-Karabakh or other areas occupied by Armenia on official Azerbaijani territory.
Weather and Climate
The temperature in different parts of the country is different and directly depends on the topography, proximity to the sea coast, the nature of the air flow. If we talk about the winter period, the average January temperature in different areas ranges from -10 ⁰С to + 3⁰С. In summer, the temperature variation is higher: July is characterized by temperatures ranging from + 5 ° C (in the mountains) to + 27 ° C (in the lowlands).
In summer, the air can warm up to 45 degrees above zero, and in winter it can drop to 40 degrees below zero (as a rule, this happens in highland areas).
On the territory of Azerbaijan are not rare powerful, gusty winds coming from the north. Most often they are in the autumn period. The amount of annual precipitation also depends on the location of a particular settlement. Their number varies from 200 mm in the foothill areas to 1,700 mm (this number usually falls in the Lenkoran lowland in the south of the country).
Best time to go to Azerbaijan
It is better to go on a trip to Azerbaijan in April - June or in the period from the beginning to the middle of autumn. The diversity of natural climatic zones allows tourists to simultaneously visit the subtropics and the rich alpine meadows.
Going on a trip to Azerbaijan, you need to think carefully about the selection of a suitable wardrobe. From the end of spring to the beginning of autumn it is worth to stock up on several light sets of clothes made of cotton, in winter you must put raincoats and warm jackets in your suitcase.
In the summer months in the country, the sun can burn mercilessly, so you can not do without protective creams, sunglasses and a headdress. Sightseeing routes often pass through mountainous terrain, so sneakers and comfortable sneakers will become indispensable companions for the traveler.
Currency and Money
The official currency in Azerbaijan since 1992 is the Manat (Azərbaycan Manatı), the sub-unit Gepik (Qəpik), where 100 Gepik correspond to a manat. Due to strong inflation, the Manat (AZM) was replaced in 2006 by a new manatee. Actual exchange rate: 1 USD = 1.69 AZN, 1 EUR = 1.94 AZN.
The symbol for the manat is a lying semicircle, which is divided by a vertical line. It is similar to a 90 degrees clockwise rotated Euro sign.
The exchange rate in banks and exchange offices differs slightly. Currency exchange offices are located throughout Baku and other major cities. In hotels, shopping centers and large supermarkets accept credit cards. In small shops and restaurants pay cash.
It is best to carry euros and dollars to Azerbaijan. There are exchange offices at airports, in banks, in the centers of populated and tourist areas, as well as in some hotels, shops and restaurants. Banks usually close at 4 pm, while numerous bureaux de change exchange money until late in the evening. There are exchange rates on the black market which are a little cheaper than at official places. In most cases, however, it is not worth the risk and effort. Many banks charge a transaction fee, but the larger the amount, the lower the overpayment. ATMs in the capital of Azerbaijan are in most banks, many of them work around the clock - you can withdraw cash AZN and USD.
Cheap: hostels, hotels
There are only a few hostels and cheap hotels in Baku . The offer of accommodation for less than 55 manat per night, however, is relatively small. Cyclists reported that wild camping outside the larger settlements is easily possible, which of course eliminates the cost of accommodation.
The number of hotels in Azerbaijan is growing rapidly, but the local tourism business began to develop some 10 years ago, so there is only decent housing in the capital, major cities and resorts.
Most hotels are 1-2 *, but there are also representative offices of fashionable Hilton, Radisson and Ritz-Carlton networks in Baku. Because of the country's rich oil reserves, certain sectors of Azerbaijan's economy have been able to develop strongly. International business people, investors and diplomats visit the country in an ever-growing number. They are among the potential customers for higher-class hotels, thus strengthening the presence of international luxury hotel chains. For the most demanding guests, even the 5+ hotels are open with richly furnished rooms and impeccable service.
In Baku, hotel accommodation 2-3 * will cost an average of 75 AZN , in 5 * - 280 AZN per day. One-room apartment in the center of the capital can be rented for 70-80 AZN per day. The average bill in hotels of Ganja is 60 AZN per night. Enjoying relaxation in the spa hotels of Naftalan is available for 110 AZN per day, in the hotels of Lankaran prices start from 35 AZN per day.
*The voltage in the network 220/240 V, 50 Hz. Eastern European type sockets with two pins.
It is possible to travel to Azerbaijan by plane, train, car, bus and boat.
Most visitors to Azerbaijan arriving by plane will reach the country via Baku International Airport . In addition this airport, there are the airports of Ganja, Lankaran and Nakhichevan, which are served primarily by Moscow and Istanbul.
The state airline AZAL (Azerbaijan Airlines) flies to mainly Tbilisi (Georgia), Aktau (Kazakhstan), Tehran (Iran), Tel-Aviv (Israel), Ankara, Istanbul, Trabzon, Antalya (Turkey), Dubai, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kiev, Milan, London and Paris.
Lufthansa offers several flights a week to Baku. Austrian Airlines offers regular flights from Austria. Turkish Airlines is another carrier connecting Baku with and via Istanbul. various Russian and Ukrainian airlines are suitable for a trip to the country on the Caspian Sea. In addition, British Airways flies daily to Baku.
Trains connect Azerbaijan with Georgia and Russia.
There is an intact train service from Georgia to Azerbaijan , which can be used by travelers from all over the world. The departure to Georgia costs 26 manat and always starts at 20.00. The arrival time is always uncertain, as it can not be foreseen how long the stay at the border will last. When entering Azerbaijan, longer waiting times are to be expected than when leaving the country.
There is also a train connection between Russia and Azerbaijan. However, this is available only to persons with a passport from a CIS country
There are no official passenger ferries to Azerbaijan. What is declared as a ferry is usually a cargo ship with free seats. Although some travelers could get a seat on a cargo ship, but this often happens through adventurous ways and costs in the end usually more than it may appear at the beginning. The travel time of Turkmenistan is about one day. From Kazakhstan there are two to three.
Various intercity buses operate from Georgia, Turkey, Iran and Russia to Azerbaijan. The prices are usually at an acceptable level.
Numerous marschutkas (minibuses) travel on the Georgian, Iranian and Russian sides to the border of Azerbaijan and from there there is always an Azerbaijani counterpart for the continuation of the journey.
Anyone who has the courage, the stamina and the nerve to drive at the wheel of a car through the Caucasus region, good luck . He / she will most likely need it. Narrow, dangerous roads with holes without guard rails directly on the precipice, locals who drive through the hills with a life-weary driving style and a hodgepodge of road users of all kinds make the trip an adventure, not a safe method of transportation.
Although the actual earthquake hazard is generally regarded as a threat, it is in the background in comparison to the colorful mix of other sources of danger. Hiring a vehicle is relatively straightforward on both Georgian and Azerbaijani sides. Travelers should, however, be prepared for the local negotiation and bring much patience before departure. The advantage of this method of travel lies in the maximum freedom and the opportunity to view and photograph beautiful Caucasus landscapes in peace.
The tourist development of Azerbaijan is still in its infancy . There are now functional structures for connecting to much of the country, but the condition of roads and vehicles is largely at an adventurous level. Not only for this reason, it often comes to accidents , but also because of the often careless and aggressive driving style of the locals. On pedestrian crossings alone, there is a death every day in Azerbaijan and over 1,000 wounded a year. The train runs very slowly, but is considered a bit safer.
Some parts of Azerbaijan can be reached by plane. Especially for a trip to the exclave of Nakhichevan, the plane is a means of transport. In addition, there are regular flights to Ganja, Yevlach and Lenkoran. Many flights still can not be booked over the internet and must be purchased locally.
Bus terminals are usually located next to the urban markets. Buses run on schedule, and minibuses depart as you fill. Fare everywhere is about the same and depends on the distance ( 3-15 AZN ).
As in other regions of the Caucasus, Azerbaijan also has numerous minibuses with about 8 to 14 seats plus drivers. They are called Marschrutkas and operate as a collective taxis. It waits until enough passengers are on board, and the journey begins. Not infrequently, more people are allowed into the vehicle than the number of seats would suggest.
Anyone who sees a moving Marschrutka and wants to ride, can signal this by a hand signal and is usually held when a place is free. Drivers often take a predefined route and stop to take other passengers.
Railway trains in the country are old and untidy, but the fare in them is cheap. Electric trains, ply between most cities, more comfortable high-speed express trains run to large settlements, passenger trains are delivered to remote regions. A trip from Baku to Ganja will cost, for example, 10 AZN
In Baku there is a working metro system which is unique to Azerbaijan. The fares are low and are independent of the length of the trip, but it regularly comes to failures. When traffic is good, the trains operate at a very high frequency, so passengers usually do not have to wait longer than 1-3 minutes, but only during operating hours between 6am and 1am. The mobile network works quite well within the trains and the train stations.
Taxis in Baku are not only fast and comfortable, but also beautiful: black and purple retro cars resemble London cabs. But in the provinces, things are different: there are passengers carrying "Zhiguli" and low-cost foreign cars. You can call the car by phone or catch it on the street, all bus stations and subway stations have parking. Each carrier sets its own tariffs, on average landing costs 1 AZN , each km - from 0.70 AZN . Transfer from the airport to the center costs 15-30 AZN . Before long-distance trips with taxi drivers it is better to bargain.
Rent a car
It is more convenient to inspect the beauty of Baku and other major Azerbaijani cities in your own car: the roads are not bad here, there are only traffic jams at rush hour. Driving in the provinces is a much more extreme adventure, but with proper patience and vigilance, potholes and gravel road are unlikely to become a serious obstacle. Both international (Avis) and local (AzCar, Aznur, etc.) rolling offices operate in Azerbaijan. Rent a small car will cost from 65 AZN , a standard model - from 80 AZN , an SUV - from 150 AZN per day. The cost of gasoline - 0.80-1 AZN per 1 liter.
To rent a car, you will need a passport (driver’s age - from 23) and international rights (driving experience - from 1 year). In addition to paying for the rental, a deposit is usually required (from half to full price), which is refunded upon delivery of the car. There are no toll roads in Azerbaijan, most of the parking lots are free, with the exception of some parking in the center of Baku ( 1 AZN per hour).
Those brave enough to venture into the traffic of Azerbaijan can enjoy a bit of personal freedom and independence by using a bicycle. Apart from the busy sections, it can be really enjoyable to travel that way, especially in a small group. However, travelers should not expect the comfort of a bicycle lane as in Central Europe. In terms of bicycle theft, Baku is considered relatively safe, but tourists should always use a high-quality lock for safety's sake.
Communication and Wi-fi
Three major Azerbaijani mobile operators - Azercell, Bakcell and Nar. The average cost of SIM cards is 5-10 AZN , you need an international passport for registration. You can connect in the official salons of communication, there are also sold cards to replenish the balance of 1-50 AZN . Money is also deposited through ATMs and terminals.
There are pay phones in the central streets of big cities, in some shops and at bus stations. Calls are paid by cards sold at post offices, supermarkets and newsstands. The cost of the card is from 5 AZN , a call home will cost 1-2 AZN per minute.
Wireless Internet access can only be found in large cities. Wi-Fi points are equipped at airports, some cafes and hotels. In public places - parks, stations and subway stations - the Internet is paid and is available only to Bakcell subscribers. It is most advantageous to buy SIM cards with prepaid traffic (from 0.20 AZN per day).
The in Azerbaijani society food has a very special and important role . Local food, table manners and general social contact, as part of a common meal, are among the cultural traits deeply rooted in the history, tradition and culture of the country.
The many different climatic zones that are part of Azerbaijan make a great contribution to the fact that there are many different local foods, which is reflected in the culinary diversity of Azerbaijan. A wide range of vegetables and fresh spices are growing in large quantities on the land, including coriander, dill, basil, tarragon and more exotic plants.
Its favorable position on the Caspian Sea also allows Azerbaijan to catch, prepare and serve a variety of fresh fish . Particularly popular are sturgeon, salmon, Caspian Kutum (Rutilus Kutum), sardines, the large-headed mullet (Mugil cephalus) and others. Internationally appreciated is the black caviar from the Caspian Sea, one of Azerbaijan's largest delicacies. The delicious goods can only be exported to a limited extent, but local visitors can taste as much as they want for as long as their wallet allows it.
Furthermore, soups are considered particularly popular in Azerbaijani cuisine, including some variations based on yoghurt. Among meat lovers, the many variations of kebab and shashlik dishes are especially tasty. One of the most popular dishes in Azerbaijan is Pilaw, also called Pilau, Pilaf or Pilav. It is an originally oriental dish made from rice, onions, broth and ingredients such as meat, fish and vegetables. After completing a delicious meal, many people in Azerbaijan like to drink the national drink, a black tea.
The specialty Dolma consists of vine leaves, which are filled with rice, minced lamb, onions and spices , including nuts. It is often eaten cold as an appetizer or as part of a meal with various ingredients. For the preparation of fresh grape leaves are used, where the stems are cut off. After blanching the grape leaves in boiling salted water, they are drained on a sieve, provided with the desired filling and rolled up. For cooking they are stacked in layers heated in a pot.
Visitors of Azerbaijan should definitely try a few shower bars during their stay. The small dumplings are filled with meat and side dishes and cooked. In addition to meat, onions, tomatoes and spices usually fill.
The meat specialty Pastırma consists of seasoned beef jerky , which usually serves as a cold appetizer or part of a main course.
The tasty casserole Lavangi consists of chicken, which is prepared with walnuts and herbs. Lavangi is particularly popular in the south of the country.
This mix of mutton, herbs and spices around a shish kebab is often served with lavash (thin bread).
These are marinated lamb pieces in a mix of onions, vinegar and pomegranate juice, which are prepared on a large barbecue skewer.
The delicious delicacy Balik is sturgeon (sometimes another type of fish), which is grilled on a skewer and usually served with a fruit sauce.
Buglama in Azerbaijan refers to the type of preparation and means that a dish is cooked slowly with little or no added liquid . Fish Buglama is often served with fresh vegetables and herbs.
Caspian kutum or carp is cooked with walnuts, onions and spices in the oven until a hearty casserole arises.
The national soup of Azerbaijan , Piti, consists of mutton and vegetables (mostly tomatoes, potatoes and / or chickpeas), refined with saffron.
The pea soup Kufta Bosbasch consists of lamb meatballs and potatoes. The meatballs are made from chopped lamb with rice and sometimes also dried plums.
Lamb soup with noodles
Azerbaijani chicken soup
A soup based on yoghurt and served with sorrel, spinach and rice and dried peas, sometimes also small meatballs made from mutton. Dowga is served hot in winter and often cold in summer.
The widespread Pilaw dish is available in over 40 varieties , with rice always being the basis. The most popular recipes include Kurma Pilaw with Mutton and Onions, Chilow Pilaw with Beans and Fish, Tojuk Pilaw with Chicken Meat, Schirin Pilaw with Dried Fruit and Scheschrianch Pilaw, also called Six-Color Pilaf, consisting of eggs, onions and other ingredients.
Particularly popular among residents of Azerbaijan are very sweet, slightly sticky, syrup-saturated pastry specialties. Probably the best known representatives are Baklava and Halva. In most cases, dessert will be served with fresh seasonal fruit, including cherries, apricots, plums and grapes.
The puff pastry Baklava is provided with a sweet filling, which usually consists of crushed walnuts, almonds and / or pistachios. Baklava is placed in syrup made from boiled sugar water and cut into a diamond shape before consumption. Especially children love this sugary specialty. For baklava, there are often strong, black mocha, which with its slightly bitter taste is a welcome contrast to the very sweet pastry.
The base of this dessert consists of a mush of oil seed and sugar (alternatively glucose syrup or honey). It is refined with vanilla, cocoa, nuts, almonds, pistachios or regional special ingredients.
In Islamic-dominated Azerbaijan, alcoholic drinks are more likely to be niche. The national drink is black tea and Ayran is often drunk, similar to Turkey.
A special local drink is also Scherbet , a sweet cold fruit juice, which is refined with sugar and spices. There are many variants of very viscous, jelly-like Scherbet up to very thin liquid forms. The most popular flavors include lemon, pomegranate, strawberry, cherry and apricot.
Mineral water is also considered a popular drink. The local brands include Aysu, Badamli, Sirab, Tamiz and Qax.
Do's and Dont's
Similar to other peoples in the Caucasus region, people in Azerbaijan really like cordial, friendly greetings . They approach each other more closely and practice stronger physical contact than is normally the case with Central Europeans. Friendly men greet each other with " salaam ", which means "peace" and means "hello", and often give themselves first a wonderful handshake, followed by a kiss on the cheek.
Courtesies at the welcome
Women usually hug and kiss on the left cheek. They usually do not shake hands with men within their society, but many will do so with visitors from other countries. While women from Armenia and other Christian Caucasus peoples politely wait for the man's outstretched hand, men in Azerbaijan should wait for the woman's first step or give up the handshake. Devout Muslim women will in principle not touch the hand of an unknown man.
It is a good thing to always inquire after a family, health and business. For persons of the same age, the first name is usually used without being disrespectful. For lesser known persons, who could possibly be special respecters, a title can be attached to the first name as a courtesy, usually with women "Hanum" ("Lady") and with men "Bey" ("Mr."). Younger people should begin the greeting over older ones.
Within Azerbaijani culture, thinking about a gift counts more than the actual gift . Anyone who can show that he has dealt a little with the interests, thoughts and preferences of the recipient and accordingly has found a suitable little present can score particularly well.
Greater gifts are given away on birthdays and weddings, and smaller ones on invitations to a special meal. If you are invited by an Azerbaijani family or a couple, it may be good to bring some flowers or sweets for the hostess. The gifts should be wrapped up and ideally (at least on one occasion) come from the country of origin of the person giving the gift or have a special reference to the person being gifted.
If a manageable number of flowers is given away, this should be an odd number (even numbers are used at funerals). Alcohol is not a gift in Muslim-dominated Azerbaijan, unless one is sure that, on the one hand, the recipient will like it and, on the other hand, no one inside the people who can see it would have a problem with it.
Visitors to Azerbaijan should also know that it is part of the courtesy of the country to refuse gifts once or twice before they are finally accepted with reluctance. Visitors, who want to accept the local culture a little, should not immediately take gifts accordingly, but express that the gift is too valuable and the donor should not have made such a great effort. In addition, gifts should not be opened immediately, but at a later date. It is also good form to return a gift after a while with an at least equivalent gift.
In a friendly environment, visitors do not have to dress formally. However, care should be taken not to wear too tight clothing and not to flaunt too much skin, especially for ladies. Even in a private environment, shoulders, elbows and knees should be covered.
Basically, the behavior at the table is quite formal. The hands should stay over the edge of the table and the elbows below. Who does not know exactly how he should behave, is best based on the other participants on the board. Guests should stop until they are asked to sit down, often in a designated location. The food is traditionally served by the hostess or her helper (inside). Older people get first, then the guests and finally the children. The left hand is basically considered dirty and should therefore not be used to eat or pass on food.
Take off shoes
When visiting people from Azerbaijan in their private home visitors should take off their shoes. In some cases, slippers are provided. No matter how many people are on site, everyone should be greeted individually and sincerely.
When making a date in the private home of a host, the time is often interpreted quite generous. Appearance up to 30 minutes after the agreed time is usually still accepted as socially acceptable. In business life, basic, important decisions are rarely made very quickly, but usually - if at all - only after tough negotiations.
The official language in Azerbaijan is Azerbaijani , a Turkic language that is very close to Turkish. Those who are able to speak moderate to good Turkish will also be able to communicate with Azerbaijan natives in that language, even if it is advisable to use simple Turkish words, to speak slowly and to patiently repeat his statement.
Traditionally, Russian is considered a lingua franca and is ruled by most people born back to the Soviet era. However, Russian is losing its importance and is being steadily replaced by English. Especially in Baku, English is spoken and understood by many people, especially in hotels and in places frequented by Western visitors.
As in other countries, travelers in Azerbaijan can score points by speaking a few words and phrases in the local language. Since 1991, Azerbaijani is written in a script based on the Latin alphabet.
Nightlife and Party
The best nightlife in Azerbaijan takes place in the capital Baku . Numerous pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues with live music as well as clubs and discos in the western style invite you to go out, celebrate and dance until the early hours of the morning, with the prices for admission and drinks are generally cheaper than in western countries. This is followed by a collection of bars and clubs frequented by expats and modern residents of Azerbaijan. Some are in hotels, but are also frequented by guests who do not stay at the hotel. In addition to many other bars and pubs, Finnegan's Irish Pub is a good place to meet other travelers and expats.
The area represented on most maps as part of Azerbaijan is not under the control of the country and can only be traveled from Armenia . It is advised not to travel to this area or to nearby areas under Armenian control, such as Agdam, Füsuli, Jabrayil, Sangilan, Kubadli, Ladzhin and Kalbadshar.
Landmines must be expected in these locations and occasional firefights are commonplace.
The security situation in Azerbaijan can be described as relatively good, with the overall crime rate being low . However, travelers should also take the usual international security precautions in this country. This includes not being single-minded to visit dark and remote places, not displaying valuables too obviously, behaving rather defensively, respecting local culture and fundamentally avoiding conflict.
Travelers should always carry their passport or a copy with them, as foreigners' ID checks are common place.
When leaving Azerbaijan, only certain quantities of different goods may be taken. In some cases, derogations are possible but, in principle, the statutory levels should not be exceeded.
The maximum amounts are three liters of alcoholic beverages, three bars of cigarettes, 125g of caviar and cash worth (converted) 1000 USD. Gold may be exported free of charge up to a value of $ 1000, and overlying quantities will be subject to a 1.5% export duty. In principle, all goods that weigh more than 50kg and have a value of more than 1000 USD must be declared subject to duty and there is an export duty of 1.5%. Certain works of art and antiques can only be carried out with the appropriate permission, which can be granted by the Ministry of Culture if necessary.
The import of cash is unlimited. Upon departure, however, the whereabouts of the funds must be proven.
Tourists in Azerbaijan have the right to freely photograph and videotape wherever they like, except for the subway and military installations. For filming in the subway will require special permission. A traveler who wants to take a picture of a stranger must ask permission to do so.
Prostitution in Azerbaijan has the status of an administrative offense. Violations can result in exhortations and / or fines.
Before traveling to Azerbaijan, visitors to the country should take out a health insurance policy valid in that country. In addition, it is strongly recommended that this insurance includes travel insurance. Otherwise, in case of emergency, big problems and high costs can be paid to the person concerned.
Preparation / Vaccinations / First Aid Kit
Individuals who depend on certain medications should carry them with them on a trip to Azerbaijan in sufficient quantities. However, it should be noted that certain substances may not be authorized for entry into Azerbaijan. It is recommended to contact the relevant embassy or consulate, if necessary, in advance of your visit to Azerbaijan to clarify any questions.
In addition, especially for people who are prone to discomfort, going to the family doctor or a travel physician is recommended to minimize potential risks. It should also be checked their own vaccine protection . Common protective measures include vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A (refresh interval usually every 10 years). For longer stays or special contact with pathogens, vaccinations against hepatitis B, typhoid and rabies are also recommended.
Medical care in Azerbaijan
In Baku there is an acceptable medical care, but in the rest of the country the situation is rather below average to very bad.
If necessary, an "SOS clinic" in which English-speaking doctors work can be contacted in Baku. The address is the following.
International SOS (Yusif Safarov St. 1 Khatai District Baku, AZ 1014 )
Tel: +99412 489 54 71, +99412 493 50 03, +99412 493 73 54, +99412 493 57 33;
Mobile: +99412 50 212 69 21
Special precautions to protect one's own health should be practiced in Azerbaijan, as the hygienic conditions on the ground are well below the level of Central Europe . The transmission of viruses and bacteria that cause disease is not uncommon. Tap water should not be drunk in any case.
Also the renunciation of ice cubes from foreign hand is suggested to travelers. Special care should be taken when preparing and selling dishes in the open air. Fruit should always be washed very hot before consumption. In addition, illnesses can be caused by eating uncooked food, such as salads prepared with mayonnaise. Hot drinks are less questionable, but cold ones should only be drunk from closed containers.
Azerbaijan is largely malaria-free , but there is a potential risk in the border area with Iran, the southern part of the country, the northeast, the Khachmas region, as well as around Baku. Baku itself is considered harmless with regard to malaria. The disease can occur only weeks or months after a stay in Azerbaijan. Therefore, any symptoms that are easily confused with a simple flu should always be taken seriously.
In many parts of Azerbaijan there is an increased risk of rabies , also in the cities, especially by stray dogs. Those who are bitten by unclean animals or have an open wound and come too close in contact with potential carriers, should see a doctor immediately, especially if no vaccine was carried out from the apron.
Travelers should be prepared for a high risk of intestinal infections and diarrheal diseases when visiting Azerbaijan.