My dear travellers, how are you today? Before I begin with today’s post, I would like to thank you for the wonderful comments which you have sent to me for previous post about Azerbaijan. I am glad you liked Baku and I sincerely hope you will enjoy the post I have prepared for you today. For anyone who has not arrived yet to read my story from Baku or you would like to remind of some details, you can visit this LINK.
Have you ever wondered what the world looked like 20,000 years ago? What kind of people were then? What was their culture and religion customs? Has their consciousness been developed as it is today? Which language did they speak? We can find answers to all these questions from experts in archeology and history, but so far it all comes down to interpreting certain assumptions.
In today’s post, you’ll have the opportunity to see the cradle of Azeri culture, I’m taking you to Gobustan National Park. This trip was a whole new experience for me as I learned a lot of new information and had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of this lovely country.
Before I begin today’s post, I would like to thank the National Tourism Board of the Republic of Azerbaijan for this wonderful and exceptional experience. It has been a huge honour for me to get to know a completely different culture and I hope that I will be able to go there again and continue my adventure during my lifetime.
Gobustan National Nature Reserve, located just few kilometres west of the city of Gobustan, was founded in 1966, when the region was declared a National Historic Landmark of Azerbaijan in an effort to preserve ancient carvings, mud volcanoes and gas rocks. Gobustan National Park is very rich in archeological monuments, the reserve has more than 6,000 carved stone paintings depicting primitive people, animals, paintings of fights, ritual dances, boats with armed paddlers, warriors with spears in their hands, camels, images of the sun and star. These paintings are thought to be on average 5,000 to 20,000 years old.
Gobustan National Historical and Cultural Reserve gained national status in 2006. In July 2007, the Gobustan National Couple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The carvings and petroglyphs in this place depict fascinating images of prehistoric life in the Caucasus. Well-preserved paintings depict ancient boat-traveling populations, antelope men and wild bulls, while some depict women dancing. Well-known Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heierdahl returned to Azerbaijan several times between 1961 and his death in 2002 to investigate the site in his work “Search for Odin”.
The language of the ancient population of Gobustan is partly controversial, but the petroglyphs still provide information about the lives of prehistoric people who lived here. More than 4,000 pictures of animals, humans, certain life experiences, hunting and dancing have been carved over thousands of years. Most petroglyphs are found on large cliffs, and in some cases are carved on larger older rocks. The first carvings depicted natural figures of humans and animals, often irregularly, but over time they began to increasingly resemble the dimensions and proportions of their subjects, including such details as the muscles of the feet of humans in the hunting scene.
The heads of human figures are usually small and carved with no nose, mouth, eyes or ears. However, experts do not interpret this lack of facial features as an indication that Gobustan artists lack technical skill, as some carvings show a greater degree of complexity and detail. Many scenes from tribal life have been shown among the petroglyphs, and pictures from the “Seven Beauty Cave” indicate that women may have been involved in the hunt.
I have to admit, it’s an amazing feeling when you see all those pictures in stone that who knows when done by people who lived there thousands of years ago. The pictures prove that they had an awareness of all the things that surrounded them, that they had a particular religious cult that they believed in and studied the stars.
The natural world of Gobustan is much more convenient than other regions of Azerbaijan. However, the natural conditions of these places were completely different 20-25 thousand years ago. From the drawings of animals and human figures on Gobustan, the rocks appear to have been under a warm climate of 10 to 12 thousand years. Men wore light clothing, men tightened their limbs, and women wore short leather dresses. Due to the constant warm weather, greenery and large amount of water, these places were the habitats of wild animals: bulls, horses, deer, goats and other animals that lived in Gobustan.
From stone drawings and archaeological writings, wolves, tigers, foxes, jackals and other wild animals were found in this place in ancient times. In 1968, when they cut a layer of stone about 3 feet in size near Atbulah, large bones of an unknown animal were accidentally cut off. The workers informed the Ministry of Culture of the Azerbaijan SSR, not knowing what those bones were. After examining the discovered bones, it was determined that these bones were the remains of a “Southern Elephant” that lived in what is now Gobustan.
Perhaps during my visit to this national treasure of Azerbaijan, weather was one of the aggravating factors, but I enjoyed the beautiful view that stretches along the region.
Due to the temperature and the landscape, I had the impression that I was going on a safari and that I would see a giraffe soon, but that was just my imagination!
It is estimated that 300 of the world’s 700 mud volcanoes on the planet are located in the Gobustan, Azerbaijan and Caspian Sea. Many local and world-renowned geologists have come to study this natural phenomenon called “Mud Volcanoes” such as Firuz, Gobustan, Salian Crater and have come to some discoveries where they have stated that mud from these volcanoes has healing purposes.
After we finished our tour of Gobustan National Park, our guide took us to see some more interesting sights, one of which is another natural phenomenon that attracts tourists who come to visit Azerbaijan, called Yanar Dag.
Yanar Dag (translated from the Azeri language, meaning “Burning Mountain”) is a natural gas fire that burns constantly on the slope of the Apsheron Mountains in the Caspian Sea near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. You may remember when I mentioned in my previous post how Azerbaijan was known as the “Land of Fire”. Flames can reach up to 3 meters in the air from a thin, porous layer of sandstone.
Yanar Dag officially belongs administratively to the Absheron region. Unlike mud volcanoes, the Yanar Dag flame burns fairly steadily, as it uses a continuous outflow of gas from the underground.
It is claimed that the Yanar Dag flame was only noticed when it was accidentally ignited by a shepherd in the 1950s. No mud or liquid can be seen, which distinguishes it from the nearby volcanic muds of Lokbatan or Gobustan. In the territory of Yanar Dag, by the Presidential Decree of May 2, 2007, a State Historical, Cultural and Natural Reserve was established, which is under the control of the State Tourism Agency of Azerbaijan.
After a major renovation that lasted almost 2 years (2017-2019), the Yanar Dag Museum and the Yanar Dag Cromlech Stone Exhibition were launched in the area of this unusual reserve.
Our next stop – the Temple of Fire! I know this may not mean much to you at first sight, but remember the fact that Azerbaijan is a “Land of Fire”, so it is quite logical that they have a “fire” temple.
Baku Ateshgah (Azerbaijani: Atəsgah), often called the “Baku Fire Temple”, is a religious temple similar to a castle in Surakhani city. Based on the Persian inscriptions the temple was used as a Hindu, Sikh and Zoroastrian place of worship. “Atash” (ạtsẖ) is a Persian word for fire. The Pentagonal complex, which has a courtyard surrounded by cells for monks and a tetrapillary altar in the middle, was built during the 17th and 18th centuries. This temple was abandoned in the late 19th century, probably because of the diminishing Hindu population in the surrounding area. The natural eternal flame extinguished in 1969 after nearly a century of oil and gas exploitation in the area, but is now lit by gas from Baku.
Baku Ateshgah was the pilgrimage and philosophical center of the Zoroastrians from the northwestern Indian subcontinent, who were involved in trade with the Caspian region via the famous “Great Road”. The four sacred elements of their belief were: ateshi (fire), badi (air), abi (water), and heki (earth). The temple ceased to be a place of worship after 1883 with the erection of oil plants (industries) at Surakhani.
The complex was turned into a museum in 1975. The Ateshgah Fire Temple was nominated for a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, and on December 19, 2007, by the decree of the President of Azerbaijan, it was declared a National Historic and Architectural Reserve.
My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Airlines for this incredible adventure and Boulevard Hotel Baku for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.
How do you like this post about National Park Gobustan? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Azerbaijan before? I would like to share with me your experience! In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Azerbaijan, and I will show you one interesting Lahij village which I visited during my visit. Stay tuned!
If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.