Posts tagged Azerbaijan Airlines

Letters from Azerbaijan: What We Really Need to Be Happy?

Dear travellers, Good morning and welcome to another new post on the Mr.M blog. The season of vacations is going to end soon and we are preparing for some new work “victories”. I sincerely hope that you had a great time and that you made the most of your vacation memorable. As I did mine in Azerbaijan. This morning I was thinking about: “What We Really Need to Be Happy?”

Today’s post will be dedicated to the capital of Azerbaijan and one slightly different story. I am sure that for many of us it is always a problem to pack adequate clothing for the journey. I have to admit that I found myself in huge problem when I needed to pack my luggage. I had no idea what I need to pack and to prepare for 34-36 degrees in Azerbaijan when I checked weather forecast for the last time before my trip.

The first question I asked myself was, “Is there high humidity?”. The capital of Azerbaijan – Baku is blessed with climate. Due to its geographical location, colder air from Russia comes from North. While slightly warm and sandy air comes from Iran from the South. This unusual combination of climate and proximity to the Caspian Sea makes it easy to survive a tropical summer in Azerbaijan.

For the first time in my life, I packed a small suitcase and that half the things I didn’t manage to wear. That’s why I sometimes fool myself in the judgement… Anything is possible!

Due to the weather conditions in Azerbaijan during the summer, it is best to equip yourself with the clothes made mostly of Linen. Linen is the best natural material which allow our skin to breathe, I know there is another side of the story – it is hard to iron. Linen may be the best material when these high tropical temperatures come, but be prepared to iron almost every time when you come back to the hotel. If you are not used to iron, try a well-tried recipe.

When take off the linen clothes, place it immediately on a chair and fold your hands over the material, imitating the movements of the iron and leaving it overnight. The problem is that not every type of the linen react the same, so depending on the quality and the fabric processing of the linen itself, it depends on whether you will be able to straighten your linen garment. I have succeeded on this trip a few times since I have not separated from my white linen shirt. Sometimes we need so little for happiness! My happiness is when I do not need to iron my clothes too much, because I’m perfectionist, so I just can’t stand it if it is not good!

The second best material that can help you withstand high temperatures is viscose. Viscose is also natural material that cools and refresh the skin, of course, sometimes the opposite effect can occur when the combination of high temperature and high humidity, then only God is helpful to you, I will just say that I well remembered what spring in Sri Lanka looks like… You do not know Is it worse that you feel like you are a chicken in the oven or a feeling of helplessness that you cannot fully enjoy in a tropical paradise…

Baku is different and be prepared to bring with you comfortable and light clothing with you very, very comfortable shoes because believe me, YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED THEM! Baku is a huge city, boulevards are long and wide, so if you’re a fan of walking, get ready for a marathon. Transportation in Baku is very cheap, so you can use the transportation. The transport system is such that you can buy one card, but the difference is that one card can be used by more than one person, so you do not have to buy more than one card. The price of the card is about 2 USD, while the price of the ticket for one way ride is about 0.20 or 0.30 cents (USD), which you have to admit is much cheaper than Germany, where is one ride costs almost 3 Euros (2.80 in Berlin to be exact)…

As far as we are talking about food, trust me you won’t be hungry or thirsty, food is extremely affordable. I will only tell you that lunch for 4 people cost about 60-70 euros, and on the table were more than two kilograms of meat roast, various salads, various pies and sweet treats which is again similar, if not cheaper than the prices in European restaurants. Market prices are ok, I know prices of candies are much lower than European ones.

In previous posts from Azerbaijan, you have seen the cutest Marko in some pretty fancy cloths, but 80% of my time was spent in this let’s just say a simpler casual outfit. I changed two pairs of jeans and 3 linen shirts (which, by the way, were the same colors, same model) otherwise I am a person who binds to one model for a some period of time so in my free time (when I not taking photos for the blog) I only wear that one model in multiple colors (sometimes even in the same colour) until I’m not get bored, so I find some new “love.”

As I mentioned earlier, when you travel the most important thing is comfort. This is some of my suggestion for a summer version of the vacation outfit when traveling somewhere in the summer and exploring other parts of the country along the way, since I also went to rural areas where expensive clothes would surely be of no use for me.

OUTFIT

Shirt: Makia

Jeans: Pedro del Hierro

Backpack: Picard

Sneakers: Makia

Camera: Sony Alpha 7r IILens: Sony G Master 24-70 MM

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friends at Makia Clothing for their trust, as well as my associates from the Picard brand who have always been there to support my work. The products of these two companies have always been helpful to me on my trips. Makia clothing is simple, practical and functional, while other Picard leather accessories are of high quality and very durable.

All the backpacks I got from Picard are still like new, of course I clean and treat them nice after every adventure so I don’t let leather get ruined. As a traveler who always carries a laptop, camera and big lens in my travel bag and some other necessities I need to survive a classic day on the journey, I can tell you that Picard products are high quality.

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 Board of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Airlines for this incredible adventure and Qafqaz Thermal & Spa Resort Hotel Yengija for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this story about this simple and casual outfit? I am sure that you have one nice white linen shirt in your closet, use it and make this summer unforgettable! 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 Europe. This time i will take you to Baltic and we will visit the capital of Latvia – Riga.

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.

Best,
Mr.M

P.S. If you want to know more about Azerbaijan you should read my other posts, I am sure you will find plenty of interesting tips and information about this incredible country:

  1. Letters from Azerbaijan: Lahij, place where dreams are made of Copper…
  2. Letters from Azerbaijan: Gobustan, the Cradle of Azeri Culture…
  3. Letters from Azerbaijan: Baku, a modern city made of traditional dreams…
This post was sponsored by National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Boulevard Hotel Baku. I also thank my friends from  Makia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfit and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Azerbaijan: Lahij, place where dreams are made of copper…

Hello my dear travellers, welcome to new post on the Mr.M blog. How are you doing today? Has something interesting happened to you today? Some people are back from vacation, while some lucky ones are just getting ready to start their journey. In the past few days, I read on the social networks comments from some people, like: “Why we call our vacation “annual leaving”, if it only lasts for 2,3 weeks… It is not fair!”. I agree with them, but what to do it looks like it’s another “wrong” name, such some terms like “final discounts”, and in the store you will find the maximum of 20% discount… Sweet “white” lies which we just love and want to believe.

In the previous two posts you had the opportunity to get to know Baku and see where the cradle of Azeri culture – Gobustan National Park. In today’s post you will meet an interesting village, which is located in the most beautiful part of Azerbaijan, at the heart of the Caucasus.

Of course, before I start today’s post I would like to thank the National Tourism Board of the Republic of Azerbaijan for its excellent organization, as well as other partners of this project who made our stay in Azerbaijan unforgettable!

Tural, our guide told us the opinion of the local people in Azerbaijan, which is that they consider that the road to Lahij village is one of the most beautiful in Azerbaijan. You can see how nature has adapted to climate and you have the great opportunity yo enjoy the view of mountains, plains and sea.

I must admit that usually when traveling somewhere by car, I try to rest and get some sleep because press trips can be extremely stressful at times and I use every free moment for rest and relaxation. However this time was different, the trip was different and I decided to show you these beauties of nature to people who may choose to visit Azerbaijan one day!

The people of Azerbaijan are simple, kind and frank. The language may be a small barrier, but because of its close proximity to Russia, many people know Russian. Maybe this fact helps from Balkan region like me because the Russians can understand some of Serbian words which makes it easier for some basic communication. Of course a lot of people speak English as well, but we are talking about older generations who lives in rural areas.

Tural explained to us the geographical location of Azerbaijan and some basic things about places where we are going, so this trip passed so fast for us quickly. Of course we took a couple of breaks, maybe the trip was a little longer, but we learned a lot about Azerbaijan.

At the first break, I used the time to take a picture by the sea… Well, I went well all way to far away Azerbaijan, I guess I deserved to have at least one nice picture with my best friend, I’m most afraid of – water. Strange, but very interesting love!

Shortly after these breaks, we came to our first stop on this short car trip. My hosts wanted to show me their oldest and largest mosque in Azerbaijan – the Juma Mosque. According to legend, it was built in the 8th century when Shamakhi was chosen as the residence of the Arab Caliph. This is why Shamakhi Juma looked like one of the oldest mosques in the Caucasus region. The architecture of this large complex is as follows – the huge prayer hall is divided into three independent sections that are connected with wide open arches.

Each part has its own separate mikhrab and an entrance. After considerable destruction of the mosque during wars and earthquakes, it was repeatedly reconstructed and restored. The current appearance of the mosque was formed in the early 20th century. The mosque was practically rebuilt on an old basis without losing the basic principles of its structure. There are still three halls. In addition, the central hall is covered by a huge dome and the other two smaller domes.

Below the central dome is a window belt. The windows are decorated with bars. The whole facade is decorated with tracery lattices. Built more than 1,200 years ago, the Shamakhi Juma Mosque remains one of the largest cult structures in the Caucasus region.

Mikhrab in the main Hall.

It was a great honor for me to visit this holy place and learn more about the history of this part of Azerbaijan. I was particularly attracted to the harem of the mosque (this word has different meaning, but also it is the name of the enclosed courtyard of the mosque) at the entrance to the mosque, as it was arranged as a small green oasis of peace and happiness.

We had to continue our journey, because we had a long way to go to Lahij village, and we had a few more things to see. We got in the car and continued our trip. Of course I got my camera ready, the photographer fell asleep from the heat, so I had to do some of his work. Nobody knows my “blogging” troubles on the trip when I have different roles to play at the same time…

You are maybe wondering why we headed to Lahij village? Lahij is a remote village located in the Ismaiilli area of Azerbaijan, on the slopes of the Greater Caucasus. About 2,000 people live in this village, mostly belonging to a minority ethnic group that speaks Tat.

Lahij is one of the oldest permanently populated places in the world. Moreover, the sewerage system of the village dates back to 1000 years ago, which during this time you must admit was very unusual and commendable. For example, large European cities such as Paris and London did not have sewerage system until the 13th – 14th centuries. Incredible, isn’t it?

The facilities and master plan of the village are very unique. As a result of frequent earthquakes, locals have developed sophisticated and authentic construction techniques. Traditionally, people used the ground floor of houses as workshops and workrooms. The houses here are characterized by flat roofs. In addition, some houses have balconies overlooking the street.

The history and story of the village, are associated with many legends. According to one legend, many years ago there was a town of 36,000 inhabitants called La. One day a major earthquake happened and La was leveled to the ground. There was no town afterwards, but the place name changed to La-hec. “Hec” in Azerbaijani means nothing or zero. Over time, people came to live in this settlement again. At that time, La-hec changed to Lahi.

According to another legend, the Persian Shah Kai Khosrov killed a prominent ruler of a city, which caused great unrest in his country. Finally, after some power and throne struggles, the defeated chess decided to flee the country to save his life. He later found refuge in the mountains near modern Lahi. The Shah servants established the village of Lahij for their families. Eventually Kai Khosrov died there, but gradually the small village expanded and turned into a settlement.

This is the way how locals consider themselves to be descendants of Kay Khosrov’s original court. Moreover, they claim that the name of the village comes from a place called Lahian in Persia. A tomb with a tombstone belonging to Kai Khosrov was found at the Zavara cemetery in Lahij along with other tombstones dating back more than a thousand years.

In the medieval period the village became an important center of craftsmen in Azerbaijan. Lahij’s artisans have started to become very popular throughout Asia and Europe. In the 18th century, the city gained a reputation for producing cold steel weapons and copper. Many of them, such as copper pots and lamps and weapons, still adorn famous European museums, especially the Louvre and the Hermitage. Today, the village and its entire heritage are protected, but open to tourists. The spirit of medieval times and the path of ancient silk is still found in Lahij.

Also, there is one interesting museum in this picturesque place called the Museum of Local History of Lahij and you can find many interesting exhibits in it and learn more about the history of this unusual village.

The museum was opened in 1985 within the Lahij Historical and Cultural Reserve. Initially it was part of the historical and cultural nature reserve, but since 1992 it has the function of an independent cultural object of significance. The museum itself is housed in a building known in Lahi as the “Aghaoglu Mosque”, which was built in 1914.

The exhibit of the museum consists of more than 1000 exhibits in 10 different sections. The exhibits date from ancient examples of crafts, including ceramic specimens, specimens more than 2000 years old, bellows made in the 18th century for copper smelting and other livestock and trade related parts, as well as information on the city’s underground irrigation system operating since 15th Century!

The development of international tourism, together with some new knowledge about people and cultures, has resulted in a gradual interest in the cultural diversity of the region. Lahij has attracted the attention of many world tourists in recent years and as a result Lahij village is now included in the tours of several leading travel agencies.

The time for move came and we continued our journey, we had an amazing time in Lahij village, but Gabala is calling us! Gabala (Azerbaijani: Kəbələ, also known as Kabala, the capital of the Kabbalah district) The municipality consists of the city of Gabala and the town of Kusnat village. Previously, the city was known as Kutkashen, but after the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the city was renamed in honor of the much older city of Gabala.

The geographical location and mountainous relief of the city greatly influenced the formation of complex climatic conditions in the vertical arid region, as well as the density of the river network and the richness of land and vegetation cover.

The facilitated and humid climatic conditions of the Gabala region led to the formation of a dense river network in the area. The city is rich in chestnut and hazelnut trees. The flora and fauna of the district are very rich. Deer, wild boars, rabbits, bears, wolves, foxes and numerous birds can be found in the forest.

Gabala is an ideal tourist destination due to its combination of unusual spring climate, mountain scenery and diverse fauna. There are many world-class hotels and resorts, much of the Kafkaz hotel chain. The region’s natural climatic conditions create opportunities for summer and winter tourism development in the region. The northern side of Gabala belongs to the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, the central part of the Alazan-Haftaran Valley, the southern part of the Ainohur Mountains.

In addition, Azerbaijan has the highest mountain peak in Azerbaijan – Bazarduz Mountain (4466 meters). Also in Gabala is the Ieddi Gozel waterfall. In translation, it means ‘seven beauties’ because of its seven phases of decline, but it also depicts the classic story of Nizami Ganjavi. The city also contains the Gabaland Amusement Park, a skating rink and Greek-style theater built specifically for concerts and outdoor events. Gabala also has several malls. The city is home to the Tufandag Ski Resort, which is rated as the best ski resort in Azerbaijan and one of the main in the Caucasus.

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 Qafqaz Thermal & Spa Resort Hotel Yengija 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.

Best,
Mr.M

P.S. If you want to know more about Azerbaijan you should read my other posts, I am sure you will find plenty of interesting tips and information about this incredible country:

This post was sponsored by National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Qafqaz Thermal & Spa Resort Hotel Yengija. I also thank my friends from Loro PianaMakia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfits and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Azerbaijan: Gobustan, the Cradle of Azeri Culture…

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.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Hotel Boulevard Baku. I also thank my friends from Loro PianaMakia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfits and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Azerbaijan: Baku, a modern city made of traditional dreams…

My dear travellers, welcome to my blog! The holiday mood is ON, so there is a plenty of time that we can spend on a nice trip. As I promised you a few days ago in the previous posts, August will be very interesting time as we will discover some new unusual destinations together.

When I received an e-mail from the National Tourist Board of Azerbaijan few months ago, I could not imagine that this summer I would have the opportunity to get to know a whole new culture of Azerbaijan. The first email I received from them was short, but it was straightforward with the question of whether I was free this year to meet the land of fire, which is located somewhere between Europe and Asia. I couldn’t even think about the trip, but my minds were already somewhere in the Caucasus region.

In collaboration with the Tourism Board of the Republic of Azerbaijan and their national airline Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), I was able to visit this incredible country and I’ve got an amazing opportunity to #takeanotherlook. In July, my photographer and I just checked in our suitcases full of dreams and we started our adventure!

After less than 5 hours from cozy Berlin, my photographer and I jumped into summer outfits, because surely the temperature difference at that point was about 20 degrees. Azerbaijan Airlines definitely “bought” me for a little interesting little sign of attention! They had an ice cream on the flight, so far it was the first time that I experienced that on a flight I have dessert like this, so you could enjoy on their flights with this lovely summer sweet treat.

Journeys are a wonderful thing and anyone who is able to go around the world you should pick up magnets just to have some nice memories from the trips, until as they can normally open the door of the refrigerator! 😀

In my case it will be my aspirator in the kitchen where there is no room for new magnets anymore. My mom constantly criticizes me, but again somehow we clean the dust on the aspirator together, so I’m the one who even though I’m scared of heights, climbing on the ladders while mom is cleaning the magnets which I give to her… And so the same story repeats every 2 to 3 months. Sometimes is hard, but that is the price of having some priceless memories.

This is the first picture I made in the capital of Azerbaijan – Baku, a city that you will learn more about in today’s post. At first sight, Baku looks like one city from the future, you see all those skyscrapers that just don’t know which one is bigger. As you approach to the center, you realize that the city has some unusual warmth and architecture is totally different than in other countries.

Previous rulers and politicians have been great lovers of the arts and aesthetes who have strived to beautify their country in the best possible way. The inspiration for the architecture of Baku comes mostly from Europe, specifically from Italy and France, where architects have found unrivaled inspiration.

Baku represents the social, cultural and industrial center of Azerbaijan. In recent years, Baku has become an important place where many international cultural events take place. Azerbaijan hosted the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, European Games 2015. Baku, the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix of 2016, also hosted the 2018 UEFA League Finals and will be one of the UEFA Euro 2020 host cities. Impressive isn’t it?!

Since my photographer and I arrived in the evening, we wanted to rest and to prepare for the next day. We had a real adventure and a long tour which will help us to get know Baku! The next morning I woke up fresh and with smile on my face and we could start our first official day in Azerbaijan!

The nice weather, the sun, the full camera battery and the ready photographer was just enough for me to start a new adventure! Of course, my photographer immediately did his best to show me how good I could look in Azerbaijan. I think because of my beard, I was able to pass all out like an Azeri guy…

Shirt: Makia 
Backpack: Picard

Whoever has followed my stories on Instagram certainly remembers the intensity of the wind and then I fully understood those words of our old wise people: “The wind blows so heavily that it carries the trees!”, Now I had the opportunity to feel it on my skin. It was quite exciting!

In the picture above in the background you can see 3 buildings that are symbol of the city. Surely you’re wondering why they’re the symbol of the city? These are just three ordinary, beautiful modern buildings. You get the right answer to that question in the evening when these buildings, with the help of modern technology and ice screens, become the “Towers of Flame” that are a symbol of Baku.

After we had finished our photo shooting and we used the morning light, our guide Tural came to us, who was there to reveal to us all the secrets of this lovely land, which lies somewhere between East and West, somewhere between Europe and Asia. Tural told us that if we want to get to know Baku better, we must visit the old part of the city first, because that is the only way to understand the real value of this wonderful city.

About 100,000 years ago, the territory of modern Baku and Apheseron was savannah with rich flora and fauna. The first traces of human settlement date back to the Stone Age. Since the Bronze Age, rock carvings have been discovered near Bajil and a bronze figure of small fish has been discovered in the Old Town.

These findings led many to the existence of Bronze Age settlements in the city. Near Nardaran, at a place called Umid Gaia, a prehistoric observatory was discovered, on which rock images of the sun and various constellations were carved along with a primitive astronomical board.

Further archaeological excavations revealed various prehistoric settlements, temples, statues and other artifacts in and around the modern city. In the 1st century BC, the Romans organized two Caucasian actions and reached Baku. Near the city, in Gobustan, Roman inscriptions dating from 84-96 BC have been discovered. This is one of the earliest written evidence relating to Baku and Azerbaijan.

Maiden Tower (Azerbaijan: Kız kalası) is a 12th century monument located in the Old Town of Baku, Azerbaijan. Along with the Shirvanshah Palace, dating from the 15th century, it forms a group of historical monuments that were listed as a cultural property by the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001. It is one of the most prominent national symbols of Azerbaijan, so this tower can be found on Azerbaijani banknotes and coins.

There are various mysteries and legends related to the Maiden Tower. However, the main mystery is the design and purpose of the tower itself. In the meantime, there are 20 legends related to the Maiden Tower. A large number of them are related to the Islamic and medieval period of Baku history. Quite a few legends are deeply rooted in Azerbaijani Zoroastrian or pre-Islamic history, religion and culture.

Probably the most famous legend is that of a fiery-haired girl who rescued the Baku people from slavery. The epic shows the roots of the Azerbaijani Zoroastrian faith and culture and reaches to the modern day.

The view from the Maiden’s Tower is amazing and it is worth climbing to the very top where I was able to take the photo you can see above. The Maiden Tower houses a museum that tells the story of the historical development of the city of Baku. It also owns a souvenir shop. The view from the top crosses the streets and minarets of the Old City, Baku Boulevard, De Gaulle House and Baku Bay View.

The Old Town is the first ideal stop for every tourist who comes to meet Baku. It is a city with a long and rich history that will intrigue everyone, legends that leave people breathless.

Azerbaijan is different, their culture is unique and when you come in contact with it you should be open minded to understand its value and essence. This trip has completely changed my picture of countries in the East.

After tour of the Old City, it was time to visit unusual modern part of Baku. As we crossed the line from traditional part of Baku that led straight into the modern era of new Baku, our guide told us so many legends about the emergence of modern Baku that even 10 posts would not be enough for you to write down all the stories in detail.

On the other hand, somewhere in the streets of modern Baku you will see a bunch of cars and very wide boulevards that are mostly one-way streets. To be clear what I’m talking about since I was a kid growing up in Europe, one ordinary boulevard in downtown Baku is wider than some boulevard in Paris and all lines are one-way. Maybe now you can just figure out what I’m talking about.

T-Shirt and Trousers: Loro Piana 
Backpack: Picard

Little Marko didn’t miss the opportunity to take some photos on the streets of Baku, the photos turned out great at the end thanks to my photographer. Due to its unusual architecture, the city is extremely photogenic, so it was easy to make good pictures. Baku has some special energy, which perfectly matched my sensibility.

In the heart of the city is a monument to Nizami Ganjavi, a medieval Persian poet in Nizami Square. The opening ceremony of the monument was held in April 1949.

The position of the monument is set symbolically so that the famous poet will look in the arts – the National Museum of Literature Nizami Ganjavi. This museum represents the largest and best collection of rich Azerbaijani culture. Collecting, researching and storing scientific and other materials on Azerbaijani literature and culture presents these materials in the exhibition and is the main objective of this museum.

Sculptures of eminent Azerbaijani poets and writers were placed on the facade of the museum by this order: Muhammad Fuzuli, Molla Panah Vagif, Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Khurshidbanu Natavan, Jalil Mammadguluzadeh and Jafar Jabbarli. There are 120.000 exhibits in the museum’s rich collection.

In the picture above you can see what the Heydar Aliyev Foundation looks like. This institution is a charitable foundation headed by First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyev. The foundation is named in honor of the former leader of Azerbaijan – Mr. Heydar Aliyev, who was also the father of the current President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. The people of Azerbaijan really appreciate and love Mr. Heydar and many establishments in Baku is named after by him. In this post I will show you what the Museum of Modern Art looks like, which also bears his name – Heydar Aliev Centre.

By the time, Baku became a metropolis with sophisticated architecture. Each corner is unique and original, the parks are beautiful (especially Philharmonia Garden which you can see in the photo above) and represent a real little paradise where you can rest your eyes and soul. Surely you may be wondering how Baku “became so green”? Tural told us an interesting legend that Baku has become so green.

Few decades ago, Baku was like a desert, they had oil, but they had no nature at all. The rulers implored their dear guests who plan to visit Azerbaijan to bring seeds of their plants and plant trees instead of expensive gifts and to contribute to the improvement of nature in Baku.

However, it did not help too much either! Then they thought of asking their customers to send a certain amount of soil for each gallon of oil sold, to allow them to create suitable conditions for the land to be able to plant some plants and plant trees. That’s how this “green” story began, and so Baku became a green oasis where you can find pomegranate trees. I have to admit that in Azerbaijan, for the first time in my life, I saw the trees of pomegranate.

After we are done with the city tour, it is time to fulfill my promise and present to you the collection of modern art – the Heydar Aliyev Center. The Heydar Aliiev Center is a 600,000-square-foot construction complex in Baku, Azerbaijan, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, and she is recognizable for its distinctive architecture, curved style that emerges from sharp angles.

The center is named after Heydar Aliyev, the first secretary of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1969 to 1982, and the president of the Azerbaijan Republic from October 1993 to October 2003.

As a great piece of post-modern architecture, the shape of the building is an eternal cycle of life, which connects the past with the present. The building has a conference room, galleries, museums and more and the basic idea is to unite people of different backgrounds in the place of common ideas. The building won the prestigious London Museum of Design Award in 2014.

In this rich art treasure house you can always find masterpieces of contemporary art. In addition to modern art, one part of the center is dedicated to Mr. Heydar Aliyev, a man who was the father of democracy in Azerbaijan and the president for life of the Republic of Azerbaijan until his death in 2003. A museum dedicated to his life and work depicts the political development of Azerbaijan until modern times and when his son Mr. Ilham Aliyev became the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Also, you can learn some new and interesting information about Azerbaijan, see what the Scriptures and the Koran looked like, as well as some of their traditional musical instruments. This museum is unusual and has an interesting doll exhibition. The dolls are made to look natural, I also learned that the hair, eyelashes and eyebrows on the dolls are also natural.

Also, I was impressed by the exhibition of dolls depicting society in Azerbaijan. The museum is suitable for all ages, so I’m sure it will be enjoyed by both young and slightly older visitors. Believe me, fun is guaranteed here!

For the end of today’s post, I decided to show you the Bibi-Heybat Mosque. The Bibi Heybat Mosque (Azeri: Bibiheibət məscidi) is a shrine located six kilometers southwest of Baku, Azerbaijan. Fatima al-Sughra, daughter of Imam al-Kazim, was buried in this mosque.

This place is also called Pir Bibi-Heibat and is referred to by the locals as the Fatima al-Zahra Mosque. The mausoleum was built during the Safavid dynasty, but was destroyed when Stalin conquered the area. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Azerbaijan, the President of the country ordered that this shrine be restored.

This mausoleum – the mosque hides a very sad love story, but of course it is part of history, there are many legends, but people always believe in the power of love. This mosque was decorated because its original purpose was to be the place where the daughter of the imam would rest in peace, but later it became a mosque.

My dear travellers, 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 Azerbaijan? Have you ever visited Baku? 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.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Hotel Boulevard Baku. I also thank my friends from Loro Piana, Makia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfits and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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