Nestled between the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan has been called “The Land of Fire,” and this place of mystery and enchantment lures travelers with a taste for the exotic and an appreciation for subtle beauty.
Few places on Earth better showcase the meeting of East and West, past and present, and Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku is known as “The Paris of the East.”
Modern skyscrapers rise like glass sails above the Old City’s 12th century Maiden Tower, forming a cityscape that is magical by day and enchanting in the evening. History comes alive in Azerbaijan, and the bejeweled past is on full display in palaces, museums and shops that draw nearly three million visitors each year.
Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower (UNESCO Site)
Built on a site inhabited since the Palaeolithic period, the Walled City of Baku reveals evidence of Zoroastrian, Sasanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian presence in cultural continuity. The Inner City (Icheri Sheher) has preserved much of its 12th-century defensive walls. The 12th-century Maiden Tower (Giz Galasy) is built over earlier structures dating from the 7th to 6th centuries BC, and the 15th-century Shirvanshahs’ Palace is one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture.
Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape (UNESCO)
Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape covers three areas of a plateau of rocky boulders rising out of the semi-desert of central Azerbaijan, with an outstanding collection of more than 6,000 rock engravings bearing testimony to 40,000 years of rock art. The site also features the remains of inhabited caves, settlements and burials, all reflecting an intensive human use by the inhabitants of the area during the wet period that followed the last Ice Age, from the Upper Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. The site, which covers an area of 537 ha, is part of the larger protected Gobustan Reservation.
Carpet of Azerbaijani (UNESCO)
The Azerbaijani carpet is a traditional handmade textile of various sizes, with dense texture and a pile or pile-less surface, whose patterns are characteristic of Azerbaijan’s many carpet-making regions. Carpet making is a family tradition transferred orally and through practice. Men shear sheep in spring and autumn, while women collect dyestuffs and spin and dye yarn in the spring, summer and autumn. The weaving is undertaken during winter by the female members of the extended family, girls learning from their mothers and grandmothers and wives assisting their mothers-in-law. The carpet is made on horizontal or vertical looms using multi-coloured wool, cotton or silk yarn coloured with natural dyes. Applying special techniques to create pile carpets, weavers knot the pile yarn around threads of the warp; pile-less carpets are variously made with interlacing structural warps, wefts, and patterning wefts. The cutting of a finished carpet from the loom is an unusually solemn celebration. Carpet weaving is closely connected with the daily life and customs of the communities involved, its role reflected in the meaning of the designs and their applications. Thus, girls seated on carpets tell fortunes and sing traditional songs at Novruz (the regional New Year). The carpet is widely used for home furniture and decoration, and special carpets are woven for medical treatment, for wedding ceremonies, the birth of a child, mourning rituals and prayer.
Traditional art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving in the Republic of Azerbaijan is inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Azerbaijani Mugham (UNESCO)
The Azerbaijani Mugham is a traditional musical form, characterized by a large degree of improvisation. The Mugham, though a classical and academic art, draws upon popular bard melodies, rhythms and performance techniques and is performed in many venues throughout the country.
Contemporary representations of the Azerbaijani Mugham reflect different periods of Azerbaijan’s history and its contacts with Persians, Armenians, Georgians and with other Turkic peoples. This musical genre shares artistic characteristics with the Iraqi Maqam, the Persian Radif and the Turkish Makams. In the past, Mugham was primarily performed on two secular occasions: the toy, the traditional wedding feast and the majles, a gathering of connoisseurs in private settings. It was also cultivated by members of the Sufi orders and by performers of religious dramas known as ta’zie or shabih. Official competitions and informal contests served to establish the reputation of accomplished musicians.
This modal genre features a male or female singer accompanied by musicians playing traditional instruments, such as the tar (a long-neck lute), the kamancha (a four-string spiked fiddle) and the daf (a type of large tambourine). Since Mugham cannot be transcribed in a fixed form, multiple versions are transmitted by masters who train students in the fine art of interpretation to ensure the variety of this artistic expression.
Azerbaijani Mugham is inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Good to Know
Read the basic info and also some fun facts about Azerbaijan! Here you will find everything you should know about the ‘’Land of Plenty’’!