Azerbaijan is a safe family-oriented destination that is supported by a rich history that dates back 5,000 years. The versatile culture of Azerbaijan has evolved with the passing through of travellers along the Great Silk Road.
Outside Baku, tourists can experience prehistoric life at the Gobustan State Historical and Cultural Reserve, home to over 7,000 ancient petroglyphs, and the country’s unique mud volcanoes. The beauty of the landscapes captivates the imagination, and the natural wonders number in the dozens. Among them, mud volcanoes are not only a wonder of the world, but also a winner of the Guinness Book of Records.
Incredible, but true: most of the mud volcanoes in the world are concentrated near Baku. Therefore, a trip to Azerbaijan is not complete without a taste of what’s beyond its capital city. From magical mud volcanoes in Gobustan to mountainous terrain across Azerbaijan, the country’s natural beauty lies beyond its urban center.
For geological nerds, a short drive from the city is recommended. Here lies Gobustan, an archaeological gold mine with petroglyphs and mud volcanoes. Hiking shoes and comfortable clothes are advisable to navigate the rocky terrain.
This area can be described as something gurgling, bubbling, and it is here that the largest mud volcano in the world is located. These alien landscapes owe their origin to the movement of tectonic plates, releasing natural gas, which in some places ignites.
Baku’s offerings do not end here. Just outside of Baku, visitors can learn about prehistoric human society at the UNESCO-listed Gobustan State Historical and Cultural Reserve. This open-air museum is home to an astonishing collection of over 7,000 ancient petroglyphs that bear testimony to 40,000 years of rock art. They depict warriors, animals, boats, dances, hunting, camel caravans, and more, and document life dating back to 5,000-20,000 years. A short drive away from here lies Azerbaijan’s mysterious mud volcanoes. Azerbaijan is home to 700 out of the 1,700 known mud volcanoes on Earth, including the world’s largest mud volcano, Toraghay; 350 of these volcanoes are active. Among them are the largest mud volcanoes in the world – Boyuk-Kanizadag and Turagai, and they are located precisely in Azerbaijan. Located an hour and a half drive from Baku, the mud volcanoes in Dashgil are the most popular. Moreover, entry to them is free.
Don’t miss the unique opportunity after visiting the volcanoes in Dashgil to stop by the Gobustan Nature Reserve, which is located very nearby. This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses an incredible collection of 7,000 ancient petroglyphs – rock paintings dating back 40,000 years. Before your eyes you will see rock paintings of people, animals, caravans of camels, boats, hunting scenes, ritual dances and various symbols that will talk about our ancestors who lived in these places from 5 to 20 thousand years ago. This open-air museum located approximately 60 km south of Baku between the Boyukdash, Kichikdash and Jingirdag mountains, preserves traces of settlements, burials, and once-inhabited caves, proving that people lived here from the Upper Paleolithic to the Middle Ages.
The volcanoes are a must-visit, especially for those who want to explore the wondrous properties of the mineral rich clay found in the hotspots. Baku is a shiny new metropolis that resembles a mini-Emirate, but retains its old-world warmth and hospitality. In fact, the Zaha Hadid-designed Heydar Aliyev Centre, an architectural delight that has fast become a cultural behemoth, is, in many ways, the new face of Baku, and a symbol of its progressiveness.
You can learn more about the wonders of Azerbaijan on the Azerbaijan.travel website – it will help travelers prepare for their trip, plan interesting routes, and find a lot of useful information.