Azerbaijan is a republic and the largest and most populous country in the Caucasus . It is located on the border between Eastern Europe and West Asia. Azerbaijan literally means 'land of fire' and the country honours that reputation. Everything seems to be eternally on the move. For example, the Gobustan National Park is an otherworldly place. Here you will find more than 400 mud volcanoes; that's about half of all mud volcanoes in the world. In addition, there are bizarre rock formations, burning gas vents, prehistoric petroglyphs and the great musical stone, Gaval Dash (Qavaldaş). If you are looking for 'special' or stronger yet, an out-of-this-world travel experience, Azerbaijan is bound to be your next destination!
In Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, the wealth derived from its oil resources has created imposing mansions and the ultra-modern 7-star hotel called La Luna. Strolling through town you may then look up and deem yourself in a futuristic neighbourhood reminiscent of Dubai, then you might feel like you are walking past the historical facades of Paris or the Corinthian columns of Greece or Italy and finally you find yourself in a typically Soviet atmosphere.
One thing is clear. The capital cities in the Caucasus: Baku, but also Yerevan (Armenia) and Tbilisi (Georgia) are in the midst of a metamorphosis which is also created by the increased interest by tourism and the relentless urge to explore new horizons. Baku plays a pioneering role. In 2016, the city invited Formula 1 racing. A 6 km long circuit through the new city was inaugurated. A few years earlier in 2012 the trailblazing capital was the host of the worldwidely broadcasted Eurovision Song Contest.
Baku offers a mix of nature and culture and it will not come as a surprise that the city ranks 5th among Tripadvisors’ most popular destinations of 2017. Nice to know is that Baku is the lowest located capital in the world (20m below sea level). The ancient city centre, characterized by cosy, narrow alley ways, is UNESCO-listed. Here you will find graciously lit mansions, monuments, an authentic fortress wall and green pedestrian zones that regurgitate exclusive boutiques. Although 80% of the population is Muslim only 110 mosques are present. This is a stark contrast to cities such as Istanbul which houses a total of 3200 mosques. East and West, present and past merge seamlessly here in Baku. Every district has its charm and authenticity. The many parks are the green lungs of the city and provide the ideal opportunity for people watching or connecting. The most beloved part of the city however is the Caspian sea-hugging ‘bulvar’ or promenade dotted with restaurants, bars and musicians. The playfulness of the waves here the absolute opposite to the apparent static desert surrounding the capital.
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- For Belgian citizens* (babies and children as well) a valid passport plus visa is required. Since january 10, 2017 all Eu-citizens (including belgian citizens) can apply via an app in order to obtain a visum for short visits (max. 30 days, single entry). The direct link to this application is: https://evisa.gov.az/en/. Please note any application must be done in time ( min. 5 working days before departure) and a print-out version of the e-visa must be presented to the local authorities at arrival in Azerbeidzjan together with the valid passport. De e-visum online shall be paid by credit card and costs 23USD (October 2017).
- Travellers with a non-Belgian nationality and / or persons travelling on a foreign passport are invited to spontaneously report this matter to the Connections travel consultant and shall contact their respective embassy (s) or Consulate (ate) to obtain the latest updates concerning all current travel requirements and documents.
No compulsory vaccinations. Please consult the websites of the Institute for Tropical Medicine ( www.itg.be.) and the World Health Organization at least 6 weeks before your departure for updated information on recommended vaccinations or recent developments.
Beware of street dogs. They are often carriers of rabies. The tap water in Azerbaijan is not potable. Always use bottled water.
Timezone:GMT +2 (Summer) & +3 (Winter)
Azerbaijan manat (AZN) : 1 EUR = 1,99 AZN & 100 AZN = 50,13 EUR (25/11/2017)
- In hotels, restaurants and shops credit cards are accepted. For small expenses the local currency is your best bet. Bring euro's and dollars.
Azerbaijan distinguishes itself by its climate diversity. With over 2200 hours of sunshine and less than 50 days of precipitation, you can speak of a dry and sunny destination. Along the Caspian Sea, the climate is Mediterranean. Baku has a warm steppe climate (dry with little rain) with warm to hot summers and medium mild winters. Moderate to severe frost may appear when cold fronts descend from Siberia unto the region. With an average precipitation of 210 millimeters a year, Baku ranks as ‘a dry city’. The months of October, November and December are the wettest, if average rainfall between 25 and 31 millimetres per m² could label the phenomenon as wet. In the warm or hot summer months precipitation is rare. It is not uncommon to see only one day with as little as 2 millimeters of rain in July.
Average max. temperatures (°C):
- Gobustan Musical Stone
- Yanar Dağ (Fire Mountain)
The name Baku would be derived from the persian word "Badkoebe" which means "beaten by the wind". And wind there is in Baku, in any season. As the largest city in the Caucasus, Baku is the scientific, cultural and industrial centre as well as a major world harbour and port. The main archaeological finds date back to 6000 BC. although some cave rock art and noches would indicate humans would have been present as early as 20,000 BC. Thanks to its favorable climate and location on the border of Europe and Asia, Baku shared in the prosperity of the silk trade. The 12th Century Palace of the Shirvanshah, together with the city walls and the Virgin Tower have all been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
A 2 meter long rock which makes tambourine-like sounds when thrown pebbles at. It seems bizarre but that is what the Gobustan Musical Stone is all about. The 'instrument' is thought to have played a role in ancient rituals such as the Yalla chain-dance depicted on the petroglyphs of Gobustan and still performed in Azerbaijan to this day. The sound is assumed to be come about thanks to the combination of the unique climate and the effect of the natural gas within the region.
The Venetian world explorer Marco Polo and the famous French writer Alexandre Dumas both wrote about witnessing numerous mysterious flames in the Persian city of Baku and at various places on the Abşeron Peninsula. Of the natural fires that burn today in Azerbaijan, litterally 'land of Fire', Yanar Dağ is no doubt the most impressive. A 10m long wall of ever-burning flames alongside the edge of the hill.. It seems otherwordly and is at its most spectacular at night8 A popular attraction for tourists and locals alike who witness the spectacle from a teahouse nearby.
Baku, Feel The Winds of Change
- Gala Village
- Absheron Peninsula
- Yanar Dağ
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is still unknown and as such unloved. Undeservedly so. The 'City of the Wind' features a phenomenal architecture and rich history and is embarking on a fast-paced urban development with a twist of 'futuristic West' and its vibes. Baku has been referred to as "the new Dubai by the Caspian Sea", in other words, the perfect spot to enjoy the contrast between East and West. While the centuries-old, walled city-center is UNESCO World Heritage, just round the corner modern glass skycraper will sweep you off your feet. The pervading atmosphere is one of joy and optimism. Exclusive boutiques shoot up like mushrooms and romantic souls dash hand in hand over the Primorski Boulevard. Baku may have a rich history, yet its future looks at least as bright. Baku, A truly amazing destination.
- 4 days