“Where?” Azerbai… “What?”
If you plan to visit Azerbaijan, prepare to answer that question. A lot. No one seems to know where Azerbaijan is.
Well to brush up on your geography, Azerbaijan is in Central Asia. With Russia to the north, Iran to the south, The Caspian Sea to the east, Armenia and Georgia to the west.
Having said that comes the inevitable follow-up question “Why?”
Now this is the interesting one.
Why would you want to go to Azerbaijan, a place with the conviction of a bright future, a place of development, a place of natural beauty, a place no one really knows anything about?
So here’s the thing. On the cusp of a tourism boom, Azerbaijan is one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world.
Azerbaijan is a little bit weird. It’s like Rome, it’s like Paris, and it’s like London- a charming mix of architectural styles, genuinely beautiful buildings that line the city’s traffic-choked streets.
Stroll into the centre of Baku, and its appeal reveals itself, in its most impressive sight, the Flame Towers.
Inspired by Azerbaijan’s nickname, the “Land of Fires”, these three flame-shaped towers dominate the skyline, and have become something of a national symbol since they appeared in 2012. By night, huge LED displays give the appearance of flames licking the sides of the buildings.
The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre fills you with an absolute “WOW” when you see it. Being one of the most recognized architectural landmarks worldwide, the Centre is one of the signature architectural landmarks of modern Baku. It is perfection. This building is one of the pinnacles of modernity. It flows in all directions in line with how a natural landscape should be. And no matter where you stand as you walk around it, it looks completely different in shape.
Azerbaijan also has money. At the bottom of one of the Flame Towers there’s a Lamborghini shop. Wander around near the lake and you’ll find names like Gucci, Tom Ford, Bulgaria and Tiffany slapped across the storefronts.
All set to bill itself as the “new Dubai” Azerbaijan has relaxed its tight entry requirements, allowing tourists to apply online for an e-visa rather than post passports to an embassy. More than two million people are now venturing to the country each year.
Some will come to experience a rich culture that finds its expressions in food, and in the intricately woven carpets. More still will come to wander through Baku’s charming Old Town, with its 1000-year-old Maiden Tower and its ancient history. There are some who will come here for the natural beauty alone.
Also the Azeris boast that their country is home to nine of the world’s 11 climate zones, from semi-desert in the central lowlands to rainforests in the northern hills and Alpine tundra in the Greater Caucasus.
You can scuba dive in the Caspian Sea, sun yourself on a beach, or ski in resorts in the nation’s north.
Azerbaijani food, with its mix of influences from Iran, Turkey and Georgia, may be still unfairly anonymous on the world scene, but it’s definitely tantalizing the taste buds with its rich and traditional cuisine. And how can you forget about the caviar. Famed beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea is treasured here and regulated even more zealously than oil – however, walk into any market and you’ll hear soft calls of “caviar, caviar” from black market sellers seeking to offload their goods.
An Eastern country with a Western outlook, it’s capital city ,Baku is known as the Pearl of the Caucasus. Combining history, culture and modernity, the vibrant city offers a safe and attractive setting along the Caspian Sea. From outdoor activities, phenomenal shopping experiences, luxury hotels, and beautiful venues and locations for weddings and honeymoons, Azerbaijan is a perfect destination for couples, families, and friends.
You would definitely want to ‘Take another look’ and say ‘salaam’ to Azerbaijan, as the country rolls out the hospitality red carpet to unveil its incredible revelations and attractions. I know I want to.