It’s never too early to start planning for your Eid gateway to the Pearl of the Caucasus: Azerbaijan
An Eastern city with a Western outlook, Baku is an exceptional combination of antiquity and novelty with several sites of interest Azerbaijan’s unique geography and location have resulted in a cuisine influenced by the land’s natural ingredients. It has also assimilated the flavours of the travellers that passed through its heartlands. Indulge your palate with unique flavours and expect a plethora of gourmet options to delight food connoisseurs.
Azerbaijan is closer than you think, with 2 flights per day thanks to Qatar Airways (flying twice daily at 6:45am and 8:15pm to Baku), you’ll be in Baku in under 3 hours ready to kick-start a relaxing Eid break with loved ones or friends.
If you need to apply for a visa as a resident in Qatar, we suggest giving this time as processing can take up to 10 days (depending on your passport).
Here are the top 5 things you must do during your Eid gateway:
- Check out the primitive petroglyphs of Gobustan situated 60 km from Baku
Rising out of the semi-desert Gobustan is a UNESCO World Heritage site of more than
6,000 rock engravings, which go back 40,000 years. You can also see graffiti by
a Roman legionary – the furthest east it has ever been found. The Petroglyphs of Gobustan are artistic chronicles of the past. They bear great importance both for the study of the pre-history of humanity and spheres of primitive art. Gobustan’s monuments spans across a period of approximately 20 thousand years beginning from the end of Upper Palaeolithic till the beginning of our era.
Besides that, did you know that about 350 out of the 800 mud volcanoes known in the World are located in Azerbaijan? Most of them are situated near the Gobustan preserve. Some of the volcanoes are considered natural monuments and resources of Azerbaijan.
- Ride a Gondola in Baku Boulevard
Unwind and breathe in the salty fresh air of the Caspian ocean while you stroll across the Baku Boulevard. Within it, you will find a small Venetian dream made up of a myriad of islands with gondolas sailing through the canals and restaurants dotted across the shore.
- Mini Venice, 73 Neftchilar Ave, Baku 1004, Azerbaijan
- Soak in the fascinating craftsmanship of Sheki Khan Palace
Azerbaijani craftsmen are famed for their ‘Shebeke’ – a mosaic of coloured glass set in wooden latticework and assembled without nails or glue. Consists of 5,000 wooden and glass details in average, ‘Shebeke’ of Sheki Khan Palace is unique, making it a real visual feast.
The perfect ending to the day at the Palace would involve savouring on a lip-smacking meal. Indigenous to the Sheki region, piti is a warm and homely lamb stew. Interestingly, it is also a gustatory delight with the intricate process of separating the broth from the mince, you can personally sprinkle in the spice you prefer and blend it altogether to create that perfect flavour profile. This is sure to take your imagination to the ancient times of Sheki when it was famed for being the key spot to stop at on the silk route.
The night cannot end without a chance to bite into the crunchy sweetness of pakhlava. Coated with flakes of golden skin and stuffed with crunchy nuts and filo pastry doused in a delicate sugar syrup, it’s hard to stop at just one small piece.
- Sheki, Azerbaijan is a 4.5-hour drive from Baku and you can gobble up some piti at Gagarin restaurant and pakhlava at Aliahmed Sweet House which is a 10-minute drive from Sheki Palace
- Rejuvenate your body and senses
Getting messy never felt so therapeutic. Spend the day indulging in therapeutic wellness treatments where the curative properties of crude oil baths (yes – soaking in liquid oil) is used to treat musculoskeletal system diseases, as well as neurological, urological, gynaecological, skin and other ailments.
- Soak up the healing properties of Azerbaijan’s natural resources and gentle climate with views of the landscape boasting awe-inspiring and vibrant colours at Chinar Hotel & Spa Naftalan, which is a 4-hour drive from Baku. The Naftalan Health Centre, located in Baku is another option for the ones who has limited time, but want to apply this unique treatment.
- Discover Icherisheher
The walls of Icherisheher whispers the ancient mysteries of the city. Known as old town or inner city, it is located in the heart of Baku and is a maze of narrow roads spotted with limestone buildings. A sight that’s difficult to miss is the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower, both listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites List. The Palace itself is known as the Pearl of Azerbaijani architecture as it is made up of several different structures built throughout the ages with each adding a beautiful amalgamation of medieval, Asian and Islamic influences.
Another mystery is the Maiden Tower. This cylindrical stark tower has baffled historians and to date has theories aplenty about its origins and the exact date of construction. Despite that, it is one of the most iconic structures in the city housing a museum covering the history of Baku and marked around it are beautiful scriptures that hint at the possible roots of this historical feat. It is also home to the International Festival of Arts and regularly showcasing work from innovative artists against its mystic backdrop.
Besides that, Icherisheher offers some of the most eccentric and outstanding feats. The Museum of Miniature Books, a Guinness Book record-holder, open to all for free, houses the largest number of miniature books at 5,600 and don’t forget to spot your national flag to find books from your home country. Another place to stop by is the Ali Shamsi Studio, a wonderland of paintings that transport you to another dimension of reality and mind-boggling installations. You will often find the artist and philosopher Ali Shamsi there who can talk you through the burgeoning art scene in the city.
More from Travel & Leisure