Jewish Legacy in Azerbaijan
Day 1 – Arrival to Baku (В, D)
On arrival at Baku’s international airport at 00:10 at night you’ll be met by our representative for your transfer to the hotel. After check in there’ll be free time for rest after flight.
Breakfast at the hotel restaurant.
Highland Park/Alley of Martyrs: formerly The Kirov Park, is a cemetery and memorial in Baku, Azerbaijan dedicated to those killed by the Soviet Army during Black January and later to those killed in Nagorno-Karabakh War. It is located on a hill in the south of the city and offers views of the Caspian Sea
Flame Towers - is a trio of skyscrapers in Baku, Azerbaijan, including the tallest in the country. Towers symbolize the long history of fire worshippers that considered Azerbaijan as a birthplace for prophet Zoroaster. The buildings consist of 130 residential apartments over 33 floors, a hotel tower that consists of 250 rooms and 61 serviced apartments, and office blocks that provides a net 33,114 square meters of office space.
Crystal Hall is an indoor arena in Baku, Azerbaijan. Located on the coast of Baku near National Flag Square, construction of the arena began in August 2011 and finished in April 2012—in time for it to host its first major event, the 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Nizami Street is a large pedestrian and shopping street in downtown Baku, Azerbaijan, named after classical poet Nizami Ganjavi. The street's history could be traced back to Baku's town-planning project of 1864. The street runs through the city's downtown from west to east. Nizami Street is home to various outlets, from banks to fashion stores and is one of the most expensive streets in the world.
Fountain square is a public square in downtown Baku. The square is a public gathering place, especially after business hours and during the weekend. It is an attractive tourist destination with many boutiques, restaurants, shops, hotels and passage. It starts from the Istiglaliyyat Street and walls of the Icheri Sheher and stretches through Nizami Street, also called in popular culture as the Torgovaya street running parallel to Baku Boulevard. The fountains square is a location where the city authorities hold many public festivals, shows and celebrations.
Today, we begin our discovery of the city of Baku, enjoying a sightseeing tour of Baku’s most absorbing sights. We’ll visit to the city’s main monumental, historical and architectural attractions before climbing to the city’s highest point at Upland Park for an impressive panorama of the Azeri capital and its bay. From there we’ll descend to the old city, known locally as Icheri sheher. This was all there was of Baku until the mid-19th century when, as a result of the oil boom, a growth spurt caused the city to spill beyond its defensive walls.
This tiny area measures just 22 square hectares and yet it contains so many significant sights, including the Shirvanshakhs Palace, the Maiden Tower and the Karavansaray, once the place of merchants’ rest. Today, just 1300 families call Icheri sheher, this city within a city, home. It’s a delightful place to take an evening stroll through the maze of streets to the gathering place of Fountains Square. There are also plenty of opportunities for shopping, should you wish.
Then we will visit Azerbaijan State History Museum. The building itself is a cultural monument: the luxurious palace was constructed at the end of the 19th century by Gaji Zeynalabdin Tagiev, a well-known philanthropist and patron of the arts.
After discovering oil, he became the richest man in Russia, and he built his massive palace to live in with his second wife. However, when Soviet forces moved in to Baku in 1920, he fled, and his palace was confiscated as state property and turned into the museum that it is today. Overnight in Baku.
Day 2 – Absheron Tour (B, D)
Breakfast in the hotel.
Gala village is located about 40 minutes from Baku. Before him, few people knew and thought , but in recent years the popularity of this small village has become huge. And the reason is simple - someone came up with a great idea to do an archaeological site museum under the open sky. Coming to the museum, you feel caught in the olden days. Historical significance landmarks confirm that these places were ancient human settlements.
" Bairamali hamam " was known in ancient times as " Hamam Bay ." Attributable to XII-XIV centuries this hamam in 1881 was also reconstructed person named Bayram . " Gum hamam " ( "Sand Bath" ) , located on a high hill , a long attention was not given proper attention . Attributable to XII-XIV centuries " Gum hamam " was discovered during archaeological excavations . " Gum hamam " ( "Sand Bath" ) was so named because of what was under the ground. Of particular interest is the " Shore hamam " ( "Salt Bath" ). After quests will visit Merdekan and Ramani castles which was builded in middle ages. Our next stop today will be an excursion to the fortress of Ramana. Ramana Castle is estimated to date back several centuries. The height of the fortress’ main tower is an imposing fifteen metres and is built of stone. It is assumed that it was built to protect a palace and was used during the reign of Shirvanshahs.
Today’s excursion is a guided tour to Ateshgah. The temple of fire worshippers, Ateshgah is located on the Apsheron peninsula on the outskirts of Surakhani village just thirty kilometres from the center of Baku. It was revered in different times by Zoroastrians, Hindus and Sikhs. The current temple building dates from the 17th century, but far more ancient artefacts have been excavated here. This pentagonal complex has an open courtyard with an altar in the centre which was a place of pilgrimage for worshippers.
This open air museum has been recently restored and by the decree of the President of Azerbaijan, Ateshgah was declared a State historical-architectural reserve. This intriguing natural phenomenon is called the Burning Rock, so named because it is fuelled by seepage of natural gas. Flames up to three metres high regularly shoot from the sandstone hillside. Many believe that Yanar Dag is the reason Azerbaijan acquired its nickname, the Land of Fire.
At evening time our quests wait Baku night tour.
Baku most beautiful at evening time because of special lights.
Overnight in Baku.
Day 3 – White City – Heydar Aliyev Center – Carpet Museum (B, D)
Breakfast in the hotel. Visit White City of Baku which before was called Black City. After visit Jewish School.
Visit Heydar Aliyev Cultural Complex. In 2007, Zaha Hadid was appointed as the design architect of the Center after a competition. The Center houses a conference hall (auditorium), a gallery hall and a museum. The project is intended to play an integral role in the intellectual life of the city. Located close to the city center, the site plays a pivotal role in the redevelopment of Baku.
The Heydar Aliyev Center represents a fluid form which emerges by the folding of the landscape's natural topography and by the wrapping of individual functions of the Center. All functions of the Center, together with entrances, are represented by folds in a single continuous surface. This fluid form gives an opportunity to connect the various cultural spaces whilst at the same time, providing each element of the Center with its own identity and privacy. As it folds inside, the skin erodes away to become an element of the interior landscape of the Center.
Heydar Aliyev Center had an official soft-opening ceremony on 10 May 2012 held by current president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Visit green bazar.
Visit Carpet Museum. The Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum is home to the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world, some dating back to the 17th century, as well as archaeological artifacts and folk crafts, including ceramics, oil lamps, embroidery and jewelry. It also serves as a research site, where the art of traditional carpet weaving and its modern legacy are studied and discussed.
Overnight in Baku.
Day 4 - Baku - Guba (B, D)
Breakfast in the hotel. Drive to north capital of Azerbaijan Guba. Arrival to Guba and visit Jewsh Settlement.
Across the Kudyal River from Quba is Red Town, the largest Mountain Jewish settlement in the former Soviet Union. Red Town is the only entirely Jewish settlement outside of Israel and the United States, and is the last surviving shtetl.
Mountain Jews have been settled in the Caucasus for thousands of years, though there are many different communities and resettlements. Mountain Jews have their own version of Judaism that combines the Old Testament with other traditional practices, as well as a bit of mysticism. They also speak their own language: Judeo-Tat or Juhuri, part of the Persian family.
For a long time, there were Jewish communities in Persia, but after their settlements were destroyed by Nader Shah in the 18th century, more and more Jews started looking for new places to live. At that time, Huseyn Ali Akhan was ruling the neighboring kingdom, and agreed to take a community of Jews and resettle them across from the city of Quba. Starting in 1731, Jews from all around Azerbaijan started to move to this new city. It was named Krasnaya Sloboda, or Red Town, perhaps after the red tile roofs on the houses. Red Town grew, and became a diverse yet closed community of Mountain Jews that has managed to maintain its own culture, traditions and languages for centuries.
Visit Carpet Shop in Guba. Overnight in Guba
Day 5 – Guba - Khinalig (B, D)
Breakfast in the hotel. Drive to Khinalig village. 65 km from the center of Guba - one of the northern regions of Azerbaijan, there is an ancient mountain village - Khinalig. The territory of the village is declared a state historical-architectural and ethnographic reserve, due to which it is compared with an open-air museum. Here the traditional way of life and original architecture are preserved. And the locals speak their own unique language, for the study of which ethnologists from all over the world come here. Finally, tourists go to Khinalig to enjoy the hospitality of the locals and the beauty of the mountain scenery under the immense starry sky.
Located on one of the peaks of the Caucasus, Khinalig village, huddled in the mountains of Gizil Gaya, Shahdag, Tufandag and Khinalig, on the left bank of the Gudialchay river, at an altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level. Situated directly opposite Khinalig, Tufandag mountain has special significance for the villagers. According to one of the legends, on this mountain are the ruins of an ancient settlement, destroyed 1000 years ago by a powerful earthquake. It is believed that the inhabitants of that village founded the present Khinalig. Overnight in Guba
Day 6 – Guba - Baku (B, L, D)
Breakfast in the hotel. Check out from rooms and drive to Baku. Lunch in Baku with kosher food. Overnight in Baku
Day 7 - Baku - Shamakhi – Lahij - Gabala (B, D)
Breakfast in the hotel. Azerbaijan has a long history, as demonstrated by places such as Shamakhi. It was once the capital of the Shirvan Empire and the base of the Shirvan Dynasty. These days Shamakhi is famous for its winemaking. Visiting this city you’ll have an opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Yeddi Gumbez mausoleum, whose imposing domes rise mysteriously above an almost silent valley. From here there are stunning views back to Shamakhi. Not far away, you’ll encounter the tombs of Diri Baba.
Equally atmospheric, the structures are built into the rock giving the appearance of an eagle’s nest. As we approach, only the front is visible; the other sides are disguised by the cliffs from which they were hewn, giving the impression that the tomb is suspended off the ground. The monument has two storeys: while the lower floor was probably for servants, the upper, reached by stairs, would have been the salon. Whether it is a sacred site or a place of burial is up for interpretation. Drive to Lahij village.
Then drive to Gabala for overnight. Start explore Gabala. The country’s most beautiful district is known as a tourism paradise. If it hadn’t been for the Gabala radar station, which affects the local beauty and nature, the place would be ideal from both environmental and health standpoints…The distance to Baku is 225 km. Gabala is located in the Haftaran-Alazan valley and surrounded by the Greater Caucasus. It sits on the right bank of the Damiraparan river 900 meters above sea level. Touching Lahij mountains on one side, Gabala is situated in the country’s north-west at the foot of the Shahdagh mountain.
In Gabala at the area of 16 hectares is located the largest amusement park under the open sky in Azerbaijan – Gabaland. Visitors are provided with family, kids and extreme kinds of attractions, ice arena, carting, sports fields, XD theatre, convenient parking, great food in restaurants and cafes.
Overnight in Gabala
Day 8 - Gabala - Sheki – Ganja (B, D)
Breakfast in the hotel.
Continuing towards Sheki, we stop at Kish. This village is the site of a centuries-old Albanian church which was incorporated into the Armenian Apostolic Church back in 1836. Near the church you’ll find an ancient cemetery where, visible through a glass cupola, you’ll see numerous human remains. These bodies are impressively tall, appearing to be 2.5 metres or more. The Albanians who once resided here were giants with white skin and golden hair, very unlike the inhabitants of the modern Caucasian nations.
An excursion to the oldest city in Azerbaijan is a real treat. In ancient times people sold silk here, making Sheki famous among merchants travelling the Great Silk Road. Present day Sheki is packed with sights including a good history museum. The jewel in Sheki’s crown, however, is Khan's Summer Palace with its wonderful façades built from brick, river stones and oak, decorated with floral motives. Inside, the palace impresses even more. Within its six rooms, there are beautiful frescoes painted by talented craftsman; some of them feature flowers, while others depict hunting or battle scenes.
In addition, two beautiful mirrored balconies, ornate decoration using rare colored Venetian glass and exquisite paintings featuring colorful depictions of birds and animals ensure this place does not disappoint the tourist. The first floor of this palace offers clues to Khan’s wealth and power as the murals on the walls of animals and hunting are usually thought of as symbols of nobility. In ancient times the palace was surrounded by beautiful gardens, though nowadays only two large trees survive. Later, you’ll be driven to Ganja where you’ll check into the hotel for an overnight stay. Overnight in Ganja.
Day 9 – Ganja – Goygol (B, D)
Breakfast at the hotel.
Ganja – the second city in Azerbaijan. Visit to the mosque of “Shah Abbas”, medieval caravanserai, museum of miniature, “Bottle house”, mausoleum of the Great Azerbaijani poetry Nizami Ganjavi. Visit to the local bazaar. Visit Hanlar and Gol Gol. The area has been cultivated for centuries and a picturesque 12th-century bridge still crosses the river at the precipitous western edge of the village. But the village itself was only founded (as Helenendorf) in 1819 by German winemakers. The village of Xanlar has an unusually agreeable atmosphere. Although no Germans remain, Germanic key-stone inscriptions appear above picturesque gateways, the old church now houses a small museum and several houses on the tree-lined streets are very photogenic.
There was a settlement here as early as the Bronze Age. An extensive cemetery was excavated in the 1990s, with many bronze weapons (swords, daggers, axes), some jewellery (rings, bracelets, necklaces), and clay black dishes with the geometric designs, some of which are on display at the local museum.
Xanlar has a small history museum (usually closed) and an attractive music school. The simple 1854 German church has been converted into a volleyball court, sit in the organ loft to watch the game. If he's sober enough, one of the delights of a visit is encountering octogenarian Viktor, Xanlar's last ethnic German inhabitant. His house is an unkept but delightful shrine of 1930s Europhilia. The German population was deported, 1935-1941, to Siberia on Joseph Stalin's orders. Traces of the German settlement can be seen in the school buildings and the parish church built in 1854.
Hotel Koroglu, housed in Herr Forer's typical balconied wooden house, looks attractive but has no heating or hot water and has yet to repair bullet holes fired into the ceiling by some unruly guests back in 1993. The town was renamed to Khanlar in 1938 in honor of the Azerbaijani labor organizer Khanlar Safaraliyev. It was renamed in 2008 after a nearby lake, Goygol. Overnight in Ganja.
Day 10 – Ganja - Baku - Gobustan – Bibi Heydat Mosque (B, D)
Today after breakfast our guide will be waiting in lobby for departure to Baku. Excursion to Gobustan National Park. Situated in East Azerbaijan, this archaeological reserve borders the southern slopes of the Major Caucasus ridge to the north, the Harami and Mishov Mountains to the south, Pirsaat River to the west and the Caspian Sea and Absheron peninsula to the east.
Gobustan is a culturally significant landscape of myriad rock carvings. Over 6000 petroglyphs have been discovered here together; that’s not all - there are also many ancient caves and archaeological sites within the reserve. Incredibly, some have been dated to as early as the 18th century BC. Together, they offer a fascinating insight into the development of human activity in this area, with scenes of mountain goat hunts, ceremonial dances and even maritime imagery as this place used to be by the sea. On our way back to Baku, you’ll stop at Yanar Dag.
On back way to city center drive to Bibi Heybat Mosque. Transfer to airport at 18:30