Once you have seen all attractions of downtown Baku and you have more time to do adventurous things and are expecting this city of pounding winds in desert-land to offer more excitement, here is our top 8 places to see in Absheron peninsula, the north-eastern suburb of Baku.
- Ateshgah Temple
Built by Hindu community members of Sikhism, this 17th century fire-worshipers’ temple stands out as a sign of tolerance and quite astonishingly and respect to fire in a Muslim majority society. Although it was a place regularly visited by fire-worshipers then, it is now a museum where you hear about history, precepts and way of life about the fire worshiping practiced in Azerbaijan as well as around the world. The temple is such an historic importance to the Azerbaijan and its image abroad that the torch of the first European Games was lightened by the President Ilham Aliyev in here in an official ceremony and then it was carried all around the regions of Azerbaijan.
Natural gas flares in Absheron peninsula are present from ancient times and are one of the examples why local people call Azerbaijan as “Land of Fire”. Yanardag literally translates as flaming hill. Contrary to its fame, it is not a big or massive attraction but just a small hill which releases underground natural gas that turns into fire naturally. What is so an experience to see is surrounding residential settlements around natural wonders like Yanardag. So it gives you a sense to have an idea about the role oil and natural gas play in life of local people. You can contemplate about this or that issue of a concern to you, while seating up in the hill and seeping from your tea cup.
- Oil Fields in Ramana village and Ramana Castle
Ramana is one of the oldest villages of Baku. Allegedly it has been found by Roman troops. But later in 18th century it became a property of khans of Afshar origin from the south Azerbaijan. During late 19th and early 20th century, the village was producing industrially huge volume of oil. Although it is dormant, there area is still operated by SOCAR at a much lower productivity. However, the area is massive and allows you to see scale of oil operations in those villages as well as the disturbing conditions of environmentally impacted areas. At the hill side, there is also historic Ramana castle from where you can observe all the Ramana village if go up to the top of it. Moreover, the population of these villages still preserve local traditions and social conventions communally. This is to say that you should kindly reject local peoples’ repeated invitation over dinner in their house.
- Mardakan Castle (Quadrangular)
Located in the middle of densely populated residential settlements, quadrangular shaped Mardakan castle rises up in sky through roofs of private houses. It would be a joke to call it a castle as some of the houses around appear to be much larger than it. A watchtower would be an accurate term to define it. Therefore, you are better to go up to top of the tower for a nice bird-eye view of Mardakan and villages in the vicinity. The gatekeeper, an intelligent old man nicknamed by Baba (trans. grandpa) will give you warm welcome and then rush to guiding you through the castle, of course in local language. So help of a translator or English speaking local friend is necessary. You can also visit a small but old mosque in the yard of the castle.
- Bilgah beach
If you are looking for the cleanest beach along the Caspian Sea in Absheron, then Bilgah is the place you want to visit. Labelled as the best, you’d find beaches crowed with people of all ages. Sometimes it is inevitable that those crowds leave mess behind themselves unclean that would upset you about the beach. Nonetheless, the sea itself still offers one of the best experiences. Although most of coastal beaches are free, they will charge you for facilities you use such as umbrella or chairs. The fare of using the facilities differs place to place ranging 5-15azn. The best time to avoid crowds would be early morning till 1800 hours.
- Pirallahi island
Once called Artyom (named after Comrade Artyom, socialist revoluntionary Fyodor Sergeyev), the Pirallahi Island is probably the only island in the Caspian Sea that has land connection with offshore in the north-east of the Absheron peninsula. It was once mainly Russian populated area with heavy oil and natural gas production. What makes this island attractive is the oil platform and structures that goes further into the sea much similar like the Oil Rocks (Neft Dashlari). The Oil Rocks is a security-wise strategic zone with very limited access to public. The oil structure in the north of the island gives a little bit ‘taste’ of the Oil Rocks.
- Absheron National Park
The Absheron National Park is a monument dedicated to Absheron peninsula. The fact that it locates at the horn of the Absheron peninsula, it draws thrilling attention of adventurers. There is no better illustration that you can see how Absheron and Baku suburb was like centuries ago.The narrow land form that goes into the sea is called “Shah Dili” (Spit of the King). It is the farthest land part of Azerbaijan in the east that you put the foot on the ground. Perhaps, this is the only reason you might want to go there. The park is 8km long from one end to another and it offers long walk under the sun like hell fire.
- Gala Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum Complex
The idea behind of the Gala museum is to build a museum infrastructure that illustrate the same old living standards and conventions existed in Absheron in old times. The Museum exhibits the discoveries of burial mounds, tombs, houses, appliances, the ruins of ancient living structures in the Absheron peninsula from bronze ages. The exhibition is also an important demonstration of the way of life of indigenous people in Absehron. If you are lucky to find the museum attendants, you would learn the process of sewing a carpet and you, yourself, give it a try, too.