Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia Highlights

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From the traditional streets of Baku to the rugged peaks of the Georgian mountains to the historic monasteries nestled in Armenia’s serene landscapes, the Caucasus area of the world has wealthy historical past and tradition.

This mountainous area, located between the Black and Caspian Seas, is dwelling to a few distinctive international locations: Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. And Arara Tours will take you on a journey of all of them!

Here are a few of my favourite highlights from my Classical Tour Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia with Arara.

The Best Stops and Things to Do on a Tour of the Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia)

The Best Stops and Things to Do on a Tour of the Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia)


Azerbaijan Highlights

Maiden Tower 

The Maiden Tower, or Qiz qalasi (Tower of Virgin in Azerbaijani), stands tall in Baku’s Old City, Azerbaijan. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, relationship again to the Twelfth century, reaches 29.5 meters (97 toes) with eight flooring. Over the centuries, it’s believed to have served as a defensive tower, lighthouse, and mosque.

While many tales encompass its design and goal, the preferred one is {that a} king constructed it for his daughter, who tragically leaped from it to flee an undesirable marriage.

PS: you’ll be able to climb to the highest of the tower and soak up an ideal view of the town.


Palace of the Shirvanshahs

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is a Fifteenth-century palace advanced situated within the Old City of Baku, Azerbaijan. This advanced served because the regal abode for the illustrious Shirvanshahs, the rulers of the Shirvan Khanate. The palace consists of a number of buildings, together with the principle palace, the Divanhana (council corridor), the mosque, and the bathhouse.

The palace is thought for its lovely structure, which mixes parts of Islamic, Persian, and Azerbaijani structure. Furthermore, it has earned its place on the distinguished listing of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in tandem with the long-lasting Maiden Tower.


Highland Park

Highland Park, is within the Nasimi district of Baku, Azerbaijan, claims the distinguished title of being the town’s highest level, with its highest peak reaching an elevation of roughly 600 toes above sea stage. From this elevated vantage level, you’ll be handled to panoramic views that stretch throughout the city sprawl and the Caspian Sea.

One of one of the best issues you will notice is the Flame Towers trio, whose heights vary from 528 ft to 597 toes. 

Highland Park

Bibiheybat Mosque

You will discover the Bibiheybat Mosque tucked away within the historic Bibiheybat settlement of Baku, a testomony to Islamic heritage relationship again to the thirteenth century.

It is without doubt one of the oldest mosques within the metropolis and is taken into account to be one of the vital sacred Islamic websites in Azerbaijan. The mosque is thought for its lovely structure and its elaborate carvings.

The Bibiheybat Mosque’s hallowed floor can also be believed to be the resting place of a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, lending a good deeper sense of sanctity to this cherished place of worship.


Mud Volcano

Azerbaijan is dwelling to over 300 mud volcanoes, that are the very best focus of mud volcanoes on the earth. Unlike conventional volcanoes that spew molten lava, mud volcanoes are an eruption of mud, water, gases, and generally even rocks and particles from the Earth’s floor.

The formation of those mud volcanoes is attributed to the collision of the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates. The intense stress and warmth ensuing from this geological interplay trigger the mud to erupt from the bottom.


Gobustan National Park Petroglyphs

Gobustan National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated within the Gobustan district. The park is dwelling to over 6,000 rock carvings and petroglyphs that date again to the Stone Age. The petroglyphs depict a variety of topics, together with people, animals, vegetation, and pure phenomena. They additionally present insights into the day by day lives and beliefs of the individuals who created them.

Aside from the rock carvings, there are additionally different rock sights within the space, such because the Roman inscription on a giant rock discovered near the Boyuk-Dash mountain’s southeast facet, and the Gaval Dash, a pure musical stone which produces a sound resembling a tambourine when hit with a small rock (there’s one on the entrance to the reserve.)

Gobustan National Park Petroglyphs

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center

The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is a contemporary masterpiece designed by Zaha Hadid in 2012. Its distinctive, fluid design avoids sharp angles and traditional architectural parts, that includes a seamless white exterior that exudes motion and dynamism.

Beyond its hanging look, the middle’s performance shines. Its curved partitions and open areas create a way of movement and connection. It homes state-of-the-art amenities, together with a 1,000-seat auditorium for cultural occasions, a convention corridor for as much as 1,500 attendees, a up to date artwork and design gallery, a museum devoted to Heydar Aliyev’s legacy.

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center

Nohur Lake

Imagine a serene water escape within the nation’s northern mountains—Nohur Lake. It’s a hidden oasis with boating, birdwatching, and scenic hikes. And right here’s a enjoyable reality: It’s a man-made marvel relationship again to post-World War II. 

Even when you don’t stick round for water actions, it’s nice to have an outside lunch at Nohur Gol restaurant. 

Nohur Lake

Sheki Fortress

In Sheki, the 18th-century Sheki Fortress holds immense historic worth. It contains the famend Sheki Khan’s Palace, one other Azerbaijan UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcasing Azerbaijani architectural brilliance with intricate tilework and vibrant stained glass home windows.

Inside the fortress grounds, you’ll additionally discover a museum, artwork gallery, a Shebeke workhouse (the place you’ll be able to watch how the artwork of stained glass home windows are created with out glue or nail!) and a caravanserai—a conventional roadside inn for vacationers.

Sheki Fortress

Traditional Restaurants To Try

If you prefer to eat the native delicacies the town of Baku has all kinds of conventional eating places that serve genuine Azerbaijani delicacies. Some of my favorites within the metropolis embody:

  • Firuza: This is a enjoyable underground restaurant famend for its delectable kebabs, grilled meats, and in style dishes like dushbara, qutab, and plov.
Firuza
  • Quaynana: This is without doubt one of the hottest locations inside the town wall of outdated city Baku. They have loads of conventional meals, however the rooster kebabs have been my favourite and their home bread that got here heat from the oven!
Quaynana
  • Dolma: This restaurant celebrates its namesake dish, dolma, comprising grape leaves crammed with a tasty combination of rice and floor meat. 
  • Nergiz: An underground eating gem (actually!). Nergiz presents a various menu that includes each conventional Azerbaijani dishes (like sadj and plov) and worldwide delicacies.

Hotel: Shah Palace

Our lodge in Azerbaijan was the 4-star Shah Palace Hotel within the coronary heart of Baku’s historic Old City. Located only a stone’s throw from iconic landmarks such because the Maiden Tower, the lodge gives visitors unmatched entry to the town’s wealthy heritage. 

The lodge’s design is impressed by the wealthy historical past and tradition of Azerbaijan, and its décor options many conventional Azerbaijani parts, corresponding to carpets, rugs, and furnishings. One of its highlights is the central atrium, the place you’ll get to see the palace’s inside designs in all their glory. You may even see some historic artifacts by  a glass panel on the ground!


Georgia

Jvari Monastery

Jvari Monastery is a Sixth-century Georgian Orthodox monastery situated on prime of a hill overlooking the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. It is without doubt one of the most vital spiritual and cultural monuments in Georgia. 

The monastery is inbuilt a cruciform fashion with a central dome and 4 apses. The exterior is embellished with elaborate carvings, whereas the inside is adorned with frescoes relationship again to the eleventh century.


Svetitskhoveli Church

Svetitskhoveli Church, one of the vital revered spiritual websites in Georgia, holds a particular place within the nation’s spiritual historical past. It is claimed to be the burial place of Christ’s gown, and has been a pilgrimage web site for hundreds of years.

The church can also be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s famend for its beautiful structure. The church’s huge dome and complicated carvings are a testomony to the ability of Georgian artisans.


Old Town Tbilisi 

Old Town Tbilisi is the historic coronary heart of Georgia’s capital metropolis. It is a maze of slender streets and alleyways lined with centuries-old buildings and monuments.

There’s a lot to see, however don’t miss hopping on the cable automotive for a journey that gives some killer metropolis views. As you ascend, you’ll spot the long-lasting Mother of Georgia atop Sololaki Hill, an emblem of Georgian energy and independence. You stroll proper as much as it! Also, stroll throughout the Peace Bridge, a contemporary architectural masterpiece which connects the Old Town with Rike Park.


Ananuri Fortress

Perched on the shores of the Zhinvali Reservoir, the Ananuri Fortress is a testomony to Georgia’s wealthy historical past. Dating again to the thirteenth century, it as soon as served because the noble seat of the Dukes of Aragvi.

This advanced boasts an array of church buildings, towers, and formidable partitions, with the Church of the Assumption and the Church of the Savior standing out as its jewels. 

Ananuri Fortress

Panorama Gudauri Mural (& View!) 

Panorama Gudauri, with its sweeping mountain views,  is a canvas for each nature’s artistry and human creativity. Located alongside the Georgian Military Highway, it overlooks the Devil’s Valley within the Caucasus mountains.

Along its internal circumference, you’ll see scenes depicting occasions from each Georgian and Russian historical past. 

Panorama Gudauri Mural

Gergeti Trinity Church

High within the misty mountains, the Gergeti Trinity Church reigns as a beacon of spirituality and an emblem of Georgia’s enduring religion. Arara Tours, transferred us from a shuttle bus to a 4WD to rise up the mountain!

The church’s easy stone façade towards the dramatic backdrop of Mount Kazbek creates an unforgettable tableau, reminding us of the non secular heights Georgia reaches.

Gergeti Trinity Church

Tsinandali Estate

Tsinandali Estate is a former aristocratic property situated within the village of Tsinandali in Georgia’s famend wine nation, Kakheti. The property was as soon as dwelling to the Chavchavadze household, one of the vital influential households in Georgian historical past.

You can discover the property’s gardens, dine or drink in certainly one of their bars and eating places, go to the Chavchavadze House Museum, and pattern a few of their award-winning wines on the Tsinandali Wine Cellar. They additionally maintain the annual Tsinandali Festival, a should for classical music lovers.


Batonis Tsikhe Fortress Museum

The Batonis Tsikhe Fortress Museum is situated within the village of Akhmeta in Kakheti, Georgia. The museum is housed in a Seventeenth-century Persian-style fortress that was as soon as the house of the Kakhetian kings.

The museum was opened in 1935 and homes a group of archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, together with manuscripts, uncommon publications, navy tools, and a high quality arts gallery.

Around the fortress, you’ll be handled with the spectacular structure of the well-preserved fortress partitions, two royal chapels, gardens, and park. Plus, you’ll additionally get sweeping views of the town and Caucasus mountains.


Khareba Winery

Khareba Winery is without doubt one of the largest and hottest wineries in Georgia. It gives a wide range of wine tastings, in addition to excursions of the place and its wine cellars. We did a tasting within the cellar of a few of their signature wines like Kindzmarauli, Saperavi Classic, and Mukuzani. But that’s not all; delve into the world of Georgian spirits with a sampling of chacha, a potent exhausting liquor.

For these trying to embrace Georgian tradition absolutely, there’s an choice to be taught the artwork of creating conventional shoti bread (Georgian flatbread) and Churchkhela sweet (Georgian candle-shaped sweet constituted of nuts and dried fruit). That was my favourite half!


Sighnaghi Town

Perched on a hillside overlooking Kakheti, Sighnaghi gives postcard-worthy views. Known because the “City of Love,” it’s in style for romantic getaways and weddings. Its cobblestone streets and pastel buildings create an ambiance straight out of a fairy story.

One of my favourite issues we did there was to stroll the fortress partitions for some fairly spectacular valley views, particularly throughout sundown. 

The city’s colourful buildings and charming setting additionally make it a haven for taking photographs. Of course, don’t overlook to chill out and savor the easy pleasures of life in Sighnaghi – take a leisurely stroll by the city’s streets, go to a neighborhood cafe, or pattern a few of the area’s scrumptious wines.

Sighnaghi Town Annette

Hotel: Brim lodge

Our lodge whereas in Georgia was in Tbilisi on the fashionable Brim Hotel. This boutique gem gives a mix of recent consolation and Georgian hospitality with completely different rooms and suites, every with its personal distinctive fashion and facilities. They even have a rooftop bar, a restaurant, and a spa—simply to call a number of.

Their buffet breakfast was certainly one of my favorites!

Brim Hotel

Armenia

Goshavank Monastery

Goshavank Monastery is a Twelfth-century Armenian masterpiece situated within the village of Gosh. Founded by the famend scholar and jurist Mkhitar Gosh, the monastery rapidly grew to become a middle of studying and tradition. Its beautiful structure, with its hovering domes and complicated carvings, is a testomony to the ability and artistry of medieval Armenian builders.

When you go to Goshavank, take the chance to discover the monastery’s two church buildings, its library, and its assortment of khachkars, or Armenian cross-stones. The khachkars at Goshavank are notably noteworthy for his or her intricate designs and symbolism.

Goshavank Monastery

Haghartsin Monastery

Another architectural gem in Armenia is Haghartsin Monastery, within the lush Dilijan National Park. Built within the thirteenth century, this monastic advanced is dwelling to a few church buildings, a refectory (eating corridor,) a sepulcher, and a library. The St. Astvatsatsin Church, the most important church within the advanced, is famend for its 16-sided dome that’s embellished with arches, columns, and triangular ledges.


Matenadaran Museum

The Matenadaran Museum in Yerevan homes a formidable assortment of 23,000 manuscripts, together with the traditional Tenth-century Echmiadzin Gospel. This repository of data serves a triple goal as a museum, a manuscript repository, and a analysis institute, making it an indispensable pilgrimage for historical past aficionados and students.

Within its partitions, you’ll have the chance to delve into the historical past of Armenian writing, calligraphy, and illumination, whereas additionally marveling at an array of different historic artifacts, together with historic maps, cash, and sacred relics. It’s a spot the place the previous comes alive, and the pages of historical past reveal their timeless secrets and techniques.


Genocide Memorial and Museum

A somber but important go to, the Genocide Memorial and Museum in Yerevan commemorates the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The museum paperwork the genocide of over 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire throughout World War I.

The museum advanced consists of two important components: the memorial and the museum. The memorial is a towering obelisk that symbolizes the rebirth of the Armenian individuals after the genocide. In the middle it has an everlasting burning flame that represents the un-extinguishable Armenian spirit. The museum is housed in a contemporary constructing that comprises a everlasting exhibition on the Armenian Genocide, in addition to a memorial wall with the names of over 1 million victims.


Echmiadzin Cathedral

Echmiadzin Cathedral holds a particular place within the hearts of Armenians, broadly thought-about to be the oldest Christian church on the earth. This UNESCO-listed web site is the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and is without doubt one of the most sacred websites in Armenia. Its historic structure and non secular significance make it a pilgrimage vacation spot for the trustworthy.

The inside of the cathedral is embellished with colourful murals and mosaics. You’ll additionally get to see relics such because the Holy Lance, believed to be the spear that pierced Jesus’ facet on the crucifixion, and a bit of Noah’s Ark.

Echmiadzin Cathedral

Zvartnots Temple Ruins

Zvartnots Temple is a Seventh-century Armenian cathedral situated close to the city of Vagharshapat within the Armavir Province of Armenia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the vital vital spiritual and cultural monuments in Armenia.

Zvartnots Temple was one of many largest and most spectacular church buildings on the earth on the time of its development, boasting a three-story round construction with a diameter of 38.7 meters and a peak of 45 meters.

The temple was destroyed within the Tenth century, with theories suggesting an earthquake or Arab assaults because the potential causes. While solely the temple ruins stay in the present day, it’s nonetheless a testomony to the ability and artistry of medieval Armenian builders and designers.


Khor Virap Monastery

Khor Virap Monastery is a Seventh-century monastery perched on a rocky hilltop overlooking the Ararat Valley. The monastery is without doubt one of the most vital pilgrimage websites in Armenia and is claimed to be the place the place Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years.

As you step into the monastery, you’ll have the prospect to discover its church, chapel, and the notorious pit the place St. Gregory was as soon as confined. And don’t miss the chance to soak within the awe-inspiring vistas of Mount Ararat, a sacred image for the Armenian individuals, from the monastery grounds.


Noravank Monastery

Tucked away inside the beautiful Amaghu Canyon, Noravank Monastery is a jewel of Armenian medieval structure. Dating again to the Twelfth century, it’s famend for its intricate stone carvings and dramatic crimson rock formations.

One of its most notable sights is the Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) Church, which includes a two-story design and hovering dome. Its facade is roofed with intricate patterns, which provides to the church’s magnificence. 

You’ll additionally discover a number of surviving khachkars alongside the compound partitions, in addition to different constructions just like the Surb Karapet church and Surb Grigor Chapel.

Noravank Monastery

Geghard Monastery

Geghard Monastery, partially carved into Azat River Gorge cliffs, is an historic marvel with deep spiritual significance. Named after the Holy Lance, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a key cultural and non secular heart in Armenia.

This advanced options two church buildings: Katoghike (1215,) famend for its intricate carvings and frescoes, and Gavit (1225,) with its personal set of gorgeous designs and murals. The St. Gregory the Illuminator chapel rests in a hillside cave. The monastery advanced additionally comprises a variety of caves that have been used as dwelling quarters and storage rooms by the monks.


Lavash Making

What higher manner so as to add some conventional Armenian recipes underneath your belt than studying the artwork of lavash making? This conventional flatbread, usually ready in underground clay ovens, is an integral a part of Armenian delicacies.

Our tour information made a cease to a neighborhood dwelling the place we acquired to see the fascinating course of stay! It was then served with a number of recent herbs and native cheese. 


Garni Temple

Garni Temple stands as a testomony to Armenia’s pre-Christian heritage. This historic Hellenistic temple, devoted to the solar god Mihr, dates again to the first century AD, and is the oldest pagan temple within the nation. Its well-preserved colonnades and pagan symbolism make it an enchanting historic web site, providing a glimpse into Armenia’s historic beliefs.

Visitors to Garni Temple can discover the temple’s ruins, which embody the principle temple constructing and a variety of different constructions, corresponding to a bathhouse and a guesthouse. The temple is situated in a good looking setting, surrounded by mountains and rivers.

Garni Temple

History Museum of Armenia

If you’re trying to immerse your self in Armenia’s wealthy historical past, look no additional than the History Museum of Armenia in Yerevan. The museum homes an unlimited assortment of artifacts from Armenia’s lengthy and sophisticated historical past, together with archaeological finds, manuscripts, cash, and artworks.

The museum was based in 1919 and its assortment contains over 400,000 artifacts, making it one of many largest museums in Armenia.

History Museum of Armenia

Traditional Restaurants to Try

Of course, our tour of Armenia is not going to be full with out getting a style of their native delicacies. Indulge your style buds at Tavern Yerevan, the place Armenian delicacies shines. From fragrant kebabs to delectable dolma, this restaurant gives an genuine culinary expertise. It was our favourite meal on the journey! Make positive to make reservations properly upfront.

Meanwhile, Lavash Restaurant invitations you to savor the flavors of Armenia, together with freshly baked lavash, in a comfy and fashionable ambiance. Don’t miss out ordering the hummus eggplant appetizer. It was my favourite factor I ate in Armenia!

Lavash Restaurant

Hotel: Ani Plaza lodge

We stayed at Ani Plaza Hotel within the coronary heart of Yerevan. It is a bigger 4-star lodge that’s identified for being conveniently situated near all of metropolis’s main sights, together with Republic Square, the Armenian Opera House, and the History Museum of Armenia, permitting for exploration of the town on foot or by public transportation.


About Arara Tours: We went on this 3 nation journey with Arara Tours, a journey firm that focuses on excursions of the Caucasus area. They provide a wide range of choices, however the one written about right here was the Classical Tour Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia. This 13-day itinerary covers all three international locations, beginning in Baku, heading to Azerbaijan, and wrapping up in Yerevan, Armenia.


The Caucasus area, the place historical past, tradition, and beautiful landscapes converge, unveils an alluring tapestry of experiences. Exploring Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia with Arara Tours allowed me to delve into this wealthy tapestry. 

From the colourful streets of Baku to the rugged Georgian mountains and the serene Armenian monasteries, the area’s allure is boundless. Whether your coronary heart beats for historical past, tradition, nature, or sheer journey, the Caucasus area generously gives its treasures to all who search them.

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