Azerbaijan UNESCO Heritage Sites Tour

5
Days
Baku, Shamakhi, Sheki, Kish

The Azerbaijan UNESCO Heritage Sites Tour explores the land’s rich history through visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other historical items of interest. Wander the petroglyphs of Gobustan, climb Baku’s mysterious Maiden Tower, sit among traveling merchants in Sheki Caravanserai and discover religious roots in Shamakhi’s Juma Mosque and Absheron’s Ateshgah Fire Temple on a tour that will redefine your perception of the past.
Azerbaijan has managed to remain closely linked to its ancestors through countless historical monuments, including the internationally recognized UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, Sheki Khans’ Palace and Old Baku, encompassing the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower. Each site is open to tourists and provides a unique peek into different eras in the country’s history.

Arrive in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital. Transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon, and have a rest after your flight. Your guide and driver will pick you up to begin your private Baku city tour to the following:

  • Nizami Ganjavi Avenue, where you’ll see Nizami Ganjavi Monument, dedicated to the renowned Persian poet, before walking through popular Fountain Square and metropolitan Rasulzade Street.
  • Icheri Sheher, Baku’s ancient city center filled with historical sites:
  • Maiden Tower (date unconfirmed), an ancient fortress believed to have once been a fire temple, it is now a city symbol which affords a great view of Baku from the top.
  • Palace of the Shirvanshahs (15th century), a UNESCO ensemble and Azerbaijan’s finest example of medieval architecture, it includes a mosque, bathhouse and entrance gates.
  • Multani Caravanserai (15th century), built as a haven for Indian merchants and fire worshipers.
  • Market Square (17th century), a plaza filled with winding streets and shops selling carpets, souvenirs and antiques.
  • Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum, which holds the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world in addition to ancient jewelry, pottery and other cultural items of interest.
  • Martyrs’ Lane (Shehidler Khiyabany), a touching memorial to Azerbaijanis who have perished in fighting. It also provides a beautiful view of the Caspian Sea coastline and the Flame Towers.
Transfer back to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
City tour duration: approximately 5 hours
Meals provided: none

Depart from your Baku hotel and drive to Gobustan National Park (60km, 1hr), located on the west bank of the Caspian Sea.

  • Start your excursion at Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and open-air gallery dating back to 10000 BC. Walk along the trail, enjoying the gorgeous view as you discover nearly 6000 petroglyph inscriptions.
  • Explore the small Petroglyph Museum, which provides a brief introduction to the park’s cultural and ecological history.
  • Drive to the Mud Volcanoes (10km, 15min), an unusual natural phenomena where underground gases bubble up from the earth in a mixture of mud and methane.
  • Return to Baku. On the way, visit Bibi Heybat Mosque (dates vary) to see a central piece of Azerbaijani Islamic architecture, the tomb of the prophet Muhammad’s descendent Ukeyma Khanum.
  • Visit Yanar Dag (Burning Mountain), a natural gas fire which has been burning for thousands of years due to the large reservoir of gas under the Absheron Peninsula.
  • Drive (20km, 30min) to Ateshgah Fire Temple (dates vary), a historic center of Zoroastrian worship and philosophical teaching.
Return to the capital. Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Meals provided: breakfast

Your private guide and driver will meet you at your Baku hotel. Drive to Shamakhi (120km, 1hr 30min).
On the way, stop at Diri Baba Mausoleum (15th century), located in the village of Maraza. Explore this two-story monument, carved into a rocky cliff as a unique display of Shirvan-Absheron architecture.
Continue driving to ancient Shamakhi, former seat of the Shirvanshah Empire, to visit:

  • Juma Mosque (8th century), the oldest mosque in Azerbaijan whose ancient Islamic architecture and interior stone columns, unparalleled in the country, create an aura of antiquity.
  • Yeddi Gumbaz Mausoleum (19th century), burial site of the last khan of Shamakhi with unusually- shaped markers and a panoramic view of the city.
Drive to Yeddi Gozel Waterfall (Seven Beautiful Waterfalls) near Gebele (Qabala) city. Climb the stairs to the top of the mountain to enjoy the fresh air and stunning view.
Continue driving to Sheki (90km, 1hr 30min). Check in to the hotel and have a rest. Overnight at the hotel in Sheki.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, meet up with your private guide and driver in Sheki to begin your tour to its finest sites:

  • Sheki Khans’ Palace (18th century) – this UNESCO World Heritage Site, built without glue or nails and famous for its stained glass and miniature paintings, is the country’s most treasured relic from the 1700s.
  • Sheki Historical Museum – Small but diverse collection of relics, paintings and information on the city and region.
  • Shebeki Workshop – Learn the secret of creating shebeki stained-glass windows at this colorful workshop, situated within an ethnic crafts center.
  • Teze Bazaar - An authentic market catering to local residents, you’ll find few tourists here. Shop for snacks or local products as you roam the aisles and snap photos.
  • Sheki Caravanserai (18th century) – Explore the grounds of this historical complex which once housed merchants and their camels, stopping to enjoy some tea and local sweet halva, or pakhlava.
  • Gelersen-Gerersen Fortress (Come-and-See Fortress, 5th century) – Drive a few kilometers to climb the walls of this once impenetrable citadel whose history is closely linked with the city.
  • Kish Village – Wander the streets of this quaint and ancient settlement. Tour the Church of Kish (dates vary), the first Albanian church in the Caucasus whose mysterious history stretches back to the first century AD.
After the tour, drive back to Baku (310km, 4hrs 20min). Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
City tour duration: approximately 4 hours
Meals provided: breakfast
Breakfast at the hotel, followed by a free morning. Check out from the hotel by noon. Transfer to Baku International Airport for your departure flight. End of Azerbaijan UNESCO Heritage Sites Tour.
Meals provided: breakfast
  • Round-trip airport transfers;
  • Private guide on days 1 - 4;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
  • Transportation throughout the tour;
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room at hotel (4 nights, with breakfast);
  • Bottled mineral water (1 liter per person per day).
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Lunches and dinners;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • All other charges and services not mentioned under Inclusions;
  • Tips are not included but are appreciated.

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