Exploring Azerbaijan’s Culture – Top 5 Things to Do Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is a country with a deep and diverse culture. With many overseas influences, it is a fascinating blend of the past and present.
This remarkable destination is now welcoming visitors again, and tourists from all over the world can visit. If you’re coming from countries such as Canada or the U.S., you can now get a visa completely online. The Azerbaijan eVisa for Canadian citizens only takes a few minutes to apply, then you’re ready to go.
There are so many things to see and do in, so we’ve chosen our top 5 things to fully immerse yourself in Azerbaijan’s captivating culture. Discover its riveting history, rich cuisine, natural beauty, and plenty more.
If you’re struggling to choose a travel destination, then look no further. Azerbaijan is a magical place that will both impress and astound you.
Marvel at The Land of Fire
Fire is an important symbol of Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage, and the country is known as ‘The Land of Fire’ for a good reason.
The country is full of natural fires that have been burning for centuries, due to the vast quantities of subterranean gas in the earth. Early inhabitants saw this as a deeply spiritual occurrence, with Marco Polo even describing them during his travels in the 13th century. Still today, the fires hold a deep cultural importance in Azerbaijan.
The best places to see these incredible spectacles are at the fire temple in Baku, and the burning mountain in Yanardag. You certainly won’t be bored exploring the thrilling history of the fire-worshippers.
Explore a Diverse Cuisine
Azerbaijan’s cuisine has been influenced by the cultures of many other countries, such as Turkey, Iran, and Eastern Europe. This mix of culinary traditions has created a truly varied range of national dishes. If you’re adventurous with the food, you’ll get to truly experience this wide-ranging cuisine.
The most typical recipes feature plov — saffron-infused rice with herbs, meat, and vegetables, dolma — minced lamb with rice, wrapped in vine leaves, and dushbara — stuffed dumplings in a lamb broth. Depending on where you are in the country, there are other regional favourites too.
If you happen to be in Azerbaijan during October or November, be sure to catch the annual Goychay Pomegranate Festival. Goychay is considered to be the pomegranate capital of Azerbaijan, as it’s home to a large variety of pomegranates. The festival celebrates a wide range of pomegranate products, and features traditional dances, music, and performances.
Experience True Tea Drinking
Tea drinking is very important in Azerbaijani culture, due to its ancient tea-drinking rituals. Tea ceremonies are almost sacred, and you won’t visit an Azerbaijani’s home without being served traditional tea.
A tea ceremony is a quirky affair, with strong, freshly brewed tea poured into pear-shaped glasses, known as armudas. The brightly-coloured drink is served without milk, and instead of mixing sugar into it, the tradition is to quickly dunk a sugar cube into the tea and then take a bite.
It is commonly believed that the sugar trick comes from medieval times, when rulers needed to check if their tea was poisoned. Apparently, the poison would react with the sugar and reveal itself.
If you want to fully immerse yourself into Azerbaijani’s culture during your trip, you must take time for a traditional tea ceremony.
Admire Traditional Textiles
Textiles are a fundamental part of cultural identity in Azerbaijan, both the creation and wearing of them. The country has a long history and reputation for creating beautiful textiles, particularly carpets and headscarves.
Carpet making is a family tradition, and textile skills and techniques are passed down to generations orally and through practice. Each family has their own styles and patterns that express their individual culture. Typically, the carpets feature ornate decorations and intense colours.
A great place to go hunting for some textile souvenirs is in Icheri Seher, the old town of Baku. This protected old quarter of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you can admire the brilliant architecture while also picking up some keepsakes.
Be Hypnotised by Music
Azerbaijan has a far-reaching music culture that is influenced by music from Iran, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.
The classical music of the country, mugham, is a highly-esteemed genre that is a complex mix of poetry, instrumental interludes, and an emotive form of throat singing.
Every year there is the Mugham Festival, which celebrates the traditional mugham music of Azerbaijan. If you’re in the country during this event, you can’t miss out on experiencing an authentic mugham performance.
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