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Explore The Unique & Fascinating Landscapes Of Azerbaijan

Landscapes of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan landscapes [Image by ilkin Qazi from Pixabay]
Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic, nestling between the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea. With its mountains spanning Asia and Europe, the country has a fascinating history and culture. Its capital, Baku, is famous for its walled Inner City and medieval architecture. While this and other cities are a worthy visit, here we will explore the unique landscapes of the country, visiting the Mud Volcanoes, Candy Cane Mountains and the eerie Fire Mountain.

Mud volcanoes of Azerbaijan, Baku

Mud volcanoes of Azerbaijan
Mud volcanoes of Azerbaijan [Image by Eugen Visan from Pixabay]
While normally we think of glowing red lava pouring from an erupting volcano, Azerbaijan hosts around a third of the mud volcanoes in the world. Back in 2001, the ground began to move, something a local described as similar to a large animal trying to escape from the depths. Initially, a large explosion was heard, followed by a massive flame shooting from the hillside. Initially, the flame was surrounded by thick, black, smoke, but suddenly, mud started spewing from the ground and up into the air.

Reportedly, the unusual sight could be seen as far as 15 km (9 mi) away, and the flames continued burning for three days. According to experts, this was a volcano eruption, but instead of lava or magma, the volcano spewed mud instead. Apparently, these are formed where pockets of natural underground gas find a weak spot and force their way to the surface. While there are approximately 1,000 mud volcanoes around the world, 400 of them are located in this area of Azerbaijan and can still be seen with mud bubbling up to the surface.

Candy Cane Mountains, Siyazan, Azerbaijan

Candy Cane Mountains, near Alti Agac, Azerbaijan
Candy Cane Mountains, near Alti Agac, Azerbaijan [Image David Davidson/Flickr]
When driving on the highway from Baku to Quba, the surrounding landscape transforms into a series of red-and-white striped mountains. Nicknamed the Candy Cane Mountains after the Christmas treat, they can be seen around 50 miles from Baku on the E119 highway.

The mountains form part of the Great Caucasus mountain range and the difference in color is apparently due to the unique geology in this area of the country. The peaks are a type of sedimentary rock, made from layers of rock piling on top of each other over the years.

According to geologists, changes in the environment over a certain period led to the varying mineral composition of the red and white layers. Another interesting aspect of the mountains is the belemnites or fossils of a squid-like creature from the Cretaceous period. The colorful Candy Cane Mountains certainly stand out among the other “normal” mountains in the region.

Yanar Dağ – Fire Mountain, Baku

Yanar Dağ – Fire Mountain, Baku
Yanar Dağ – Fire Mountain, Baku [Image BBC World Service/Flickr]
When explorer Marco Polo visited Baku back in the 13th century, he mentioned seeing mysterious flames popping up in the scenery of the Abseron Peninsula. Since that time, these natural flames play a role in the mystical faith of Zoroastrianism. The faith centers on ceremonial fire cults in the region around 2,000 years ago.

However, there is nothing mysterious in the flames seen in Azerbaijan to this day. Many of these fires eventually burn out due to the reduction in underground natural gas pressure. However, the ones remaining in Yanar Dağ are likely the most impressive. Also dubbed Fire Mountain, the 33-foot wall of fire burns continuously.

Fire Mountain is best viewed at night when locals and travelers can watch the display from a nearby teahouse. These days, with natural gas in short supply, it does seem an awful waste. According to legend, this particular blaze started in the 1950s when a shepherd threw his cigarette, lighting the flames.

Explore these and more fascinating, unique landscapes in Azerbaijan on your next vacation. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more information about the country and its historic cities, coming soon.


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