Caucasus: A Cultural CrossroadsSpreading over the border of Europe and Asia, the Caucasus has been considered a fascinating cultural crossroads for many years. Over the years, many religions and nations have influenced each of the three countries. Meanwhile, this leads to many religious sites to visit across the Caucasus, as well as the extensive history of the area.
Moreover, the three Transcaucasian nations occupy a strip of hilly land, between the Black and the Caspian Seas. In each, the Caucasus Mountains make a stunning backdrop, often capped with snow. Read on to find out more about the three Caucasus nations, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, just waiting to be explored.
Visit Armenia in the Caucasus MountainsArmenia nestles in the South Caucasus and its cosmopolitan capital is Yerevan. What makes the landlocked country truly fascinating is that while it still has touches from the Soviet era, the capital offers an almost Mediterranean feel. However, its café culture, dining and shopping experience is unlike anywhere else.
For those seeking retail therapy, Yerevan hosts a weekend flea market, offering many beautiful objects, including arts and crafts, carpets, handmade jewelry and obsidian chess sets.As for religion, Armenia was the first in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion. Due to this, the country’s cities and landscapes feature many fine churches, monasteries and temples to explore. Nestled in a spectacular landscape, the stunning Monastery of Tatev should definitely be on the itinerary.
Head to Azerbaijan in the Caucasus MountainsNext, we explore Azerbaijan in the Caucasus Mountains, sitting right at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. This fascinating nation is bordered by Armenia to the west, the Caspian Sea to the east, Iran to the south and Russia to the north.
Azerbaijan is a nation of ancient history and cultural heritage, which can be seen in its literature, architecture, visual arts and music. Moreover, it has the distinction of being the first Muslim-majority country to open modern universities, as well as theaters and operas.The country’s capital is Baku an interesting mix of historic and modern. One of the older areas of the city is Icheri Sheher, with its fascinating and winding alleyways. Here, visitors are lured through the medieval walled city, visiting the 12th-century Maiden’s Tower, the historic palace and various mosques.
Ancient and modern
On the modern side of Baku, travelers can enjoy a stroll past the impressive mansions. These were built by the oil barons between 1870 and 1914. Meanwhile, the modern side also hosts the Martyr’s Alley, built to commemorate the country’s fallen heroes and standing above the Bay of Baku.
The country’s distant past can be seen in the remains of human settlement during the late Stone Age. Here, ancient carvings and structures can be seen, including the caves of Damcılı, Tağılar, Zar, and Yataq-yeri as well as the necropolises of Leylatepe and Saraytepe.Heading to the National Park of Gobustan in Azerbaijan reveals more ancient and fascinating rock carvings. Among them are petroglyphs dating back to 10,000 BC. This area is considered so important that it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “outstanding universal value.”
Caucasus vacation in GeorgiaGeorgia is the third Caucasian country and is bordered on the north by Russia, the south by Armenia and Turkey and the southeast by Azerbaijan. The country is also west of the Black Sea. One of the major highlights of this fascinating nation is its capital city, Tbilisi, nestled in the Mntkvari Valley and surrounded by several mountain ranges.
Among the most interesting sites in Tbilisi are the Anchiskhati Basilica, the Narikala Fortress and the city’s cathedral. Meanwhile, visitors should visit the nearby ancient city of Mtskheta, which is considered the birthplace of Christianity in Georgia.Moreover, visitors shouldn’t miss Vardzia, a 12th-century cave monastery carved in the rock on the slopes of Mt. Erusheli. This fascinating complex features a series of hidden tunnels, some containing intricate frescoes. It is believed that, at its peak, the monastery housed around 6,000 monks. However, due to its strategic position, the cave monastery offered the perfect defense against invading Mongols. Fast forward to now, and Vardzia is still a unique and unusual site to visit. Those seeking a unique vacation of a lifetime should experience these three Caucasus nations, on the crossroads between Asia and Europe. Find out more about tours of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia here.