A gallery of my favourite Azerbaijan photography to inspire you to visit the Land of Fire.
Azerbaijan might not be at the top of everyone’s bucket list, but the former Soviet Republic and ‘odd one out’ of the three Caucasus countries certainly has a lot to offer. Travelling overland through the Land of Fire might not be the smoothest of journeys, but it’s an unforgettable experience full of contrasts and contradictions. Of course, it helps that Azerbaijan is incredibly pretty and its smaller rural towns a street photographer’s dream.
Essential reading: 12 things you should know before visiting the Caucasus.
You’d be forgiven for mistaking the oil-rich metropolis of Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital city, for Paris in the spring. Wide boulevards, perfectly manicured gardens, Belle Epoque architecture and gigantic fountains characterise downtown Baku. The iconic Flame Towers loom in the distance; a constant reminder of where you are and just how Baku’s fortunes were made. The Heydar Aliyev Center, a true architectural masterpiece, is one of the most incredible buildings you’ll ever see or have the privilege of photographing.
Baku’s Old City, Icherisheher, is a maze of ancient Zoroastrian towers, converted Silk Road caravanserais, mosques and carpet shops. It backs onto the Bulvar, a vast boulevard that’s counted among the largest parks in the world, which in turn unfolds onto the satiny Caspian Sea.
You don’t have to venture too far from Baku before the scenery changes dramatically. Oil rigs line the coast on the drive down to eerie Gobustan, a landscape of oozing mud volcanoes that is positively otherworldly. Beyond Baku, small towns like Quba—with their friendly locals, carpet workshops and Soviet relics—are a paradise for street photographers. I challenge you to come away with a shot that doesn’t feature either a Lada or a colourfully painted cigarette stand. Sheki—with its divine Summer and Winter palaces, caravanserai hotel, and charming backstreets—is the gem of Azerbaijan and a place that stole my heart.
Keep reading: The top things to see and do in Sheki, Azerbaijan.
Here are 32 of my favourite photographs to inspire you to visit Azerbaijan.
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