Country of the Week- Azerbaijan


Photo taken by Aygul Salmanova on Azernews

Brian Dreifke, Reporter

Being one of the most unique countries in the world, with a 5,000 year old history, Azerbaijan is a fascinating country. Sitting west of the Caspian Sea, south of Turkey, north of the Middle East, and southwest of Russia, this country has some of the most scattered cultural influences in the world.  

According to The World Factbook and Britannica, the Azerbaijan territory has been around since Medieval times. Once known as Transcaucasia in the 4th century, a heavy European influence transcended across the nation. Many people became Christians, but upon reaching the 7th century Islamic conflicts took place, creating a religious struggle within the country.  Along with previous European influences, including architecture, language, and customs, there was a major clash of religious influence. Now the country had a mix of Medieval European Castles, and more of Islamic-style architecture.

Fast forward to 1918, after the collapse of the Russian Empire the country is independent for the first time in its long, long history. Sadly, two years later, the country was taken over by the Soviet Union and all of its people were forced to be Russian Orthodox. This increased conflict in the nation even further. Seven decades later, after being controlled by the USSR, they finally became independent in 1991. To this day, Azerbaijan has conflicts with Armenia over the undisputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. After thousands of years of conflict, terror, and war, Azerbaijan still stands as one the toughest, most beautiful countries in the world. With a mix of European, Russian, and Islamic culture, in addition to a touch of modern culture, this is a unique country.

Places to visit in Azerbaijan include the capital Baku, to see the old castles and historical sites as well the interesting mix of European and Muslim influence on the architecture, and modern skyscrapers like the Flame Towers. Another city to visit is the northwestern city, Shaki. Here you can find Muslim churches and temples, and Medieval European castles. You can also find amazing landscapes in some of Azerbaijan’s national parks.

Another incredible site is the city of Neft Daşları, a city built completely on stilts. What started out as an oil rig in the Caspian Sea, now is a massive city right over the water. Many people link the country of Azerbaijan to Dubai, because of its mix of culture as well as crazy architecture, and wealth. Azerbaijan is home to what is known as one of the best hotels in the world. The Four Seasons hotel located along the Caspian Sea features an elegantly vintage, yet modern look. Likewise, the ancient Baku city castles are right outside, but you can also see the Flame Towers.  

Overall, Azerbaijan is a little bit of everything. With a history like no other, and an incredible mix of cultures, it has to be one of the most unique countries in the world.