In a hidden corner of the globe, between Iran and Turkey on the Transcaucasian plateau, you'll find one of the most intriguing and enchanting places on the planet. Nakhchivan is an autonomous republic that is part of Azerbaijan, separated from the rest of the country by an 80-130km strip of Armenia. There was a very interesting article about it in the BBC just a few weeks ago. If you're bored of the usual destinations and fancy to explore something unique, Nakhchivan may be the ideal new destination to travel to.
Why visit Nakhchivan?
Isolated, and off the beaten track, the region has preserved a unique culture that has to be experienced, including beautiful mountains, incredible castles, historic lively towns, and amazing mausoleums including Noah's Tomb, which is believed to be the final resting place of the biblical prophet. This is the land of fire, and a place of legends. Nakhchivan City is the capital of the region, home to the outstanding museums, and filled with completely unique architecture that reflects the different cultures that have influenced the region. The bazaar is a hive of activity, particularly on a Saturday when people travel from across the region to sell their wares.
According to the local legend, when the floods finally subsided Noah's Ark came to rest on the top of Mount Ilandag, leaving a cleft in the mountain. Some people locally will tell you that they are descended from Noah and his family. Next to Noah's Tomb, you'll find the Kohna qala Fortress, which contains artefacts from the Sassanid Empire. From the walls of the fortress, there are incredible views of the city.
It's not just Noah who is remembered here, the Momina Khatun Monument and Yusif Ibn Kuseyir Tomb are both incredible monuments to great historical figures, which were built as acts of love and remembrance.
Friendly people and a warm welcome
Wherever you go in Nakhchivan, you're assured a warm welcome. Azerbaijan is famed for the friendliness of its people. People there are proud of their region and their nation, and always extend a warm hand to travellers. The people, the landscape, the history and the culture all make a visit to Nakhchivan completely unforgettable.
A sustainable region
The article in the BBC describes it as a sustainable nation. Nakhchivan is truly proud of its sustainable credentials. Much emphasis is placed on sustainable food production and natural organic ways of growing and raising animals. You won't find any factory farms in Nakhchivan. As a result, the food traditions in the region are second to none. Lamb is central to the diet, as too are figs and apricots, great steaming stews and sublime tasting vegetables. 300 varieties of herbs grow here and play a huge part in the regions unique culinary traditions. Food plays a central part in the Nakhchivan tradition of hospitality, so expect to eat extremely well should you visit, with tastes unlike any you might find elsewhere on earth.
A unique place, with a unique way of life
Azerbaijan is rightly famed as the Land Of Fire, and Nakhchivan forms a very special part of the national mix. With so many destinations now overrun with tourists, Nakhchivan offers an opportunity for an old fashioned adventure.By K.Balayev
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