When vacationing in Azerbaijan, make sure to spend some time in the resort town of Lankaran, if it is not yet your main destination. Located on the southeastern part of the country, this picturesque town near the Caspian Sea is accessible by bus, train and taxi from the capital city of Baku. There are several reasons why you should spend your next holiday in Lankaran, and here are the top five.
First is the Mayak, an old lighthouse at the center of the city. This white tower used to be a defense tower, a prison and headquarters for the Communist Government Party during the Soviet days. As you walk away from this white Mayak going to the Caspian Sea, don’t be surprised to see its twin tower on the outskirts of the city, only this one was made of red bricks and doesn’t have a lighthouse on top.
The similarity of the two towers is not an accident. They are actually connected by an underground passageway, which was supposedly used by Joseph Stalin to get to the Caspian Sea unnoticed. It is believed that M. Rasulzadeh, founder of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, helped Stalin escape from the white tower to the red tower through the secret tunnel. This makes the Mayak a very interesting piece of history.
Second, speaking of history, visit Lankaran to see several historical sites. Azerbaijan is known as an ancient city, a popular stopover for ancient traders and traveling merchants along the Silk Road. Other than the country’s oil and natural attractions, Azerbaijan attracts tourists for its many historical and cultural sites, some of which are found in Lankaran.
Two popular sites are the Tomb of Seyid Khalifa and the ancient public baths. The public baths or Hamamlar is clearly one of the major attractions here. These are ancient bathing areas that were used by weary travelers along the Silk Road not just to take a bath but also to rest, as would a modern traveler find refreshment in a motel. Pilgrims regularly come here until today since there are several active mosques in town.
There are two ancient bathing facilities, which are called Khazi Mirze and Khazi Gurban. Folks people believe that the waters here had healing capabilities because they were rich in mineral contents.
The third reason for you to visit Lankaran is the Hirkan National Park. This well-preserved natural park is the home of a number of endemic and endangered species. You can find exotic animals (Front-Asian leopard, Persian leopard and lynx), plants (Silk acacia, Caucasus palm-tree and Caspian gleditsia), birds (Talysh pheasant, Northern goshawk, and golden eagle), and insects (Talysh longhorn beetle, Talysh orange tip butterfly, and brahmid moth).
Fourth, come here for the town bazaar, a very busy place for buying, selling and eating. There are fresh fruits and vegetables everywhere. The most common items that might interest you are metal products, kitchen items, paintings, and local souvenirs.
Finally, visit Lankaran for its history. Just being there (even if for some reason you decide to skip the historical sites) will give you a sense of history and a better understanding of what Azerbaijan is really all about. Archeological finds reveal that this part of the country already thrived during the Bronze Age; also, this was a highly developed town during Soviet rule.