Hg2 : The Hedonist

Absheron Peninsula

If, as it is often described, Azerbaijan is a great eagle, stooping into the Caspian, then the Absheron peninsula forms the giant raptor’s beak and Baku’s bay the underside of the lower mandible. Around the peninsula are some interesting villages, many with medieval defence towers in varying states of decay, notably old Ramana (not to be confused with the nearby new Ramana). In the unassuming town of Surakhani lies the hugely significant, if rather underwhelming, Ateshgah Zoroastrian Fire Temple, which dates back to at least the 13th century AD, with some academics claiming this was a holy site for the fire worshippers as long ago as the 6th century. Once upon a time, the holy fire at this temple burned constantly from natural oil reserves, but these reserves ran out in the late 19th century, since when the flame has rather less romantically been supplied by piped gas and these days is largely only ignited for tourists. More impressive, is the burning mountainside at Yanar Dag, which does indeed burn 24/7 from gases produced by the oil-rich soil beneath. Although open all day, it is at night when the sight is most impressive and visitors can take tea and an impressive array of sweets, lit and warmed by the inferno of the flaming hillside.

Absheron Peninsula,
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