Located on both banks of the fertile Ganjachai River, the Azerbaijani city of Ganja has repeatedly been subjected to trials of fate, becoming the object of attacks by foreign invaders or being in the epicenter of a devastating earthquake. But, contrary to all adversity, the city again and again revived in an even more beautiful appearance. And today, Ganja is one of the three largest, by size of the territory and population of the cities of Azerbaijan, being one of the industrial, scientific and cultural centers of the country. Along with its economic significance, Ganja and its environs are distinguished by a rich historical and natural heritage, which makes the city the largest tourist center of Azerbaijan. After all, this region is home to one of the most beautiful lakes in the country and in the Caucasus – Goy-Gol. In Ganja, many architectural monuments have been preserved: ancient bridges, towers, madrasas, ancient baths, caravanserais. The birthplace of the famous poet Nizami Ganjavi – Ganja, as before attracts travelers and connoisseurs of antiquity from around the world.
Relax in the lap of nature
On September 25, 1139, an enormous earthquake occurred in the vicinity of Ganja, which resulted in eight beautiful lakes, one of which is the pearl of Azerbaijan, the amazingly beautiful Goy-Gol lake. This lake is currently located on the territory of the reserve of the same name and is one of the most picturesque places in Azerbaijan.
In addition, the city itself has a picturesque park with centuries-old trees “Khan Baghy” (“Khan’s Garden”) – one of the oldest parks not only in Azerbaijan, but throughout the Caucasus, founded in 1700. Here, on a total area of 7 hectares, there are representatives of local and imported from various parts of the world flora. Among the dense foliage of trees are also found squirrels. The park has fountains, modern lighting system. To services of tourists a corner of Venice, an artificial lake, bridges, benches, cafes, children’s rides and swings.
Visit The Gates of Ganja museum complex
You can begin to get acquainted with the history and culture of Ganja in the Museum of Archeology and Ethnography, which is located in The Ganja Gate architectural complex. The complex, built in 2014, is located on both sides of the Baku-Gazakh highway at the eastern entrance to Ganja. The building of the complex is stylized as an ancient fortress and consists of two tall towers connected by an underground tunnel 62 meters long.
The exposition of the museum complex is extremely rich and interesting. The first of the towers houses the museum of military history of Ganja, an ethnographic museum, and a restaurant with national cuisine. Visitors can also climb to the open observation deck at the top of the tower, from where a breathtaking view of the surroundings opens. In the second tower, there is an exposition of the museum of civilization, as well as a collection of samples of national costume.
Get acquainted with the works of Nizami Ganjavi
Nizami Ganjavi Ilyas ibn Yusif (1141-1203), was born, lived and died in the city of Ganja, from which the nickname Ganjavi comes. Nizami was engaged in poetry and science, he was close to the court of Azerbaijani atabeks, who often visited the dwelling of the poet, who was famous among the people for his wisdom and modest way of life.
More information about the life and work of Nizami Ganjavi can be found in the museum, opened in 2014 on the territory adjacent to the poet’s mausoleum. The museum exposition contains ancient manuscripts, household items common during the life of the poet and other valuable exhibits. It also demonstrates books and monographs published on the occasion of the poet’s 800 and 840 years anniversaries.
The museum also has a monitor displaying the life and work of the poet and an electronic kiosk with detailed information. The research department of the museum has all the conditions for research. There is also a conference room for scientific events and recreation areas for guests and tourists.
See the medieval bath
The historic Chokek Hamam bath was erected in 1606. During the construction of the bath were used red brick and a mixture of egg white, clay and lime. The bath has two large and five small domes. Bath was used for its intended purpose until 1963.
Since 2002, Chokek Hamam bath has acquired the status of a cultural monument of international importance and is under the protection of UNESCO.
To look at the building of the Azerbaijan Agrarian University
Another famous historical landmark of Ganja is the main building of Azerbaijan Agrarian University, which is located in the city center and attracts the attention of tourists. This remarkable building was built in 1897, and initially the City Duma functioned there. In 1908, the residence of the governor of Ganja was located here. Finally, from June 16 until September 17, 1918, the building housed the Government and the National Council of the Azerbaijan People’s Democratic Republic. Since 1931, the Azerbaijan Agricultural Institute, now the Agrarian University, has been functioning in the building. By the way, not far from the university, in another historical building is the Museum of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.
Walk down Javad Khan Street
One of the main streets of Ganja, the former Sabir street, today bears the name of the last ruler of the Ganja Khanate, Javad Khan. This is a favorite place for walking guests and residents of the city. In 2011, the historic buildings located on the street, mostly built at the end of the 19th century, underwent a thorough restoration.
Today on the street, the total length of which is 550 meters, there are fountains, flower beds in the form of the national “buta” symbol, sculptural miniatures and compositions.
Here, on Javad Khan Street, an old building built in 1901 was preserved, in which from 1902 to the 1920s there was a workshop and a shop of the Singer brothers, the famous German manufacturers of sewing machines.
Take a look at the Bottle House
In 1966-67 Ibrahim Jafarov, a resident of Ganja, used an unusual material — glass bottles — to build his own house. In total, 48,000 bottles of various shapes and sizes were used in the construction process. Also during construction, colored stones brought from the Russian city of Sochi were used.
The construction of the house of Ibrahim Jafarov timed the memory of his missing in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, brother Yusif Jafarov. The words “Ganja” and “Glory” are laid out on the façade of the building from the bottles, and the inscription “Glory to the Unknown Soldier” can be seen on the back wall.
The unusual house has been a local landmark for many years and arouses genuine interest among residents and guests of Ganja.
Have fun in an amusement park
The Jyrtdan Children’s Amusement Park, created in the middle of the 20th century, is now under the jurisdiction of the Khan Baghy Culture and Recreation Park. The total area of this entertainment center is 1 hectare. In this park, beloved by all children, there are various swings, trains, merry-go-rounds, roller coasters, rides, trampolines and a race track.
On the territory of the amusement park, which is buried in verdure, attention is drawn to an old building built at the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, the guest house of the governor of Ganja was located here, now there are the Children’s Art Center, the children’s library, the House of Culture, the Veterans Club.
Visit the largest park complex
The Heydar Aliyev Park Complex is the largest in Azerbaijan and in the Caucasus, and is also among the five largest parks in the world. Its total area is as many as 450 hectares! The complex was created on the basis of the Heydar Aliyev Park, which was founded in Ganja in 1979. After the works on the expansion and reconstruction of the territory in the period from 2012 to 2014, the transformed park complex again opened its doors to the delight of the residents and guests of Ganja.
At the entrance to the park, visitors are greeted by the Arc de Triomphe. The width of this building is 20 meters, length – 50 meters, and height – 38 meters. Climb to the top of the arch can be a special staircase or elevator. Upstairs there is a museum, cafe and observation deck, which offers a breathtaking view of the city and its surroundings.
Passing through the Triumphal Arch, visitors enter a wide alley, almost 2 km long, which stretches to the end of the complex. The park has a total of 16 fountains, made in a modern architectural style and lined with granite. The amphitheater, the museum of modern art, a waterfall and an artificial lake give a special attraction to the park. The complex has a cafe, entertainment center, recreation centers, bike rental, and various children’s attractions.
Ganja has always been famous for its silk and woolen textiles and carpets of high quality. Ganja carpets differ from other carpets of Azerbaijan with their patterns, variety of compositions and elegance of contours. This school is characterized by simple, angular patterns and rich intense colors. The Ganja carpets most often have ornaments composed of octagons, stars, or three geometric medallions laid longitudinally on the carpet. Typical colors are blue, navy blue and deep red. Old Ganja carpets are made of wool, but in newer carpets piles of coarse wool knotted are interwoven with a cotton base. The best examples of Ganja carpets are Gedim Ganja and Fakhrali.
Try baklava and shah pilaf
Ganja baklava differs from Baku or Turkish baklava. So the walnuts used for its filling are completely cleaned from the husk, which makes the baklava light. An infusion of rose petals (gulab) is surely added to the baklava dough, and a cardomon is added to the filling. From above, the Ganja baklava is smeared with a tincture of saffron flowers (crocus) and sprinkled with poppy seeds, which are also pre-scalded with boiling water and cleaned, so the poppies are white. The result is a tender baklava, which gives a rose and saffron and just melts in your mouth. You can buy it in numerous pastry shops throughout the city.
During your trip to Ganja, also try the Shah’s pilaf, which serves as the signature dish of any feast. The name of this festive dish comes from its appearance, which resembles a headdress of medieval oriental rulers. Unlike ordinary pilaf, shah plov served on the table, so to speak, “sealed.” That is, rice and side dish are baked together in a cauldron, the bottom and walls of which are covered with pita bread (lavash). It turns out something like a big cake, filling for which is fragrant smoking pilaf. Served in many restaurants of the city.