Another lovely example of a Soviet-era art project, The Cascade is a giant staircase built onto the side of a hill in Yerevan, Armenia. If you don’t want to walk up the stairs, there are escalators that will take you to the top. Seriously.
The Kura river, which these cliffhouses are perched precariously over, starts in north-eastern Turkey, flows through Turkey to Georgia, and then to Azerbaijan, where it enters the Caspian Sea. The total length of the river is 1,515 kilometres (941 mi). As Tbilisi’s economy continues to grow following its independence from the USSR, flights to Istanbul and other major regional cities are increasingly available. We flew to Azerbaijan from Georgia since flights to Baku were unavailable in Armenia.
The Metekhi Church of Assumption was originally built by the Georgian king St Demetrius II circa 1278–1284. It was later damaged and restored several times. Throughout its existence it has served as army barracks, a jail, and theater until 1988, when the Soviet government allowed the building to once again be used as a church.
The Bibi-Heybat Mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan, undergoing renovation in 2006. The original mosque was built in the 13th century and destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the 1930s during an anti-religious campaign. This new mosque was built in the same site in the 1990s, following Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Waiting in no man’s land at the Georgia/Armenia border so we could complete the final leg of our Baku-Tbilisi-Yerevan trip.
Located in Haghpat, Armenia, this monastery complex was built in the 10th century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is in a rather remote location, and when we arrived at the monastery we were the only tourists there. More on this trip (including a slight problem with our transportation) here.
It’s no wonder the Abşeron Peninsula is considered to be one of the most polluted areas in the world. Years of drilling with little regard for the surrounding environment have left the area resembling an apocalyptic wasteland. In July 2006, we drove through these famed old fields of Baku – the same fields upon which the Nobel family earned their fortune and Royal Dutch Shell rose to prominence. Now, these fields are dotted with homes (mere shacks, really) and the rusting equipment acts as makeshift goals for the local kids playing soccer on the thick, oily sand, surrounded by pools of crude oil and broken pipelines.