Join us for a Caspian adventure, featuring the Azeri region of Iran and Azerbaijan. This 14 day tour begins in Tehran, then goes west to the city of Hamadan, then we turn north to Zanjan and Tabriz. We cross into Azerbaijan to visit Nakhchivan then on to Baku for sightseeing around this modern capital city. If you have already been on one of our Iran tours, consider joining this one to see a different region of the country than we usually see on our tours, plus the added contrast of Azerbaijan, which is similar in many ways, but also very different.
Evening arrival in Tehran, meet and transfer to hotel for overnight.
After breakfast we will have a full day of sightseeing in Tehran. We will visit the Archaeological museum displaying an authenticated collection of pre-historic and ancient artifacts with pottery dating back to 6-7 millennium B.C. Afterwards we will visit the Glass and Ceramics museum which houses a valuable collection of pre-Islamic and Islamic glass and ceramics, beautifully displayed in an elegant early 20th-century mansion. Our sightseeing day will end at the Golestan Palace, a complex of buildings and now museums of the Qajar dynasty in Iran. Dinner and overnight in Tehran.
After breakfast depart for Hamadan, to the west of Tehran. We will spend the rest of the day exploring Hamadan city to see the Ganj Nameh, Esther and Mordechai tomb and Jewish Pilgrim center, Alavid 14th century dome, Avecina tomb and the Hegmataneh archaeological site of the Median Empire of the 6th century BC. Dinner and overnight in Hamadan Overnight in Hamadan.
In the morning, leave for Zanjan and see the magnificent 14th century Gonbad-e-Soltaniyeh, the tomb/tower of Olijaytu, the last Mongol/Il-Khanid Ruler of Iran (1304-1330). The monument is remarkable in many different architectural aspects, including its huge dome, which is about 167 feet high and ranks amongst the largest domes in the world. Gonbad-e-Soltaniyeh is one of 13 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Iran. Overnight in Zanjan.
After breakfast we depart for Tabriz, enroute visit sites in Maragheh. Maragheh is an ancient city situated in a narrow valley. The town is encompassed by a high wall ruined in many places, and has four gates. Two stone bridges in good condition, said to have been constructed during the reign of Hulaku Khan (1217-1265), who made Maragheh the capital of the Ilkhanate. Shortly thereafter it became the seat of the Church of the East Patriarch Mar Yaballaha III. The place is surrounded by extensive vineyards and orchards, all well-watered by canals led from the river, and producing great quantities of fruit. The hills west of the town consist of horizontal strata of sandstone covered with irregular pieces of basalt. Continue on to Tabriz for overnight.
After breakfast we will have a full day of visits, including the Tabriz Bazaar, Blue Mosque and Museum, then a short excursion to Kandovan Village. The Blue mosque of Tabriz was built upon the order of Jahan Shah the ruler of Kara Koyunlu dynasty which made Tabriz the capital of his Kingdom. His Kingdom covered major parts of modern Iran, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. We will then visit the small exquisite Azerbaijan Museum, and the Citadel. Later, our guide will lead us through the wonderfully constructed Tabriz Bazaar, second oldest in the world after the one in Aleppo, Syria another UNESCO World Heritages Site. The Silk Road passed through Tabriz; today silk, wool and cotton Tabriz carpets with figures on a pink background are a well-known export to France and Germany. Afterwards we will have a visit to the picturesque village of Kandovan to see an old village where people have cut their homes out of the volcanic rocks. Return to Tabriz for overnight.
The Saint Thaddeus Monastery, Ghara Kelisa, literally “The Black Church” is an ancient Armenian monastery located in the mountainous area of Iran’s West Azerbaijan Province, about 20 kilometers from the town of Maku. One of the 12 Apostles, St. Thaddeus, also known as Saint Jude, (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot), was martyred while spreading the Gospel. He is revered as an apostle of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The original church was extensively rebuilt in 1329 after an earthquake damaged the structure in 1319. Nevertheless, some of the parts surrounding the altar apse date from the 10th century. Much of the present structure dates from 1811 when Qajar prince Abbas Mirza helped in renovations and repairs. This structure duplicates the design of the cathedral at Etchmiadzin, just outside of Yerevan in Armenia. Return to Tabriz for dinner and overnight.
Drive to border and cross into Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan. Time permitting, we can stop and visit St. Stephanus, which is one of the oldest and most beautiful Armenian churches in the area (10-12 century A.D). The church that is named after St. Stephanus, one of the first Christian martyrs, is located in the green valley of Dareh Sham, some 15 km. west of the city of Jolfa. A thick, tall wall made of stones with seven watchtowers has provided a good protection for the church. On the facade of the church one can see pictures of Mary and Jesus, as well as angels and apostles beautifully carved on stones. At 14:30 we will meet our Azerbaijani guide at the Julfa-Nakhchivan border (1.5 hours driving from Tabriz city). (No lunch on this day) Pass to Azerbaijan side and visiting Ordubad city, then drive to Nakhivan city, on the way visiting Daridagh Arsenic Springs. Arrive in Nakhchivan City and check in at Grand Naxcivan Hotel for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast at the hotel, we start our tour of Nakhchivan city. We will visit the Prophet Noah’s Tomb complex, Imamzade, the 12th century Momina Khatun Monument, the 13th century Yusif Kuseyir oglu tomb, and the 18th century Khan’s Palace. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. After lunch, we drive to Kengerli and visit the 14th century Garabaghlar Monument, followed by the Duzdagh Salt Mines and Hospital – a unique Asthma bronchitis treatment center. We will also visit the Asabu Kahf caves as known in the Holy Koran and other religious books as the “Seven Sleepers of Ephesus “.Drive back to Nakhchivan city for dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Breakfast and check out, then transfer to Nakhchivan airport at 09:00. Our short flight to Baku is at 11:00 and we arrive in Baku at 12:00. We will meet our new guide and driver, then visit Merdakan Castle on the Absheron Peninsula. After lunch, we will go to Yanar Dag (Fire Mountain), a natural gas fire which blazes continuously on a hillside on the Absheron Peninsula on the Caspian Sea near Baku. Next we will visit the Zoroastrian Ateshgah Temple, then continue to the Ramana Castle. We arrive in Baku for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will set out for a tour of Baku. Our route through the city will take us to Martyrs Lane – a cemetery dedicated to those killed fighting against the Soviets, Dagistu Park where we will have a panoramic view of the city, then we proceed to Old City, or Icheri Sheher, for a walking tour. We will see Maiden Tower and the Shirvanshah Palace within the walls of the Old City. After lunch we will visit the Yashil Bazar, followed by the Azerilme carpet factory, and the Treasures of Azerbaijan at the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, designed by Zaha Hadid. Our tour will end with a 1 hour public boat tour of Baku bay (if weather is not windy and boats operate). Dinner and overnight in Baku.
Breakfast at the hotel, the depart to see some more of Azerbaijan’s geologic wonders at the Mud Volcanoes. Afterwards, we will head to the open air museum or Gobustan to see the rock paintings and the interpretive museum that illustrates the geologic changes that have occurred in the area and how they have impacted the people living there. We’ll have lunch then continue sightseeing with a visit Bibi Heybat Mosque, built in the 1990’s as a recreation of a 13th century mosque of the same name built by Shirvanshah Farrukhzad II Ibn Ahsitan II, which was completely destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1936. Our next stop is at the Yarat Art Gallery and the H. Aliyev Foundation Art-Painting Center next to the Yarat Center, an art collective formed to promote local and international art. We will have dinner and then do some shopping in modern Baku. Overnight in Baku.
After breakfast, we will depart for Guba, and if necessary change to Russian nivas. Guba is located on the north-eastern flanks of hills of the Shahdag mountain belonging to the Greater Caucasus mountains at the altitude of 600 m above sea level on the bank of Gudial river at the distance of 168 km from Baku. Our first visit will be the unique mountain Khinalig village, at 2500 meters above sea level. The population of the village is a separate ethnographic group with its own unique language. We will tour the village then go to the city of Guba (or Quba) for lunch. After lunch we will visit the Guba Genocide Memorial, then continue on to the village of Krasnaya Sloboda which is a home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the region. The village is also known for its brightly painted homes. After visiting the village, and possibly trying one or more of the over 40 varieties of apples the region is known for, we will head back to Baku for dinner and overnight.
Transfer to airport for your flight home.
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Please Note: When traveling to Iran, Caravan-Serai Tours and our partner in Iran are responsible for your actions while you are in Iran. In order to obtain the visas for our travelers, it is under condition that you will adhere to all the rules and laws pertaining to foreigners, particularly Americans, traveling in Iran. You are required to stay with the group/guide at all times. Transfers by our coordinator in Iran to and from the airport are required – no taxis are allowed. If you have any questions about this please call us. Thank you for your understanding.