Sandwiched between Europe and Asia and bordered by countries with rich cultural history, Azerbaijan makes for a perfect place where the best of many worlds can be experienced. Since Azerbaijan is at the crossroads of these civilizations, the country is home to a mishmash of culture and a vibrant history.

It has been a known tourist spot since the 1980s, but the tourism industry was affected by the fall of the Soviet Union and a territorial conflict. It slowly recovered in the 2000s, and Azerbaijan is more than ready to accept eager tourists who want to feel the breeze of the Caucasus while exploring the country’s charming attractions and expansive landscapes.

10 It’s A Land Of Fire

The name Azerbaijan was derived from the Persian word for fire, hence its nickname as the Land of Fire. The nation is rich in gas and oil, so the moniker checks out. One of its most popular attractions is Yanar Dag, meaning the Burning Mountain. This natural gas fire has been blazing for many years, attracting tourists from around the world. Another must-see is the Ateshgah, also known as the ‘Fire Temple,’ a religious site related to Zoroastrianism and Hinduism, where a natural flame continues to heat a temple. Azerbaijan is one hot destination, literally and figuratively.

Related: Is Centralia's Fire Still Burning? This Is What Happened To The Pennsylvania Ghost Town

9 Beautiful Baku

The capital Baku looks expensive yet welcoming. It is home to many stunning modern and ancient spots, attracting tourists of varying tastes. Its charming Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower. Meandering along these attractions will take tourists back in time. The city is also dotted with shopping areas, parks, and entertainment districts. It even has the pristine Shikhov Beach for those who can’t get enough of Baku’s fire and want more of its sun.

8 Architectural Wonders Abound

Baku has an interesting mixture of architectural styles, from the Old City to its port. Tourists should imagine this: after being in the presence of ancient Islamic structures, they will see from afar towering buildings that exude modernity, like the Flame Towers. Alongside such eclectic buildings are structures designed during the Russian Imperial and Soviet eras, like the Palace of Seyid Mirbabayev and Gulustan Palace. Its theaters, museums, libraries, and other public buildings do not want to be overlooked, too. In Baku, everywhere tourists set their eyes, they’ll be in awe.

7 The Mud Volcanoes Are Majestic

Aside from Yanar Dag, other must-visit attractions in Azerbaijan are its mud volcanoes. The country has the most mud volcanoes in the world, stunning locals and tourists ever since they popped up in 2001. There are over 400 mud volcanoes in the country, with Boyuk Kanizadag and Toraghai among the largest on the planet. According to NASA, the structure of these natural wonders are similar to that of upland Mars, an enticing reason to visit these Azerbaijani treasures that are out of this world.

Related: Muddy Mess: See The Destruction Of The Sidoarjo Mud Volcano

6 The Food Is Good

Azerbaijan is a big fan of beef, mutton, and fish, so lovers of this food will enjoy the country’s tasty treats. Joining a culinary tour in Baku or beyond is an adventure for the tummy. From breakfast to midnight snacks, there’s something for everyone in Azerbaijan. In the morning, tourists can have a thin dough called gutab, a stuffed chicken called Levengi for lunch, piti soup for dinner, and sweet halva for dessert. Add a wine to the mix, and it is pure bliss.

5 It Has An Oil Resort

Bathing in crude oil is a thing in Azerbaijan, much so that there’s a resort dedicated to it. The oil coming out of Naftalan has a high concentration of naphthalene, which is used in alternative medicine. As such, the Naftalan Resort took advantage of the “black gold” by offering spa services where guests will dip in a tub filled with crude oil. Naftalan oil is also used for other skin treatments, ideal for those who don’t want to dip in it. This oil bath is perfect for tourists who want to try something new.

4 Home To World Heritage Sites

Aside from the splendid Old City, Azerbaijan has two other World Heritage Sites: the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape and the city of Sheki (more of this in the next entry.) The former is located in the Gobustan State Historical and Cultural Reserve, an area filled with archeological wonders. There are more than 6,000 rock engravings in the destination, depicting animals and human activities that date back thousands of years ago. The petroglyph and the rocks themselves are a sight to behold. Gobustan rocks, literally and figuratively.

3 It Has A Silk Road-City

Azerbaijan is an important part of the ancient trading network called the Silk Road. It has the humble city of Sheki, one of the oldest villages in the country. The town center is praised for its well-preserved traditional homes and merchant houses influenced by its ancient architectural traditions. The city center's highlight is the Khan Palace, which was an important Silk Road trading center. The majestic place is like one giant artwork, perfect for Instagram moments. Sheki is a sightseeing hotspot, indeed.

2 The Caspian Sea Is Mesmerizing

East of Azerbaijan lies the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest inland body of water. Thanks to its water that’s not as salty as the sea, this lake is a favorite swimming spot and a paradise for sun-worshippers. The Caspian shores are dotted with beach resorts that offer water sports. For mellow moments, tourists should visit the pristine Zagulba beach, while Mardakan is ideal for sunset viewing. There are many more beaches, all accessible and offer serenity only the Caspian Sea can give.

1 It Has Nine Climatic Zones

When saying Azerbaijan is at the crossroads of history and has the best of many worlds, it’s not just a public relations stunt but a reality. Why so? The country has nine of the world’s 11 climate zones. As such, nature lovers will enjoy checking out its many landscapes made lush by the climate. The country is a hotspot of tourist activities, from the breezy Caucasus to the subtropical areas south. Wherever tourists go, Azerbaijan is welcoming through and through.