1. Alinja Fortress
Definitely the highlight of my trip! Referred to as “The Machu Picchu of the Caucasus” due to it’s location atop of a mountain. You have a journey up 2,656 steps to reach the site, but it’s worth every step for the panoramic views. No entrance fee and not a single other tourist in sight, which is likely to change in the coming years. A strong defensive construction of the XII century which has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
2. The Monument of Prophet Noah
This is a mausoleum type of construction that relates to the ancient religious story of “Noah and the Storm”. The tower structure is held by a single column which can be seen by entering underneath the tower. There’s a small museum inside, as well as impressive intricate architecture on offer.
3. Duzdag Salt Mine Caves
This is a rehabilitation hospital built within a salt mine. The hospital offers treatment to patients in underground mining chambers using the medicinal properties of the rock salt itself, which is rich with Iodin. There’s many patients with a history of respiratory tract problems such as bronchitis and asthma. This hospital is unique to Nakhchivan and you won’t find similar anywhere in the world.
4. The Residence of Nakhchivan Khanates
An interesting palace located just behind The Monument of Prophet Noah, so very easy to combine the two. The residence is stunning inside and out. One thing I’ve Noted about the whole of Nakhchivan is that the place is so clean everywhere, and this residence is no different.
There’s an impressive mirror room inside with beautiful stain glass windows.
5. Nakhchivan Military Museum
This is an open-air museum with many vehicles on display that were used in the war. These include tanks, vehicles, and fighter jet planes. There’s no entrance fee and I’m unsure if it’s even an official museum to be honest, but definitely worthwhile. You can get up close to the vehicles and each has an info sign with details (sadly not in English). You’re free to photograph the entire place uninterrupted, but avoid photographing the military men cleaning the vehicles.
6. Lakes of Batabat
If you do feel like an escape from the city, then the lakes in Batabat region are worth the 60km picturesque drive into the countryside. You’ll see plenty of mountains and lakes en route, as well as local farmers and cattle herders. Even the drive from the centre of Nakhchivan is a picturesque one, so definitely include this region.
7. Ashabu-Kahf Caves
I found these a little disappointing, but many seem to leave great reviews online. The caves are based on a story which appears in the Qur’an and is important to Islam. There’s a lot of steps on the way up, but nothing too strenuous. The caves are very open and give the perspective that the clear blue sky is within touching distance.
I chose to stay in Grand Naxcivan Hotel on the basis that I felt it offered a ‘Soviet feel’ which is something I wanted given the destination. The location of the hotel is central, the rooms are huge, and the WiFi signal is good. The restaurant is average, so head out to the nearby local restaurants instead.
There’s a local restaurant in the centre of the city called Ailevi Restoran which serves great food. The BBQ grills here are fantastic and the restaurant ambience is laid back with seating both inside and out. What more can you want than low cost cost prices and large quantity portions!