Nakhchivan May 2016
Ann, Billy, Mark, Annette, Bronwyn and Cynthia make a trip to Nakhchivan. This fascinating area is part of Azerbaijan, but not connected as Armenia controls the disputed area that separates it from Azerbaijan. Nakhchivan is bordered by Armenia, Iran and Turkey. The only way to get to this area from Azerbaijan is to fly or to take a bus through Iran as Azerbaijan and Armenia are in a continual state of war concerning this region. Cynthia has booked a 3 day/2 night trip with guides to take us around to various sites. Our first impressions of Nakhchivan City are of a clean, modern city with wide boulevards and bright blue skies. Our hotel is OK, but the dinners and breakfasts are superb - we have our own table with multicourse dishes ready for us each day. The city sits right on the river across which we see Iran and wonder how the violence between peoples like the US and Iran starts and why it continues. It is one of the most ancient cities ofAzerbaijan, and some sources indicate that Nakhchivan City’s foundation was laid in around 1500 BC. However, a folk legend says the city takes its beginning from Noah’s time, and Noah himself laid a foundation of the city after the Flood. We visit Noah’s Mausoleum where it is purported that Noah is buried, then on to the Khan's Palace, and then to the fascintating salt caves of Mount DuzDag. These caves were once a salt mine and not converted into a health facility where people come to stay underground and breath the salt air. We take to the road to visit some special prayer caves - The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus - this is a place where a group of youths hide inside a cave outside the city of Ephesus around 250 AD to escape a religious persecution and emerge 300 years later. There are versions of the story in both the Christian and Islamic traditions. It is a long walk, through rocks and up a hill to get to the main cave where people make the special trip to come here and pray. We continue to Ordabad on the road which borders Iran where we see lots of military vehicles, but springtime is in evidence as wildflowers abound and we enjoy the ride. We visit the Alinja Fortress built in the 14th century. There is a long, steep climb up the mountain side and unfortunately we don't have time to go all the way to the top - but even what we see along the way is impressive. Along the trip are the many stops for lunches and tea - all memorable.