From April 11 through 15 I had another opportunity to travel in all three Caucasus countries. Azerbaijan,
Georgia and Armenia.
After my February visit I went back to Gobustan to see some more rock carvings. This time I visited the Kichikdash Mountain which is just south of the popular and frequently visited Boyukdash Mountain with its visitors’ center. The Kichikdash mountain also has very beautiful carvings of bulls and fish, including one which must be over 4 meter. The views from the mountain top over the Caspian sea are stunning.
Near the Boyukdash Mountain there is well preserved Roman era inscription in the rock in Latin. It is the eastern most Roman inscription ever found. The inscriber was Julius Maximus, a Roman centurion, possibly on a scouting mission from Syria. He inscribed that he was serving in the 12th Legion Under Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus (AD 51 – 96).
Gobustan also has a wide area covered with mud volcanoes bubbling up gasses and spewing mud. The area has the appearance of a moonlike landscape. No ash clouds here though Fortunately I got to go there with a good guide because there are no signs indicating how to get to the exact location. It is definitely worth the detour.
Baku is surrounded by oil and gas wells leading to interesting phenomena like the mud volcanoes or the gas welling up at the Atesgah Fire Temple. A similar experience can been had just outside Baku where you can have a tea or coffee with a snack right next to a burning hill side which is permanently on fire from the gasses seeping out of the ground.
Gori is a small town about 50km est of the Georgian Capital Tbilisi. In August 2008 it was the point were there Russians stopped their invasion into Georgia. Its real claim to fame though is as the birthplace of one Joseph Dzhugashvili, better known as Joseph Stalin. The town still has a large Stalin statue on its main square and a smaller one in front of the Stalin Museum. The museum is a relic from the Soviet era when it was built to commemorate Stalin’s achievements and preserve his birth home as well as his private train carriage that took him to Tehran and Yalta.
Gori also has the remnants of an old fortress on top of a hill in the middle of the city, at a short walk from the Stalin Museum. Except some ramparts, not much is left of the fortress. It did occupy a strategic location.
Tbilisi is a very picturesque city where big efforts are being made to restore and renovate the old part of the town with it’s unique almost medieval character. Yet. Efforts are being made to infuse it with new architecture. The new presidential place overlooking the old town from across the river is but one example.
Near the baths is the only remaining old mosque of Tbilisi standing their as a reminder of Georgia’s history of being invaded several times in history by Muslim forces. Tamerlane went several times to Georgia to put down revolts.
One of the elements that gives Tbilisi a unique and appealing character is the rows of old multilevel houses with their veranda’s attached to the front of the houses. They are invitation to go up there to sit down and rest while taking in the bustling activities in the streets below.
It may have been the middle of April, but spring still seemed a long time away when driving to Yerevan on cold misty roads leading up to snow covered mountain tops. One of the more interesting depictions is that of two people dancing with delicate bended limb features and faces turned to each other. At least our interpretation is that they were dancing. We have no idea however what the “artist” was trying to communicate.
Last Updated: 24-04-2010
Copyright © 2012 Hans Dewaele – All rights reserved