Castles in Azerbaijan

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When it comes to travel inspiration, there’s little doubt that the castles of Azerbaijan provide endless possibilities with famous locations such as Chirag Gala, Nardaran Fortress and Handaberd being among the most popular to visit. If you’re planning a trip to explore the fortifications of Azerbaijan but are short on time, then these famous places are probably your best bet. But if you do have a more flexible itinerary then at the very least Kachaghakaberd, Lekh Castle and Baku Old City should all be on your list. Wherever your travels take you, we've compiled a fantastic selection of Azerbaijani forts and fortresses with our editor's picks followed by a few hidden gems you won't want to miss.

What are the best Castles in Azerbaijan?

1. Baku Fortress

Baku Fortress is the largest of Absheron fortresses. The fortress consists of the Icheri Sheher and the walls and towers surrounding it, and was included by UNESCO into the World Cultural Heritage List in 2000. It was built in about 1138-1139 on the order of the Shirvanshah Manuchohr III (1120-1149). Based on traveler's illustrations and photos of the 19th century, the fortress consisted of a double wall. The first wall was built by the Shirvanshah III Manuchohr, and the second wall was built during the time of Shirvanshah Akhsitan I. However, the second fortress walls were destroyed during the reign of Russia in Azerbaijan. The first fortress wall still remains. Baku Fortress has two gates. One of them opened to the Caspian Sea and the other to land. The city walls, which had a height of 8–12 meters and a width of 3.5 meters, provided for Baku's security. In the Middle Ages, the fortress walls were 1500 meters long and now the walls are 500 meters long.

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2. Nardaran Fortress

Nardaran Fortress was built in 1301 by architect Mahmud ibn Sa'ad in the northern part of Absheron Peninsula.Nardaran Fortress is located 25 km north of Baku in the village of Nardaran near the town of Mashtaga. Shirvanshahs used the fortress for both observation and defense. Nardaran Mosque or Rahimakhanim sanctuary which was built in 1663 is located about 200 m from the fortress. But the geographical location of Nardaran Fortress indicates that there couldn't be a foremost defence. Similar fortresses were built there, from where it was expected to be attacked. Such regions were in the western borders and seashores of Absheron. But Nardaran Fortress was too far from the western borders of Absheron and also its seashores. On October 24, 2001 Nardaran fortress was included on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

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3. Askeran Fortress

Askeran fortress (Azerbaijani: Əsgəran qalası, also called Mayraberd in Armenian), is a fortress in the town of Askeran in Azerbaijan (de jure), in the Armenian-controlled Republic of Artsakh (de facto). It is on the banks of the Qarqar River and was built by the Karabakh khanate ruler Panah Ali Khan and consists of two sections. The left-bank section features a double line of stone walls.

During the Russo-Persian War of 1804–1813 the Russian encampment was near the fortress. In 1810 the peace talks between the Russians and Persians were conducted at the fortress.

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4. Ramana Tower

Ramana Tower (Azerbaijani: Ramana qalası) – is a tower in Ramana village of Baku and dated back to the 12th century. Height of the tower is 15 metres (49 ft). Exact construction date of the tower, which is built of white stone, is not known. It is considered that the tower was built for the purpose of defense and used as a castle during the Shirvanshahs’ reign.

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5. Shaki fortress

Shaki fortress is a fortress in Shaki, Azerbaijan. It dates to the 15th century.

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6. Lekh Castle

Lekh Castle, sometimes named Lev Castle is a castle west of the abandoned Qanlıkənd village of the Kalbajar Rayon of Azerbaijan.

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7. Chirag Gala

Chirag Gala, also spelled Çiraq Qala or Çirax Qala, which means lamp castle in Azerbaijani is a ruined ancient fortress overlooking the Caspian coastal plains north of Baku in Azerbaijan. It is located on the top of a mountain, in the Guba Forest. It was constructed by the Sassanid Persians in the 5th century, it was used as a defense for the khanate of Quba in the 18th century. Today the Chirag Gala is a historic site and is frequently visited by tourists. Because of the large rocks and rough road, the Chirag Gala is almost impossible to reach with any vehicle. Most tourists and people travel by foot to the top of the mountain.

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8. Handaberd

Handaberd is an 11th-century mountain-top fortress built by the rulers of the Kingdom of Upper Khachen and the Kingdom of Tzar (around the village of Zar). It is located near Knaravan village in Shahumian Province of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

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9. Kachaghakaberd

Qaxaç Qalası, or Kachaghakaberd is a mountain-top fortress in the Khojali District of Azerbaijan (de jure), and in the Martakert Province of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (de facto). The Janapar Trail runs very near to the Fortress. A short side trail will take you to the top of the Fortress.

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10. Old City (Baku)

Old City or Inner City (Azerbaijani: İçərişəhər) is the historical core of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The Old City is the most ancient part of Baku, which is surrounded by walls which were easily defended. In 2007, the Old City had a population of about 3000 people. In December 2000, the Old City of Baku, including the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower, became the first location in Azerbaijan to be classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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Full list of Castles in Azerbaijan

While it’s fair to say these-famous sites dominate the lists of Castles in Azerbaijan, your search shouldn’t end there. Take Sabayil Castle for example, it may not be as well known as Handaberd but it remains an intriguing and compelling place to visit. This list of Azerbaijani forts and fortresses covers a number of impressive sites to visit and you can view the current selection below.

Bayat Castle

Bayat Castle is in Kebirli village of Tartar Rayon of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is mostly in ruins today.​

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Gelersen-Görersen fortress - is a fortress of the Middle Ages, ruins of which remain on the coast of the Kish River, about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from Shaki city, on the summit of Garatepe Mountain. Construction of the fortress is dated back to the 8th or 9th century.

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Galeyi Beygurt

Galeyi Beygurt, also known as Galey-Bughurt is a historic monument located 20 km north-east of the center of Shamakhi city. The fortress is located at the summit of the mountain near Galeybughurd village and 1,600 meters above the sea level.

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Ganja Fortress

Fortress of Ganja – is a fortress in Ganja, Azerbaijan. The remains of walls of the fortress can be seen in the territory of the oldest park of the city, Khan's Garden and in the entrance to the city, along the Ganja River.

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Maiden Tower

Maiden Tower is a famous structure in Baku, Azerbaijan dating back as far as the sixth century and having served as a fortification.

Sabayil Castle

Sabayil Castle is a submerged medieval fortress on the coast of the Caspian Sea near Baku, Azerbaijan.

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Shapurgala (Azerbaijani: Şapurqala) is a fortress located on the left bank of Nakhchivanay, near the village with the same name in Shahbuz District of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

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Shirvanshahs’ Palace

Shirvanshahs’ Palace is a fifteenth century castle complex in Baku in Azerbaijan.

Our database of Azerbaijani forts and fortresses is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other Azerbaijani forts and fortresses, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.