By Abdul Kerimkhanov
From August 1, the entrance to the Yanardag State Historical Cultural and Natural Reserve will cost nine manats ($5.3) for foreign tourists, Fuad Naghiyev, Chairman of the State Tourism Agency of Azerbaijan, told reporters.
He made the remarks during a media tour to the reserve.
Naghiyev added that the entrance will cost two manats ($1.2) for local tourists, while students will enjoy the lowest price - one manat ($0.6), and the entrance will be free for schoolchildren.
The Agency head also said that the old prices will apply for travel agencies that organize trips to the reserve and have concluded long-term contracts.
The chairman noted that 500-700 tourists visit the Yanardag reserve during a day.
"Presently, there is a growth in the number of tourists. The local residents also like to visit Yanardag reserve," he said.
Naghiyev considers it is necessary to continue the reserve's promotion to further increase the number of visitors. He added that information about Yanardag will be demonstrated at hotels and tourist information centers.
Meanwhile, spokesman for Azerbaijan State Tourism Agency Kanan Guluzade told reporters that the Agency will appeal to Baku Transport Agency regarding an increase in the number of shuttle buses running to Yanardag reserve.
He said that the buses are already running to the reserve.
“But we will appeal to Baku Transport Agency for the modern buses to run along this route and their number to be increased,” Guluzade noted.
The spokesman recalled that “Baku City Tour” buses run from the Government House to Yanardag and Ateshgah (Temple of Eternal Fire).
He also added that a medical center will be created at the Yanardag Reserve.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva attended the inauguration of the Yanardag State Historical Cultural and Natural Reserve after major overhaul on June 12.
The reserve was created on May 2, 2007. The site was put under the control of the State Tourism Agency.
On July 17, 2018, the President instructed to create a museum and visitor center at Yanardag reserve with the aim of protecting the site and offering visitor-friendly services.
Yanardag is located in the Mammadli village on the Absheron Peninsula, around 27 km from Baku. The area of the reserve spans over 64,55 hectars.
The main attraction of Yanardag, which literally means “burning mountain”, is a spectacular hill with a constantly burning wall of flames. Thanks to tectonic shifts and volcanic material below the earth’s surface, natural gas leaks from the rocks.
The Italian trader and traveler Marco Polo even mentioned the flames during his travels to Baku and its surroundings, but most probably the fire at Yanardag has been burning for over 20,000 years.
On the opposite side of Yanardag, another hill used to burn for thousands of years, but as its natural gas leakage moved on due to tectonic shifts, the three flames ceased to burn a few hundred years ago. Nevertheless, this fire is believed to have inspired the symbol of Baku, which features three flames and the sea.
Around the Absheron Peninsula, more of such burning mountains used to exist and were used as sacred places by Zoroastrians in ancient times.
The larger Yanardag reserve offers more heritage sites such as an active mud volcano, a natural sulfur spring, the Girmaki valley etc.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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