7 Unmissable Caucasus Experiences
1. Cognac tasting in Armenia
Armenia has been a producer of Cognac since 1887. It was one of Joseph Stalin’s favorite drinks, and is said to have oiled the wheels at the Yalta Conference, and it is there that Winston Churchill got his cognac habit! For the last 20 years the Yerevan Brandy company has been under the ownership of Pernod Ricard. A tour of the factory and a tasting is a quintessential Yerevan experience!
2. A private Khachapuri making class in Tbilisi
This afternoon you will be invited into one of the leading restaurants of the city for a khachapuri making class. Khachapuri is the national dish of Georgia and it is delicious- a hot, freshly baked bread filled with warm cheese. You can learn about the different styles and traditions of making khachapuri while you watch your creation baking in the brick ovens. An afternoon feast that you will never forget will follow! If you don’t know Georgian cuisine, you will forever crave it after this day- it’s light, fresh and full of flavors that are unique to the region.
3. Explore some of Georgia’s leading vineyards
Later, you will experience an introduction into Georgian wine at Chateau Mukhrani. We have selected this unique winery for its history, beautiful vineyards and restored castle. In 1875 Prince Mukhranbatoni visited Champagne and Bordeaux to learn about European wine-making. He returned to Georgia and combined traditional Georgian wine-making methods with European methods, creating a successful and internationally recognized quality wine,
producing three million gallons per year in the 19th Century!
4. Visit Zaha Hadid’s Aliyev Cultural Center in Baku
Zaha Hadid, the world famous architect and Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, saved one of her greatest triumphs for Baku in the Aliyev Cultural Center. Stunning inside and out, this building houses temporary exhibitions as well as a museum dedicated to Heydar Aliyev, the founder and first president
of modern day Azerbaijan. The center is designed to be the venue for national cultural programs.
5. Tour the Baku Carpet Museum
Later, your guide will take you to the Baku Carpet Museum that boasts one of the greatest carpet collections in the world. The collection is so vast that only 10% of it used to be displayed in its former home. This unique museum was recently built in the center of the city by an Austrian architect who designed the building to resemble a rolled carpet! It’s an impressive institution that tells the fascinating history of carpet making in this region. UNESCO added Azerbaijani carpet weaving to the list of intangible cultural heritage almost a decade ago and Kuba, Baku, Shirvan, Kazak, Karabagh and Tabriz carpets are all represented.
6. Visit the Nobel Family Mansion
Enjoy a private visit to the former house of the Nobel family. Ludwig, Robert and Emmanuel Nobel moved from St. Petersburg to Baku in the 1870s, originally to develop business in wood. The first industrial output of oil in the world was in Baku in 1848 – five years before Pennsylvania. The Nobel brothers ended up in the oil business and they became the catalyst for the Russian tsar to decree that the development of oil was no longer a monopoly, and so the first oil boom started.
For many years the villa was totally dilapidated, home to pigeons and cats. In 2002, an application was made to restore the mansion, and this became reality in 2005. Two years later the building was reopened, now a house museum devoted to the history of the brothers and the development of the world’s oil business. It is now also home to the Baku Nobel Oil Club. 14 Nobel laureates have visited, together with many descendants of the Nobel family.
7. Tour the Ateshgah Fire Temple
Also known as the Temple of the Fire Worshipers, that has been a
center of worship for thousands of years. This temple, built by Zoroastrian fire-worshipers traveling from India and Persia, is one of the finest preserved temples of its kind. You are unlikely to see anything else like this majestic temple outside of India. The temple is built on the site of a natural gas vent believed to have been sacred to the Zoroastrians since the 6th Century. To get a sense of how the worshipers lived you can visit the inside museum and discover the ritual required to have your wishes granted.
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