Ganja Halal Travel Guide
Ganja (Azeri: Gəncə) is a city in the Ganja Region of northwestern Azerbaijan.
Introduction to Ganja
Ganja is one of the oldest cities in the Caucasus, and has long been one of the most important in Azerbaijan. Having been subjected to a seemingly endless stream of invading armies, its name has changed repeatedly over the years and is very interesting architecturally. The historical name, Ganja, was restored once again upon Azerbaijan’s independence in 1991. With a population of over 300,000 it’s currently the country’s second-largest city.
- Gəncə Beynəlxalq Hava Limanı (Ganja International Airport). is an airport serving Ganja
|Azerbaijan Airlines||Baku, Nakhchivan, Saint Petersburg, Antalya, Mineralnye Vody|
One weird fact about the airport, is that it works by schedule. Working time is from 08:00 to 17:00.
Travel by train to Ganja
- Gəncə Dəmiryol Stansiyası (Ganja Railway Station). The terminus for national and international rail links to the city. You can easily get to/from Tbilisi, Batumi, and Baku. The night Baku-Tbilisi night train, with a stop at Ganja, leaves Baku at 21:10 and arrives in Ganja at around 04:00, for 12.69 manat in second (4 beds per room) and about 8 manat in third class (6 beds per room, open). There is also at least one train during the day from Baku to Ganja.
- Gəncə Avtovağzalı / Ganja Bus Terminal (Yevlax yeni avtovoğzal) (to get from the city to the bus station, take bus 23 from along the Əttarlar Street in the city, just west of the river and at the southern end of the Cavadxan pedestrian zone, or from Mərkəzi Bazar). Gateway to all cities and towns of Azerbaijan, like Gazakh, Sheki, Nizami, Goranboy, Yevlax, Balaken, Agdas, Samadabad, and Baku. Also, international bus services from/to Iran, Turkey, Russia (Moscow), Ukraine, and Georgia (Tbilisi).
- Ganja <=> Tbilisi. This semi-official minibus/sprinter leaves from the Ganja bus station at 09:00 and returns from Tbilisi at 07:00. It waits at the border, takes about 4 h, and connects to the Ortachala Central Bus Station in Tbilisi. You (or your accommodation) should call ahead to reserve your seat since places are limited. Owner: Sürücü Elçin. 8-10 manat.
- Southern Bus Station. For Göygöl, etc.
The Old City is best visited on foot.
There is also public bus service for 0.20 manat available.
- Xatirə parkı (Heydar Aliyev Park Complex). This is the world’s 5th largest park complex, and the largest in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. The area spreads across 450 hectares. The arc de triumph can be found a the very entrance. The complex contains many attractions for children, recreational and entertainment venues, and a bicycle rental.
- WW 2 memorial and grave of unknown soldier.
The Old City of Ganja was developed starting in the 16th century. Living quarters (məhəllə) from those times make up vast parts of the city to this day.
- City Hall Square with Museum of Heydar Aliyev. Side of the square remain the same as it was since 16th century. The City Hall was build during Soviet Era. The building itself is a twin version of the Tbilisi Parliament Hall.
- Gəncə Filarmoniyası (Ganja Philharmonic Society), Z2000,Gəncə,Gəncə,Cavadxan,47. The Philharmony was built in 2016. There with the site of the castle with khan palace and city walls till the Russian siege in 19th century. During soviet era all historical buildings were destroyed and cinema “Baku” was built on the site of the castle. After Azerbaijan attained independence, the cinema was torn down to develop the Philharmony.
- Aleksandr Nevski Rus Pravoslav Kilsəsi (Russian Church of Alexander Nevsky), Veteranlar, 2. Public worship performed on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as the Twelves and Great holidays.. A Russian Orthodox church built in 1887 on the grounds of an ancient cemetery, dedicated to local Christians and Muslims likewise. In 1916 the church became a cathedral. Its style is Byzantine with bricks of the name “plinfa”. Between 1935-38 it served as the museum of local history. Reopened in 1946, many former icons had survived the revolutionary phases, like the ones of St. Alexander Nevsky and Mary Magdalene.
- Butulkalı ev (Bottle House), 20 Hüseyn Cavid (Qember Hüseynli). House of Jafarovs family of Ganja. Created in 1967 by Ibrahim Jafarov in honor of his brother and all WW2 soldiers who not returned back to home or died war fronts. Instead of using bricks and such, he used bottles for many parts of the house, like the walls. In total he tool 48,000 bottles. He also used coloured stones from Sochi. He dedicated the house to his brother and the many other soldiers who died in WWII. A supposed picture of the brother is part of the beautiful walls of the house. You can contact his grandson Elshan who today live in this house to tell their story. Note, that this is private house, but Jafarovs are not mind for taking façade pictures of house. Any donates are welcome.
- Complex of Shah Abbas mosque, with medieval baths and tomb of Javadkhan (Juma Mosque). Centrally located, the mosque was built in 1606 based on the idea of Sheykh Baheddin. The second name stems from the ruler of this time, Shah Abbas Great, who ordered the construction of many mosques during his reign, like this one.
- Chokek Hamam. A Medieval 17th-century bath, restored and open to public. The Vego hotel even has an underground tunnel going from the hotel to this bath.
- Xan bağı (Khan Bagi, Khan’s Garden). The central city park is one of the oldest parks in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, with 7 hectars of local and foreign trees, plants and flowers. Founded in 1700, it was named “Khan Bagi” in 1804 to honour the last ruler of Ganja, Javad Khan. The park was restored in 2010.
- Cavadxan küçəsi (Javadkhan street). Walking street in heart of Old City of Ganja with fountains and street art moniments. There are many cozy cafes and souvenire stores.
- Nizami Gəncəvinin heykəli (Monument to Nizami Ganjavi). By making this monument, the author was granted the Stalinprize.
- Ozan məscidi (Ozan mosque), Ozan küç.
- Təbriz küçəsi (Tebriz str).
- Ozan küçəsi (Ozan street).
- Əttarlar küçəsi (Attarlar street).
- Promenade of Elizavetpol Governorate.
- Museum and International Literature Center of Meskheti Ganjavi.
- House of Israfil Mammadov.
Sloboda or commonly Vtoroy Chast ( rus: “Вторая часть”), is the part of the city, which started to delevop during Russian rule (19th-20th centuries).
- National Flag Square.
- European Baths.
Ancient Ganja is the archeological site of the city. This part was destroyed during Mongol invasion in 13th century. After the war, the city of Ganja remained uninhabited till the 16th century.
- Tomb of Nizami Ganjavi (The Nizami Mausoleum). Built in 1947 to honour the 12th-century poet Nizami Ganjavi. It was built on the grounds of a former mausoleum. It obtained its present form in 2013.
- Complex Goy Imam.
- Ancient city site with remains of walls.
- Main necropol.
- Rebuilt city gates park.
What to do in Ganja
- Go to the “Kolkhoz bazaar” and take to breakfast fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products.
- Perform a hot day in the shade of plane trees in the Khan Garden, and in the evening, get some cup of tea with old-timers in one of the cosy tea houses (Chaykhana).
- Invite yourself to Ganjali wedding.
- Gaming cafés are popular with locals and will only cost 1-2 manat an hour, or you pay for the tea/beer.
- Gəncə Dövlət Dram Teatrı (Ganja State Drama Theatre), M.A.Abbaszadə 54.
- CinemaPlus “Khamsa Park”. 4th floor of shopping mall
- Aura Park, Şah İsmayıl Xətai 93. Shopping center.
- Bazarstore, N. Nərimanov k., dalan-1. Good choice of wines, cheese, high quality food.
- Mərkəzi Bazar, Şeyx Bahəddin.
The list of top dishes of Ganjali cuisine (special recipes):
- Xan aşı
- Yarpaq dolması
- Göy kətəsi
- Gəncə paxlavası
- Gəncə halvası
- Furor Restaurant and Pub, 90 Shah Ismayil Khetayi Ave / Heydər Əliyev prospekti 90. 11:30-02:00. No cheap, but recommended.
It is recommended to drink bottled water. However, there are a lot of tea houses offering tasty tea.
- London CoffeeShop, Cavadxan. 09:00-23:00. Highly recommended and if you want to get into contact with the locals.
Where to stay in Ganja
- Old Ganja Hostel, Cavadxan 47. Cozy and relaxed. Dorm from 15 manat.
- Ganja hostel, Nəriman Nərimanov. Not as recommended as Old Ganja Hostel, but an alternative, if the former is full.
- Hostel of Ganja, 77 Nəriman Nərimanov. Dorm from 18 manat.
- Ganja Hotel (Gəncə Hotel), Heydar Əliyev prospekti, 155 (in front of City Hall). Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00.
- Ramada Plaza, 519 Nizami Ganjavi ave., AZ2019.
Telecommunications in Ganja
Ganja’s area code is 16.
- Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Gence Başkonsolosluğu (Turkish Consulate General), M. A. Abbaszadə, 8A. Monday – Friday (09:00 -13:00 )(14:00 -18:00 ).
Basic advice will help you to feel comfortable in most common situations.
- Be familiar with the terms Qeyret, Adat and Namus (code of honour). Unlike Baku, Ganjalis understand causes of globalization and resist it in areas related to family and human behaviour.
- Never joke about the name of the city also being a word for marijuana.
Ganjalis are very hospitable people, and sometimes you may mistakenly think that it’s false hospitality. In fact, some people can overdo it in their desire to help you. It is your responsibility to stop them (and do so with plausible arguments), but be careful because even a hint of rejection will hurt them.
Ganja is the gateway to Lesser Caucasus region, where you can take few day trips from city:
- Göygöl – A must visit German town in the suburbs of Ganja, formerly named Khanlar (Xanlar) and Helenendorf, founded by German farmers from Bavarian Swabia. Today, the town remains an old German neighbourhood in excellent conditions. A local museum shows the finds (eg bronze weapons, jewels, pottery, etc.) extracted from a large cemetery excavated in 1990. Walk along Sebuhi Haciyev or Heydar Aliyev Street by the Lutheran St. Johanniskirche (Church of Johannes) and see the nicely renovated houses.
- Göygöl National Park – About 20 km further afield from Göygöl and near Toğanalı, this hiking and leisure destination can be found. Its lake was formed during a strong earthquake in 1139. Take a bus along Nəriman Nərimanov Street south, and interchange towards Göygöl at the small southern bus station of Ganja.
- Xoshbulag – Most Ganjalis spend their vacations and summer weekends in this village.
- Shamkir – Mixed Azeri-German small town. There are cognac and wine plantations.
- Qazakh – Gateway to Georgia with hot pool in a nearby local village.
- Gedabay – Home of Ayrum people, turkified descendants of ancient Roman soldiers.
- Naftalan – A well-known petroleum spa resort, the Centre of medical tourism in Azerbaijan.
- Sheki – A bus ride to the north. A beautiful city in the Caucasus mountains with lots to see and do. It has one of the largest densities of cultural resources and monuments that span 2,700 years of Azerbaijani history.
- Tbilisi – Many people continue further into Georgia directly from Ganja.