Discover why Azerbaijan is known as ‘the land of fire’ and learn more about Yanar Dag
22 October 2017| Last updated on 22 October 2017
Azerbaijan has been known as "The Land of Fire" since ancient times with its natural fires mystifying and scaring people. This is thought to be one of the first places in history where people started using fire but do you know where the nickname comes from and what causes the natural fires?
Some clue to the nickname can be found in the name of the country: Azerbaijan. “Azer” is a Persian word meaning fire. This comes from the Greek word Atropates meaning "Protected by the Fire" or "The Land of the Fire."
So what is the fire that everyone is referring to you might ask? Azerbaijan has very high levels of natural gas. This causes flames that never stop burning to be emitted from the ground.
This natural phenomenon was the reason for the birth of Zoroastrianism, also known as Fire worshippers. Temples have been resurrected around many of these sites in ancient days with the main temples situated in Surakhani and Ateshgah. The Ateshgah has now been converted into a museum that visitors can visit to learn more about the religion, culture and natural phenomenon.
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Today, Yanar Dağ (meaning blazing mountain) is the most impressive of the still remaining natural fire sites. It is a 10m long wall of ceaseless fire burning along the Absheron hillside. Unfortunately, most of the natural fire sights have ceased to exist after the natural gas has started being exploited.