This region spans 21,430 square kilometres or 24.7% of the overall territory of the country. Most of the region is made up of plains lying below sea level. The climate here is mostly subtropical. For tourists, Mingachevir presents the most interest.
Founded in 1945 and the fourth largest city in Azerbaijan, Mingachevir lies on the banks of the Kura River. The Kura hydroelectric power station, the largest one in Azerbaijan, is also located here. The Mingachevir Reservoir, formed by a dam and called a ‘sea’ by locals, is the largest artificial reservoir in the country. Today, Mingachevir attracts both local and foreign tourists; the entire tourist infrastructure is concentrated on the banks of the Kura which is where you will also find the world-class KUR Olympic Rowing Centre.
The name of this city is linked to its rich oil and gas pools while region also boasts diverse local fauna - a section of the Shirvan National Park is located in the Neftchala area. This district is also famous for its fish from the Kura river. Kurkosa Island is the perfect place for fishing, and 10 km from the city centre, where the Kura flows into the Caspian Sea, you can watch a surprising show: the Kura waters remain separated from the sea water as what appears to be a thin line prevents the two from mixing.
While this region is notable for its fine climate and abundance of historical sites, it is most famous for its pomegranates. Pomegranates have historically been cultivated in almost all regions of Azerbaijan, but the acknowledged pomegranate centre, which grows the best varieties, is the Shirvan region and especially the subtropical zone of Goychay. Goychay's pomegranates are famous worldwide and a symbol of authentic Azerbaijani pomegranates. It’s not surprising that the technology used to prepare the popular Azerbaijani sauce 'narsharab,' a sort of pomegranate jam, was invented by the locals. This popular sweet and sour sauce blends perfectly with meat and fish dishes.
From hiking to climbing frozen waterfalls and extreme ascents of the mountains, a multitude of recreational activities can be done in this region. Unforgettable experiencec can be had during excursions through the mountains and valleys of Shirvan with its murmuring streams and granite blocks of the most diverse and unusual shapes, scattered everywhere, like giant toys.
The Ismayilli region, located to the north of the country, was once part of ancient Caucasian Albania. Here, on the top of the highest mountain, are the ruins of a medieval fortress whose construction is attributed to Javanshir, the 7th-century ruler of Caucasian Albania. The most famous and important historical monument in this area is the Maiden Tower (7th-12th centuries) – a defensive structure located on the top of a steep mountain near the village of Khanagah. Besides Azerbaijanis, other ethnic groups also live here. For example, in the well known village of Ivanovka, live the descendants of Russian Molokans that were once resettled here from central parts of Russia. And in the village of Lahij, on the bank of Rover Girdimanchay at 1,200 metres above sea level, live ethnic Tats. This village's coppersmithing traditions, as well as the art of producing colourful kelaghayi headscarves practised mainly in the village of Basqal nearby, are both included in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
This an ancient Azerbaijani city was once the capital of the Kingdom of Shirvan, the residence of the ruling Shirvanshahs and one of the most beautiful cities in the East. The homeland of Khagani, Nasimi and Mirza Alakbar Sabir, it was also from the middle of the 18th century the centre of the Shirvan Khanate. The unique nature, mild climate and natural mineral springs give this district a special beauty. A favourite peak for mountain climbers, Badabag, is also located here. The settlement of Pirguli, located 22 km from the city centre at an altitude of 1,400 m, is also very popular with tourists. It is home to the largest astrophysical observatory in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus - the Nasir al-Din al-Tusi Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory. The observatory is equipped with the latest facilities and has one of the largest telescopes in the CIS.
The rustic mountain settlement of Lahij in the Ismayilli region is well worth visiting for its authentic architecture, spectacular views and its craft traditions. Some sources say that the legendary Manomakh’s cap, worn by Russian tsars for many centuries, originated in Lahij, but the village has become especially well known for its manufacturing of knives and copperware.