Historic city that's young in spirit
In Ganja city centre, ancient mosques and hammams built during the Safavid era sit side by side with structures left over from the Ganja Khanate and Russian Empire, in addition to eye-catching examples of Socialist Classicism. The city truly brims with history, from the Imamzadeh mosque and mausoleum complex – a key spiritual centre dating back to the 8th century, to the Nizami mausoleum honouring Azerbaijan’s legendary 12th-century poet, to all the charming old red-brick architecture, to the building that briefly hosted the government of Azerbaijan’s first republic (the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, 1918-1920).
But at the same time, Ganja exudes a distinctly youthful energy, as reflected in the city’s selection as the 2016 European Youth Capital, as well as the several universities located here, and the trendy cafes and art spaces in the central area, not to mention the Ganja State Puppet Theatre, housed in a 19th-century Lutheran church. There are also a few culinary specialties to try, such as Ganja pakhlava, dovga – a traditional yoghurt-based soup, and locally made wines.