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 330,744 (2016), it is the country's second-largest city. Most proudly the city was home to Azerbaijan’s national bard Nizami Gəncəvi (1141–1209).
- Ganja Regional Tourism Information Center, Hasan Əliyev küç 31, ☏ . 09:00 to 18:00. Provides free city maps and travel agency services. The staff speak limited English.
- 1 Gəncə Beynəlxalq Hava Limanı (KVD IATA Ganja International Airport), 8 km northwest of the city centre. A taxi costs around 7 manat.
|Azerbaijan Airlines||Baku, Nakhchivan, St Petersburg|
|VIM Airlines [formerly dead link]||Moscow-Domodedovo|
The airport is open from 08:00 to 17:00.
- 2 Gəncə Dəmiryol Stansiyası / Ganja Railway Station (Gəncə Dəmiryol Vağzalı), Zülfü Hacıyev küç (The station is located 4 km north of the city center and can be reached by buses 1, 4 or 12.), ☏ . This station provides national and international rail conections to the city.
Ganja sits on one of the Azerbaijani primary rail lines running east–west through the country. This line now forms part of the Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway, which directly connects Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. This railway connects Ganja with Baku as well as with Tbilisi in Georgia, from where passenger trains may in the future eventually connect to Akhalkalaki, and Kars in Turkey.
Check the complete timetable online:
- Astara – 8 manat.
- Baku – The daytime ‘express’ (6 manat) departs from Ganja at 15:50 on alternate days arriving in Baku around midnight.
The overnight train 37 departs daily from Ganja at 02:56 and arrives in Baku at 08:52. The train has 2nd class kupé (KP) 4-berth sleepers (14.81 manat) and 3rd class platskartny (PL) open-plan sleepers (8.12 manat).
The overnight train 38 departs daily from Baku at 20:40 and arrives in Ganja at 02:33, before continuing on to Tbilisi. The train has 2nd class kupé (KP) 4-berth sleepers (14.81 manat) and 3rd class platskartny (PL) open-plan sleepers (8.12 manat).
- Tbilisi – Train 37 between Tbilisi and Baku departs from Tbilisi at 20.35 and arrives in Ganja at 02:50. Train 38 between Baku and Tbilisi departs from Ganja at 02:55 and arrives in Tbilisi at 08:55. The trains in both directions have 1st class spalny vagon (SV) 2-bed sleepers (40.67 manat), 2nd class kupé (KP) 4-berth sleepers (23.52 manat) and 3rd class platskartny (PL) open-plan sleepers (16.58 manat).
By bus or marshrutkaEdit
The city has the following bus stations:
- 3 Gəncə Beynəlxalq Avtovağzal / Ganja International Bus Station (Yevlax Yeni Avtovogzal), Yevlax Şossesi (R51 highway) 900 m east of the intersection of Nəriman Nərimanov and Kimyacilar. (It can be reached from the centre of the city by bus 17 or 23. Bus 23 goes 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. A taxi is 3 manat, use Bolt.), ☏ . It serves destinations in the eastern part of the country such as Agdas, Baku, Balaken, Gazakh, Goranboy, Nizami, Samadabad, Sheki and Yevlax. International bus services also operated from here to and from Georgia (Tbilisi), Iran, Russia (Moscow), Turkey, and Ukraine. The marshrutkas servicing Sheki generally drop passengers off at the intersection of Nəriman Nərimanov and Kimyacilar.
- 4 Yeni Şəmkir Avtovağzal, R50 highway in the north-western corner of the city (1.5 km northwest of the Hotel Ramada Plaza (which is on the corner of Nizami Ganjavi and 28 May küç). 3-4 manat for a taxi, use Bolt.). This bus station serves destinations in the western part of the country, such as Daskasan, Gadabay, Qazakh and Şəmkir.
- 5 Southern Bus Station (Nərimanov küç just south of the Nizami küç junction). Mostly for Göygöl.
Specific destinations (Sep 2019):
- Baku – Every 30 min 06:00-19:00. 4½ hr, 9 manat.
- Daşkəsən – 0.40 manat.
- Goranboy – Hourly 08:00-18:00, 0.90 manat.
- Göygöl – Frequently, 25 min.
- Ismailli – 4.70 manat.
- Naftalan – 06:00, 08:00, and 12:00. 1-2 manat.
- Qabala – From Ganja at 08:15, amd 08:30. 5 manat.
- Qazakh – Regular marshrutkas, 2 hr 10 min, 4 manat. The last one departs at 19:30.
- Sheki – From Ganja at 13:30 and 16:30, 3 hr, 4 manat. Though they can leave earlier if they fill up.
- Tbilisi, ☏ , , , . This marshrutka leaves from the Ganja bus station at 09:00 and returns from Tbilisi at 07:00. It waits for you at the border, takes about 4 hr, 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. There are two drivers, Elçin and Rasul, which go back and forth by turns every day. So, one or the other will confirm your ride, and they have each others numbers.
Since they go through Ganja center when leaving, you can probably arrange a pickup somewhere in the city along their route. 8-10 manat.
- The other option is to take a marshrutka from the Yeni Şemkir Bus Station to Qazakh (Qazax) (2 hr 10 min, 4 manat). While the frequency is unknown one marshrutka departs at 08:00. From the same location in Qazakh (where the service from Ganja terminates) frequent marshrutkas (1 hr 15 min, 1 manat) go to the border crossing at Red Bridge (Krasny Most, Qırmızı Körpü, Tsiteli Khidi), from where you can catch a marshrutka to Tbilisi (1 hr, 5 lari). If you take this route, then a 08:00 depart from Ganja will see you arriving at Station Square in Tbilisi at 13:30.
A taxi from/to Naftalan can be had for 25 manat.
From/to Sheki is 50 manat or less, depending on your bargaining skills. Or just use a ride sharing app.
The city is served by the M2, R19, R20, R21, R50 and R51 highways.
The Old City is best visited on foot.
There is also public bus service for 0.30 manat available. Routes change pretty often due to ongoing road construction, but #1 and #4 head to the Heydar Aliyev Park, and in the opposite direction #4 and #5 go to the Southern Bus Station (for Göygöl).
A taxi can be convenient for the Heydar Aliyev Park, bus stations or Göygöl. Expect to pay 3 manat to/from any of the bus stations from/to the centre. Fares are generally ⅓–½ manat/km.
- 1 Xatirə parkı (Heydar Aliyev Park Complex). It is claimed to be the world's 5th largest park complex, and the largest in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. The area spreads across 450 hectares. (Wikipedia lists 144 urban parks that are larger than 450 ha.) The arc de triomphe can be found at the very entrance. The complex contains many attractions for children, recreational and entertainment venues, and a bicycle rental.
- 2 World War II 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.
- 3 City Hall Square with Museum of Heydar Aliyev. The side of the square has remained the same as it was since the 16th century. The City Hall was built during the Soviet era. The building is a twin of the Tbilisi Parliament Hall.
- 4 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 the 19th century. During the 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.
- 5 Aleksandr Nevski Rus Pravoslav Kilsəsi (Russian Church of Alexander Nevsky), Veteranlar, 2. Public worship performed on Saturdays, Sundays, 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.
They are very strict about dress code, so just forget about heading there if you were shorts or skirts.
- 6 Bottle House (Butulkalı ev), 20 Hüseyn Cavid (Qember Hüseynli), ✉ email@example.com. House of Jafarovs family of Ganja. Created in 1967 by Ibrahim Jafarov in honor of his brother and all World War II soldiers who did not return 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 used 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 World War II. A supposed picture of the brother is part of the beautiful walls of the house. You can contact his grandson Elshan who still lives in the house to tell their story. This is private house, but Jafarovs do not mind people taking façade pictures of house. Donations are welcome. 2 manat per person for a picture on the balcony, a tea and a browse through their photo album. Can be bargained for a bigger group..
- 7 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.
- 8 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.
- 9 Xan bağı (Khan Bagi, Khan's Garden). The central city park is one of the oldest parks in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, with 7 hectares 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.
- 10 Cavadxan küçəsi (Javadkhan street). Good walking street in the heart of Old City of Ganja with fountains and street art monuments. There are many cozy cafes and souvenir stores.
- 11 Nizami Gəncəvinin heykəli (Monument to Nizami Ganjavi). By making this monument, the author was granted the Stalin Prize.
- 12 Ozan məscidi (Ozan Mosque), Ozan küç.
- 13 Təbriz küçəsi (Tebriz str).
- 14 Ozan küçəsi (Ozan street).
- 15 Əttarlar küçəsi (Attarlar street).
- 16 Promenade of Elizavetpol Governorate.
- 17 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 develop during Russian rule (19th-20th centuries).
- 18 German Lutheran Church (Kukla Teatri), Ahmad Jamil Street. Built in 1885 by the Germans, who moved to the city then. In 1897, about 100 Germans inhabited the city. The church was active until 1941 and later converted into the "State Puppet Theatre" by the Soviets, still serving that purpose.
- 19 Promenade.
- 20 National Flag Square.
- 21 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.
- 22 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.
- 23 Complex Goy Imam.
- 24 Ancient city site with remains of walls.
- 25 Main necropol.
- 26 Rebuilt city gates park.
- 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.
Ganja is well-known as a center of the carpet trade.
The list of top dishes of Ganjali cuisine (special recipes):
It is recommended to drink bottled water. However, there are a lot of tea houses offering tasty tea.
- 1 Old Ganja Hostel, Cavadxan 47, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Cozy and relaxed. Dorm from 15 manat.
- 2 Ganja hostel, Nəriman Nərimanov, ☏ , . Not as recommended as Old Ganja Hostel, but an alternative, if the former is full.
- 3 Hostel of Ganja, 77 Nəriman Nərimanov. Dorm from 18 manat.
- 4 Ganja Hotel (Gəncə Hotel), Heydar Əliyev prospekti, 155 (in front of City Hall), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00.
- 5 [dead link] Ramada Plaza, 519 Nizami Ganjavi ave., AZ2019, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ganja's area code is 22.
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.
- Göygöl National Park – About 20 km from Göygöl and near Toğanalı, this hiking and leisure destination can be found. Its lake was formed during a strong earthquake in 1139.
- 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.