Ever - intriguing Ateshgah is one of the world`s best-preserved fire temples. The centerpiece shrine is focused on a flaming hearth with four side-flues, surrounded by a sturdily fortified compound of historic cell-rooms. The site now forms a fascinating museum where you can discover more about Azerbaijan’s long connections with fire cults including the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism. These drew inspiration from places like Baku’s Absheron Peninsula where oil seeps out of the ground along with natural gas, creating spontaneous flares-the “eternal lights” that were regularly reported by travelers since the Middle Ages. The current form of the temple dates from a 17th-century restoration by Indian merchants who saw the “burning earth "as a manifestation of the Hindu deity Shiva.
True to the first part of its name, this ‘Burning Mountain’ certainly delivers with its endless wall of fire, though the term ‘mountain’is less descriptive for what is in fact a small but prominent hill around 25 kilometers northeast of Baku. Theflames at this mesmerizing site are caused by natural gas emanating through cracks in the petroleum rich earth below. Surrounding the site are several intriguing historic stones, a viewing amphitheater and a brand - new museum explaining Azerbaijan’s connections with spontaneous fires: these have been mentioned for centuries by pilgrims and travelers including Marco Polo.