Who we are

Mark Elliott

A teacher turned travel-writer, Mark’s first visits to the Caspian region were a 1984 sojourn to Iran’s rainy north coast then a 1994 odyssey via Kazakhstan and Caspian Russia on his ‘way home’ from a three year stay in Japan. In 1995 he became entranced with the Caucasus while researching what would become the ‘cult backpacker bible,’ Asia Overland. He has since returned two dozen times, penned several guidebooks to Azerbaijan and Georgia, written for Azerbaijani websites and magazines and presented several documentaries about the region.

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Will Election of a New President Help Improve Relations Between Tehran and Baku?

The surprise victory of ‘reformist’ candidate Masoud Pezeshkian in Iran’s presidential elections suggests a new era in Iranian foreign policy, and one that should particularly improve relations with Baku given Pezeshkian’s pride in his Turkic roots.

The Grey Wolf Sign: A Fair Sign of Celebration or an Unacceptable Political Message?

Who could think that a football match would trigger debates on the genesis and myths of the Turkic people? Merih Demiral, Team Türkiye’s midfielder has come under a spotlight after he displayed a Grey Wolf gesture to celebrate his second goal.

6 July 2024

Regions, Stories

President Ilham Aliyev Calls for Armenian Constitutional Reform to Aid Lasting South Caucasus Peace

Recent weeks have seen some hopeful signs of diplomatic work that is quietly edging the South Caucasus closer to lasting peace. However, some key pitfalls remain as Aliyev told TURKPA yesterday.

New Caledonia’s Turmoil

In one of the weirdest geopolitical twists of recent years, France has levelled some rather strange accusations against Azerbaijan. And all over a part of the world that most Azerbaijanis have probably never heard of—or hadn’t until recently.

Aliyev In Berlin

The Azerbaijani President continued a week of international globetrotting spending Friday at Germany’s Petersberg Climate Dialogue, part of the important preparations for the 2024 COP29 meetings to be held in Baku.

Positive signs of a rapprochement between Azerbaijan and Armenia?

Since before the break-up of the USSR, Armenia and Azerbaijan have seen each other as mortal enemies, yet normalizing relations could be a win-win situation. Comments from both Baku and Yerevan this week suggest that moves toward this normalization might finally be on the horizon.

The Lachin Road—A Big Deal in 2023 but Now Fading into Memory

On 23/24 April 2023, just one year ago today, observers doubted the wisdom of Baku’s decision to install a checkpoint on the Lachin Road. Today, with the whole situation changed, Azerbaijan reflects on a crucial move in the long game of regaining full control over Karabakh.

Aliyev and Putin Mark the 50th Anniversary of Siberia’s ‘Other’ Great Railway Line

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was in Moscow on 22 April 22, where he met with Vladimir Putin to celebrate the anniversary of the BAM Railway, the construction of which involved many Azerbaijanis, not least the president’s father, Heydar Aliyev.

23 April 2024

Caucasus, Stories

Russia Starts Sending Home its Karabakh Peacekeepers

Russia has started a pull-out of its troops from Azerbaijan, implying Moscow’s acceptance that their peacekeeping role in Karabakh is now irrelevant.

Vardanyan: A Peace-Loving Prisoner or Someone Standing in the Way of Peace?

Russian-billionaire turned Armenian activist-politician Ruben Vardanyan has reportedly been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in a move that seems aimed at persuading the world’s media to reassess his situation: he is currently awaiting trial in Azerbaijan for “terrorism-funding” charges.

Dolma Diaries

A Georgian, an Armenian, and an Azerbaijani—all three students at a German university—are allocated a shared flat in Berlin. How will they get on, ‘living with the enemy?’ This is the starting premise for the excellent mini-series Dolma Diaries screening via YouTube.

3 April 2024

Caucasus, Stories

Cross Cultural Casualties at Crocus City

Many dozens died on Friday in an awful concert massacre in Moscow, cited by some as being terrorist retaliation for Russia’s involvement in Syria. Amongst the victims was an Azerbaijani-Armenian couple whose love had bridged an altogether different conflict.

26 March 2024

Caucasus, Stories

Ardashir’s Palace and Circular City—Iranian Firsts

Visitors to southeastern Iran tend to focus on the city of poets, Shiraz, and the nearby ruins of Persepolis, the ancient Persian capital destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330BC. However, around 100km further south is a lesser-known series of ancient remains.

19 March 2024

Iran, Stories

The Safavid Dynasty – Azerbaijani heritage

The Safavids are often associated in Western minds with the 17th-century architectural wonders of Isfahan, Iran. But their roots were Azerbaijani and throughout their long rule, the language used by their bureaucracy was a form of Azerbaijani Turkish.

Armenia Engages its European Diaspora in a Non-political Grass Roots Attempt to Stabilize the Country

The 2024 “Engage Armenia Forum” has set off a five-country roadshow around Western Europe to drum up more active diaspora participation in Armenia’s development. A varied range of options are on offer, and such grassroots attempts to internationalize the country could be a major boost towards ensuring a more stable, peaceful Caucasus.

8 March 2024

Caucasus, Stories

Mahammad Rasulzade 140th Anniversary

Few outside the Caucasus will know his name. However, for most Azerbaijanis, Mahammad Amin Rasulzade—born 140 years ago today—is one of history’s most pivotal figures, rising to prominence during the country’s first period of independence, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (‘ADR,’ 1918-1920).

31 January 2024

Caucasus, Stories

Happy Sadeh

Today is Jashn-e Sadeh, an Iranian winter festival celebrated each year on the 10th of Bahman in the Iranian calendar and of Mehr in the Zoroastrian, which falls on 30 January.

30 January 2024

Culture, Iran

Azerbaijani Delegation walks out of PACE

Azerbaijan's delegation from PACE, the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe, has withdrawn from the organization citing "racism, Azerbaijanophobia, and Islamophobia."

Abkhazia’s Top Art Gallery Destroyed by Fire

Priceless canvasses with Yoko Ono links were among many irreplaceable artworks lost in a tragic conflagration that destroyed the most important gallery of Abkhazia.

Maragheh/Maraga, Iran: Once home to Eurasia’s greatest astronomical observatory

Even frequent visitors to Iran rarely think of visiting Maragheh, yet its tomb towers and historical observatory site retain distant resonances of a magnificent history.

26 December 2023

Caucasus, Culture, Iran

Moynak – Memories of the Aral Sea

Back in the 1960s, Moynak, Uzbekistan had been a bustling fishing port on a peninsula jutting into the Aral Sea’s southern flank. Now it is around 100km from the Aral’s nearest coast. Mark Elliott when there to find what’s left of the place.

22 December 2023

Central Asia, Stories

Chess Championship Reminds the World of a Tragically Lost Azerbaijani Star

The Gashimov Chess Tournament has concluded in Gabala, Azerbaijan. But beyond the games themselves, the event reminds the world of one of the sport’s great young players whose life was cut short in 2014.

11 December 2023

Caucasus, Stories

Where in the World? Nukus and the Incredible Savitsky Museum

Uzbekistan is ever more popular with tourists thanks to its trio of majestic Silk Route cities, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. But what about the far west of the country? Mark Elliott heads to Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan.

11 December 2023

Central Asia, Culture

Aliyev Unplugged – candid comments and responses in Baku

This week’s announcement in Azerbaijan of snap elections along, with new hopes for peace, were prefaced with in depth comments by President Aliyev which have helped clarify his stance on many key issues.

Khiva – A 21st-century Visitor’s Experience

Khiva, Uzbekistan is the Silk Route’s most memorable city claims veteran travel writer Mark Elliott who first visited back in 1994 when he counted a mere 7 foreign visitors in town. These days it’s an understandable tourist magnet. Here are Mark’s tips for making the most of a visit.

30 November 2023

Central Asia, Culture

Azerbaijan Welcomes the Latest International Court of Justice Ruling on Karabakh

On Friday (November 17) the ICJ delivered the latest ‘order’ in the long-running international legal battle between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Armenia’s Pivot towards Nato Creates Waves

The arrival of French military hardware in Armenia via Georgia highlights the complex challenge for Yerevan in negotiating a path through rapidly evolving new geopolitical realities.

The Case of Vagif Khachatryan: Azerbaijan’s Indictment of the First Karabakh Armenian Accused of War Crimes

An ethnic Armenian from Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region has been sentenced to 15 years in jail for crimes dating back to 1991. For Baku, it’s the first major prosecution of someone accused of wartime massacres. However, Khachatryan insists he’s innocent.

12 November 2023

Caucasus, Stories

UN Team Visits Karabakh and Talks to Remaining Residents in Khankendi

Some Armenians called it too little too late, but a UN fact-finding mission has now been to Karabakh and, while regretting the mass exodus of citizens, found no reports of violence against civilians or new damage to property.

Words of Wisdom - Armenian Academic and Former Minister Gerard Libaridian Shares His Views on Peace in Karabakh

The Armenians of Karabakh can still sign up to a “manageable” agreement on integrating into Azerbaijan, argues Gerard Libaridian, but they need to stop a sense of self-denial in failing to recognise that they won’t get everything they want.

22 September 2023

Caucasus, Opinion

Caspian Region Gets New UNESCO Listings

On September 18, Unesco unveiled 27 new World Heritage features including three in the Caspian Region countries, plus the extension of another in Azerbaijan.

Lachin Revives its Artistic Side

This weekend, artists and musicians brought a real buzz to Lachin City, culminating in a gala concert that appeared to delight Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, for whom it doubled as a kind of birthday treat.

31 August 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Humanitarian Aid as Propaganda: the Karabakh Convoy and a Contrasting Ukrainian Example from 2014

In 2014, when Russia proposed sending convoys of ‘humanitarian aid’ to prop up its de-facto puppet states in Eastern Ukraine, the West reacted angrily. However, this month the EU and UN backed Armenia’s attempts to send a convoy to Karabakh. Hypocrisy?

Thomas Goltz 1954-2023

War journalist, educator, and all-round maverick Thomas Goltz died on July 29. He rose to prominence in Eurasia with his unique first-hand reports from conflicts in Georgia, Chechnya, and especially Karabakh, where he was one of the first to report the Khojali massacre.

31 July 2023

Caucasus, Stories

Shusha Global Media Forum

Is the world heading for a ‘post-truth’ world as AI starts to affect journalism? This was just one of several important questions debated by a high-powered conference of international media figures over three days in Azerbaijan’s cultural capital, Shusha. Mark Elliott attended for the Caspian Post.

28 July 2023

Caucasus, Culture

President Aliyev Unplugged: A Personal Reflection

At last weekend’s Shusha Global Media Forum, Caspian Post correspondent Mark Elliott had a rare opportunity to join a lengthy in-person Q&A with Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev. Here he shares his impressions of the event.

26 July 2023

Caucasus, Opinion

Azerbaijan’s “National Press Day”

Azerbaijan celebrated its National Press Day on July 22, a day that is tied to the publication of an Azerbaijani language newspaper 148 years ago.

Round Six in Brussels: Modest Progress on Karabakh… then Russia Throws a Curved Ball

While Aliyev and Pashinyan’s latest Brussels meeting marked a fairly unremarkable continuation of their slow, steady progress towards an eventual peace treaty, Moscow’s reaction was an unexpected change of posture regarding their on-the-ground peacekeepers.

Macron Takes Some Verbal Stick at Baku’s NAM Summit

This week Azerbaijan hosted the latest summit meeting of the Non Aligned Movement. President Ilham Aliyev, the organsation’s current chairman welcomed numerous heads of state to Baku but the press focused particularly on his criticisms of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Another Major Meeting Between Azerbaijani and Armenian Teams Keeps the Peace Process Moving Forward

Three days of high level talks aimed at finding a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan concluded as planned on Thursday despite more deaths on the ground in Karabakh at the start of the week.

Lachin Return Starts

On 28 May, the first group of IDPs returned to Lachin, over 30 years since they were forced to leave.

Hadis to Take to the Screen at Annecy

An Azerbaijani production, Hadis, was chosen from over 3200 others to be shown at the Annecy Festival. The animation is a homage to Hadis Najafi, who was shot dead during the 2022 protests in Iran.

Heydar Aliyev – Centenary of Azerbaijan’s ‘National Leader’

Today marks 100 years since the birth of Heydar Aliyev, who is referred to as Azerbaijan’s 'national leader.'

Habil Mammadov’s Agdam Dreams

Music teacher, Habil Mammadov, hopes to organize a concert where his students can perform in his newly liberated hometown of Aghdam, where he was forced to flee from occupation.

28 April 2023

Caucasus, Stories

Good News on Malaria in the Caspian Region

Good news about malaria in the Caspian Region: there isn’t any!

21 April 2023


Policy Reverse Offers Hope of Protection to North Ossetia’s Beautiful Digorsky Gorge

One of North Ossetia’s potentially attractive tourist destinations, the Digorsky Gorge, is to be ‘saved’ from mineral extraction and offered stronger protection according to the republic’s political chief.

Xinaliq - the Highest Village in the Caucasus?

Xinaliq, one of Caucasus's highest settlements, is a magical place with its own language and timeless traditions.

7 April 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Richard Sorge – Azerbaijan’s James Bond

Learn more about Richard Sorge, widely celebrated as "the spy to end all spies." Born in Azerbaijan to Russian and German parents, he went on to influence the course of WW2.

27 March 2023

Caucasus, Stories

A New Invitation Offers Another Step Toward a Karabakh Peace?

A triple tweet from Azerbaijan opens up the possibility of a new, higher-level round of talks between Baku and the Karabakh Armenian community. Will it lead anywhere?

Shootout at Karabakh - Five Dead, What Are the Implications?

Shootout at Karabakh - Five Dead, What Are the Implications?

7 March 2023


The Intriguing Postage Stamps of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic

For an unusual side glimpse at the short-lived Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920), take a look at the state’s small and appealingly basic series of postage stamps.

3 March 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Ani: an Ancient Ghost City with 21st-Century Implications

Ani: an Ancient Ghost City with 21st-Century Implications

1 March 2023

Caucasus, Opinion

Molla Nasreddin - the Man and the Magazine

Molla Nasreddin magazine highlighted the hypocrisy of the Muslim clergy, the inequality of women, the imposed backwardness of the poor due to inadequate education and the unreasonable disdain of the Russified intelligentsia towards all things Azerbaijani.

10 February 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Earthquake Assistance and the Armenia-Turkiye Relationship

It’s an understatement to call Armenia-Turkiye relations ‘frosty.’ However, with the dispatch of Armenian aid workers, there are encouraging signs of a reopening of dialogue.

9 February 2023

Caucasus, Opinion

Omid the Lonely Love Bird

After losing his partner, Arzu, in 2008, Omid has flown the 5000km migration alone. Read the background story on the last Siberian crane to fly the Western Route.

The Karabakh Nightingales

Nightingales are not just birds in Azerbaijan. They’re also celebrated singers - a member of the Karabakh Nightingale Ensemble producing one of the most celebrated recordings of 20th century Mugham music.

23 January 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Legendary Georgian Vakhtang ‘Buba’ Kikabidze Dies at 84

Legendary Georgian singer and film actor, Vakhtang Kikabidze, has died at the age of 84. He was famed for his Soviet-era performances but also for his vocal political support of Georgia and against Moscow’s post-2008 aggression.

18 January 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Why Christmas Comes Later in Orthodox Countries

Today is Christmas Day for Georgians, Ukrainians, Russians and some other Eastern Orthodox Christians. But why do they celebrate on January 7? Well, it all has to do with ignoring a 16th-century pope.

7 January 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Changing Times in Nakhchivan

December 31 is the World Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis, a day commemorating the tearing down of border fences between Nakhchivan and Iran in 1989. What’s happened to Nakhchivan since then, and why has its leader recently resigned?

31 December 2022

Caucasus, Opinion

The Mysterious Leopards of the Caspian Region

You might not associate leopards with the Caspian countries, but in fact there are two distinct sub-species in the region. Both are very rare, but naturalists and photographers have been gathering ever more evidence of their survival.

Iran’s Continuing Crack Downs and Their International Effects

Italy is the latest to criticise Iran’s crackdown on protesters. But although Iran might be using softer language recently, it seems that Tehran still sees its heavy-handed policy as successful. Are there any winners in this situation?

Ganja’s Burgeoning Café Scene

Mark Elliott explored the cafe culture of Ganja during his visit to Azerbaijan last month. Turns out it's much more than tea.

23 December 2022

Caucasus, Culture

Birding Hotspot Besh Barmaq

One of Eurasia's great flyways funnels migratory birds between the Azerbaijani shore of the Caspian Sea and the steep crag of Besh Barmag. This year an international team of ornithologists spent three months counting them.

15 December 2022

Caucasus, Stories

Tashkent Fair Showcases Uzbekistan’s Broadening Approach to Tourism

The Tashkent International Tourism Fair is the biggest showcase for new ideas in tourism in the Central Asia region. Uzbekistan's Samarkand is set to be the World Tourism Capital in 2023.

6 December 2022

Central Asia, Culture

Thousands of Caspian Seals Found Dead on Russian Beaches

This past weekend thousands of Caspian Seals were found dead on the beaches of Dagestan in Russia. Learn a bit more about the endangered species and what might have happened here.

5 December 2022

Caucasus, Stories

Driving to Shusha – a Personal Experience

November 8 is "Victory Day" in Azerbaijan, commemorating the day Azerbaijani forces retook the city of Shusha during the 2nd Karabakh War. In this article, Mark Elliott takes us with him to see what's along the road to Shusha.

22 November 2022

Caucasus, Opinion

Tourism in the Caspian Region: What We Learned from WTM 2022

London’s World Travel Market is a window into the heart of the global tourism industry. This year, the Caspian Region was better represented than ever before.

11 November 2022

Central Asia, Culture

Roads and Corridors Between Azerbaijan and Armenia

If both sides step back from semantic arguments, a solution for opening Armenia-Azerbaijan borders could be within reach.

18 October 2022

Caucasus, Opinion

Cyber Warfare – Iran, Demonstrations, Exploding Steel Plants and the Albanian Connection

Hackers again hit Iranian state TV this weekend, posting an image of the Supreme Leader in rifle crosshairs. Who is behind the hacks and what is the Albanian connection in this latest round of an undeclared cyber-war?

Diplomatic Manoeuvres over the Caucasus

September’s re-ignition of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has set forth a flurry of international diplomacy. What’s going on and why?

Leila’s Violin

A young musician arrives in an Azerbaijani mountain village in a prize-winning short film called "Leila's Violin," written with a dreamlike magic and stylistic elements reminiscent of the great director Sergei Parajanov.

28 September 2022

Caucasus, Culture

The Nobel Brothers and Azerbaijani Oil - A Pre-Soviet Tale

The Nobel Prize is just one of many legacies of a Swedish family whose investments and remarkable new innovations helped transform Azerbaijan’s oil production from the 1870s, helping Baku to be one of the world’s main petro-cities by 1905.

12 September 2022

Caucasus, Stories

Questions Raised by the Vostok-2022 Military Exercises in Far Eastern Russia

Vostok 2022, a week of military exercises in far eastern Russia, apparently saw 50,000 men from 14 countries on manoeuvres. Were there really contingents from both Yerevan and Baku?

Davit Gareja - Keshikchidag, the Border-Straddling Monastic Marvel

A group of ancient Christian hemit caves known as Davit Gareja in Georgia and Keshikchidag in Azerbaijan straddles the border on a semi-desert scarp. Could the site’s management offer an opportunity for cultural cooperation?

10 August 2022

Caucasus, Culture

Ninjutsu In Iran – Developing Respect and Humility, not Budding Assassins

No, they aren’t assassins, despite what the world was once told by a careless headline writer. A full decade later the non-story of Iran’s lady ninjas continues to reverberate.

3 August 2022

Iran, Stories

Azerbaijan’s First Set of Returnees Head for the Completely Reconceived “Smart Village” of Aghali

‘Welcome home’ to ten Azerbaijani families who on July 19 became the first returnees to move into the high-tech “smart village” of Aghali in the de-occupied Zangilan Region of Karabakh.

The Historical Background of Crimea’s Tatars

Crimean Tatars (2)

20 June 2022

Regions, Stories

Georgia’s “Stairway to Heaven,” the Katskhi Pillar

Simon Stylites was a 5th century Christian mystic, later celebrated by Tennyson for having spent decades meditating on the top of a pillar. In Katskhi, Georgia, you’ll find a chapel in the sky, refashioned for latter-day Stylites.

8 June 2022


Who Are the Tatars of Crimea?

Russia's war in Ukraine is just the latest conflict to afflict one of Europe's least know ethnic groups - the Crimean Tatars.

30 May 2022

Regions, Stories

Azerbaijan’s Karabakh Horses Wow the Windsor Horse Show Again

What’s a modern-day gift fit for a king – or queen? Azerbaijan thinks it knows the answer, at least when it comes to Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.

Stihia – Uzbekistan’s Middle-of-Nowhere Festival of Electronica

Last weekend experimental techno music fans in Uzbekistan became champions for publicizing one of the world’s most dire ecological catastrophes. How? Simply by attending the ultra-remote Stiha Festival.

Sayat Nova - the 18th Century Caucasian Troubadour-poet Who Continues to Inspire

Sergei Paradjanov's The Colour of Pomegranates (1968) is a beautifully stylized examination of the 18th-century minstrel poet who went by the pen name 'Sayat Nova.' He composed songs in Azerbaijani, Armenian, Georgian and other languages.

15 April 2022

Caucasus, Culture

Garry Kasparov: The Chess Star’s Baku Years

Chess legend Garry Kasparov, who later became a prominent opposition figure in Russian politics, spent his childhood and formative years in the multi-cultural melting-pot that was Soviet Baku. Recently, he has talked more about the assistance he received in his youth from both his devoted mother and the Azerbaijani authorities that provided key facilities he needed to focus on becoming world champion.

8 April 2022

Caucasus, Stories

The Balaban - Common Bonds in the Caucasus

The mournful sound of a twin-reed traditional oboe brings a mysterious atmosphere to many a movie sound track and was one of the recordings that NASA included on its 'Hello Aliens This is Earth' gold disc that was sent into space with the Voyager probes. The instrument’s name might be Balaban, Duduk or Mey according to your language but its wistful music could be seen as a potential bridge to transcend national divisions between nations.

6 April 2022

Caucasus, Culture

What’s on your Table? Comparing the Region’s Nowruz/Novruz Traditions

Call it Novruz, Nowruz, Nooruz, Nauryz or Navruz, the spring equinox festival is the most significant holiday period for Iran, Azerbaijan and many people in Central Asia. However, the associated customs vary considerably between countries and regions.

The “Unexpected Gift” of March 8 - a Surprise for Ex-pats in Baku  

If you have female colleagues based in the Caspian Region, don’t forget flowers or gifts for them on March 8 – International Women’s Day. Mark Elliott tells the story of one ex-pat in Azerbaijan who made that mistake once, and never made it again.

8 March 2022

Caucasus, Stories

The Udi People of Nij, Azerbaijan

Among the many ethnolinguistic communities in Azerbaijan, we find the Udi people of Nij. Considered to be the descendants of the ancient Caucasian Albanians, they speak a language indigenous to the Caucasus. What can we know for sure of the group's history?

21 February 2022

Caucasus, Culture

Bagh-e Sanghi – The Stone Garden

A surreal 1976 film about a deaf ‘prophet’ creating an absurdist ‘Stone Garden’ in the middle of Iran’s semi-desert turns out to be loosely based on truth. Its star was the creator of just such a ‘garden’ where lifeless trees produce heavy stone fruit. The Caspian Post’s Mark Elliott went to have a look at the lonely site, which remains mesmerizingly intact.

3 February 2022

Culture, Iran

Khash: The Hangover Cure of the Caucasus

Care for some cow foot soup? Khash is a popular Caucasian stew, often eaten early in the morning or as a hangover cure. It might not look very appetizing but it's great with company and vodka, especially in the cold season.

17 January 2022

Caucasus, Culture

Pir Shalyar – A Remarkable Festival in the Glorious Village of Howraman Takht

Hair flies wildly as dervishes perform trance-like ‘dances’ on the rooftops of a spectacular Kurdish stepped village. Welcome to Howraman Takht’s Pir Shalyar Festival in far western Iran.

25 December 2021

Culture, Iran

History of the Caucasus: At the Crossroads of Empires – Book Review

Christoph Baumer's latest book from I.B. Tauris publishers sets a new bar for scholarship when it comes to the Caucasus.

23 November 2021

Caucasus, Stories

Iran’s Caspian Coast – Memories From a 1984 Journey

Mark Elliott remembers his first visit to the Caspian and ponders the apparent contradictions of seaside resorts where attractions include rain and the chance to swim fully dressed.

15 November 2021

Iran, Stories

“Voices of Peace” – the UK’s Azerbaijani Diaspora Celebrate and Dream of Healing in the Caucasus

London’s musical "Voices of Peace" event stands out amid a flurry of celebrations one year after Azerbaijan’s reclaiming of its once-occupied lands through the Second Karabakh War.

10 November 2021

Caucasus, Stories

Towerhouses of the Caucasus

These are some of the most under-publicized and unforgettable sights in Europe. Join us as we explore the Towerhouses of the Caucasus.

1 November 2021

Caucasus, Culture

Contemporary Architecture in the Caspian Region: Grozny

It’s a wildcard, but Grozny creeps into our top five cities for contemporary architecture, thanks in part to its extraordinary ambition as expressed in the plans for the phenomenal Akhmat Tower.

The Eighth Life – The Greatest Georgian Epic Since Rustaveli?

Read our review of the brilliant, brick-thick novel 'The Eighth Life.' Nino Haratischvili tells the gripping if harrowing story of 20th-century Georgia through an intensely personal series of fictional life stories.

29 September 2021

Caucasus, Opinion

Lagan – The Curious Caspian Town That Nobody’s Heard Of

A prize-winning Caspian park design brings new attention to the wannabe port town, home to Europe’s biggest Buddhist statue. Welcome to Lagan – a little place with big dreams.

7 September 2021

Caucasus, Stories

“Street” Culture in the Caspian Region

Parkour, skateboarding and desert raves in a land “out of time?” Join Mark Elliott as he celebrates alternative athletes, artists, and culture throughout the region and, like the break-dancers of Kazakhstan, turns misconceptions on their head. Tell us what we missed - what are your alternative top spots? Who are your heroes on the margins?

31 August 2021

Caucasus, Culture

Does the Caspian Sea Monster Really Exist?

Made with technology a “good thirty years ahead of its time,” the Soviet MD-160 was a marvel in engineering and aeronautics. Maybe it was too ambitious: the last of its kind is beached as a tourist attraction on Dagestan’s Caspian sea shore.

4 August 2021

Caucasus, Stories

In Search of the Little Black Fish

Remembering the short but inspiring life of Samad Behrangi

24 June 2021

Caucasus, Stories

Sari Gelin - Who Does it Really Belong To?

Rediscovering the folk song whose melody bridges cultures in a divided region.

16 June 2021

Caucasus, Culture

The 28th of May

Azerbaijan's "Republic Day": the most powerfully symbolic date in the national calendar?

The Power of a Line

Danger lurks when states try to delineate complex borders that had never been envisaged as international frontiers.

A Transcaucasian Benelux: Could It Happen?

Following the geopolitical upheaval of the 2020 Second Karabakh War, new avenues might be opening for exploring a previously utopian idea.

The Caspian’s Culinary Kaleidoscope

This is truly a region where home-grown culinary traditions remain paramount.

17 April 2021

Caucasus, Culture