This Mountain Has Been on Fire for 700 Years — And You Can Visit

published Nov 7, 2022
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Thrill seekers can take their hike to new extremes with a tour of a burning mountain. Travelers visiting Azerbaijan can visit Yanar Dag, also known as Fire Mountain, for an adventurous hike that will leave you hot and sweaty — and not just because of the workout.

Located on the Absheron Peninsula around 25 kilometers from Baku, the 116-meter hill has a natural gas fire that has been burning for many, many years. According to records, the flames have been burning continually for at least 700 years and reach up to three meters high. Further up the mountain, tongues of fire rise from the surface of streams.

While the origin of the flames are unknown, local legend says that a shepherd once accidentally lit a fire there and the hill has been burning ever since. Despite strong winds and sometimes treacherous weather conditions, the flames continue to burn. As a result, locals consider Yanar Dag to be a sacred place, with many believing that the mountain has healing properties. It has become a place of pilgrimage for the Azerbaijani population, as well as foreigners mostly from India and Iran.

London-based travel writer Rupert Parker visited Yanar Dag during a visit to Azerbaijan in 2013. While he noted that Fire Mountain sounds “sounds grander than it is,” he told Apartment Therapy that it is worth a visit — as is the rest of the country’s capital, Baku.

Yanar Dag is a historical preserve and is under state protection, with archeological studies being conducted in the area. The Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences has recently discovered two burial hills on the site.

If you’re keen to see this natural wonder for yourself, the Fire Worshippers & Eternal Fire group tour ($24) is a half-day excursion that takes visitors on a tour of Ateshgah, Fire Temple of Baku, along with a visit to Yanar Dag. There’s also a stop off at the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, a striking building  noted for its distinctive architecture and flowing, curved style.