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Photo Samples, Kaukasus

Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan

 

For Centuries, the Kaukasus region has been "something in between Asia and Europe", a feature which is strongly reflected in both religion and culture. Armenia and Georgia boast themselves as being the two oldest Christian countries on Earth, while the Muslim Azerbaijan is a strange mix in between the rigid Islamic rules of Iran to the south and laissez-faire, ex-soviet vodka culture from the north.

All of the three are photographic gems, although the number of tourists is still extremely low. The recent Russian invasion of Georgia is certainly not going to improve that! As usual, all photos are, of course  Claus Qvist Jessen, and none of them are to used without my written permission.

Very Soviet, indeed, the railway station ("vokzal") is a true reminder of the Communist past of Tblisi, Georgia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

No price for guessing that this is a Coca Cola truck; Tblisi, Georgia.
 Claus Qvist Jessen

The mighty cathedral of Tblisi. Georgia. Despite the rustic looks, it's built in the middle of the 1990'ies.  Claus Qvist Jessen

As Baku in Azerbaijan, Tblisi is famous for its intricate woodwork and beautiful balconies. They are all over town.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Local transport in the Kaukasus region is slow and unreliable - and not uncomfortable at all. Even if it was, the friendliness of the locals easily compensate; here from east of Gori, Georgia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The Mskheta Monastery in between Gori and Tblisi is regarded as the spirtual center of Georgia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The birthplace of Josef Vissaronovich Dzugashvili still bears the sign of the cruel dictator - to others better known as Stalin! The central plaza of the city is guarded by the infamous murderer, and his picture is found in most offices.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Outside the Stalin Museum, Gori, another statue of the "mild and peace-loving" dictator gazes upon the visitor.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Stalinist architecture loved (and still loves) to show the Communists as a superior type of humans; here from Gori, Georgia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The largest street in Gori is the Stalin Avenue. Unlikely anywhere else, but I doubt very much that you'll find a Hitler Street anywhere :o)   Claus Qvist Jessen

Inside the Stalin Museum, the local kids are brain-washed to believe that the man was a great hero. Real Soviet style, and neither Troitzky, the Gulag or the millions of political killings are ever mentioned. Selective history, indeed.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Outside the Stalin Museum, this armoured train wagon is the one used by Stalin to travel to Potsdam Conference, right after the WW2.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Small-scale merchant; Gori, Georgia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Happy faces; Gori, Georgia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Traditionally, Georgia has produced a lot of first-class chess-players, in particular women players. Here, locals are playing, well overlooked by four world champions, including Nona Gaprindashwilij and Maya Tjiburdanidze.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The grave of national saint Nina in Signagi in south-eastern Georgia is one of the most sacred spots in the country.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Squat toilet from Signagi, 200 kms east of Tblisi.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Small church on top of a hill in Kazbegi region, norther Georgia, very close to the unruly Russian republics of the south - North Ossetia, Chechniya and Dagestan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Drain pipe from a house in Kazbegi, Georgia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Samovars at a Saturday flea-market in Yerevan (Jerevan), the capital of Armenia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Armenian priest from the important Ekhmiadzin Cathedral, not far from the rather dull Yerewan, the capital of Armenia.
 Claus Qvist Jessen

Along with the slightly newer Sanahin, the UNESCO protected Haghpat Monastery is one of the oldest and most rustic in Armenia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The inside of the Sanahin Monastery, NE Armenia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Small girl from the Sanahin Village, NE Armenia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Antique mural painting from the Akhtala Monastery, NE Armenia.
 Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Women from the very colourful and friendly market in Vanadzor, NE Armenia. This just has to be the best market in all of Kaukasus.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Market scene; Vanadzor, NE Armenia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Playing chess at the Vanadzor market. The level of the chess players is quite high - almost enough for me not to beat them!  Claus Qvist Jessen

Ice cream vendor at the Vanadzor market, Armenia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Local cafe; Sadahart, NE Armenia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Making bread; Sevan, Eastern Armenia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Want a taxi? Sevan, Eastern Armenia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The sterile Main Square of Baku, Azerbaijan. The building to the right is the government building, the one in the back is the very Soviet "Hotel Azerbaijan".  Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Anything is sold at the Taza Bazar, Baku, from illegally caught Beluga Caviar (left) to chickens (right).  Claus Qvist Jessen

Mary Poppins on display at the Taza Bazar, Baku, Azerbaijan.
 Claus Qvist Jessen

Former chess world champion Gary Kasparov spent his childhood in Baku, and chess life is still growing here. The talent is amazing, and I had the doubtful experience of being soundly beaten 4-0 by a 14-year-old teenager. His name was Shakhriar Mamedyarov, and eight years later he was twice Junior World Champion and among the Top 5 of the world. Amazing talent - and he's not the only one!
 Claus Qvist Jessen

The ugliest place in the world? Known from the beginning of the James Bond movie "The World is not Enough", the oil fields right outside Baku, Azerbaijan, is just one big, sad pool of dirty oil, with loads of used metal scrap everywhere, and sometimes children playing in the swamp.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Baku oil part 2.  Claus Qvist Jessen

To the Zoroastians, the most sacred spot on Earth is Surakhani og the Aspheron Peninsula of Azerbaijan. Here, natural gas is so abundant that fire has been known to self-ignite, thus causing a belief in fire as a devine, all ruled by a god, known as "Auramazda".
 Claus Qvist Jessen

In Quba, a few hours north of Baku, stress is not an issue. Instead, time is passed playing backgammon.  Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Women from a small village north of Quba, northern Azerbaijan, close to Dagestan of Russia.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Making butter; village north of Quba, Azerbaijan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

"Want some chai?". Old lady from Lenkoran Market, just 50 kms north of the Azerbaijan border with Iran.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Despite being only a few miles north of the aeschetic Iran, the main goods at the Lenkoran Market is vodka!  Claus Qvist Jessen

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