LIFE BEYOND TOURISM BLOG

September 29, 2010

Village Lagich

Hello bloggers,

today, we are gonna travel to the village of Lagich in Azerbaijan with our Life Beyond Tourism University Delegate Gulnara Safarova from Baku, Azerbaijan! Enjoy the trip!

Last summer I visited a very beautiful and interesting place.

Insulation made Lagich a very atypical place within Azerbaijan: there  still is widespread Indo-European dialect, coming from the old Persian language. The settlement was originally an important center of copper production, but it soon subsided. Then, handicrafts remained here the main activity for a long period.
Today, the main income comes from tourism, carpet weaving, and copper work (pot, samovars …).

Due to frequent earthquakes the village developed its own way of projecting buildings, with the traditional technique of the transverse connection of stone and wood. But you can visit a lot of other very interesting places in Lagich just walking down the streets, visiting the Museum and the Mosque, viewing shops, and visiting the manufactory of carpet weaving.

Lagich is an ancient village, which has not changed, despite modern times!

September 9, 2010

Curiosity and stories about Azerbaijan’s cultural traditions

Hi bloggers,

today, we are going to tell you some curiosity and stories about Azerbaijan’s cultural traditions. Author of the below article is our University Delegate Sabina Aliyeva from Baku, Azerbaijan.

Also watch Sabina pictures on the Life Beyond Tourism Photoblog

This Azerbaijani tradition is one of the most interesting. Novruz is a feast of spring, representing the coming of  the New Year. Before Novruz Azerbaijanis celebrate a number of previous days saying good bye to the Old year and welcoming the New year. These days are the four pre-holiday Wednesdays: Su Chershenbe (Water Wednesday), Odlu Chershenbe (Fire Wednesday), Torpag Chershenbe (Earth Wednesday) and Akhyr Chershenbe (Last Wednesday). According to the traditional beliefs the water is reborn on the first Wednesday: still waters come to motion; the fire on the second one, the earth on the third one. On the fourth Wednesday, the wind opens three’s buds and spring begins.
















Many ceremonies and devotions are dedicated to Novruz. For example in the evening each family should light at the top of their house’s roof as many torches  as the number of  family members. In villages, everyone should jump over the burning fire saying a kind of a spell. After the fire dies out girls and young men collect the remaining ash and pour it somewhere in the outskirts of the village or a road.

It means that the hardship of those who have jumped over the fire is destroyed and thrown out far beyond their homes.

In order to find the happy match unmarried girls throw black coins, a sign of bad luck, to a water-filled jug during the daytime and in the evening before sunset they pour this water out together with the coins outside.

On “Akhyr Cheshenbe” before dark there comes the time of  fortune telling. Azerbaijani girls and young men sneak to doors of their neighbors and “overheard” their conversation; then on the basis of the first words they have heard they try to tell their fortune and guess if their wishes will come true. On this day many families also tell fortunes using Khafiz book.

Among holiday ceremonies the most important one is the cooking of samani (millet porridge) which is a symbol of nature and human fertility, and has a cultural value. The ceremony of the cooking of samani is accompanied by ceremonial songs and dances.

The last day of the old year is considered a special feast by Azerbaijanis. On this holiday’s eve, the entire family gather at home. For the head of the family a special mat is laid. He says prayers; no one is allowed to eat without his permission. As soon as the gun shot sounds signaling the beginning of the meal, the mistress brings in milk pilau. If the gate is open on this day it means that the host is at home. If visitors come to the house they are welcomed by the oldest son or the nephew of the host. The guest is then offered rose water for hand washing and invited into the house. The head of the family gives a sign and the tea is immediately served for the guest. Such visits are paid for three days. Then, it comes the women’s turn to celebrate Novruz for a week.

On the last night of the old year all family members spray each other with water before going to bed “to wash off” all the hardship of the old year.

Finally the official holiday starts. Everyone puts on new clothes and begins partying. Nobody works on this day.

Nowadays in Azerbaijan the official celebration of Novruz comes on March 21st. On the first day of the New year it is a tradition to wake up early in the morning. If it is possible people go where water is – to a river or a spring: wash themselves, splash water on each other. Water is a symbol of cleanliness and freshness. Right there they treat each other with sweets. On this morning it is obligatory to eat something sweet for example honey or sugar. Then it is necessary to smell a fragrant smoke that is the way of getting rid of  “evil spirits”.

The holiday table on this day is very special. It is essential on this day to have seven dishes whose names begin with the letter “s”. They are sumakh, skad (milk), sirke (vinegar), samani (aspecial millet porridge), sabzi (greens) etc.
Except for the listed dishes, there should be a mirror, a candle, and a painted egg on the table. All these have a symbolical significance: the candle means light or fire protecting a person from evil spirits. The egg and the mirror are necessary to mark the end of the old year and the beginning of the first day of the new year. Azerbaijanis put the painted egg on the mirror. As soon as the egg moves the New Year begins. Everyone sitting at the table starts wishing a happy new year to each other.

As a rule, during holidays the doors are not locked. It means that the family is home and glad to welcome guests. Children visit their friends and relatives with little bags for holiday presents.

On the first day of the new year the houses should be lighted all night long. Shutting lights off is a bad omen.

New year’s celebrations finish on the 13th day of Novruz. On this day in the city outskirts are held mass parties with traditional games and contests like horse or camel races in which both men and women take part. The ancient spring holiday – Novruz bairamy – is one of the oldest and most beautiful Azerbaijani traditions.

December 9, 2009

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL “TRADITIONAL ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE” IN BAKU

Hi Bloggers,

we are happy to share with you a nice report about the Degree & Profession Regional Festival 2009 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The report has been published on Azerbaijan magazines, and it was written by Nurlan Koishanbaev – who has been University Delegate at the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation and is thus part of the Life Beyond Tourism (LBT) Club of Ambassadors now! Learn more about the LBT University Delegates-Club of Ambassadors program at this link!
Enjoy the report …

“Baku city was declared as a capital of Islamic Culture by the decision of the Fifth ministers of culture Islamic conference (21th – 23th November, 2007). In connection to this fact, series of events will be held in the capital of Azerbaijan during 2009. One of this events was international festival for students and young architects ”Degree and Profession” which theme is “Traditional Islamic architecture”. The festival was held in period of 14th – 20th March, 2009 and was organized by The Azerbaijan Republic Ministry of Culture, Azerbaijan State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Romualdo del Bianco Foundation, and with assistance of IRCICA. Architects, students and researchers from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Russia, Italy, Cyprus and Bosnia took part in the festival.

Aim of the Baku Festival is to give to students of Islamic culture a possibility to represent their projects, to acquaint with experience of leading architects, to attend lections of scientists and experts of architecture, to take part in students workshops.

The main initiator of the festival is the Romualdo del Bianco Foundation, which created online base of student’s diploma projects so that they could be widely represented to circle of professionals connected with the Foundation.

53 projects from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Cyprus universities and Turkey master projects took part in diploma projects contest.

KazGASA presented 12 diploma architecture and design bachelor projects – four projects from Architecture department and eight from Design department. Those present authors of projects made short speeches, and other projects were demonstrated as a slide show. Speeches of KazGASA graduates N. Koihsanbaev and Y. Pack were honored with good comments.

There were instituted four awards in nominations Architecture, Urban planning, Restoration and interior design.

Urban planning nomination winner was considered KazGASA graduate Nurlan Koishanbaev’s diploma project “Asiada sports complex development concept in Almaty city”. Each of the winners was awarded with diploma and Romualdo del Bianco Foundation grant – month training course in Italy and 500 euro bonus.

All of the 12 KazGASA diploma works presented in Baku were fulfilled excellently. Students showed creativity and very good graphic abilities. After the projects slide show participants of the festival inquired after our school. Offers of participation in similar events in Florence and Cyprus were made.

The President of Romualdo del Bianco Foundation, Mr. Paolo del Bianco, basing on KazGASA graduates’ diploma projects analysis offered to hold “Degree and Profession” festival next year in Almaty.

The festival in Baku granted a possibility for presenting architectural schools and promoting relations between young architects from different countries.”

November 20, 2008

“Degree and Profession” and The Tourist City

FIRST INTERNATIONAL REGIONAL FESTIVAL DEGREE&PROFESSION in BAKU, AZERBAIJAN

From the 14th to the 19th of March took place  the first “International Regional Festival – Degree & Profession” in Baku, Azerbaijan, on the subject of  Traditional Islamic Architecture.
Participants from 6 countries came together for four days to listen to conferences and discuss regarding the Architecture and the Conservation of Heritage.
The energy of more then 100 participants, students, graduates, professionals and professors created an event that will be a milestone for the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation, and its mission “For Intercultural Dialogue – Life Beyond Tourism”, showing how coming together under a common goal can break down the barriers.

More than 25 degree project were presented (Degree, Master, and PhD), and winners were selected to come to Florence for a stage-period: Timur Kiryashov, Nurlan Koishanbaev, Leyla Shiraliyeva and Cavid Mammadov.

Baku is the 2009 Capital of  Islamic Culture!!

firenze

Florence, Italy

Dear Blog Friends,

Last week in Florence the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation promoted an International Festival called Degree & Profession, an important meeting for students, graduates, companies, professors, universities and professionals having the chance to share their own knowledge and experiences.

This Festival was rich of conferences, workshops, and other interesting events related to the worlds of school, workculture, architecture, and, of course, TOURISM.
In particular, there was a very interesting workshop about tourism which was intitled The Tourist City, conducted by the Professor Ray Hutchinson from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, U.S.A.

tbilisi

Tbilisi, Georgia

The participants to this workshop were people from all over the world, coming from Georgia, America, Italia, Iran, Estonia, Serbia, Russia, etc., and they were all experts in the field of tourism. Their works were all about the relation between their cities of origin and tourism, in the sense that tourism is a very important aspect for the growth of their economy and for a social and cultural growth too.

new-york

New York, U.S.A

It was very interesting to notice how different was the approach of each participant to this argument, and how different was their concept of tourism applied to each one of their cities.
In fact, we can’t talk about New York as a tourist city in the same way as we talk about Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) as a tourist city, because each place has its own features and characteristics, its history, culture and economy. Therefore, every place has got its own tourism, in the sense that tourism depends on the resources that a particular place can offer to tourists.

For example, New York is a great business city and is so organized and structured that tourists often visit it simply to say “I have been to New York!”. In this case we don’t need to do more to improve tourism in this city or to promote its features because it already does it by itself.
Instead, there are places like Estonia or Iran which are not so well known, which need to be promoted by a different kind of tourism that focuses on their historical, cultural or landascape characteristics.

belgrado_serbia

Belgrado, Serbia

Another interesting point was the intercultural dialogue established by the participants to this workshop. Everyone talked about his country and at the same time interacted and shared his knowledge with the others and learnt about different cultures, cities and realities. They shared their point of view and discussed about different ways of “making tourism” and different experiences and stories.
Again, New York has got a very different culture and history compared to Florence which has got its very personal history too.

yazd_iran

Yazd, Iran

In conclusion, every place in the world is worth to be visited and known because of its own features, culture and history. If we want to avoid mass tourism we should visit both the most famous places and the less famous ones because we could happen to be amazed by the beauty of some of these places!

What do you think about it?

LBT

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