Culture and Sport
From the alpine peaks and deep canyons of the Caucasus Mountains to the subtropical forests of Lankaran to the shores of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan’s unique landscape continues to inspire its poets and musicians – heirs to the heritage of the great Nizami Ganjavi and masters of the mysterious music of Mugham.
The Azerbaijanis are passionate about culture and are deeply rooted in their musical traditions and heritage. The first opera in the Muslim world – an adaptation of the East’s epic love story “Leyli and Majnun” – was written and performed in Azerbaijan by prominent Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibayli in 1908.
Azerbaijan has a deep, rich culture that made a lasting impression around the globe. Majestic creations by Azerbaijani artists in Tabriz, Nakhchivan, Ganja, Baku, Shaki, and Upper Karabakh can be found in the most prestigious museum collections in the world – from the Smithsonian in Washington to the Victoria and Albert in London to the Louvre in Paris.
The carpet-weaving tradition has a special place in Azerbaijan's culture. Beautiful, detailed carpets amaze and inspire people to this very day. The unique and diverse carpet patterns reflect the different regions of Azerbaijan, such as Karabakh, Guba, Ganja etc. and can be studied at the National Carpet Museum. Today, the tradition is very much alive in Azerbaijan with master artists still making the carpets by hand.
Folk songs and dances are also an important part of Azerbaijani culture, and Azerbaijani musicians have even developed a unique version of Jazz that emerged from the fusion of Mugham and Jazz. Baku was home of the international Jazz legend Vagif Mustafa-zade.
On numerous occasions Azerbaijani culture and music presented in the United States. Recently, in April, 2018, in the framework of events dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, Azerbaijani dances are performed in historic places of Washington DC, including in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and The White House.
Today, young Azerbaijani performers continue winning international musical competitions. An Azerbaijani duo, Ell and Nikki, won Europe’s premier song contest, the Eurovision in 2011. Hosting the Eurovision, Europe’s oldest and most-watched pop song contest in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, in 2012, have once more demonstrated Azerbaijan’s profile as a country with reach culture.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation, led by Azerbaijan’s First Lady and UNESCO and İSESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva, promotes and protects the rich cultural heritage of the nation. The Foundation has made a special effort to preserve and reinvigorate the ancient Azerbaijani Mugham, a unique musical tradition based on Sufi chants.
Being a major global center for sports, Azerbaijan hosted the inaugural and spectacular European Games in 2015, a new beginning for continental competitions, and serves as venue for numerous sporting events from the Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017 to the annually held Formula 1 race since 2016.