Visit Guide to Alinja Castle

Sometimes called “the Machu Picchu of Azerbaijan”, Alinja Castle is a restored medieval fortress perched atop a craggy mountain in the heart of Nakhchivan. You’ll need strong legs and lungs to reach it via 1600 steps zigzagging up the mountainside, but once there you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views in all of Azerbaijan.

Getting There

Alinja Castle sits at the top of Mount Alinja in the Julfa region of Nakhchivan. The steps leading steeply up to it start from the Gazanchi-Beyahmed road, which you can reach by car or taxi from Nakhchivan city, about 30km away. Local minibuses from Nakhchivan city also pass 1km from the steps en route to the village of Khanegah.

What to Expect

Reaching the castle via the stone staircase takes about 45 minutes and requires reasonable fitness. Once there, what you’ll see are the crenellated walls and general layout of the medieval castle, rebuilt as close as possible to its original appearance. There isn’t a great deal to see and do so it’s really the views that make the climb worthwhile, which means it’s important to come at an opportune time – early in the morning or before sunset and in spring or autumn.

The views encompass Mount Ilandag, a symbol of the Nakhchivan region, and the Martian landscape rolling towards the Aras river. At the bottom of the mountain there is also a small mosque-like museum containing items found during archeological excavations.


Alinja’s history is long and complex. It may have existed for up to 2,000 years and changed hands many times. Azerbaijani historians highlight its importance in the 12th century under the Eldiguzids, who used it to house their treasury. Famously the fortress resisted Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur’s attempts to capture it for 14 years (1387-1401), and it gained the reputation of being invincible. It is thought to have been destroyed under the Safavid Empire.


  • Public toilets
  • Accessibility
  • Taxis
  • Public transportation
  • Guided tours
  • Museum