Have you ever gone somewhere you knew nothing about? That’s what Azerbaijan was for me — the unknown.
My friend Matt and I decided to travel there in a ‘Why not?’, spin-the-globe sort of way. We wanted to go somewhere different.
What we found was a former stop on the Silk Road, a one-time Soviet Republic, and one of the birthplaces of the oil industry. I enjoyed visiting a place in which I had no expectations, where all I knew about it came from a single James Bond movie (The World Is Not Enough, anyone?).
In these photos, you’ll see Soviet-era rustbuckets, gorgeous oriental rugs, Zoroastrian temples, and lavish afternoon teas (do Azeris love their tea). They all represents different facets of Azerbaijan, a country that feels like a jumble of contractions: where ancient history meets oil money meets the Caucasus.