The country's natural gas resources in the ground have created patches of fire that feed off an endless supply of gas, making it burn endlessly.
Azerbaijan is known as the 'Land of Fire' and one of the primary reasons for the country's association with fire is a flame that's been burning for 4000 years. Legend has it that Yanar Dag, which translates to 'burning mountainside', has been burning continuously for 4,000 years withstanding rain, snow and much more. Flames ranging from 1-3 meters can be seen burning at all times along a 10-meter mountain stretch on Absheron Peninsula in Azerbaijan, according to a report by CNN. The fire temple of Baku is one of the other main attractions of Azerbaijan, where the fire burns endlessly, similar to that of the Yanar Dag. Fire is also central to the Azerbaijan culture. Zoroastrians were also considered a medium for humans to reach a supernatural world.
Even during winter, the fires burn continuously. Snowflakes down touch or fall on the Yanar Dag stretch as they evaporate without falling on the ground. The reason the flames along the Yanar Dag is eternal is because of the natural gas reserves in the country. High pressure beneath the surface causes the gas to escape through fissures into the air much like the way a gas stove functions. With an endless supply of natural gas, the 10-meter stretch on Yanar Dag behaves like a gas stove that's burning endlessly. The mysterious flame has bowled over and even scared foreign tourists over the years. There were many such burning stretches across the mountainside but most of them were put out because they started affecting commercial extraction of natural gas reserves. Much of the natural fires were extinguished due to the exploitation of the Soviets.
The ever-burning flame is well documented in history with many silk merchants carrying the tale of the eternal flame to all the lands they traveled to. Noted traveler Marco Polo also wrote about the fire when he visited the country in the 13th century. Byzantine records from the 5th century also make a note of ever-burning fires in Yanar Dag. It's these stories about the eternal flame that would earn the country the nickname, "Land of Fire." The extraction of oil from the area is also well documented. Roman records show that oil was extracted from Azerbaijan’s Absheron Peninsula over 2,500 years ago, according to Culture Trip.
With its close association with fire, Azerbaijan has a well-documented history of worshipping fire. The Ateshgah Fire Temple in Baku was built by Indian settlers around the 17-18th century keeping the eternal fires at the center of the temple. It's considered a place of worship for Hindus and Zoroastrians. The temple embodies architectural elements of both religions but with time it became more of a Hindu temple but due to the dwindling population in Azerbaijan, worship at the temple eventually stopped. The name Ateshgah translates to "home of the fire." Fire rituals at Ateshgah can be traced back to as early as the 10th century. Worship ceased at the temple in later part of the 19th century, before eventually becoming a museum in 1975.