Azerbaijan is a country of rich cultural and historic heritage. Over thousands of years it cradled high culture and was in the thick of major historic events. Many caravan routs including the Great Silk Way run through Azerbaijan. They linked ancient civilizations like Sumer, Assyria, Greece, Rome, Iran, Turkey, India, China and other. Most of those civilizations left their mark on the history and culture of Azerbaijan.
Today, more than 6 thousand historic and cultural monuments are scattered over the country, 65 of which belong to the monuments of universal importance. Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower, as well as Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape are included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
Currently, Azerbaijan is proposing a number of international historical and cultural routes, which are now prepared for international certification in collaboration with European cultural route institutions. These include the Wine Tour, Great Silk Way, Alexander Dumas in Caucasus, reflecting the variety of tastes and preferences.
There is a tradition of announcement of cultural and art capitals of Azerbaijan in various areas for each year. For instance, in year 2012 Masalli is announced the "Capital of folklore", Guba the "Capital of Crafts" and Gedabek the "Capital of Legends". Also Baku was announced the Capital of Islamic Culture for year 2009 by OIC.
The people of Azerbaijan are among the oldest nations in the world with the rich culture, art and music. It is no coincidence that the richest museums in the world possess numerous pieces of Azerbaijani material and spiritual culture. Moreover, the traditional art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving, the art of Azerbaijani ashiqs, Novruz and Azerbaijani mugham are among the elements of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, the list of which is held by UNESCO. There are 226 museums in the country itself, which offer their visitors a possibility to plunge into the world of history, culture and art of the Azerbaijani people.
At present, the day-to-day life in Azerbaijan is also rich of many cultural events both of national and of international importance. Exhibitions, literary evenings, theater festivals are of regular occurrence. Azerbaijan hosts each year annual international music festivals like Gabala International Music Festival, International Rostropovich Festival, International Vocalists Contest, Baku Jazz Festival, International Mugham Festival that attract world-famous music figures and connoisseurs. These festivals are justifiably ranked among authoritative international cultural events of a year. In 2012, the city of Baku hosted the "Eurovision" international song contest following its success in the last year's round. The number of guests who visited Azerbaijan during the Eurovision - 2012 song contest, including contestants and delegation, is in the range of 6000 to 7000 people. In addition 103,000 people had crossed the border of Azerbaijan during the 15 days.
Baku will host the first European Games in 2015, FIDE World Cup 2015 and World Chess Olympiad 2016. These major events in the World of Sport will play a significant role in tourists attraction and the development of tourism infrastructure in Azerbaijan.
The number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan for the purpose of acquaintance with its national history and culture, as well as to participate in various cultural events is increasing fast.