It is a little misleading to refer to Alinja as a castle these days, for although many 7th-to llth-century wall fragments still survive from Eldegyz's great fortress, the primary attraction is the bracing climb and excellent views that you get on the way up. It takes only 10-15 minutes to reach the first two outer wall sections, but the main ruins and ponds are at the crag-top, an hour and a half's scramble beyond.
As well as magnificent views across to Ilan Dag, you can see a range of wild, jagged rock teeth on the ridge to the north and the Hajimi turbe across the valley on the other side of Xanagar village.
Getting to Alinja
There is no sign to tell you that you've reached the spot but at the appropriate turning north of Ilan Dag's distinctive bulk, the rough, asphalted road curls slightly to the left around an abrupt rocky crag. The castle is on top of this but to access it first turn right through a pair of stepped ornamental gate posts marked in Harley Davidson cyrillic letters as 'Alinja Goyuichulag Sovkhoz'. Keep left down this road to the point where the road surface suddenly deteriorates. The walk starts here by crossing a small patch of steep grass with trees and then a track. Climb steeply straight up the crag - it's tiring but manageable without climbing gear.
A taxi for the return trip from Nakhchivan costs from $20, depending on the waiting time. It's quite feasible to get a bus as far as the long strip-village of Abraqunis from whose bazaar Alinja is a further 15-20 minutes (hitch hike or taxi).
If you're planning a trip to Azerbaijan you may be interested ▶ Azerbaijan highlights - For those who prefer to go unbeaten path, to explore less visited places and check national charisma of this small country in Southern Caucasus on the edge of Europe.