Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic. It’s bounded by the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains that span Asia and Europe. Baku the capital is the commercial hub of the country.
The Heydar Eliyev Cultural Center is an impressive example of 21st century architecture. It seems to have ever-changing angles from whichever way you photograph it.
The center hosts concerts and several exhibitions and has on permanent display a collection that features the gifts received by Azerbaijan’s presidents.
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is a palace complex built with sandstone. It was the seat of northeastern Azerbaijan’s ruling dynasty during the Middle Ages. Dating from the 15th century it was restored in 2003. There are museum items to see here and an entertaining audio-visual display. Entry by the main ceremonial courtyard and a small gateway on the left leads into the courtyard of the 1428 Divanxane, an open-sided octagonal rotunda where Shirvanshah Khalilullah I held court.
Maiden’s Tower a 29m stone tower is Baku’s foremost historical icon, offering rooftop views that look over Baku Bay and the Old City. Much of the present structure seems to date from the 12th century. Qiz Qalasi is an Azeri name that is usually translated into English as Maiden’s Tower but a better translation would be Virgin Tower. The walls are 5m thick at the base and it has unique projecting buttress.
The Medieval Market Square located right in front of Maiden’s Tower has assorted archaeological diggings and is considered to be the site where Jesus’ disciple St. Bartholomew was martyred. The small, former market square areas are now used as an open-air exhibition for a selection of historic stones.
Bulvar offers visitors cafes, fountains and fairground rides. The seafront park is popular with families and you can listen to amateur musicians. Buildings along here include the International Mugam Center, the Baku Business center and the four-story Park Bulvar Mall. You can get to the promenade area through the underpass found in front of the old Puppet Theater.
Clock Pylon looks between an electricity pylon and an oil derrick. This is a digital clock that forms the central Bulvar landmark. It is surrounded by Bulvar Park with a trio of rare baobabs, to ancient olive trees and a lovely little cactus garden.
The Puppet Theater is a little theater dating from 1908. This is a neo-Classical building with twin, spired domes.
The Funfair is an amusement area that offer fun rides which are found throughout the tree-shaded gardens of the Bulvar.
Park Bulvar Mall opened in 2010. It is Baku’s first international-style shopping mall.
The Flame Towers were completed in 2012. This is a trio of blue-glass skyscrapers. The three towers range from 28 to 33 stories and are particularly impressive at night offering a light show that interchanges from a fire effect to pouring water to the national flag.
Sahidler Xiyabani is a most impressive feature of the park that stretches south from the Flame Towers. This is a row of grave-memorials of Bakuvian victims of the Red Army’s 1990 attack along with the early martyrs of the Karabakh conflict. There is also a memorial to Turkish WW I soldiers and to the British and Commonwealth troops killed fighting them. Beside the eternal flame you’ll find awesome panoramas across the bay, the city and back toward the Flame Towers.
Fountains Square is a popular place for strolling. This leafy piazza forms Central Baku’s natural focus. The fountains here are lovely including one that is topped by shiny silver spheres that give fish-eye reflections of the trees and stone facades.
Here you can see the lovely statue-inlayed facade of the Nizami Literature Museum and just outside of the McDonald’s is a bronze statue of a young lady with an umbrella, bare midriff and mobile phone.
The Nizami Museum of Azerbaijan Literature is housed in an impressive 20th century building. The facade has ogive arched niches that are set with statues of the nation’s literary greats.
The exhibitions let visitors take a look at the history of Azerbaijan through the prism of writers.
Nizami Statue is a fine statue of Azerbaijan’s 12th century poet Nizami Ganjavi. It stands in a prominent place in the stepped gardens that lead up from the museum, named in his honor.
The Yarat Contemporary Art Center offers many inspirational artworks. Don’t pass up the cafe which is set around a repurposed metal press taken from a former naval factory building.
The Baku Eye was officially opened in 2014. This 60m giant wheel offers an attractive light show after dark. It spins about slowly each ride taking almost 15 minutes including stops. There is also a video loop of the structure’s construction playing as well as views of the bay and city.
Q Gallery is one of the numerous free-to-enter commercial galleries in the Old City. It has a fine collection of 20th century Azerbaijani art.
The World’s Second-Tallest Flagmast has a giant flag flapping above the Bulvar’s southern tip atop of a 162m flagpole.
The Historical Museum has well-presented exhibits on the history and culture of Azerbaijan. Visitors admire the opulent 1895-1901 mansion of H.Z .Tagiyev, one of Baku’s greatest late-19th century oil barons. See the impressive neo-Moorish Oriental Hall and Tagiyev’s rebuilt Art Nouveau bedroom.
Tahir Salahov House Museum – Tahir Salahov is Azerbaijan’s greatest living painter. The Baku house where he lived has a good collection of his later artworks. There are some wonderful Stalin-era carpets and a fascinating range of photos showing the artist meeting everyone from Brezhniev to Michael Jackson.
The State Art Museum offers Baku’s foremost collection of classical art. The museum is housed in a two century-old oil-boom mansions.
Bibi-Heybet Mosque is a 1998 neo-Ottoman-style mosque. It replaces the original 13th century mosque demolished by the Soviets. The interior is quite impressive and the rear terrace give views across an oil-rig port.
Archangel Michael Russian Church is the center of Baku’s Orthodox community. Visitors are welcome to admire the icons and the colorful ceiling murals.
Juma Mosque standing in its present decorative carvings, this “Friday” mosque dates back to 1899. It’s an active mosque which as lovely patterned interior vaults around a central dome and chandelier.
The Supreme Court is an elegant new stone building with a colonnaded pseudo-Greek facade.
Bahram Gur Statue stands in a fountain pool in front of the lower Funicular station. This statue is from 1958 and depicts a mythical Azerbaijani hero using a giant scimitar to slay a snake-like water-spewing dragon.
Neriman Nerimanov Statue is a gigantic Soviet-era statue honoring Neriman Nerimanov, Azerbaijan’s first communist-era leader.
Vahid Gardens Through an arched gateway in the Old City you enter the pretty garden. It is dominated by the imaginative bust of poet Vahid, incorporating characters from his work into the lines of his hair.
Crystal Hall is a diamond-faceted sports and concert venue which sparkles in colors across the bay. In 2012 it had the honor of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest.
“Death Star Hotel” site once construction is complete this will be a spherical hotel building. Plans are to include a free-fall experience in the central atrium. Well worth a look once it is done. Sci-fi fans have dubbed it Death Star.
Crescent Moon Building with several gleaming towers still under construction at Crescent Bay opposite Port Baku. The architecture is spectacular and in the form of a gigantic upside-down crescent moon.
The Azeri TV Tower was built in 1996. It is a free-standing concrete telecommunications tower rising to a height of 310 meters. It has become one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. There is a rotating restaurant on the 62nd floor which opened in 2008.
Dom Soviet is a most striking Soviet-era building with a bulky stone construction with an impressive series of layered stone arches and topped by a series of mini obelisks. The best view of it is across a set of fountains from the Bulvar when lit up in the evening.
Sixov Beach is the nearest beach to central Baku. It is ideal for sunbathers and has a romantic backdrop of giant offshore oil rigs.
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