Today we will get acquainted with the largest city on the Caspian Sea - the capital of Azerbaijan - the ancient city of Baku! It is the largest seaport on the Caspian Sea, the scientific and technical cluster of Transcaucasia, and simply the largest city in the entire Caucasus! And one of the local experienced tourist guides who received an excellent education at the local prestigious Baku University knows several European languages and just loves his city will help us with this! He will tell us about yesterday and today of this booming city.
So Baku and the 59 nearest settlements related to its agglomeration, according to data for 2021, have about 3 million people - the largest city in the East in terms of population and is located on the southern coast of the Absheron Peninsula.
The first mention of Baku appears in the early Middle Ages when a small city arose on the Absheron Peninsula at the center of the intersection of migration and trade routes from Asia to Europe - the so-called Great Silk Road. And quite quickly it became known about the energy wealth that from the most ancient times lay literally on the surface of the earth and was called in the local dialect - “nafta”, which means nothing more than OIL, thanks to that modern Baku is developing at such a rapid pace and changing its image of a cozy seaside town to the image of the stylish capital of the East, and is ready to compete in this parameter with such well-known metropolises as Istanbul, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.
The building of The State Tax Service of Azerbaijan Republic - #4 tallest building in the country and in Baku city, 168 m height, 32 floors, completed in 2021,
Structural Engineering Award 2022 Award of Excellence
Therefore, this city can be a point of attraction for tourists because of its architectural and historical values. Numerous monuments of Baku arouse genuine interest among tourists. But please do not forget that holidays are an important aspect of our lives and their planning can sometimes be more stressful than working from 9.00 to 17.00: from booking airline tickets to tracking hotel reservations, planning routes, and visiting schedules…. These energy-draining chores will keep you from enjoying your vacation to the fullest. That's why it's so important on every trip to be able to find a local competent tourist guide, as he will help you explore all those beautiful places that you will see without much worry. Time is always limited and a local tourist guide will not let you waste your time and help you plan your holiday carefully. Together with an experienced local English-speaking tour guide in Azerbaijan, you will be able to explore all the designated places in the allotted time along the planned route. In addition, if there are security issues that you sometimes have to face when you leave your home country, then the local tour guide will be there again to protect you from all problems and ensure complete safety. In addition, language problems will also not be so intractable with a personal tour guide in Baku found on our website. In short, your trip will be exquisite if you hire a local private guide who will show you in detail those iconic places of the city, such as Ancient and Modern Baku, which we will briefly describe here.
Get to the fiery capital of Baku
You can get to Baku using direct flights from many airlines, or the local air company AZAL, which operates direct flights from Moscow, Paris, London, Prague, Dusseldorf, Vienna, Kyiv, Cairo, Istanbul, Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi, Tehran, Qatar, Tashkent, Tel Aviv and Athens. AZAL has a modern fleet and provides high-quality services on board, most of the aircraft are equipped with first-class cabins.
And here are a few sights of Baku that should not be missed while visiting this beautiful city
Palace of the Shirvanshahs
The palace is known for its uniqueness. This is an ancient pearl in the necklace of Azerbaijan architecture. It was built in the 15th century and consists of two floors. If you just take a look at the palace from afar, you will feel that it is stepping down from the top of Baku Hill. The building is beautifully shaped with domes and stunning ornaments, made of deep and fine carvings and magnificent masonry, so it attracts and amuses the eye of those who come here only to see the beauty and praise the work of the masters. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was the palace of the rulers of the Shirvan state - one of the most powerful feudal states of the Caucasus in the Middle Ages. The complex of buildings constructed in the period from the 13th to the 16th centuries, in addition to the palace itself, includes a patio, a palace, a mosque with a minaret, a tomb, and a bathhouse. The uniqueness of the architectural style was the use of cubes and spheres decorated with ceramic patterns. Despite the long-term construction - 3 centuries of construction of the complex - it gives the impression of a holistic ensemble, thanks to a single style and consistency of its implementation. Now the Palace of the Shirvanshahs is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a pearl of Baku and Eastern architecture in general. Now a museum and architectural reserve have been created in the palace complex.
The Maiden Tower is an ancient tower, also known as Giz Galassi in the Azerbaijan language, located in the Old City of Baku. It was built in the 12th century. A museum is now located here, which tells the history of Baku. There is also a gift shop there. The view from the roof takes a person to the streets of the Old Town. In the East, there is no comparison with this beautiful tower.
The Maiden Tower stands on a rock and is made of turned stones and has a height of 28 m and a diameter of 16.5 m. The walls are 5 m thick at the base and 4 m thick at the top. The tower is divided into eight steps. Each part is lined with a stone dome with a round hole. Light enters the tower through narrow windows. All steps are connected to each other by a stone spiral staircase carved into the thick walls of the tower. Until the 19th century, the tower served as a lighthouse, until the city lights absorbed its light, the lighthouse was moved to an island in the sea. The Maiden Tower has recently been restored once again and functions as a museum and UNESCO site, and still, as in the Middle Ages, the Maiden Tower adorns the seaside facade of the city.
Flame Towers, reminiscent of tongues of flame escaping from the earth, have become a symbol of modern Baku and its reserves of “fuel gold” - oil.
They were built in 2012. These skyscrapers are the tallest buildings in Azerbaijan with a maximum height of 190 meters. They have a curved shape, which makes them unique among all buildings. They consist of apartments, hotels, and office blocks. The Flame Towers create a triangular formation visible from many parts of the city. The entire surface of the towers is covered with LED screens depicting a bright fiery flame in motion, visible from anywhere in the city and from the sea. Visually, these are giant torches in the wind, which was incorporated into the design idea, which is also reflected in the name - Flame Towers. This illumination was recognized by the International Urban Commission as the best in the world among all illuminated buildings.
Flaming mountain Yanardag
Yanardag, also known as the burning mountain, is located at an altitude of 116 m north of Baku. This place is worth a visit because of its fire bursting out of the ground, which never goes out. The flames come from gas reserves underground, and there is no pipe to make them burn. The flame breaks out at least three meters into the air. No dirt or liquid seeps out of it, so the fire is always burning.
Gobustan rock cultural landscape is the second name of the Gobustan State Historical and Artistic Reserve, which covers three zones of highlands growing out of the desert of Azerbaijan. Here are the relics of inhabited caves and burials. This park occupies 537 hectares and is the largest protected part of the Gobustan reserve. It is of great importance because of the engravings and collections of rock carvings representing hunting, flora, fauna, and lifestyle in prehistoric times. It is very rich in archaeological sites.
There are 6,000 carved stones in the reserve, which are evident from the Stone Age about the inhabitants of this area, in addition, cromlech, an ancient man's site, tombstones, and inhabited caves were found here. No less unique phenomena in this area are the largest boiling mud volcanoes, springs, and wells with groundwater from limestone deposits and atmospheric precipitation.
Ateshgah is the temple of eternal fire. He is quite famous all over the world. It is located 30 km from the center of Baku in Surakhani. It was built in the 17th century by the Baku communities of Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Sikhs. The temple is known for a unique natural phenomenon - the burning of natural gas outlets. Directly above the entrance gate is the traditional guest room.
Near the temple, there is a large pit in which the Zoroasters and Hindus, according to ancient traditions, burned corpses. Now the temple functions as a museum. It is of particular interest and especially echoes the Flaming skyscrapers in the center of Baku, the Flaming Mountain (Yanardag), and the Baku oil rigs.
Museum of Azerbaijan Literature named after Nizami Ganjavi
The museum was founded in 1939 in a building constructed as a caravanserai in the early 19th century and is one of the greatest and richest treasures of Azerbaijan architecture, literature, and spiritual culture. The total area of the museum is 2500 square meters. It's just a few minutes walk from Fountain Square and one of the nicest places to visit.
Here, in 30 main halls and 10 auxiliary museum halls, more than 3,000 books, illustrated manuscripts, works of art, miniatures, sculptures, as well as a hall of carpets are presented. On the main facade of the building, in arched openings with columns, there are statues of outstanding cultural figures of the country - poets and writers of Azerbaijan.
Miniature of the 15th century medieval poet Nizami Ganjavi "Bahram fights lions" from the manuscript of the poem "Seven Beauties" from
the archives of the Museum of Azerbaijan Literature and the Helm of the Shirvanshah era from the National Art Museum of Azerbaijan
Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center
The Cultural Center is known for its distinctive flowing and curved architecture, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. Together with a park, it covers an area of 6 hectares. It consists of three sections, including galleries, a central giant auditorium of the congress center, a museum, exhibition halls, and offices. This structure, fluid with waves and cascades, makes it possible to connect different social spaces, while at the same time giving each component of the Center its own character and security. There was not a single strictly straight line in the design of the building. In 2014, the Heydar Aliyev Center was recognized as the best building in the world and awarded the 2014 Design of the Year award. Of course, this center is the hallmark of the city and a symbol of its prosperity! The purpose of the Center is to promote the development of authentic Azerbaijan history, language, cultural, and spiritual values of the nation. The dazzling white building is a symbol of purity and transparency, its walls and windows reflect sunlight and refract it, illuminating all the rooms inside. The building is surrounded by a park with beautiful artificial lakes. The image of the building ended up on the banknote of Azerbaijan in denominations of 200 manats.
On the shores of the Caspian Sea is the small but dynamically growing city of Baku, which is the perfect combination of a new country with relics dating back centuries. This city remembers its past, but aspires to the new, modern, skyward, like the flames of its skyscrapers and its rich earth! Baku is the fiery heart of Azerbaijan!
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