Located on the southern shore of Abs heron Peninsula, with territory covering over 2130 kilometers, Baku is capital of Azerbaijan and the largest city in the Caucasus. Baku’s name comes from Persian bad-kube meaning “the city of pounding winds”. The cold northern wind “khazri” and warm southern wind “gilavar” are typical here all year round. In addition, Baku is also known as the land of fire. Even the coat of arms of the city has three flames on it. The city is also famous for its trade and seaport. It has the largest port in Caspian Sea, the biggest lake in the world. This capital of Azerbaijan’s is the biggest commercial, industrial, cultural and scientific industry to the balance of payments of the Republic. Baku is located on the crossroads of West and East and formed by different cultural impacts and values. The uniqueness of the city, as well as the people who are traditionally friendly and hospitable, will not leave anyone indifferent.
The basis of Baku’s economy is petroleum. The existence of petroleum has been known since the 8th century. Towards the end of 20th century, much of the land’s petroleum was exhausted and drilling has extended in the sea now. The World War II battle of Stalingrad was fought to determine who would have control of Baku oil fields. In recent years oil has made the city affluent again but Baku is still a conservative place.
How to get here?
It is easy for travelers from Europe to make their way to Azerbaijan. There are frequent flights to Baku from Frankfurt, Kiev, Amsterdam, London, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Zurich. There are also flights out of Baku to several Russian cities at least once in a week and guess what no departure tax is levied. There is a train that runs between Tbilisi in Georgia and Baku. It is cheap but unsafe. Also you have to often pay the price of your ticket again at the border, this time as a bribe. So recommendation would be to take the bus instead. It costs same price but takes half the time and possibility of having the bribe the border guards is a whole lot less.
Places to visit.
Heydar Aliyev Center
Zaha Hadid Architect’s light as air Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center in Baku seems to be all form and no structure but its swooping shapes reflect some extreme engineering. A very nimble two layer space frame plays supportive bridesmaid to double envelope that curves smoothly along the top and bottom of exterior shell, hiding the skeletal frame and emphasizing surface rather than structure, as though the building were all effect and no cause. You can’t miss it for sure.
Bay of Baku
The bay of Baku is bordered by Sultan Cape in the east, Shikh Cape on the south west and the islands of Qum, Dash Zira and Boyuk Zira in the south and south east. These islands are part of Baku Archipelago which lies mostly within the bay. The bay has an area of 50km and a coastline of 20km. You can take a Boat trip on the bay or on a yacht, depending on the number of persons. During the trip, the experienced guides tell the history of the Caspian Sea, its wealth and existing problems.
Azeri TV Tower
The Azeri TV Tower, built in 1996, is a free standing concrete telecommunications tower in Baku. With a height of 310 metres, it is the tallest structure in Azerbaijan and also tallest building in Caucasia. The tower has 29 floors. Landmark of the city of Baku, the tower is lit up by a wide selection of beautiful flood lights i.e. Dolomite, Everest, Colorado, Kolorstream and Kolorjet. 75 of these mighty color changers have been strategically positioned in two concentric circles on the ground surrounding positioned in two concentric circles on the ground. The basement of the towers hosts the administration of the TV station. This place is a joy to watch.
Fountain Square is Baku’s most fashionable area, where you go to see and be seen. The Square is surrounded by sophisticated restaurants and shops. The long and often dry fountain serves as an endless bench for lazy afternoon and evenings.
It is a broad and shady pedestrian walkway which runs downtown along the edge of the Caspian Sea. It has very beautiful and neat gardens which are quite popular with people of all ages and favored by young couples. At its centre, just across Neftchilar avenue is the government house and the largest Soviet style hotels. Along the water there are numerous rides and amusements for children including a Ferris wheel which can provide some nice views.
Opera and Ballet Theatre
The opera and Ballet Theatre is beautiful both inside and outside and has an interesting metal decoration on the façade and gilded interior. It was commissioned to architect N. Bayev by the Mayilov brothers. It is located on Nizami Street, behind the 26 commissars square. You can see high quality performances here with rather inexpensive tickets.
Nizami Museum of Literature
The Nizami museum of Azeri Literature was originally built as a hotel. It is decorated with dark blue and turquoise majolica. Inside are the statues of outstanding Azeri winters of several periods like Fisuli, Vaghif, Mirza Fatali Akhundov etc. Its 23 rooms contain over 3000 exhibits illuminated manuscripts, calligraphic art, rare editions, photographs and films etc.
During the summer, some self styled entrepreneurs’ clean parts of the beach and charge and admission fee of a fee mantas. Many vendors offer assorted drinks and food. In the low season Shikhov is a good place for relaxing walks or some jogging on the sand.
Many expert working oil industries are to be found around Baku, but tourists are still a bit rare sight. But this is a place which has the sites to satisfy you as a tourist.