Awesome Azerbaijan

By Laura Duncea

Sightseeing in Baku, Azerbaijan.

 

Last week I wrote an article on the best 6 places to eat In Baku. If you are a foodie and haven’t read it yet, please click [Here] to get some culinary inspiration for your next trip to Baku.

 

So the Republic of Azerbaijan is a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.  Bound by the Caspian Sea (E), Russia (N), Georgia (NW), Armenia (W) and Iran (S).

 

The flight from Kuwait was direct and took less than 2 hours. Several local airlines provide cost-effective, direct flight so if you’re looking for a different experience during a short City Break, I’d definitely recommend you look them up.

 

This article is all about the places you can visit in Baku, if you enjoy sightseeing whilst traveling  (I sure do). So I would like to share some of the amazing touristic sights to add to your “must see” list while you’re visiting.

 

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1. SILK ROAD

As the gateway to Central from the East and lapped by the waters of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan history is dominated by the old trade routes of Eurasia - especially the Silk Road. Some 6,000 historical monuments dating from thousands of years ago and built by a myriad of cultures beckon travelers to this nation in the Caucasus.

 

In the antiquity and in the Middle Ages Great Silk Road crossed the territory of Azerbaijan as from the East to the West, as from the South to the North. It has made possible an active participation of Azerbaijan in the trade and the information exchange with many countries throughout the world. It is symbolical that even in the remote antiquity, alongside with other goods, petroleum was exported from here, known worldwide as "the midian oil".

           

Ancient cities and towns, palaces, mausoleums, churches and mosques, chapels, caravanserais and watchtowers are just some of the  monuments which remain to  fascinate visitors, warmly welcomed  by the Azerbaijani people whose reputation for hospitality is legendary.

 

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2. SHIRVANSHAH’S PALACE & THE MAIDEN TOWER

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs  is a 15th-century palace located in the Old City of Baku , built by the Shirvanshahs and described by UNESCO as "one of the pearls of Azerbaijan's architecture". It is located in the Inner City of Baku, Azerbaijan and, together with the Maiden Tower, forms an ensemble of historic monuments inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage List of Historical Monuments .The complex contains the main building of the palace, Divanhane, the burial-vaults, the shah's mosque with a minaret, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi's mausoleum, a portal in the east, Murad's gate, a reservoir and the remnants of a bath house.

 

The Maiden Tower is a 12th-century monument in the Old City, Azerbaijan. It houses a museum, which presents the story of historic evolution of the Baku city. Maiden Tower is a legendary place and world-famous landmark in Baku. The Tower is covered by cloud of mysteries and legends, which are rooted to the history, and national culture of Azerbaijan. The pool of tower's epics and legends is a part of Azerbaijan's culture and national heritage. Indeed, some epics became a subject for scenario for ballets and theatre's plays.

 

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3. ATESHGAH

The Baku Ateshgah , often called the"Fire Temple of Baku" is a castle-like religious temple in Surakhany town, a suburb in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Based on Persian and Indian inscriptions, the temple was used as a Hindu, Sikh and Zoroastrian place of worship. The pentagonal complex, which has a courtyard surrounded by cells for monks and a tetrapillar-altar in the middle, was built during the 17th and 18th centuries.

 

The Baku Ateshgah was a pilgrimage and philosophical center of Zoroastrians from Northwestern Indian Subcontinent, who were involved in trade with the Caspian area via the famous “Grand Trunk Road”.

 

The four holy elements of their belief were: ateshi (fire), badi (air), abi (water), and heki (earth). The temple ceased to be a place of worship after 1883 with the installation of petroleum plants (industry) at Surakhany. The complex was turned into a museum in 1975. The annual number of visitors to the museum is 15,000.

 

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4. HEYDAR MOSQUE

The opening ceremony of Heydar Mosque has been held on December 26, 2014. The mosque covers a total area of 12,000 square meters and internal area of the building covers a total area of 4,200 square meters.

 

The facade of the building decorated with special stones based on the Shirvan - Absheron architectural style. It has four 95m-height minarets. It has 55m-height main and 35m-height second domes. Verses from Koran were written on the sides of domes.

 

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5. HEYDAR ALIYEV CENTER BY ZAHA HADID

Construction of the Center’s facility was launched in 2007 and completed on May 10, 2012, to celebrate the National Leader’s 89th anniversary. Zaha Hadid, the author of the building's design, is a worldwide recognized architect and the winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

 

Recognized as one of the world’s masterpieces in architecture, the Heydar Aliyev Center has immediately grown into a signature architectural landmark of modern Baku.

 

Not a single straight line was used in the Center’s design. The overall shape of the building resembles a wave-like ascension from the ground towards the sky followed by gradual descent down to the earth. This is not only a tribute to post-modern architecture, but also a portrayal of an eternal cycle.

 

Harmonious link between the Center’s exterior and interior aspires to remove any boundaries in the building’s perception considering that this place is meant to be open anyone irrespective of gender, race and origin by bringing people together united by shared ideas.

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6. FLAME TOWERS

Flame Towers is a trio of skyscrapers in Baku, Azerbaijan, including the tallest in the country with a height of 182 m (597 ft). The buildings consist of apartments, a hotel and office blocks.

 

The cost of Flame Towers was an estimated US$350 million. Construction began in 2007, with completion in 2012. HOK was the architect for the project, DIA Holdings served as the design-build contractor, and Hill International provided project management.

The Flame Towers consist of three buildings: South, East and West. The facades of the three Flame Towers function as large display screens with the use of more than 10,000 high-power LED luminaries

 

The building was featured in Extreme Engineering, a documentary TV series that airs on Discovery Channel and Science Channel. The episode called "Azerbaijan's Amazing Transformation" was broadcasted on 22 April 2011 as part of Season 9.

 

The Flame Towers also appeared prominently in trailers before many entries for the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 hosted in Baku. They were also shown frequently during coverage of the initial Formula 1 European Grand Prix held in Baku.  Additionally, the towers are a prominent landmark in Battlefield 4, with the first level of the single player campaign taking place in Baku.

 

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7. CARPET MUSEUM

Azerbaijan Carpet Museum displays Azerbaijani carpets and rug items of various weaving techniques and materials from various periods. It has the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world..

 

The structure of the building is intended to look like a rolled carpet. Designed by Austrian architect Franz Janz, the building took over six years to construct. The previous structure, a building of historical significance, was destroyed to make way for the new building

 

The collection of the museum includes over 10,000 items of ceramics, metal works of the 14th century, jewelry from the Bronze Age, carpets and carpet items from the 17th-20th centuries, national garments and embroidery, and applied art works of the Modern Age. The museum organizes public lectures and study courses on carpets and applied arts. It has a bookstore on Azerbaijani crafts and carpet art. The museum also holds a permanent collection from the Shusha Museum of History, from the city of Shusha, which was looted after occupation by Armenian troops in 1992. Some of the exhibited items of the Shusha museum were saved when the director of the museum moved out 600 carpets before occupation. They are now displayed at the museum in an exhibition titled "Burned Culture"

 

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I hope you enjoy visiting these historical and cultural places and in my future article I will be writing about places to visit in other regions of Azerbaijan as well!

 

The nature and weather are beautiful – both in summer and winter, and there’s so much more I’d like to explore in my next trip…

 

If I find anything nice, I promise to share!

 

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