Baku

Baku

Things to do - general

Baku, nicknamed as ‘Baky’ or ‘Bakı’, is the largest city in the Caucasus and the capital and commercial hub of Azerbaijan. It is also known as the cultural, industrial and political capital of Azerbaijan. Baku is a low-lying city; located on the coast of the Caspian Sea on the southern tip of the Absheron Peninsula due to which it is also known as the ‘port city of Baku’.

 Baku is called one of world’s most beautiful cities. Its name itself means as “wind blow”, “city of winds” or “city of hill”, “city on the hill”. The city is divided into three major divisions: İçəri Şəhər (the ancient city), the Soviet built city, and the newest part of the city. Baku is famous for its medieval walled old city containing ‘the Palace of the Shirvanshahs’, a vast ‘royal complex’, and the iconic ‘stone Maiden Tower’.

Baku does not enjoy much rainfall all year long, although it is very breezy most of the year owing to the presence of the Caspian Sea. It is influenced by the local steppe climate (temperate-continental semi-arid climate).  According to the BSk by the Köppen-Geiger weather system; February is classified as the coldest month in Baku with some light snow and July as the hottest.

CountryAzerbaijan
Visa Requirements

As per Azerbaijan Laws

Languages SpokenAzerbaijani (Azeri)
Currency UsedAzerbaijan Manat
Area (km2)2130

Sports & Adventure

Yanar Dag, meaning burning mountain, is a wonder of nature. It is a natural gas fire which blazes nonstop on the hillside on the Absheron Peninsula on the Caspian Sea. Yanar Dag flame burns fairly steadily, unlike the mud volcanoes. It is said that the Yanar Dag flame was accidentally discovered when lit by a shepherd in the 1950s.

Baku Boulevard also known as National Park runs parallel to the Baku's seafront. Its history goes back to more than 100 years. Mansions have been built by Baku oil barons along the Caspian shore.

Fountains Square, a public square in downtown Baku, is an attractive tourist destination with many boutiques, restaurants, shops, hotels and passages. The square is locally called Parapet. The name of this square derives from the presence of dozens of fountains throughout the square; constructed during the Soviet rule of Azerbaijan.

Flame Towers, a sight to be seen, is a trio of skyscrapers in Baku. The towers represent flames and symbolize fire as a sign of Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism by Azerbaijanies and Azerbaijan. It is believed as a birthplace for the prophet Zoroaster.

Things to do

The Maiden Tower

The Maiden Tower, a 12th-century monument, is located in the Old City of Baku. Along with the Shirvanshahs' Palace (dated to the 15th century); it forms a group of historic monuments. The Maiden Tower, described as megestic, houses a museum, which presents the story of the historical and cultural evolution of Baku city as a whole. Many mysteries and legends surround this historic monument. The view from the roof gives a wide glance around the alleys and minarets of the Old City, the Baku Boulevard, the De Gaulle house and of the Baku Bay. In recent years, the brazier on the top of the tower has been lit during the nights of the Novruz festival.

The Old City

The historical core of Baku is the Old City or the Inner City. The Old City is the most ancient part of Baku, which is surrounded by walls which were easily defended by the people within its walls of old times. The ongoing debate between researchers contends that the Inner City, along with its Maiden Tower, dates back as far as the 7th - 12th centuries. This city includes many monument as the Synyg Gala Minaret (11th century), the fortress walls and towers (11th–12th centuries), the Maiden Tower, the Multani Caravanserai and Hajji Gayyib bathhouse (15th century), the Palace of the Shirvanshahs (15th–16th centuries), the Bukhara Caravanserai and Gasimbey bathhouse (16th century).

Palace of the Shirvanshahs

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs, one of the pearls of Azerbaijan's architecture, is located in the Inner City of Baku. Together with the Maiden Tower, it forms an ensemble of historic monuments. The complex includes the main building of the palace, Divanhane, the burial-vaults, the shah's mosque with a minaret, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi's mausoleum (mausoleum of the dervish), south of the palace, a portal in the east, Murad's gate, a reservoir and the remnants of a bath house. There also used to be an ancient mosque, next to the mausoleum. Remains of the ruins are still present of the bath and the lamb, belonging to the west of the tomb. The palace was once surrounded by a wall with towers that used to serve as the inner stronghold of the Baku fortress. In 1964, the palace complex was taken under the protection of the state and declared as a museum-preserve.

Heydar Aliyev Center

The Heydar Aliyev Center is named after Heydar Aliyev, the first secretary of Soviet Azerbaijan. It was designed by an Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and is for its distinctive flowing, curved style architecture. The Center contains an auditorium (a conference hall), a gallery hall and a museum.

Bibi-Heybat Mosque

The Bibi-Heybat Mosque, built in the 1990s, is a recreation of the mosque of the same name built by Shirvanshah Farrukhzad II Ibn Ahsitan II (13th Century). The historical mosque was completely destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1936. Premises of the Mosque include the tomb of Ukeyma Khanum (a descendant of Muhammad). Today, it is the spiritual center for Muslims of the region and one of the major monuments of Islamic architecture in Baku, Azerbaijan.

It is locally known as "the mosque of Fatima", which is what Alexandre Dumas called it while describing the mosque during his visit in the 1840s.

Culture and History

Baku has a history of around 100,000 years old. The territory of modern Baku and Absheron was once filled with rich flora and fauna. Traces have been found of human settlement that go back to the Stone age. Near Bayil, rock carvings have been discovered from the Bronze age, and a bronze figure of a small fish was also discovered in the territory of the Old City. These discoveries have led some to believe that a Bronze Age settlement existed within the old city’s territory. A prehistoric observatory was discovered in a place called Umid Gaya, near Naradaran; rock images of sun were found and various constellations carved together with a primitive astronomic table. Within the territory of the modern city and around it, archeological excavations have revealed various prehistoric settlements, native temples, statues and along with other artifacts.

Near the city, in Gobustan, few Roman inscriptions dating from 84–96 CE were discovered; making these the earliest written evidences for Baku. It is a proof of the two Caucasian campaigns organized by the Romans that reached Baku in the 1st century CE.

The Shirvan Era has greatly influenced Baku’s architecture and the remainder of what is present-day Azerbaijan. Massive fortifications were undertaken in Baku and the surrounding towns (12th – 14th Centuries). During this period; the Maiden Tower, the Ramana Tower, the Nardaran Fortress, the Shagan Castle, the Mardakan Castle, the Round Castle and also the famous Sabayil Castle on the island of the Bay of Baku was built.

During the Early modern period, Baku used to be a focal point for traders from all across the world; commerce was active and the area was prosperous. Traders from the Indian subcontinent established themselves in this region. These Indian traders built the Ateshgah of Baku (17th– 18thcenturies); the temple used by Hindu, Sikh, and Parsi as a place of worship.

Baku offers a wide range of cultural activities including theaters, museums etc. that present the culture and heritage of this city. In 2009 when Baku was designated as the Islamic Culture Capital; as many of the city's cultural sites were celebrated along with notable museums featuring historical artifacts and art.

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