Recently, I visited Azerbaijan and Georgia the trip was slightly exhausting and lacked good sleep but that is not to say that it wasn’t fun and refreshing! I will be writing three blog post on my trip starting with this one…
A new hot-ticket tourist destination, Baku
On a Friday afternoon, my friends and I flew for two hours to Baku a city that isn’t well known but is on the rise of becoming one of the most touristic places on earth. Just like most countries in the Gulf, Oil and natural gas have brought new wealth to Azerbaijan and made its capital, Baku, a modern and glittering metropolis.
There are many touristic landmarks that define the modern architecture, nonetheless, many of the areas in Baku has been maintained to resemble ancient ruins and historical architecture, making it a city where modern meets history.
Baku is home to many attractive landmarks that need to be seen if you ever go there such as:
Highland Park that offers a 360˚ panoramic view of the Baku city, which resembles a massive amphitheatre that gently slopes down to the adjoining Caspian Sea! After that, we departed to start Baku Old City Tour.
An excursion tour to the Old Town – ‘Icheri Sheher’. The old city is the heart of Baku. We visited several dozens of historically architectural monuments located in the territory of Old Town, including Palace of Shirvanshahs, the Maiden Tower, several caravan-palaces, mosques, baths, etc. Visit the Maiden Tower – ‘Baku’s symbol’. Known locally as Giz Galasi, was built in the 12th century as part of the walled city. ‘Baku’s medieval cultural spot – ‘Caravanserai, to name a few. Shirvanshahs` Palace, the biggest monument of the Shirvan- Absheron branch of the Azerbaijan architecture.
Baku Boulevard, one of the favourite retreat centres for tourists and inhabitants.
Carpets Museum – whose very building resembles a folded carpet.
House of the Government, Governor’s Garden and Magomayev Philharmonic Theatre which is a part of Baku city’s splendid architectural landmark.
Cultural Center Complex – Heydar Aliyev Center that is comprised of an exhibition hall, museum and auditorium. Its architecture is remarkable as no angles can be seen in its interior as well as exterior.
Flame towers – A trio of skyscrapers in Baku, Azerbaijan, the tallest in the country, with a height of 182 m. These towers were built as a representation of the oil and gas reservoirs that Azerbaijan has.
The fountain square – An area full of restaurants and shops.
Just like the architecture, food is a mix of modern and authentic flavours. Baku has some interesting must try unique dishes such as Kutab (A pancake-like dough filled with your preference of filling), The three sisters ( A dish made up of stuffed onion, tomato and pepper) & Khashlama ( A meat dish mixed with baked fruits and chestnuts).
The appeal of Baku reveals itself. It’s Rome, it’s Paris, it’s London, it’s Dubai. After Azerbaijan witnessed its first oil boom, architects from all over the world came to design buildings for the expanding city. The result is a charming mix of architectural styles, genuinely beautiful buildings that line the city’s traffic-choked streets.Towering above them all is perhaps Baku’s most impressive sight, the Flame Towers. Which by night, huge LED are displayed to give the appearance of flames licking the sides of the buildings. Azerbaijan, you quickly realise, has wealth.
The natural resource boom may not have affected all parts of society, but it’s certainly has touched the big end of town, so much so that Azerbaijan seems determined to sell itself as a sort of “new Dubai”. To do that you need impressive buildings, which Baku is on its way to achieving. They even started hosting sports events. Baku staged the inaugural European Games, a sort of Olympics that features sports such as three-on-three basketball and beach football, along with the more familiar wrestling and boxing. The city also hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix before two years.
Visiting Baku genuinely gives you a taste of the world
Here are some photos I took on this trip and make sure you read the caption to know more about what was the story behind each photo
Obviously, had to eat at the airport – if you are flying from or to Hamad airport anytime soon I would recommend Del Monto cafe – customised sandwiches & stay away from Yum cha sushi unless you like soggy taste lacking sushi!
And last but not least all the food I had those two days.
Cost of transportation, food and entrance to landmarks – Baku is very cheap so you don’t have to worry about spending much, the price ranges between 40 – 60$ every day.
Hotel info – If you are interested – west shine
Some extra Tips:
- If you will go shopping for souvenirs don’t buy them from the Old city go to local streets such as Ağa Neymətulla street, as they are cheaper in other areas.
- You will face language barriers, they don’t speak English nor Arabic, so my advice is to learn your signs.
- Taxis will rob you! So ask a local about the prices before taking a taxi or Ubur. We used Ubur throughout this trip and it was very cheap. The one time we decided to try the cool purple taxis we paid triple what we pay in Ubur.
- We mostly ate in the old city because you find the authentic local dishes there. If you are not into trying new flavours and want to stick to the usual food you have, I recommend you go to the fountain square. There you can find all the franchise and international restaurants.
I will be adding part 2 of my trip soon, it is all about what cities you must visit in Azerbijain other than Baku.
Until next time, Crave the dish…