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The capital of Azerbaijan, where past and present intricately intertwined, have always attracted tourists. Of particular interest to guests of Baku is Old City, enclosed within the fortress walls, or Icheri Sheher (Inner City). This open-air museum, together with famous Maiden Tower (XII c.) located here is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The architectural appearance of a fortress differs by its unique originality. It contains 44 monuments of medieval architecture, including the unique Palace of the Shirvanshah, former residence of the rulers of Shirvan (XV c.). 30 km away from Baku, in Surakhani village, there is a Zoroastrian monument - fire worshipers temple "Ateshgah". A little further into the village of Gobustan (60 km away from Baku), there is a rare monument of world culture, one of the earliest centers of human civilization, where 4,000 rock drawings of people and animals were found. This historical-art reserve is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Of no less interest for the guests is the modern appearance of the capital. Among the new hallmarks of Baku one can distinguish the magnificent building complex Flame Towers, the sports and leisure complex Crystal Hall, which held the Eurovision song contest in 2012, the Cultural Center named after Heydar Aliyev and others. A favorite walking place for locals and guests is the City Seaside Park (or Boulevard), shining with neon lights. In Baku there are also many shopping centers, boutiques, movie theaters, concert and exhibition venues, museums, restaurants, and world famous brands hotels.
Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, a major scientific and technical, industrial and cultural center of the country. Any part of Azerbaijan from its architectural and historical point of view can attract tourists but numerous monuments of Baku provoke a keen interest of tourists. First of all this is the old part of the city - fortress Icheri Sheher which together with the adjacent legendary Maiden Tower (XII century) is included into the list of world heritage sites. The architectural aspect of the fortress differs by unique originality; there are 44 monuments of medieval architecture. Among them: a unique Shirvanshah's palace, the former residence of the rulers of Shirvan (XV century), minaret Sinik gala (XI cenetury), mosques, caravanserais, baths. This is a real ethnographic treasure for lovers of the antique.
10 Best Places to Visit in Baku
1. SHIRVANSHAH'S PALACE
Located behind the city walls of Old Town ("Icharishahar") the Palace is just one of the oldest symbols of Baku. Built in the 15th century, just right at the time when Baku became the capital of Shirvanshah's kingdom, it is one of a few good remaining old buildings in Baku. In 2000 it was inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It is situated in the Old Town as mentioned already and can be reached in 5 minutes by foot from the "Icharishahar" metro station. See the google map to get a better idea.
2. THE MAIDEN TOWER
Maiden Tower ("Qiz Qalasi") is the top tourist attraction of the city. It is the second most visited building of Baku, just right after the airport. As soon as you get to the top of it, you will be amazed with the spacious view of Baku and its all beauty.
Just like Shirvanshah's Palace, the Maiden Tower is also located inside old city walls and can be reached by foot.
3. MARTYR'S LANE AND FLAME TOWERS
During the Soviet Union this alley was known as Kirov Park, named after the Soviet Bolshevik leader. After the massacre of 1990 by Soviet troops, which is annually commemorated by all Azerbaijanis on 20 January, this park has become an alley of martyrs ("Shahidlar Xiyabani" in Azerbaijani). Now it is a symbol of pride of Azerbaijan and its independence.
From here you can get another beautiful view of Baku Bay and see the Flame Towers to its fullest and closest.
4. CITY BOULEVARD
Baku Boulevard (officially called Seaside National Park) is a place where you can observe the Caspian Sea and the most beautiful night view of Baku. Shopping malls, business centers, restaurants, ‘chaykhana's (tea houses), sophisticated plants, main attractions will get in your way while walking there. Go to boulevard if you're tired of the very hot weather of Baku and want to get some fresh air coming from the sea. Most importantly, take a boat tour and dive into the best feelings.
The best time to go here is at evenings as you'll not only get the fresh air coming from the sea, but also observe the beautiful Baku lights.
5. HISTORY MUSEUM
Once the family house of Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, the famous Azerbaijani oil magnate, now this building serves as historical museum and with its splendid view it will take you to the main historical period starting from historical times to recent history of Azerbaijan.
The museum is divided into 3 sections. The first section covers prehistoric and medieval objects varying from ancient coins, wears, military objects to human bones and tombs. The second section covers the personal possessions of the famous people of Azerbaijan history. The third section holds the mansion of Taghiyev family.
6. MUD VOLCANOES
Yes, you heard it right. Mud volcanoes. They lie about 10 km south of Gobustan. These volcanoes are quite unique as they are not as high as usual volcanoes, with height getting maximum 2 meters. Still, nearly half of the mud volcanoes in the world are located in Azerbaijan (more than 350 out of 800 in the world) and the greatest mud volcano in the world is also in Azerbaijan (1000 meters high). The mud bubbles right from the inside of the volcano and it is usually cold, rather than hot as you might think. Also, the mud is said to be good for face and is commonly used for medical reasons.
7. HEYDAR ALIYEV CENTER
Built by Zaha Hadid, this center won the "Design of the Year" award on July 1, 2014. The center includes memorial gallery of Heydar Aliyev (ruler of Azerbaijan during Soviet era in 1969-1982 and president of Azerbaijan from 1993 to 2003), art gallery, concert and library halls, restaurant and conference hall.
8. ATESHGAH TEMPLE (ZOROASTRIAN FIRE TEMPLE)
Located 30 km away from the city center in Surakhany district, this temple is known as a place of eternal fire. The history of this temple goes back to 18th century when Hindu traders were coming to Baku and selling Indian medicines and wooden materials. As Baku was situated in the Silk Road, frequent visits of traders and merchants from the east was an ordinary way of life. Although the temple is stated as being Zoroastrian, I found it quite controversial for some facts I found about it on internet. At least the texts and symbols there represent Hindu religion signs, not Zoroastrian. Anyways, visiting this place is quite important for anyone who wants to get to see some new interesting places and if you will stay in Baku at least for 3 days and have time to go to suburbs.
9. GOBUSTAN NATIONAL PARK (PETROGLYPH RESERVE)
Gobustan is famous for its rock drawings dating back to 40,000 years. This site is considered as the one of earliest inhabited settlement of people in Azerbaijan and reflects the activities of ancient people such as dance rituals, hunting scenes, carpentry and the images of animals. It is located a bit further from Baku - 64 km to southwest of Baku. Go up and enjoy the petroglyphs.
10. YANAR DAGH (BURNING MOUNTAIN)
Yanar Dagh is situated 25 km northeast of Baku. The reason that this place is worth checking out is its continuous fire, which never extinguishes. The flame derives from the gas reserves beneath the land and there are no pipes making it burn.
BONUS: KARAVANSARAI (RESTAURANT)
National cuisine of Azerbaijan has very distinct taste that will make every tourist feel a special amusement. Azerbaijani people love fatty foods and most of our national cuisine is made with different kinds of meat. However, pork is not used when preparing foods because of Islamic tradition and prohibition of pork to be eaten or preserved. Situated close to the Maiden Tower, Karavansarai restaurant will not only bring this exquisite taste to you, but also its beautiful historical view will charm you fully. It was built in 14th century and used as caravanserai. Now it is a restaurant with traditional dishes.