Headed to Baku? Here are Top 10 places you should visit during your stay:
The Old City: An historical symbol of Baku, the Old City or the Icherisheher (“the inner city” in Azerbaijani), is a must-see on the tourist trail. This is the oldest part of Baku, which is surrounded by a 500 meters long fortress (its length once amounted to 1,500 meters). There you can visit Maiden Tower and Shirvanshah’s Palace – medieval construction that now serves as museums – and enjoy a display of the world’s smallest books at the Miniature Book Museum. Here Azerbaijan’s traditional cuisine, in all its variations, can be tasted in local restaurants within the fortress walls.
Seaside Boulevard: Stretching along the Caspian Sea, the 16 kilometer-long (10 mile) boulevard is a favorite for both residents and tourists. There you can go for a ride on a pleasure craft, enjoy modern art or join yoga sessions at YARAT Contemporary Art Space, take in a seaside view of the largest lake in the world, all while enjoying Azerbaijani folk music, known as mugham at the Mugham Center.
Nizami Street: Named after the legendary Azerbaijani poet Nizami, this 3.5-kilometer-long street is considered the most popular as you will find both tourists and local people walking here at any time of the day and in any weather. Even if the street has an official name it is also known as “Torgovaya” – as a reminder of its origin that dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Almost 150 years later, old-fashioned caravanserais and small merchant shops gave way to various cafes, restaurants and shops. In addition, on the next street you can find the Fountains Square – after the restoration this place became a kind of benchmark of the city.
Upland Park: Located at the highest point in the city, Upland Park provides a picturesque panoramic view, giving visitor’s a perfect glimpse of the modern and iconic Flame Towers, considered the modern symbol of Baku. You can get here in 7-8 minutes using Baku Funicular, or walk the stairs afoot.
Heydar Aliyev Center: Designed by the famous Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and built in the memory of the former Azerbaijani President, Heydar Aliyev, this wave-shaped construction attracts both tourists and locals, who come to enjoy year-round exhibitions. A conference hall (auditorium), a gallery hall and a museum located inside the center are being used to host various exhibitions, forums and other cultural activities. In 2014, Heydar Aliyev Center won London-based Design Museum's "Design of the Year" award.
Carpet Museum: Hand-woven carpets are hallmarks of Azerbaijani culture and craftsmanship. They can be found in almost in every Azerbaijani home, either hung up as a wall hanging or laid out as a floor covering. Baku’s Carpet Museum is set right along the Seaside Boulevard, and showcases nearly 14,000 items, including every kind of carpet imaginable, as well as jewelry and clothing.
Gobustan National Park: Remnants of pre-historic humans can be found here, which has been a national reserve since 1966. A mountainous place located in the southeast of the Greater Caucasus Range and situated 60 kilometers (37 miles) away from Baku, Gobustan is known for its prehistoric rock carvings, or petroglyphs. Gobustan was put on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites in 2007.
Ateshgah Fire Temple: Set 30 kilometers (19 miles) outside the city, Ateshgah is one of the earliest examples of Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion indigenous to the region. Flames still blaze forth from the earth, in what now serves as a museum and welcomes dozens of tourist daily.
Yanar Dag Mountain: Azerbaijan is also known as "the land of fire," and Yanar Dag, or "burning mountain" is another site where natural gas pockets in the earth give way to fire. Just 14 kilometers (9 miles) away from the city, the mountain is famous for its natural emissions which are kept lit year round.
Arboretum: If your feet need a rest and you are tired from all the hustle and bustle of the city, you can take a trip to the botanical garden, or arboretum, located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) outside the city, in Mardakan resort village. Like an oasis springing forth from a vast desert, the arboretum was constructed in the 1920s in what were badlands. Today it is home to nearly 1,700 species of flora and fauna.