Neither Europe nor Asia, Azerbaijan is an incredible tangle of contradictions and contrasts.
Azerbaijan is a blend of the familiar western with the mystical east and nowhere is this more evident than in Baku. The historic town centre still retains much of its inner defensive wall, which dates from the 12th century and in certain parts visitors are able to climb onto the parapets.
The impressive Park Inn Hotel in Baku makes an excellent base from which you can discover the treasures of Azerbaijan’s capital city, Baku. The hotel’s lofty position offers magnificent views of the Caspian Sea and the historic town centre but is also in close proximity to the commercial and entertainment districts.
Tourist Attractions of Baku
Walls of Baku
One of the most popular attractions is the inside of the Icheri Sheher Fortress, the old city centre. The heart of Baku, where the first buildings are dated from around the 11th century, inside the walled complex, there are a number of monuments, mosques and palaces that sprung up from the affluence generated by trade. The wall itself has five gates and some 25 towers along its length and makes for an interesting walk.
There is also the enigmatic sight of the Maiden Tower, one of the highest points in the old town and is believed to have been constructed in the 7th or 8th century but its purpose remains a mystery. Here there is a museum and gift shop and fabulous views across the city from the towers summit.
Fountain Square is another popular destination for locals and visitors alike; this landmark is the centre of the trendy area of Baku, with fashionable boutique shops, delicious restaurants and lively nightspots. The large fountain often suffers from a lack of water, especially during the summer months and serves as an additional seating area for the gathered crowds.
The former Metropol Hotel has been refurbished and fitted out to house the city’s collection of ancient texts, books and manuscripts. Here in the 23 rooms, visitors can see fine examples of calligraphy, old film stock and photographs depicting Azerbaijan’s history.
The Primorsky Boulevard stretching along the foreshore is a chic destination with classy restaurants, pleasant areas to relax with sparkling bars and interesting shops. The avenue is very picturesque, its length is dappled with chestnut, plane and palm trees and is also where you can take a cable car ride up to the heights of Nagomy Park, with its outstanding vistas across the city.
Throughout Baku you will find an array of interesting and unique buildings each with its own interesting history. A great way to discover this is by taking a Caspian cruise where a local guide will relay tales of Baku’s past and its interesting sites. These include the 13th century Baiil Stones, the Mausoleum of Saiid Yahya Bakuvi, the 15th century bathhouse and the richly decorated 18th century house of the Baku Khans.
Baku with its vibrant history and modern position is a maze of alleyways, busy shops and captivating architecture. Visitors find that along with its interesting past there is an active and dynamic present with arts and cultural events a regular feature of Baku’s annual calendar.