Baku, Paris of the Caucasus

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There are a handful of places on earth where you can find the charming architecture of Paris, magnificently designed modern skyscrapers, a history shared with great empires of the world and most importantly it is almost unheard of to the knowledge of Western travelers. I wish to introduce you to Baku, Azerbaijan, the ‘land of fire’.

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Baku has long since been on my mind and imagination, I would drift off imagining what it would be like to walk the streets and avenues that I see in these photos I’ve collected from various websites; I would always leave myself in a world of ‘if’, where I just go ahead and plan exactly what I would do and see when I arrive there! I would firstly absorb the history of the city.

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Located between Iran and Russia, it is amazing to think that great empires have trod through the Caucasus such as the Mongols, Persians and Russians would have little idea that Baku would be the birthplace of the Oil industry that would eventually provide half the worlds oil by the turn of the 20th century. It was only until then that Baku would become a boom-town from the sleepy settlement that was. Investment poured into the city, much like a turn of the century version of Dubai, majestic mansions were built along side other grand structures, culture changed with the city, schools, universities, theatres and academies were erected to ensure the new residents could enjoy life as it were in the major capitals of the world.

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Needless to say, it is thanks to oil then and today that Baku is by far the most charming city of the Caucasus.

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The people are overwhelmingly Azeri and Shiite Muslim, yet they are very tolerant to other religions. English is not widely spoken as of yet, however since Baku hosted Eurovision in 2012 and numerous international sporting events, the next generation of Azeris are preferring to learn English over the predominant Russian as a choice of second language.

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(This photo is of a hidden cafe in Baku, it has been circulating facebook recently!)

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In terms of sights, the streets of Baku are magnificent; there are numerous bazaars, hidden cafes, picturesque squares and parks, and best of all the architecture of the place! Here’s a blog I found which covers majority of the sights and it is so interesting to see exactly what this city has on offer! http://www.thoroughlymodernmilly.com/2013/07/things-to-do-in-baku/

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Apparently flights to Baku can be arranged from major European cities or if you are like me and live in the end of the world, then getting there involves flying to Dubai or Abu Dhabi and then taking a flight to Baku. The catch is finding a cheap flight and then organizing Visa upon arrival, if you were to go!

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There’s a treasure trove of options available to you for travel outside Baku into other towns and I will cover those soon as possible! I hope you enjoyed seeing these pictures which have inspired me to work towards going to Azerbaijan one day, and I hope that one day you will too! It seems the more time you give Baku the better it gets! Click the following link for a great traveler video about Baku! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj9W084k0RQ

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9 thoughts on “Baku, Paris of the Caucasus

  1. Hi Daniel- I’m following you now thanks to a link from a comment on Ruairi Cassidy’s blog (An Idiot Abroad).

    You’ve hit three for three on these posts so far (Croatia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan). I spent 10 years in Baku, Azerbaijan, beginning with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. So it’s nice to see these lovely photos of what’s happened since I returned to the US. (To be honest, the Flame Towers are definitely not my favorite change, interesting as they may be. I prefer the old to be respected.) I actually lived next door to the Wedding House (the ornate oil baron “house” on the corner, now used for the official wedding registry.)

    I had great times in this region, and travelled often to Turkey, Georgia and beyond. There are many flights into the are these days and like you, I hope people will discover the history and architecture that remains.

    • Thats amazing to hear that you have spent such a long time in Baku! Im sure that the changes for the better would be a relief, however I do agree that some of the modern towers going up are destroying the amazing history of Baku, however I am keen to see what happens with the proposed ‘white city’ where they will be converting industrialized oilfields to a modern/historic styled district of Baku!

      I do plan on doing more posts soon of the Caucasus, like Batumi in Georgia, which looks amazing! Thank you so much for the follow, I will check out your blog soon! 🙂

      • Daniel- if you want to read some fun articles about the connection with Batumi and Baku, find Thomas Goltz’s writings about the Baku-Tblisi- Ceyhan Ural-style motorbike rides. Thomas is a great read and has the history and love for the area that one needs to tell the stories well.
        I hope you find some of my stories fun. Some are about my life in Baku and some are about my travels from Baku. It was a great place to explore. I like your style of sharing these off the beaten track destinations! Thanks.

      • Thank you for the heads up on that author, it is defiantly my type of reading, I will have to find his books! And what an amazing blog that you have! i wish i found it earlier, and look forward to more of your stories and insights.

      • Thank you for such kind words. I’m so glad you liked the stories!

        Look for Tom’s “Azerbaijan Diary”- it’s about 1991-1996, years when Azerbaijan was at war. It was published in 1998. He also wrote Chechnya Diary after that. I think you’ll find them very interesting. Knowing Tom, he will keep your interest.

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