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’.
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.
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.
Needless to say, it is thanks to oil then and today that Baku is by far the most charming city of the Caucasus.
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.
(This photo is of a hidden cafe in Baku, it has been circulating facebook recently!)
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/
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!
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