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Your trip to Baku ought to take in Maiden’s Tower, the symbol of Azerbaijan and a beloved cultural landmark. No one knows exactly how old it is or what it was used for, although recent theories suggest it dates back to the 6th century and may have been an observatory.
Other attractions in the Old City include Shirvanshakh’s Palace, kervansarays (inns), mosques and bathhouses located inside the walled, medieval part of the city. A 40-60-minute drive from the city, you will find Gobustan Rock Carvings museum, Yanardagh (the Burning Mountain) and Ateshgah, the Hindu Temple of Fire.
Martyr’s Lane offers insight into some of Baku’s more recent and tragic history. It is a cemetery dedicated to those who died in the January Massacre of 1990 at the hands of the Soviet Army. Martyr’s Lane also presents a panoramic view of the medieval, soviet and modern architecture of Baku Bay.
Many artists have made Baku their home and you can see examples of their work in the Museum of Contemporary Art. Paintings, sketches and sculptures are on display from some of Baku’s most prominent talent of the past 70 years, including Altay Sadigzadeh.
With one foot in the past and the other in the here and now, Baku offers plenty to entertain its visitors. A boat trip on the Caspian Sea will give you a fresh perspective on the city; and you should try a visit to the latest addition to Baku’s skyline – the Flame Towers. Launched in 2013 at a cost of 350 million USD, these striking structures reach a maximum height of 190 metres and represent the fire that has long symbolised Azerbaijan. Their interiors include offices, grand atriums and a sky garden.
If you have a love of music, then travelling to Baku will be a treat. Visit the Museum of Vagif Mustafa-Zadeh, widely recognised as the master of mugham jazz .The museum is set in the apartment where he composed his works.
Much of Baku’s cuisine is meat-based and heavily spiced, and you will find a multitude of dishes with Turkish and Asian influences. The most common meat consumed is mutton, but many restaurants also serve beef and chicken. Shashlyks are a popular dish throughout the city and the air is often filled with the pungent aromas of braised fennel, pilaffs and grilled fish. Liver kebabs, threaded with lambs’ tails is a speciality. If you want to eat with the locals, seek out the smaller restaurants inside the Old City. They deliver an authentic atmosphere, where you can indulge in sumptuous mezzes (small snack dishes).
If you want to eat out, you’ll find plenty of street food vendors, their hot-plates sizzling with fresh flatbreads, ready to wrap spiced meats and vegetables. And if you are in the mood for fine dining, there is no shortage of venues, and many offer live, traditional folk music. Park Bulvar is home to those restaurants that have the best views of the city and the sea, along with traditional Azeri dishes.
You can find many street markets throughout the city, mainly selling leather goods, silk and hand-crafted items. Several sit on the city’s most popular pedestrian road Nizami Street, more commonly known as Torgovaya.
But Baku also has some impressive shopping centres. Check out TsUM, the city’s largest department store, where you’ll find locally crafted goods. If you are in more of a high-end mode, head down to Fountain Square, for designer shops, restaurants and cafés. Nargiz Mall, 28 Mall, and Park Bulvar are the most recently opened malls in Baku.
Essential facts about Baku
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip