Is Baku Azerbaijan worth visiting

Baku: The best tips for your city trip

No place in the Caucasus is more exciting than Baku. However, tourists have hardly discovered the capital of Azerbaijan for themselves. The metropolis on the Caspian Sea offers a fascinating mix of rich tradition and the western way of life.

Sightseeing in Baku

The old town

It is like traveling back in time to a world long past: a piece of old Baku has been preserved behind meter-thick walls, despite the demolition and building frenzy. Itscheri Schecher (old town) is the name of the labyrinth of winding streets, charming houses and the palace of the Shirvanshah dynasty, which sits enthroned on a hill in the middle of the city center above the Caspian Sea.

Not only tourists, but also local taxi drivers get lost in the steep cobblestone streets. The old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Although Azerbaijanis love their cars, symbols of their newfound wealth, Icheri Shcher is one of the few places in the city where traffic has been regulated.

Only 450 cars are allowed to be in the area bounded by a city wall at the same time. When the number is reached, it is time to wait. Undisturbed by exhaust fumes and noise, the tour through the old town leads to architectural monuments, small shops where traditional handicrafts are sold and the landmark of the old town, the Maiden Tower. Legend has it that a beautiful maiden threw herself from the tower after her lover drowned.

Bulvar

The Caspian Sea does not invite you to swim. It is too heavily polluted by petroleum for that. On the other hand, it is tempting to stroll: a beach promenade was built along Baku Bay at the beginning of the 20th century and has been expanded in recent years. Small parks and cafés line the Bulvar, past the government palace "Dom Soviet", which was built by German forced laborers during the Soviet era, to the carpet museum currently under construction, which is supposed to look like a rolled up runner.

Alternative city tour

"Expect the unexpected" is the name of the alternative city map published by the human rights organization Human Rights Watch. It not only shows the sights of boomtown Baku, but also the places where there have been arrests or houses forcibly evacuated in recent years.

The authoritarian-led country has been criticized for its human rights violations and disregard for freedom of the press. To get a comprehensive picture of the city, a visit to the suburbs is definitely recommended.

Villa Petrola

Azerbaijan is experiencing its second oil boom. The first was more than 100 years ago. At the end of the 19th century, the discovery of the rich oil reserves swept huge amounts of money into the city. Influential Western families such as the Rothschilds and the Nobel brothers settled in Baku in order to use their know-how to modernize pipelines, oil tankers and refineries.

They were the first oil barons to have magnificent villas built in the city. Many of them have now been lovingly restored and converted into museums. Most impressive is the Nobel brothers' villa in the middle of a magnificent park. It bears witness to the unimaginable wealth of the times when Baku was the world's first oil capital.

Baku at night

It is a spectacle made of millions of lights: when the sun goes down in Baku, the city center is transformed into a sparkling sea of ​​lights. Azerbaijanis love colorful lights and lots of bling-bling. In the city, where energy saving does not play a role because of the rich oil and gas reserves, almost every sandstone facade is effectively illuminated.

The pedestrian zone around the fountain square is illuminated by oversized candelabra. The lighting mania on the 175-meter-high television tower, which, like the Empire State Building in New York, is illuminated by colorful spotlights - for a change in the colors of the nation (blue, red, green), is literally taken to extremes.

However, the highlight has recently been the animated facade of the so-called flame towers. These are three high-rise office buildings with a glass facade that are considered to be Baku's new landmark. At night they turn into a kind of giant screen on which animations can be seen. One of them literally sets the Flame Towers on fire: flames seem to lick along the facade like a large barbecue fire. A grandiose spectacle that is best admired from the Bulvar waterfront.

Excursion to Yanar Dag

Azerbaijan is the land of fire. On Mount Yanar Dag it becomes clear why. It has been permanently on fire for over 1000 years. Gases from the natural gas deposits below escape from the earth's surface. Up to three meters high flames lick the limestone hill and ignite a unique natural spectacle - especially impressive at dusk.

Shopping in Baku

Although noble boutique follows noble boutique, Baku is not a shopping paradise. Because compared to Germany, imported goods are sometimes twice or three times as expensive. The shopping spree has to be limited to local products such as carpets and crystal ware, a large number of which can be found in the small shops in the old town.

Going out: Baku nightlife

Nightlife in Baku takes place on the streets in summer. Many Baku people dress up in the city and wander through the city center until late at night and enjoy the colorful lights. Alcohol is mostly not drunk in the predominantly Muslim country. But there is no ban, beer, wine and spirits are served everywhere.

If you want to hear typical Azerbaijani music, you should go to a Mugam club. The traditional style of music is a forerunner of jazz. There are also a large number of pubs spread across the city center, but mainly foreigners who work in Baku.

Accommodation: Hotels in Baku

Hyatt Regency

One of the top addresses in town: the newly opened Hyatt Regency offers every imaginable luxury. The beautifully designed inner courtyard, the pool of which is the only outdoor swimming pool in Baku's city center, is impressive.

Sultan Inn

Charming boutique hotel in the old town, where not only the name promises fairy tales from 1001 nights. The small house enchants with its oriental charm and offers a fantastic view of the city from two roof terraces.

Austin Hotel

The four-star hotel right on the pedestrian zone is not for those who don't like stairs: there is no elevator, but it is still worth lugging your suitcase. The rooms behind the old sandstone facade are modern, the location is unbeatable for excursions into the city.

Private accommodation

Many Bakuers rent their apartments to tourists. As a rule, they move in with friends or relatives during this time, which is why the entire apartment is available. Real gems can be hidden behind some scruffy-looking backyards. Private accommodation is usually cheaper than hotels and is particularly suitable for multiple travelers. So if you can live with the plush furnishings, you should rent an apartment in downtown Baku.

Restaurants in Baku

Tosca Café

Newly opened restaurant right on the Bulvar, which is not so impressive for its food - there is almost everything from pizza to lamb chops - as much more for its location. From the small terrace and from the first floor you can enjoy a glass of Azerbaijani wine and let your gaze wander over the Caspian Sea.

Paul's

If you are homesick, you should pay Paul a visit. He comes from Germany and opened Baku's only beer garden.

Kishmish Tea House

Those who prefer it traditional should go to the Kishmish tea house. Most Azerbaijanis drink tea anywhere and anytime of the day, so teahouses are very popular. Of course, sweet delicacies are served with the hot drink.

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