Exploring Baku: Things to see and do

Red flower in field Azerbaigan

Today’s guest post from Teresa is all about a country I know very little about – Azerbaijan. Having had a read through this post though, it sounds like the sort of place I might want to explore soon – check it out and see if you agree!

Baku probably isn’t high on your list of must-visit tourist destinations. It probably isn’t even on the list at all. In fact, you probably need an atlas to look up where it is. But all that is about to change.

The capital of Azerbaijan, Baku has a tumultuous history. From Persian capital, through oil boom to Soviet occupation, it has become a vibrant city with a lot to offer visitors.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Baku’s Old City is a maze of mosques, alleys, historic architecture and forts. A walk within this walled fortress is the best way to see all the interesting sites, from the medieval Palace of the Shirvan Shahs to Guz Qalasi (The Maiden’s Tower), which likely served as a fire beacon, defensive fort, observatory or temple.

Take a city or public transport away from the city to discover the Absheron Peninsula. The scenery along the way is barren yet somehow captivating, and when you arrive you have all manner of sites to discover. Head to the Atashgah Fire Temple and Yanar Dagh mountain, which has been on fire for a thousand years, even when it rains.

Museums and galleries are in good supply too. The Azeri National Costume Museum, Taghiyev History Museum and Latif Karimov Carpet and Applied Arts Museum are just a few.

For more culture, take in a concert by the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra or a show at the Pantomima Theatre. The national opera and ballet companies also stage performances.

Baku AzerbaijanOr simply wander through the many pedestrian streets, enjoy a bit of shopping in the local markets and rest your weary legs at one of the many cafes and restaurants. If you are not against the more commercial aspects of new-found tourism cities, head to the AF Mall for the more commercial shops, plus a tropic roof garden and pool. Park Bulvar Shopping Mall also has the big-name brands and fast food, plus a cinema, bowling alley and planetarium.

If all this exercise leaves you worn out, take a boat tour from Baku Boulevard or visit the Aqua Park Baku, Luna Amusement Park or Hamam Mehellesi public baths. If the legs are really aching take the Funicular Railroad train up to the Alley of the Marytrs.

It’s not the most obvious of destinations for your next holiday but Baku certainly has plenty to offer. If you want more culture and history from your next holiday and some truly unique holiday snaps to show everyone back home, then Baku is a great choice.

Thanks to Teresa for sorting me out with this post today! Is this somewhere you’d like to visit? Sound off in the comments below! Also, as I’ve not yet had the pleasure of visiting Azerbaijan, today’s images were sourced from flickr users seyed mostafa zamani & teuchterlad.

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