Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, a city whose history dates back more than 2 thousand years. Baku is a low-lying city with coastline along the Caspian Sea.
Baku is famed for its medieval walled old city, which contains the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a vast royal complex, and the iconic stone Maiden Tower. Contemporary landmarks include the Zaha Hadid–designed Heydar Aliyev Center, and the Flame Towers, 3 pointed skyscrapers covered with LED screens.
The heart of Baku – Old Town, is an ancient fortress that has guarded a masterpiece of Eastern architecture, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs for many centuries.
The Silk Roads in Azerbaijan passes several cities in the north-western direction. Baku, located on the crossroads of the East and West, has always been and even today remains the main administrative, political, cultural, ideological, handicraft and trade centre of the region.
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is located in the Old Town, Baku and is a 15th-century palace built by the Shirvanshahs and described by UNESCO as “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture”.
The Maiden Tower is a 12th-century monument in the Old City, Baku. Along with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace, dated to the 15th century, it forms a group of historic monuments listed in 2001 under the UNESCO World Heritage List of Historical Monuments as cultural property, Category III.
Muhammad Mosque or Siniggala Mosque is the mosque built in the 11th century in Old City, Baku. The mosque is also known as Siniggala, for the name of its minaret – Siniggala.
Behind the battlements open wide streets and avenues with luxury hotels, theaters, museums, shopping centers, and restaurants.
Heydar Aliyev International Airport
Heydar Aliyev International Airport is one of the most modern and comforting air terminals in the world. The airport holds a 5-star status and can serve 9 million passengers annually with dozens of connections of cities around the world.
Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport is one of the six international airports serving Azerbaijan. Formerly, it was called Bina International Airport by the name of a suburb in Baku. On 10 March 2004, the airport was renamed for the former president Heydar Aliyev, the third President of Azerbaijan.
The airport has a wide range of shops, restaurants, and cafés as well as Duty-Free stores in both the departures and arrivals areas. In addition to this, Terminal 1 contains five lounges as well as a spa.
Find out a detailed travel guide to Baku from blogger Once in a Lifetime Journey.
The Heydar Aliyev Center is a 57,500 m² building complex designed by architect Zaha Hadid in 2007, and noted for its distinctive architecture and flowing, curved style that eschews sharp angles.
Extending on eight-floor levels, the center accommodates a 1000-seat auditorium, temporary exhibition spaces, a conference center, workshops, and a museum. Located close to the city center, the site plays a pivotal role in the redevelopment of Baku. An internationally recognized architectural work, the building of the Heydar Aliyev Center has become a signature landmark of modern Baku due to its innovative and cutting-edge design.
The center is named after Heydar Aliyev, the first secretary of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1969 to 1982, and president of Azerbaijan Republic from October 1993 to October 2003.
Baku Convention Center is a multifunction complex located close to the City center of Baku. The largest congress center in the Caucasus, it is an ultra-modern venue that can host events of the highest international level.
Shahidlar Monument or the Baku Turkish Martyrs’ Memorial is a memorial dedicated to the Ottoman soldiers killed during the World War I in Azerbaijan. The monument consists of a monument, an alley with nameplates of the martyrs and a mosque.
Highland Park also known as the Sergei Kirov park is a very beautiful park that lets you have views of the city from the top. Take a walk, relax and unwind in the park that also offers 180 panoramic views of the entire city of Baku.
Museums in Baku
Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum displays Azerbaijani carpets and rug items of various weaving techniques and materials from various periods. It has the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world.
The collection of the museum includes over 10,000 items of ceramics, metal works of the 14th century, jewelry from the Bronze Age, carpets and carpet items from the 17th-20th centuries, national garments and embroidery, and applied artworks of the Modern Age
Take a look at some of these amazing carpets.
Azerbaijan National Museum of Art is the biggest art museum in Azerbaijan. It was founded in 1936 and in 1943 was named after Rustam Mustafayev, a prominent Azerbaijani scenic designer and theater artist.
The museum consists of two buildings standing next to each other. The museum’s total collection includes over 15,000 artworks. There are over 3,000 items in 60 rooms on permanent display. About 12,000 items are kept in storage. The museum changes the exhibits periodically so that more of these artworks can be displayed temporarily. Currently, the museum is located on 2 buildings which were built in the 19th century.
The museum was built at the initiative of the First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva and opened on 20 March 2009. It was funded by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, of which the First Lady is head. The foundation has also created projects with the Louvre Museum and the Palace of Versailles.
The museum is intended as a focus for an “eco-cultural zone” that will include a white-sand beach, a Frank Gehry skyscraper, and a walkway that projects out over the Caspian Sea.
The National Museum of Azerbaijan literature named after Nizami Ganjavi. It was established in 1939 and is located in the center of Baku, not far from the Fountains Square and near the entrance of Icheri Sheher. Now, this museum is one of the greatest and richest treasuries of Azerbaijani culture.
Collection, research and storage of scientific and other materials about Azerbaijani literature and culture, presentation of these materials on expositions and exhibitions is the main goal of the museum. There are carried out great scientific researches, published and written books and monographs.
The Independence Museum of Azerbaijan or “Istiqlal” Museum was established on 7 December 1919 in Baku. Archeological finds, exemplars of rare books, objects of numismatics, jewelry, etc. were collected in the museum.
Prominent museum with archeological, ethnographic & numismatic exhibits, plus puppet shows.
More about Baku
Azerbaijani is the common language of Baku (part of the Turkic language group), however, a significant part of the population speaks Russian. English is used in hotels, restaurants, shopping and business centers.
The national currency of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the manat. There are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 & 200 manat banknotes in circulation. Credit cards are also widely expected.
There are 3 types of public transport in Baku: metro, buses, and taxis. The Baku metro is a true architectural masterpiece, it’s design uses national motifs and reflects events from the history of the country. Today, the length of the metro is 37 km, with its lines connecting 25 stations. You can find a taxi anywhere on the streets. Also, Uber Azerbaijan and Bolt taxi applications work very well.
Best Hotels in Baku
The tourist industry is represented by dozens of hotels of different classes. Among them are Sheraton, Hilton, Four Seasons, JW Marriott, Hyatt, Fairmont, Rico’s, local Azerbaijan companies such as Intourism, & Boulevard.
These are the hotels that we personally stayed in.
JW Marriott has the best location in the city. You could walk anywhere, without taking taxis. We stayed with Marriott Bonvoy points (15K) and got a room upgrade to an Executive Suite.
Four Seasons, Baku is the most luxurious, and expensive hotel in Baku. Price starts at $400 a night.
For the cheapest option, stay at an Autograph Collections hotel – Boulevard Hotel Baku, Autograph Collection. Average $100 a night. While not the best location, you could still take taxis anywhere within 15 minutes.
Best Restaurants in Baku
Fillet House (Steakhouse) $$$
Sumakh (Azerbaijani) $$$
Mari Vanna (Russian) $$$
Firuze Restorani (Azerbaijani) $
Other great restaurants in Baku: Masti Baku Indian & Lebanese Cuisine, Chinar, SAHiL Bar & Restaurant, Nakhchivan Restaurant, ASADO Steak House, Atelier Vivanda, Movida Lounge & Dining, Seto Japanese Restaurant, M’eat Steak House, Restaurant Shah, Shirvanshan Museum Restaurant