The capital of Azerbaijan is Baku, a city of more than 2,000,000 inhabitants, located in a depression about 30 meters below sea level at the center-east of the country, on the banks of the Caspian Sea, in the peninsula of Apsheron. The cosmopolitan Baku is a city in rapid change, with features still deeply rooted in the recent Soviet past complemented by others that emphasize the desire to modernize its inhabitants. Treated the pedestrian streets of the elegant city center are lined with tearooms and pubs frequented by many foreigners residing in the city, while the status of a world heritage site by UNESCO conferred only partially protected the charming old town, surrounded by ornate arches of the medieval walls, which, however, especially in recent years, is subject to a number of redevelopment projects, some of which can potentially endanger some beauties.
The first moments of glory experienced by the current capital of Azerbaijan dates back to 1191, when the Shirvanshah, dynasty reigning in the region, we moved the court after their ancient capital Samaxi was destroyed by an earthquake. Largely devastated by the attacks of the Mongols, Baku returned to its former glory only in the realm of Shirvanshah Khalilullah I (1417-1465), which he carried out the construction, begun by his predecessor, a huge complex of buildings. When Tsar Peter the Great captured the city in 1723, its population was less than 10,000 people due to the lack of trade and the difficulty in finding drinking water, while towards the end of the nineteenth century was started commercial exploitation of oil wells, which resulted in a real economic boom for the country. After the hard brackets Soviet Baku is undergoing a new phase of recovery, supported as always by the revenue from the sale of oil, which wants to contribute also tourism, still in the larval stage, but certainly has a lot of potential.
From the walls of the old city, Neftciler prospekti runs parallel to the Caspian Sea up to an impressive building and Soviet typically called Dom Soviet, or “Government House”, overlooking a green area on the beach known to all as Bulvar. The most striking buildings dating back to the “oil boom” of a century ago is concentrated around the central Piazza delle Fontane, while many other fountains are scattered throughout the center, and especially in the Heydar Aliyev Park. The main pedestrian shopping street of Baku is kucasi Nizami, still called by all with the name by which it was known in the Soviet era, Torgovaya, or “way of commerce”. The noble and prominent personalities of the city generally live in a suburb of the called Ganclik Batamdar or promontory, overlooking the city.
The center of Baku is the Iceri Seher, the old town surrounded by ancient walls and protected by UNESCO, here you will find most of the places of tourist interest in the Azeri capital, as well as a series of peaceful lanes loads of atmosphere, which are already small attractions, and some tree-lined streets bordered by large houses built during the economic boom. The first thing you see is the center of the Maiden Tower, built entirely of stone and 29 meters high, so as to be the main distinctive feature of the city skyline. Many scholars are united in the belief that it was a defensive tower, but some think that it was used as a watchtower, lighthouse, Zoroastrian tower of silence or even as an astronomical observatory. The walls, thick and the beauties of 5 meters, giving it an aura of impregnability, while the interior, built on eight floors connected by a staircase that rises within the thickness of the wall, lit by a few openings made on the side facing south.
Not far from the tower is the so-called Palace of Shirvanshah, a complex of buildings fascinating, although almost bare, built of sandstone where once was located a dynasty that reigned in the north-east of Azerbaijan during much of the Middle Ages. To enter the complex through a courtyard ceremonial main dominated by a simple gate that leads to the royal apartments, whose restoration, completed in 2003, required an almost complete rebuilding. Through a small gate to the courtyard of the then Divan Khane, a round stone shaped octagonal once met the court of Shirvanshah Khalilullah I. From the ceremonial courtyard a staircase to a tank next to it you see the ruins of the Mosque of Keyqubad, leading to the Shrine of the Dervish, in which is the tomb of Seyyid Yahya Bakuvi, astronomer and philosopher who was the Khalilullah court. The next lower level is surrounded by a stone wall topped by battlements of which are enclosed within the small Mosque and Mausoleum of Shah Shirvanshah.
Baku has several cultural institutions, the most important of which is the State Art Museum, which occupies two stately mansions built during the oil boom. Inside the main building is set up a collection of Azerbaijani and Russian art of the nineteenth century, while in the stand, located just over the top, is on show an interesting exhibition focuses on modern Azerbaijan. The second most popular museum of Baku is the Carpet Museum, housed in an imposing neoclassical building, which traces the history of the manufacture of carpets in Azerbaijan and exposes more than a thousand splendid examples also come from Iran and Dagestan. Do not miss: the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijan Literature, whose facade is characterized by ogival niches with the statues of the greatest representatives of the national literature, the History Museum, less striking from the outside, but stunning all because of the wealth of the internal environment of the building where once lived one of the richest oil magnates of the city and the Museum Rostropovich, whose exhibition is dedicated to the famous cellist and conductor who was born in Baku.
Among the events and celebrations that are held every year in Baku stands the lively theater and concert season, which begins in mid-September and ends in May, reaching its climax with the famous Baku Jazz Festival, which over the years has hosted some of other Herbie Hancock in 2006 and Aziza Mustafazadeh, a year later. Although not very exciting from the point of view of tourism, Caspian Oil & Gas Show, held in early June in Heydar Aliyev Adina Idman Konsert Kompleksi, is a must for many industry insiders.
As a result of the waters of the Caspian Sea, the climate is mild and pleasant even in winter, and extremely dry all year round. The average temperature in January is between 5 and 6 degrees, with no minimum down almost never below zero, while in July, the figures rise up to be between 30 and 23 degrees. The rainfall is low, in the order of 200 mm of rain per year, and distributed rather evenly over all four seasons, in common with many sunny days. Occasionally Baku is beaten by Khazri, very strong winds coming from the sea in stormy character.
The Heydar Aliyev International Airport of Baku is the busiest airport in the Caucasus and is served by flights to and from several destinations in Europe and Central Asia. Once you land, you can head into the center taking the marshrutka (minibus) n. 36 Merdekan direct from the access road to the airport, while the metro network is especially useful to achieve Avtovagzal, the long-distance bus station, from which means many domestic destinations, but also to Tbilisi, only about 12 hours, and Istanbul.
Originally posted 2012-08-21 17:28:22.