Baku is a city of 2 million inhabitants and the capital of Azerbaijan. If you come here, then you either have some oil business to attend to or you’re here on a stopover. Not a lot of people visit Baku just for Baku – which is a shame.
The city now is at a crossroads between traditions, Soviet influences and straight-forward capitalistic modernism. We’re sure that a lot of things will change over the course of the next 10 to 20 years. Therefore: Now is a great time to go!
Top 3 things to see in Baku
- The Heydar Aliev Center by Zaha Hadid
- The Flame Towers
- Dağüstü Park
All three items on this list represent the modern, the new, the western-oriented city. It’s all about representing the country’s wealth and their ability to build contemporary structures that require modern thinking, liberty and money. These three will give you glimpse of where Azerbaijan is headed.
Heydar Aliyev Centre
Zaha Hadid had all the liberty to build this place to (near) perfection
Flame Towers – modern landmarks of the city
View from the Fairmont Hotel at the Flame Towers
The terrace of the Heydar Aliev Center
The terrace of Dağüstü Park
The view of the city at night
But of course not all of Baku looks like these shiny structures of wealth.
3 things they don’t want you to see in Baku
- The oil industry
- The old parts of the city outside of the city walls
- The mosques
From what we learned, Azerbaijani people are incredibly proud about their capital. They love feeling a sense of belonging to a western world, when they offer a ride in a Mercedes bus from the modern airport. You’ll drive the wide boulevards lined with skyscrapers, that lead to the city centre. They are proud of their international boutiques (Tiffany’s, Cartier, you name it), the huge shopping centres, the high-rise buildings (even a Trump tower!). Somehow it feels like they don’t really want you as a visitor to see what they are trying to leave behind so deeply.
The people of Baku love their traditions, don’t get us wrong. But they probably just don’t want you to see, that the majority of people isn’t as rich as the shiny facades might want to tell you. A lot of the high rise buildings are empty, because people can’t afford to buy the apartments in them.
We lived in the Fairmont Hotel at one of the three Flame Towers, which are the new landmarks of modern day Baku. But nobody will admit that the two other Flame Towers are still empty. Not one apartment or office space in them has been sold so far. So while the facades shine bright every night by the means of a LED show, the empty buildings are guarded by securities.
Taza Pir Mosque
Old Soviet cars are still in use everywhere, not just in the old parts of the city
The contrasts of Baku: Traditional bread baken in a wood fired oven vs. young people taking selfies or walking with balloons 🙂
5 star hotel room in Baku
Baku offers many modern restaurants, 5 star hotels, shopping malls – all the comforts of a modern destination. But we loved that Baku has more to offer than it’s shiny new world. Their efforts to become the next Dubai might take away some of that quality throughout the next years, so better be quick to visit!
Travel video of Baku
We went on a trip to Baku as part of an invitation by the Fairmont Hotel Group, but our views of the destination and the hotel are independent.