Hallmarks of Baku
Highland (Daghustu) park of Baku- The highest pick in Baku with an amazing panorama to the city. The park is located in the center of Baku. It is one of the most popular places of the local residents and tourists. In Soviet period (1920- 1991), this park was named after Sergei Kirov. The most unique side of the park and the reason why it is actually, called the “Highland Park” is its impressive panorama. It is looking over Baku city, Baku bay and Baku Boulevard stretching along the Caspian sea. Azerbaijan Independence Museum, Martyrs’ Lane where lie the victims of Black January of 1990 and those who were killed in Nagorno Karabakh war are also buried here.
Old city of Baku- Icherisheher
Old city of Baku- Icherisheher- was founded on a site inhabited since the Palaeolithic period. Along with the dominant Azerbaijani element, the city reveals the evidences of Zoroastrian, Sassanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian presence. From the Upland Plateau it is possible to observe Icherisheher. The fortifying walls surrounding the city complex was destroyed several times during the foreign invasions. In due time, the walls encircling the town had 2 or 3 lines. There were deep moats joined with the sea by the channels among them. Up to now the walls of the 12th century have been preserved.
Shamakhy gates patents the entrance to the fortress. The Donjon castle of 12th century is also located nearby the gates. During the past, guards of the fortress observed the surroundings of the city from this castle. And in case of danger, people could refuge in it. Strolling nearby and taking a look at the loopholes of the archers you can imagine yourself in times, during the besiege and attacks of the the enemy hordes.
The historical- architectural complex of “Icheri Sheher” includes more than 10 mosques and madrasahs. The minaret of the mosque Muhammad, known as “Synyg Gala” (broken tower) was the earliest architectural construction related to Islam not only in Baku, but also in the whole Azerbaijan. It has been preserved in the fortress, constructed by the architect Muhammad Ibn Abu Baker. The Arabic inscription on the stone slap by the entrance is dated back to the year of 471 on Hijri calendar. Other old mosques in Icherisheher are Lezghin Mosque, Mosque of Guleyli, Mosque of Mirza Ahmad, China Mosque, Juma Mosque, Mosque of Hajibani and Mosque of Seyid Yahya.
The inseparable part of the old town is the caravanserai, from which only four have been preserved: Bukhara Caravanserai of the 15th century, Khan Caravanserai of the 15th century, Multanu Caravanserai of the 15th Century and Caravanserai of Gasim bey of the 17th century. The caravansarais testify that Baku conducted wide trade with India and Central Asia even in the Middle Ages
Another monument of universal value, one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture is the 12th- to 15th century Shirvanshahs’ Palace, located at the highest point of Icherisheher. The architectural complex consists of the palace, the divankhana, which is the place where foreign ambassadors used to meet each other, the mosque of palace with minaret, the mausoleum of Seyid Yahya Bakuvi, the eastern portal and the bath structure. The Shirvanshahs’ Palace was built by the ruler of Shirvanshah Khalilullah the First (1417-1462) and his son Farrukh Yasar. In the past, the palace was surrounded by a wall with towers and, thus, served as the inner stronghold of the Baku fortress. The Palace described by UNESCO as “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture”. It is now operates as museum and open for tourists.
Maiden Tower- the symbol of Baku
It is a 12th century monument in the Old City, Baku, Azerbaijan. The site is considered as the symbol of Baku and was included into the list of World Cultural Heritage of UNESCO in December of 2000. The structure was erected at the coast of the Caspian Sea preserved its magnificence till our days. The Tower, which was included into the fortification system of Baku, was called “Maiden Tower” for its inaccessibility. There are several more towers in Azerbaijan named “Maiden Tower” as it means “unassailable” place.
The secrets of the greatest and most mysterious monument of Baku- the Maiden Tower, have not been fully revealed yet. There exist different versions in regard to the time and purpose of the construction. However, it is agreed that, Maiden Tower was already the main fortification construction of the Baku City in the 12th century. And till 1858 served as a lighthouse for all the ships entering the Baku Bay. The tower is built on the prominence of the coastal rock and represents a cylinder of 29.5 meters high and 16.5 in diameter constructed with the usage of grey limestone. The inner space of the tower is divided into 8 layers, each of which is covered with a stone cupola with a round opening. Light from outside was coming through narrow window loophole openings extending inwards.
Muhammad mosque was built in the XI century in Old city, Baku. The mosque is also known as Siniggala, for the name of its minaret – Siniggala (“damaged tower”). The mosque acquired its second name in 1723, when the shell of military squadron of Russian army, consisting of 15 warships attacking Baku, hit in the minaret of Muhammad Mosque and damaged it. It is the first building in Azerbaijan, which is related to Islam and dated for its architectural ligature.
Museum of Miniature Books
the only museum in the world dedicated to miniature editions of books in numerous languages. Books here are written in several languages including Azeri, Russian, English, and German. The oldest book in the museum is a miniature copy of the Quran. It dates back to the 17th century. The smallest tome (6mm x 9mm) is the Russian book “The Most Miraculous Thing. It can only be read by using a magnifying glass.
Martyrs Lane, Baku- is a cemetery and memorial in Baku, dedicated to those killed by the Soviet Army during Black January and later to those killed in Nagorno-Karabakh War. The memorial is located in Highland Park, one of the highest picks of Baku city. In 1920s, English soldiers who sent to Baku after the fall of the Russian Emperor were also buried here along with the victims of March 1918 massacre of Azerbaijan people by armed armenian groups.
Heydar Aliyev Center- a building complex designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. The building is very distinctive for its unique architectural design and flowing, curved style that eschews sharp angles. In 2014, the Center won the Design Museum’s Design of the Year Award. This made Zaha Hadid the first woman to win the top prize in that competition. One of the internationally recognized architectural works, the building of the Heydar Aliyev Center has become a signature landmark of modern Baku due to its innovative and cutting-edge design. its innovative and cutting-edge design. Now, it operates as museum and event hall.
Baku Boulevard- Baku’s much loved ‘Bulvar’ has been central to city life for well over a hundred years. Originally occupying just a few hundred metres from today’s Puppet Theatre to Azneft Square, the historic Boulevard has gradually lengthened. In early June 2015, it witnessed its most dramatic expansion to date, with the newly unveiled Baku White City and Bayil Boulevards stretching several kilometres further east and west.
Fountain Square- Fountains Square is a public square in downtown Baku, capital of Azerbaijan. The square was previously called Parapet and is often referenced by the same name now. The name of the fountains square derives from the presence of dozens of fountains throughout the square. The fountains were first constructed here during Soviet rule of Azerbaijan. The square is a public gathering place, especially after business hours and during the weekend.
Nizami street- This is one of the most famous shopping streets in Baku, a hip and bustling pedestrianised avenue with a rich variety of shops, including small outlets, souvenir stores and supermarkets. While shopping is undoubtedly the principle activity on Nizami Street, the architecture is also a huge draw. The buildings here feature a number of different architectural styles, including Baroque, Renaissance and Neo- Gothic. The area is brilliantly illuminated by lights and decorations.
Azerbaijan Carpet Museum- Azerbaijan 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 structure of the building is intended to look like a rolled carpet. Designed by Austrian architect Franz Janz, the building took over six years to construct.
Flame Towers- Flame Towers is a trio of skyscrapers in Baku, Azerbaijan, including the tallest in the country, with a height of 182 m. The buildings consist of apartments, a hotel and office blocks. The cost of Flame Towers was an estimated US$350 million. Construction began in 2007, with completion in 2012. Currently, the building contains Fairmont Hotel and residential suites.
Azerbaijan National Museum
National Museum of Azerbaijani Literature named after Nizami Ganjavi- museum is located in the center of Baku. It is near to the Fountain Square and next to the entrance of Icheri Sheher. To date, this museum is one of the largest and richest treasuries of Azerbaijani spiritual culture. In 30 main and 10 auxiliary rooms, there are more than 3 thousand manuscripts, books, illustrations, portraits, sculptures, miniatures, memoirs of writers and other expositions. Part of the building now operating as a bookstore.
The Ismailiyya Palace is a historical building constructed in 1913 that currently serves as the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan. The palace was constructed by Józef Plośko at the expense of the millionaire Musa Naghiyev in commemoration of his deceased son Ismayil, and was named Ismailiyya after him. Agha Musa described the stone statue at the entrance of central and angels around it as follow: if Ismail were alive, İ would have lots of grandchildren around me, like angels around the statue.
Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre was built in 1910 by the famous construction engineer, Baev. As with other works of national architecture from the beginning of the century, it includes elements and features of baroque, rococo and Moorish styles. The development of the national opera is linked to the name of one of the outstanding composers of the 20th century, the founder of Azerbaijani professional music, Uzeyir Hajibeyli, who created the first Azerbaijani opera, Leyli and Majnun in 1908.
The Government House of Baku
Also known as House of Government, it is a main government building housing various state ministries of Azerbaijan. It is located on Neftchiler Avenue and faces the Baku Boulevard. The rear side of the building faces busy Uzeyir Hajibeyov Street of central Baku. Government House was designed for 5,500 people.
Little Venice is a small town in Baku Boulevard built in 1960. It was expanded up to 10.000 sq.m. in 2012. The town has two large and several small islands, which are connected by decorative stone bridges, and gondolas can be seen travelling in the channels full of still and clean water. he restaurants located in the ‘islands’ offer various meals of the different cuisine, including Azerbaijanian tasty dishes.
Sebayil Castle is a castle in Baku, Azerbaijan, on the coast of the Caspian Sea. The castle is named after the surrounding area of Bayil. The structure is also known as the “Atlantis of the Caspian Sea”. This mythically sunken city is surrounded by an aura of secrets, legends and enigmas. Bayil Castle was once one of the most important structures for defending Baku.
Azerbaijan National History Museum is a museum located in the house of Taghiyev, the oil magnat lived in the early XX century. The building itself is a luxurious palace was constructed at the end of the 19th century. Established in 1920, Azerbaijan History Museum is one of the oldest as well as biggest museums located in Azerbaijan. The collection and exhibits show the development of the material and spiritual culture, originals of the documents of political history and social-economic life of Azerbaijan from ancient times till nowadays.
Philarmonic Garden- formerly known as the Governor´s Garden or Vahid Park, remains one of the most visited places in the capital city Baku. Located next to the ancient part of Baku, the Old city, the park covers vast area. The garden, which occupies an area of 4.6 hectares, was founded in 1830. All merchants who arrived in after 1830 by sea were obliged to bring several cubic meters of fertile soil and seedlings. Thanks to this a large garden was created outside the Fortress Wall with rare exotic trees and shrubs.
The Palace of Happiness
This was the home of the millionaire Muxtarov. He wanted the building as a surprise Valentine gift for his (second) wife. She is supposed to have adored a similar building she’d seen while doing the ‘grand tour’ in Italy. So Muxtarov simply paid the renowned Qasumov brothers to build a copy. The Palace of Happiness currently also called Palace of Marriage Registrations
This was the home of the millionaire Muxtarov who built it as a surprise Valentine gift for his (second) wife. She is supposed to have adored a similar building she’d seen while doing the ‘grand tour’ in Italy, so Muxtarov simply paid the renowned Qasumov brothers to build a copy.
Muxtarov, as a ruthless industrialist, despised the Bolshevik troublemakers who led damaging strikes during much of the period. He is said to have personally threatened Stalin with ‘a whipping or worse’ if he came near any of Muxtarov’s factories. Yet the old man was too stubborn to flee during 1920 when the Red Army was marching to overthrow the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, convinced that no ‘worker’ would dare cross the threshold of his palace. However, two Bolshevik horsemen rode straight in. Without dismounting they demanded his surrender to the new communist authorities. ‘Get off my bloody carpet’ bawled Muxtarov and shot them dead. He shot himself straight after, though his wife somehow escaped out the back door.
The Palace of Happiness currently also called Palace of Marriage Registrations.
The Bibi-Heybat Mosque
The Bibi-Heybat Mosqueis a historical mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan. The existing structure was built in the 1990s. It is a recreation of the mosque with the same name built in the 13th century by Shirvanshahs. It was completely destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1936. The mosque was built over the tomb of the daughter of the seventh Shiite Imam – Musa al-Kazim, who fled to Baku from persecution of caliphs.
Central Botanical Garden- Created in 1930s, Botanic Garden in the center of Baku has become an oasis in the city. The garden built on an area over 40 hectares is considered one of the green-cultural centers of Baku. At present, the garden has 2,000 species. This includes valuable local and exotic trees, bushes, floral and herbal plants including 125 rare and endangered species from different botanic-geographical regions.
Want to explore Baku City more? Then, see our Baku City tour