City of the winds

Flame Towers, Bakı

Bakı is a city like no other. The capital city of Azerbaijan is shaped by the fossil resources available at the shore of the Caspian sea: oil and gas. They’re owned by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and create visible wealth and they are so widely available that they even remain unused and create continuously burning mountains and bubbling mud volcanoes. An endless number of horsehead pumps are moving around the city, three skyscrapers are shaped like flames and there is even a religion (Zoroastrianism) that worships the flame.

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Atəşgah fire temple, Bakı

A magic place outside of Bakı. The Atəşgah fire temple is a religious place formerly used by Zoroastrianism and Hinduism. It became so famous that even Jules Vernes and Alexandre Dumas visited it and wrote about it. Once you’ve passed the historic walls of Atəşgah you’ll see an eternal flame protected by a building at the center and rooms surrounding it but leaving a large courtyard around the fire.

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Azerbaijani avant-garde

Museum of Modern Art, Bakı

The Museum of Modern Art (Müasir İncəsənət Muzeyi) at Bakı is an unexpected gem aside of the areas typically visited by touristis – the old city center is far away, even the boulevard stretching along the shore ends before you reach the museum. Once you’ve found your way you’ll be rewarded with a large collection of contemporary Azerbaijani art in a very special museum building.

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Old town, Bakı

The Dağüstü park of Bakı is located on one of the highest hills of the city and close to the city center. Most people get up there to enjoy nice views on the old town (İçərişəhər) and the Caspian sea. But the area has more to offer than that: up there you’ll find the parliament building, the Flame towers, a Turkish mosque with rich decorations and the alley of the martyrs (Şəhidlər Xiyabanı) which includes around 15,000 graves.

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Xalça Muzeyi

Carpet museum, Bakı

Carpet making has a long tradition at Azerbaijan. There are different schools for that and every region has its unique style. To remember that and to built a bridge between the traditional and the new Azerbaijan the new carpet museum (Xalça Muzeyi) has been opened at Bakı in 2014 directly at the shore of the Caspian sea. The architecture of the museum is special as it copies the shape of a rolled-up carpet (or a jelly roll) – a nice idea, but it seems to make presenting the collection of carpets and rugs a bit uneasy.

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National art museum

Museum of Fine Arts, თბილისი

A fantastic collection of art can be found southeast of the  İçəri Şəhər of Bakı: the Azərbaycan Milli İncəsənət Muzeyi (national art museum). It was founded in 1936 and contains 17,000 items of which 3,000 are on display in two buildings dating back to the first oil boom in Azerbaijan. And that is already the most important thing you need to know: the museum consists of two buildings that are connected and which you both need to see.

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Manatı and Qəpik

Manatı, Bakı

If you need to pay at Azerbaijan you’ll have to use the Azərbaycan Manatı (AZN, ₼). The currency symbol is like the Euro sign but rotated 90 degrees to the right and that is not the only connection to the Euro: the Manatı notes and coins might look familiar to Europeans as they’ve been designed by the same currency designer, Robert Kalina. The Manatı is divided into 100 Qəpik and all available coins are Qəpik, the smallest note is one Manatı.

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Heydər Əliyev Mərkəzi

Heydər Əliyev Merkezi, Bakı

The most impressive modern building at Bakı is the Heydər Əliyev Mərkəzi: a cultural center built until 2012 and named after the former president Heydər Əliyev (reigning from 1993 to 2003). It was designed by star-architect Zaha Hadid and opened by president İlham Əliyev, the son of Heydər Əliyev. It looks like a giant sculpture without right angles and flat surfaces. The cultural center includes the national museum, exhibition and concert halls as well as a library.

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