Baku – the capital of wealth and poverty Apkmusk

What to see in the capital?

The old town is definitely worth visiting. It’s home to quite a few museums, old buildings and the mighty 12th-century Maiden Tower that once served as defence against the attacks of the Mongol and other people who wanted to conquer the city. The tower houses a collection of weapons and a chronological depiction of the city’s development and sieges. You can climb to the top where you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful view of the capital and the Bay of Baku, which is part of the Caspian Sea. The capital’s major symbol are the three Flame Towers that symbolise sails that are “ablaze”. The towers are now Azerbaijan’s tallest buildings and they resemble flames. The “fiery” trio can be seen from the city’s most distant locations and are Baku’s emblem. The Flame Towers house a hotel, flats, offices, restaurants and a cinema. They’re completley covered in LED screens depicting moving flickering flames. Baku is a rapidly developing city, similar to those in the Middle East, thanks to the money coming from oil and gas fields. Wherever you are in the city’s outskirts, you’ll run into them. The fields operate round the clock, pumping black gold, and one really wonders how much longer they’ll keep doing that.


James Bond in Baku

There’s an unusual part of the capital that was named after James Bond, since the film was shot there. It was here, among the oil and gas fields in 1999, that the actor Pierce Brosnan raced in the BMW Z8 sportscar in The World Is Not Enough. Today, the oil fields are a popular tourist destination, not because they’re attractive or photo-worthy, but because they’ve become a cult destination because of James Bond. But if you’re a tourist visiting Azerbaijan, then the chances are you want to take a few selfies in a historically interesting environment. In the oil and gas fields, there’s not much else to do than to step out of the car, take the selfie and brag about it for the rest of your life. Even though there’s no public transport leading directly to the oil and gas fields, there are a few bus lines that will take you just close enough for you to be able to walk among the fields. And if you plan on exploring the capital by bus, you should take enough time. That’s because it’ll take more than two hours getting from the centre to the city’s outskirts, due to dense traffic and new mega construction projects.


Little Venice

There’s a few-kilometre-long promenade winding along the capital’s Caspian coastline. You’ll probably notice the building shaped like a snail which houses the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum. The promenade has lots of various playground equipment for children, photo exhibitions and even a copy of Little Venice that consists of artificial water canals. They were built in 1960 and then expanded in 2012. It’s a labyrinth of canals, dotted with islands which are connected by stone bridges and gondolas that row in the canals. One of the numerous harbours in the bay even offer a half-an-hour boat tour in the Caspian Sea, so you can admire the city from the water as well and enjoy the beautiful view of the capital’s beachfront. The boat tour will cost you 2.50 euros.

Face coverings was still mandatory on public transport a while ago. When I took a small bus in order to leave the city’s outskirts, a policeman entered to check if everyone was wearing a mask. One of the passengers didn’t want to wear a mask, so he had to leave the bus. Today, Baku is a city almost on par with Dubai when it comes to architectural gems and new mega construction projects, but people still retain their Caucasian hospitality for now.



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