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Published: June 15th 2018
BAKU - Capital of Azerbaijan
After checking in to Centrum Hostel near Fountain Square we went straight to the old town Metro station for the 10:30 am daily walking tour run by Eldar. Started in old town, stopped outside Palace of the Shirvanshahs, but didn’t longer in old part. Interesting to see the layers of history through the buildings, clearly Eldar's main interest. Many ancient ones destroyed once oil money arrived. Some very grand early 20th century ones. Complicated history of being taken over by different regional players. Good introduction and a great thing to do after a night flight!
Went with the other participant in yesterday's walking tour with a driver out for a day trip to Qobusta where there are mud volcanoes and the nearby Petroglyph reserve. Just under an hour out of Baku, the first stop was the petroglyph museum, then a short drive into the hills for a guided tour of the petroglyphs themselves. Layers of them dating from paleolithic times to middle ages. Beautiful landscape too on an escarpment overlooking the sea. Guide was interesting pointing out ones we would never have seen without the guide.
On to the mud volcanoes.
An area nearby with lots of hummocks of bubbling mud, entertaining to watch. Of 1000 mud volcanoes worldwide there are 400 here! THey are not hot but formed from the gases that tend to be around near oilfields.
Walked to the end of the boulevard park, carpet museum end, and took the a funicular up the hill to the Flame Towers. Surprisingly big and well laid out park at the top, great views over the bay that Baku sits in. Towers great for reflection photos. Adjoining the park is a memorial to those killed on Black Saturday in January1990. It’s a peaceful place with many plaques of the same size all with an engraved image and all with the same day of death. An eternal flame burns in a pagoda at he end of the walk.
In the morning we had taken the bus out to Heydar Oliyev Cultural Centre (designed by Zaha Hadid architects). Stunning building, all white and curves. Inside, as well as a lovely botanical café, it’s all shiny white, curves and interesting lighting. A few exhibits on different floors that we just passed by, more enjoyable to look at the
building itself. Two of the pieces of artwork are twins to ones in the QF HQ building.
Filled the day in with walking around old town, pretty and quiet in the early morning. Visited the Shah's Palace, very reconstructed but with some pleasant courtyards. Surprising number of groups of young children with 'teachers' for a Sunday. Had a crazily expensive coffee and odd bubble gum flavoured lemonade in a pretty terrace café next to the Maiden Tower.
Strolled along the waterfront again, he other way this time and joined a queue of people to go on a 30 mins cruise around the harbour (half the cost other aforementioned coffee). Back all the way to the other end of the waterfront thinking to visit the carpet museum, but no cameras even allowed in the building do gave up on that and went instead to the miniature book museum (free!). Run by the owner who proudly displays her Guinness world record certificate for the largest collection of miniature books. Some were lovely, the whole world of Shakespeare, others just looked like small books!
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