My Time Capsule: March 2018


Azerbaijan: Old City Of Baku

Baku, October 2017

If you've been following my stories in this blog, you might have noticed that I adore old architecture and ruins. Ancient stuff triggers my curiosity thus I always make sure to explore Old Towns when I travel. I just love getting lost while wandering through those small alleys and the gorgeous maze of cobblestone streets. I would let my imagination go wild thinking about events it has been witnessing through the centuries. Each corners has a story waiting to be revealed.

This post is mostly a photo essay and at the very end of this post I'll let you know what's my thoughts about Baku Old Town...

entering the gate

sandy-coloured buildings

Aliagha Vahid

I walked towards a garden just behind the metro station when I saw this bronze statue. At a first glance there was nothing special about this statue. I thought he looked a lot like one of my uncles. But as I got closer, I was stunned by the detailed sculpture. His hair is actually some inscription which depicts life scenes from sad to happy, also how Azerbaijan was influenced by Iran, Russia and Turkey. To be honest, I've never heard about him before but apparently Aliagha Vahid was born in Baku and once was a well known poet in Azerbaijan. He also helped to translate Persian literary works into Azerbaijan language. He passed away in 1965 at the age of 70. To honour his dedication, in 1990 Rahib Hasanov, Natig Aliyev and Sanan Salamzadeh sculpted the 10-foot-tall bronze. 

European buildings are influenced by the Russians

the wall

Baku Old City or Icheri Sheher is the most ancient part of Baku. Along with the Palace of Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower, it became the first location in Azerbaijan to be classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Not only some historic spot, there's also hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and museum inside Baku Old City. Now more than 4000 native people still live in this Inner City. Surprisingly it was quite empty when I was there.

contrast of the old and modern city

Bakuvi Mausoleum 

Palace of the Shirvanshahs shouldn't be missed when you are in Old Town of Baku. The complex contains the main building of the palace, Divanhane, the burial-vaults, the shah's mosque with a minaret, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi's mausoleum, a portal in the east, Murad's gate, a reservoir and the remnants of a bath house. Built in 15th century, the palace is now serves as a museum where a series of historic treasure are being kept. The Palace is located hilltop so I could get a nice view of the modern city at the background, including the famous trio Flame Towers. 

Caravanserai Restaurant

cellar underneath 

a laid back city indeed

the Royal Mosque

Baku is undoubtedly a pretty city, however I personally think that the Old City of Baku is somehow lacks of character and soul. Partly this could be the impact from earthquake but also from illegal demolition and uncontrolled development. Sadly, some part of it has lost its authenticity.

I was expecting a more exotic setting like hustle bustle of local doing their daily activities which I experienced in Morocco and in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Or something like coming out from the movie of Aladdin. Though I know that Aladdin doesn't come from Azerbaijan. Some source even confirmed that Aladdin was actually from China? Dang! It really ruins my childhood imagination! Anyway it could be me missing some areas and didn't explore it thoroughly. I definitely should have stayed in one of the hotels inside the Old City. Perhaps I would be able to absorb the atmosphere better.

All in all Baku is still a destination worth to visit. Built on a site inhabited since the Palaeolithic, the Walled City of Baku has been a witness of some era from Zoroastrian, Sasanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian. It's like a melting pot which is certainly rich in custom and culture. And have I mention that the people are genuinely friendly? While not all destinations would meet our expectation, there's always something unique to immerse. Would I give Baku another shot? Absolutely! There's still many places I want to see and many things to experience there.

Have you been to Baku before? Or is Baku on your bucket list?


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