By Joseph Varghese
Known for its ancient monuments and an Old City, said to be dating back to the BC era, Azerbaijan as well as its capital Baku is presently a melting pot of old age and modernity. Situated in Eurasia, this South Caucasus country is a land of ethnicity, modernity and originality.
With several modern skyscrapers and beautiful architectural designs of imposing buildings, the city also preserves its cultural heritage by keeping the entire Old City intact and well maintained.
Azerbaijan, thriving on its oil resources, especially after it became independent in 1991 from the former Soviet Union, is a treat for tourists with the beautiful city of Baku, welcoming the visitors and showcasing an expansive array of cuisine, culture and clothes among others.
From the lovely coastline of the Caspian, the wonderful locales of the midland to the mighty snow-clad mountains, the country is a traveller’s delight to explore. Bordering with Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Iran and Armenia, the country has something to offer for everyone from the beautiful Baku to the soaring Shahdagh peak.
Baku is located 28 metres – about 92 feet below the sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world located below sea level. Situated on the Caspian Sea, Baku is also the largest city on the Caspian and is famed for its medieval walled Old City and the modern marvels of architecture.
“The country has transformed into a major tourist destination in the recent years. We welcome millions of visitors every year. The people of the country are very welcoming and we have a very hospitable culture. Our history goes back to the very ancient times and we are now living in modern city with all its elegance. It is truly a mix of ancient era and modernity,” Abbasov Fazil, Chairman of The Board Of Journalists Association told Community.
The Maiden Tower in the Old City, although widely believed to be built in the 11th century, many claim that some part of the tower was built quite earlier than the given period- as well as the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a vast royal complex, are some of the highlights that no visitor to the city can miss. The Maiden Tower built in the shape of a cylinder with a height of 29.5 metres, has a diameter of 16.5 metres. The walls on the ground floor are five metres thick and the interior of the tower is divided into eight floors.
Not just the age of the Maiden Tower, but even the origin and purpose of the tower is shrouded in the mystery. No one knows for certain when it was built or what it was built for or even how it got its name Maiden Tower. There are several versions and there is no real written document about its construction or other aspects. The tower has a well, 0.7 metres in diameter, concealed in the south-eastern part of the wall. The mouth of the well is on the 3rd floor and it descends 13 metres to the bottom through the wall suggesting that it might have been used for the water and sewage system in the Old City.
Modern landmarks include the magnificent Heydar Aliyev Centre, and lovely Flame Towers, three pointed skyscrapers covered with LED screens, among others. The city is also bustling with several new high rise buildings and several construction activities are underway.
Heydar Aliyev Centre, a museum that showcases life and works of the father of modern Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, is a major attraction for the tourists. The building designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid is noted for its distinctive architecture and flowing, curved style that avoids sharp angles. The museum presents all information about the life and activities of Heydar Aliyev, who ruled the country from 1993 to 2003.
Flame Towers, another major attraction in the bustling downtown of Baku, is a trio of skyscrapers. It has the tallest tower in the country, with a height of 182 metres. The buildings consist of 130 residential apartments over 33 floors, a hotel tower with 250 rooms and 61 serviced apartments, and an office block that provides about 33,114 square metres of office space.
“Life comes to a full cycle in this city. Originating from the very ancient times and travelling with the time and moving through the pulls and pushes of history, we are living in a modern city while preserving all the precious treasures of our culture and tradition,” added another city official.
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