Fun things to do in Baku

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    THE TALLEST FLAGPOLE IN THE WORLD

    by DAO Written Mar 13, 2015

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    At the time I saw this flagpole - it was the tallest in the world! I have a very unusual ability to see the tallest flagpole in the world – at the time. Little did I know that just 2 months later they would build a taller one in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Yes, I have a good tip here on this one as well (Dushanbe Flagpole). The interesting thing is – proving money can buy you anything – is that the same American designer David Chambers – created both. You really have to wonder if he told the Azeris he was already building a taller flagpole for another country.

    The pole is pole 162 m (531 ft) high and hoists a massive flag which is 70 by 35 metres (230 by 115 feet). It is located beside the sea inside National Flag Square (Dövlət Bayrağı Meydanı). The grand opening of the square and inauguration of the flag took place on 1 September 2010. The National Flag Museum was also established and 9 November is now the official National Flag Day.

    THE TALLEST FLAGPOLE - WHEN I SAW IT ! T
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    Tofiq Bahramov Statue

    by HORSCHECK Updated Jan 25, 2015

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    The Azerbaijani referee Tofiq Bahramonov became famous for being the Soviet linesman who awarded England the contenious goal during the 1966 football FIFA World Cup Final. His decision finally decided the game between England and Germany.

    His statue was erected in 2004 and inaugurated by UEFA president Michel Platini, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Geoff Hurst, who scored the goal for England.

    Directions:
    The Tofiq Bahramov Statue stands on the eastern side of the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium. The metro station "Genclik" is just in front of the stadium.

    Tofiq Bahramov Statue Tofiq Bahramov Statue Tofiq Bahramov Statue
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    Juma Mosque

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 24, 2015

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    The history of the Juma Mosque (Friday Mosque) is said to date back to the 15th century when a first mosque was constructed on the site of a pagan temple. It was reconstructed several times and the current structure was built in 1899 with means of a rich local oil merchant.

    During the Soviet era the mosque was converted into a carpet museum.

    Directions:
    The Juma Mosque is located in the southern part of Baku's old town (Icheri Sheher). It can be found about 200 metres south east of the Maiden Tower.

    Juma Mosque Juma Mosque: Entrance door Juma Mosque: Minaret Juma Mosque: Stone carvings Juma Mosque: Sign
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    Vahid Monument

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 24, 2015

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    Vahid is actually a pseudonym of the Azerbaijani poet Aliaga Isgandarov, who was born in Baku in 1895.

    The Vahid Monument was designed by the sculptuor Raghib Hasanov. From 1990 until the end of 2008 it stood in the public garden in front of the Philharmony. It was then moved to its present position in the old town (Icheri Sheher).

    Directions:
    The Vahid monument stands on a small square in the eastern corner of Baku's old town (Icheri Sheher). It can be found between the rear sides of the metro station "Icheri Sheher" and the Shirvanshah Palace.

    Vahid Monument Vahid Monument
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    Heydar Aliyev Centre

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 24, 2015

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    The Heydar Aliyev Centre is a multi-purpose building, which houses a conference hall, a gallery hall, a three floor museum and a cafe.

    The fluid form of the Heydar Aliyev Centre was designed by the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, who won the design competition for the building in 2007. The 74 metres tall structure consists of more than 2000 curved glass-fiber-reinforced polyester panels.

    The striking building was inaugurated in May 2012 by the current Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, who is the son of Heydar Aliyev.

    Directions:
    The Heydar Aliyev Centre is situated about 3 km north east of Baku's old town (Icheri Sheher). I went there by bus and walked back to the city centre.

    Website: http://www.heydaraliyevcenter.az/

    Heydar Aliyev Centre Heydar Aliyev Centre Heydar Aliyev Centre Heydar Aliyev Centre Heydar Aliyev Centre
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    Mosque of the Martyrs

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 24, 2015

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    The Mosque of the Martyrs (Shahidlyar mescidi), which is also often referred to as Turkish Mosque stands in a prominent position near the upper terminal of the funicular. From here panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed.

    The Ottoman style mosque was built with the financial support of the Turkish government. It was opened in 1992, but already in 2009 it was closed for restoration, as it was officially stated.

    On the façade some colourful tiles with a saying from the Koran in both Turkish and Arabic language can be seen.

    Directions:
    The Mosque of the Martyrs stands just between the Flame Towers and the Martyrs' Lane. The easiest way to get here is to use the funicular, which terminates just next to the mosque.

    Mosque of the Martyrs Mosque of the Martyrs Mosque of the Martyrs: Colourful tiles Mosque of the Martyrs: Colourful tiles
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    Tofiq Bahramov Stadium

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 24, 2015

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    The construction of the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium started in 1939 but due to the second world war it was only finished in 1951. At first it was named Joseph Stalin Stadium, but in 1956 the name was changed to Lenin Stadium. Later in 1993 the stadium got its current name: Tofiq Bahramov Stadium.

    With a capacity of 31.200 the stadium is the biggest of its kind in Azerbaijan. My first visit to the stadium was one day before the Europa League match between Qarabag Agdam and St. Etienne. As people were preparing for the event, I was able to get into the stadium and have a closer look.

    For more details please also read my "Sports tip" for a review about the Europa League match and my "Things to do tip" about the Tofiq Bahramov Statue.

    Directions:
    The Tofiq Bahramov Stadium is situated about 3 km north of Baku's old town. The metro station "Genclik" is just in front of the stadium.

    Tofiq Bahramov Stadium Tofiq Bahramov Stadium Tofiq Bahramov Stadium Tofiq Bahramov Stadium Tofiq Bahramov Stadium
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    Flame Towers

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 23, 2015

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    The three Flame Towers are the latest addition to Baku's skyline. With 182 metres in height and 39 floors the tallest of the three flame-shaped buildings is currently also the tallest building in the country. The two other towers are slightly lower.

    The building complex was opened in 2013 after 6 years of construction. The eastern tower is home to the Fairmont Hotel, whereas the other towers are planned to house offices and apartments. Apart from the hotel, the buildings looked quite empty during my visit in September 2014. I only noticed a brand new Lamborgini showroom in the base of the building complex.

    At night the three towers are illuminated by uncountable colourful LED screens which show different dynamic lightscenes, such as a burning fire or the Azerbaijani flag.

    Directions:
    The Flame Towers are located on a hill overlooking the Capian Sea. The easiest way to get to the building complex is to use the funicular, which terminates only about 100 metres west of the Flame Towers.

    Flame Towers Flame Towers Flame Towers seen from Baku Boulevard Illuminated Flame Towers by night
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    Martyrs' Lane

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 23, 2015

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    The Matyrs' Lane is a memorial complex, which consists of a cemetery, an Eternal Flame and several other memorials.

    It is mainly dedicated to the victims of the Azerbaijani independence movement against the Soviet Red Army in January 1990, also known as "Black January". The cemetery is also home to the graves of many casualties of the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

    At southern end of the cemetery stands the Eternal Flame on a large open space from where panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed.

    Another monument at the entrance to the Marty's Lane commemorates the Turkish and British deads of the Battle of Baku in 1918.

    Directions:
    The Martyrs' Lane is situated in the Highland Park (Dagüstü Park), just next to the Flame Towers and the Mosque of the Martyrs. The easiest way to get here is to use the funicular, which terminates just near the entrance to the Martyr's Lane.

    Martyrs' Lane: Eternal Flame Martyrs' Lane Martyrs' Lane Martyrs' Lane: Turkish memorial Martyrs' Lane: TV tower and Eternal flame
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    Richard Sorge Monument

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 23, 2015

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    Richard Sorge was born in 1895 in Baku to a German father and a Russian mother. He became a Soviet top agent, who during WWII informed the Soviet Union about Hitler's plan to attack the country.

    As he also knew about Japan's intention to not invade the Soviet Union from the east, the Red Army was able to concentrate on protecting the country in the west.

    Richard Sorge was arrested in Tokio in Oktober 1941 and hanged in November 1944. Only in 1964 he was awarded a Soviet National Hero.

    His monument was designed by the sculptor Vladimir Tsygal and it was erected in 1981. Until recently the eyes of the monument were illuminated at night.

    Directions:
    The Richard Sorge Monument stands at the western entrance to the Zorge Park, which can be found about 1 km north west of the train station at the Samed Vurgun Street.

    Richard Sorge Monument Richard Sorge Monument Richard Sorge Monument
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    Church of the Saviour

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 23, 2015

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    When I once walked along the street 28 May on my way from the train station to the old town, I came across the Church of the Saviour and noticed its appearance as a Lutheran Church. So I entered the churchyard and was soon approached by the caretaker, who was happy to talk to me in Russian. I must admit that I actually didn't understand much, as he was mumbling alot, but still he was more than happy to open the church for me.

    The Gothic style church was completed 1899 after designs of the German architect Adolf Eichler. As a Lutheran parish doesn't exist in Baku anymore, the church nowadays functions as concert hall of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

    Directions:
    The Church of the Saviour stands on the northern side of the 28th May street near the crossing with the wide Azadliq prospect. It can be found about 300 metres south west of the train station.

    Address:: Church of the Saviour, 28th May S. 17, Baku

    Church of the Saviour Church of the Saviour Interior of the Church of the Saviour
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    National Flag Square

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 23, 2015

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    The National Flag Square is home to a 162 metres tall flag pole with a 70 by 35 metres large Azerbaijani flag. The construction took almost 4 years and was led by the American designer David Chambers.

    At the time of its inauguration in September 2010 it was the tallest flag pole in the world.

    Already in May 2011 it was overtaken by a 165 metres tall flag pole in Dushanbe (Turkmenistan), which again hold the record only until a 170 metres tall flag pole was erected in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia in 2014.

    When I visited the National Flag Square it was totally fenced off so I couldn't really get on the square. Afterwards I heard that this was due to an upcoming presidential event.

    Directions:
    The National Flag Square is located at the southern end of the Baku Boulevard, which is a promenade along the Caspian Sea. The flag pole stands in the neighbourhood of the Crystal Hall.

    National Flag Square National Flag Square National Flag Square National Flag Square National Flag Square
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    Crystal Hall

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 23, 2015

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    The Crystal Hall is a multipurpose indoor arena with a capacity of up to 25.000 people. It was constructed between August 2011 and April 2012 just in time to host the Eurovision Song Contest on the 26th of May 2012.

    The building was designed by the German architect Volkwin Marg. The façade is covered with almost 10.000 LED lights for static and dynamic light scenes.

    Directions:
    The Crystal Hall is located on a peninsula at the southern end of the Baku Boulevard, which is a promenade along the Caspian Sea. It stands in the neighbourhood of the National Flag Square.

    Crystal Hall Crystal Hall Crystal Hall Crystal Hall and Flag Square by night
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    Sabunchi Railway Station

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 23, 2015

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    When I came out of Baku's central train station after my arrival by train from Tbilisi I noticed an oriental style building, which was nicely lit by the morning sun. As I later found out, it was the former Sabunchi Railway Station.

    It was completed in 1926 after designs of the Armenian architect Nikoghayos Baev. On the 26th of July 1926 the first electric train in the USSR started from here to the oil fields of Sabunchi.

    Since October 2012 the building is home to one of the world's biggest KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) restaurants.

    Directions:
    The former Sabunchi Railway Station dominates the northern side of the large square in front of the central train station. The metro station "28 May" can be found just next to the building.

    Sabunchi Railway Station Sabunchi Railway Station Sabunchi Railway Station Sabunchi Railway Station
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    Jafar Jabbarli Statue

    by HORSCHECK Written Jan 23, 2015

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    Jafar Jabbarli was a famous 20th century Azeri playwright and poet. He was born in 1899 in a small town outside of Baku and he died aged 35 in December 1934.

    In 1982 the Jafar Jabbarli Statue was erected in the middle of the large square just in front of the train station. It was designed by the local sculptor Mirali Mirgasimov.

    Directions:
    The Jafar Jabbarli Statue dominates the train station square. The metro stations "28 May" and "Jafar Jabbarli" are in close vicinity to the statue.

    Jafar Jabbarli Statue
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