As spring comes to Azerbaijan, the concierge at the Four Seasons Baku, one of the city’s foremost luxury hotels, gives their recommendations for what first-time visitors should do when out and about in the Caspian’s premier city
Philharmonic Garden (Governor’s Garden)
One of the oldest parks in Baku – the Governor’s Garden – named after its position in front of the former Governor’s House, was designed in the 1930s. For many years, ordinary citizens had limited access to the park while nobles, oil millionaires and high society representatives could visit the grounds at any time. The famous State Philharmonic and the House of Poets are located in this park. Today visitors admire the numerous parrots, atypical for the fauna of Azerbaijan, live in the trees of the garden.
Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape
The Gobustan State Historical and Cultural Reserve renown for its perfectly preserved rock paintings- petroglyphs – an artistic ‘archive’ of human evolution on Earth is around 40 miles southwest of the centre of Baku. After Gobustan, the ‘Mud Volcanoes’ are an essential visit. This is a unique site in which 300 of the planet’s estimated 700 mud volcanoes sit. Just like magmatic volcanoes, these volcanoes can erupt powerfully and hurl flames to great heights (sometimes even several hundred of meters). They spew out millions of cubic meters of hydrocarbon gases and a lot of mud…
Ateshgah (Zoroastrian fire temple) Yanardagh – flaming mountain
Azerbaijan is one of the few places on earth, where one can observe elements of a preserved fire cult and the ancient Zoroastrianism religion. These places where oil oozes from the earth, and natural gas breaks out like flaming torches have always attracted fire worshipers from around the world. The Fire Temple Ateshgah (literally Fire House) is located 30 kilometers from the center of Baku, in the southeastern outskirts of the Absheron Peninsula. Next to this small village in the Absheron peninsula, Mount Yanardagh is situated. The word “Yanar” in Azeri means “burning”, and “Dagh” means “mountain”.
Heydar Aliyev Centre
You cannot visit Baku without seeing the city’s most esteemed building, the Heydar Aliyev Centre.
The distinctive building, famous for its curved architecture, was designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. It was created as the central cultural hub for Azerbaijan but is also a symbol of optimism for the Azeri culture as it represented a move away from the more rigid architecture of the Soviet era.
Located in the old town, colloquially known as “Icharishahar”, is Shirvanshahs’ Palace. There are a number of sites to see in the old town but this central part of the the ancient Shiranshahs kingdom has been described by UNESCO as “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture”. The main features of the palace include the Palace Mosque, the Keygubad Mosque and the Mausoleum of Seyyid Yahya Bakuvi.
Baking of Traditional Bread- Tandir
Food is a key part of Azeri culture. As you walk around the old town, a site not just to see but to taste is the women making the fresh traditional bread of Azerbaijan, known as Tandir. Sit on the street, watching the passers by with your Tandir in one hand and a black tea in the other, there is no better way to emerse yourself in the Azeri culture.
The Four Seasons is situated at the gate of the Old Town, Baku’s famous Boulevard which lines the seafront. It has two restaurants, a whiskey and cigar bar, and an indoor pool and spa.
Online Editor: Candice Tucker