Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Baku, Azerbaijan

Baki (Baku in English) is the capital of Azerbaijan.  Not only is it the largest city on the Caspian Sea but it is the largest city in the Caucasus
Baku's Coat of Arms
At 28 meters (92 feet) below sea level, Baku is the largest city in the world below sea level.  It is home to 2.12 million people and the metro area contains about 25% of the country's population.  


İçǝri Şǝhǝr is Baku's old walled city.  The historical city center, along with the Shirvanshah's Palace and the Maiden Tower became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. 

Qiz Qalasi is the Maiden Tower.  It is 29.5 meters (97 feet) tall and it was built in the 12th century.  The legend goes that a king tried to force his daughter to marry a man she didn't love.  The princess agreed to marry the man only if her father first built her a tower.  As soon as the tower was completed she escaped having to marry him by jumping from the top to her death.

The Shirvanshah's Palace is in the center of old town.  Construction on the complex began in 1411 and it contains the main palace, burial vaults and a mosque.  In 1964 the state declared it a museum.

Baku's TV Tower was built in 1996.  It is 310 meters (1,017 feet) tall and is the tallest structure in Azerbaijan.  It is also the tallest reinforced concrete building in the Caucasus.

Fountains Square is still called by its old name, Parapet.  It is a popular gathering place in the city.

The Carpet Museum is in a building which resembles a rolled up carpet.  It is home to the world's largest collection of Azeri carpets.

National Flag Square was home to the world's tallest flagpole (162 meters / 531.5 feet).  It was the tallest until 2011 when the Dushanbe Flagpole in Tajikistan was built.

The Crystal Hall Arena was built in order to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012.

Martyrs' Lane used to be known as Kirov Park.  It is a cemetery and memorial to those killed in 1990 when Soviet forces invaded Baku, during Black January, when the Soviet Union was breaking up.  Later on it included soldiers killed in the war for Nagorno-Karabakh from 1988 to 1994.  Approximately 15,000 people are buried here.

There is also a memorial for 1,130 Turkish soldiers who were killed, in 1918, during the Battle of Baku against Bolshevik and Armenian troops.

The Heydǝr Əliyev Center is home to a gallery, a library and a performing arts venue.  Construction began in 2007 and was completed in 2012.  Below is an Extreme Engineering video I found on YouTube that gives more details about it.

The Flame Towers are by far the coolest buildings in Baku.  The three towers were completed in 2012 at a cost of around $350 million.

The facades are covered with LED screens which at night alternate between displaying a waving flag and flames.  Very cool!!


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