An evening sunrise hidden by light cloud cover over the city of Old Town in Baku

Old Town Baku City – A Fascinating Insight Into The Capital Of Azerbaijan

Published on: April 24th, 2020 at 8:44 am

Baku city is the Azerbaijan capital and largest found in the country. The city first became popular after an oil boom in the 19th century. Before this, during the medieval ages, Baku was not the huge capital city it is now, however, it was still an important city because of the presence of a small port in the city.

During the 12th century, capital of Shirvanshah’s reign changed from Shamakhi to Baku Azerbaijan. This meant the relocation of the capital from Shamakhi to Baku occurred and increased the historical and political significance of Baku. The old city is a core part of the Baku city of today as it’s where people travelling to Baku can find lots of architectural monuments related to Shirvanshah’s Empire. For this reason, it is suggested to book a nice boutique hotel at the heart of the Old City with a great accommodation suggestion being the Museum Inn.   

A Infographic of what you can find at the Palace of the Shirvanchahs in Old Town, Baku

Where is Baku?

Before I explain the best things to do in Baku city and Old Town area you could possibly be wondering where is Baku and how do I go about travelling there? Great question as it’s not a travel destination that is going to be on everybody’s list.

Baku is located in the country of Azerbaijan and as stated above it is now also the capital of Azerbaijan and also the largest city as well. The country is found located next to the Caspian Sea and shares a border with four neighbouring countries that include Iran, Armenia, Georgia and Russia.

One cool fact about Baku Azerbaijan is that it holds the record for being the lowest lying national capital in the world and is found roughly 28 metres below sea level. Maybe travelling to Baku will appear more to you now that you know it holds that record?

Arriving at Baku is best done via flying straight into the capital of Azerbaijan. The Baku airport is called Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport and is a well-connected airport from destinations such as Europe, the Middle East and even has a direct flight from JFK airport in New York. In total there are 27 countries that offer direct flights to Baku serviced by leading airline companies such as Emirates, Etihad Airways,
Qatar Airways, and Ukraine International.

I hope this answers the first likely question you had of where is Baku Azerbaijan? Head to Skyscanner and find the best flight option and prices that suit your travel budget. Use these helpful flying tips to prepare for your Baku travel adventure.

Where to visit in the old city of Baku  

The Old City of Baku is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a location where the building is dramatically different from the rest of the modern town. The Old Town dates back to the sixth century and gives you a sense of the fascinating cultural background of the Zoroastrian, Safavid and Russian cultures in this area. Visiting the Old City is one of the top things to do In Baku and below are three things you shouldn’t miss seeing while travelling in Baku, Azerbaijan.  

A traditional old street found in Baku with a stone floor and bricked walls either side
The narrow yet beautiful streets found in Old Town, Baku in the capital city of Azerbaijan

Things to do in Baku

Below are three important locations found in the Old City of Baku. These are a great starting point for any visitor to Azerbaijan capital city of Baku.

Visit the Medieval Palace in Baku

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs was built at the Old City’s highest level above the Caspian Sea, in what became one of the most heavily populated regions. It takes around 10-minutes to walk, depending on your fitness level, to the Medieval Palace from the main entrance of the old city named Shamakhi Gates. Ticket costs for entrance are priced at 10 AZN.  

The complex’s buildings are clustered in three courtyards which are built 5.6 meters above each other on various floors. Since the palace is constructed on rough terrain, it does not have an architecturally ordered design.  

Unfortunately, after the Russian invasion on 10th February 1828, The Palace of the Shirvanshahs become the headquarters of the Russian army, and other palace structures were burnt and damaged. Unfortunately, all of the golden tools, throne and ceiling mosaic were stolen from the palace.

The Shirvanshahs Palace Complex was turned into a State Historic-Architectural Reserve and Museum in 1954 before The Soviet Republic authorities voted in 1960, to recognize the palace as a historic landmark.   

Take in the view of the Old City from the top of the Maiden Tower  

The Maiden Tower is a huge cylindrical tower built on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The Baku Maiden is now one of the main symbols of Baku and shouldn’t be missed while visiting the city.  The diameter of the tower on the first floor is 16.5 meters and the thickness (width) of the walls on the first floor reaches an impressive 5 meters. 

The inner part of the tower is divided into 8 floors and each floor is built from sawn stone and covered with a domed shaped ceiling. There are circular holes in the middle of these stone ceilings and the holes were purposely positioned in the direction of the vertical line. Thus, if you look through the circular hole in the middle of the ceiling of the VIII floor, you can see the floor of the first floor. 

The only entrance to the castle is an arched doorway on the west side, 2 meters above the previous surface and 1.10 meters wide. The height of the first floor of the tower is 3 meters, and the height of the other floors is 2.5 meters on average. The connection between the floors is maintained by stairs built inside the south-eastern wall of the castle. Interestingly, the connection between the first floor and the second floor is only possible via a ladder or a connected rope through a circular hole in the ceiling. 

It should also be noted that the gate of the fortress, in the past, consisted of several floors. This is evidenced by the remains of construction on the arched ceiling of the doorway, which is up to the width of the castle wall (5 meters). In addition, there were several wells in the past at the front door. If you climb up the Maiden Tower you will see one of the best panoramic views of the Old City of Baku. 

An ancient stone walled tower known as the Aiden Tower found in Baku Azerbaijan
Ancient Maiden Tower in Baku Azerbaijan

Traditional Restaurants of the Old City 

There is no doubt that İcharishar is the most visited place in Azerbaijan for both travellers and locals. At every corner, you will able to see traditional restaurants, cooking kebabs, baking tandir bread plus many other traditional Azerbaijan meals. 

Most of the traditional food dishes of Azerbaijan are made from either lamb or beef. It’s still not possible to find any vegan restaurant in the Old City, however, there are some located in the downtown area. If you’re in the area you must try the famous Shah Plov. The pilaf dish has been called the King of Meals in the East since the 15th century. This dish was among the most valuable dishes. Oriental peoples put pilaf on the table at weddings, big holidays when the dearest guests come. It would be almost criminal to leave Baku without trying it’s the most iconic dish, Shah Plov.

These are three simple but essential things to do in Baku while you are visiting the capital city of Azerbaijan. If you are looking to complete a tour to the above locations or you’re wanting to find out what other activities are possible while travelling in Baku then I suggest you check out one of the top-rated travel companies in Azerbaijan, called Baku City Tours. They have the biggest selection of tours in the city and great reviews from previous travellers on websites like TripAdvisor.

If you are wanting to find accommodation in Baku then as previously mentioned a great hotel is the Museum Inn. Booking.com has a large selection of Baku accommodation options though so compare the prices and make a choice that suits your travelling budget.

Travel budget tips

Either booking a new travel holiday right from the start or while on such a holiday can be expensive. Things like flights, accommodation, meals, transport and tours can add up fast and put a strain on what should be a fun time. These budget travel tips will assist with booking a holiday at the best price or staying on budget while travelling.

Organise Your Trip: Travel Advice and Tricks I Personally Use

Book Your Flight

Heading to either Skyscanner or Momondo are my methods of choice for this. They are my favourite as they search for flights from different companies all over the world. You can filter the results to suit your needs and ensure you land the best price every-time.

Book Your Accommodation

This is an important part of any holiday you’re going on. Read all the reviews and get the right accommodation via TripAdvisor. They even show you the best prices available at the time for that room from suppliers like Booking.com.For booking a hostel your best bet is to start with HostelWorld or possible even use CouchSurfing if you’re on a real budget.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is a must these days so you have a piece of mind you’re covered for anything that could go wrong while on your trip. I now never go on a trip away without travel insurance. I’ve been using World Nomads for the past few years.

My favourite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (cheaper option to just cover you for health issues)

Looking for the best companies to save money with?

As I have been travelling frequently over the last few years I’ve learnt some great tools to use for saving money when travelling. I have a travel resource page that lists all the trusted companies I personally use and rely on. I think you will find them good as well.

I also have a couple of great blogs that share quick and easy ways to save money on flights or accommodation. Take a look and save some cash on your next trip.

The Best Place To Book Your Tours

If you are someone you likes to have the best tours in one place and read reviews from other travellers about their personal experiences of each different tour then the best platform to use is GetYourGuide.

They offer the best tours, have money-back offers in case your trip is cancelled and ensure the price of each tour is the lowest possible.

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Last Updated on: June 8th, 2020 at 3:22 pm

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