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Exploring Baku

It’s Friday, and time for a flashback to an old Travel with Intent post.

Burrowing into Baku

Originally posted March 18, 2019, all images Baku, March 2017

Come burrow with me!

I’m back to the topic of BBC’s Race Across the World (series 1, episode 2 shown in 2019): the second checkpoint in the show was Baku, so I thought I’d show you around that wonderful city, and let you burrow into a more detailed view of the place. (See here for first checkpoint.)

The contestants’ first point of call on arrival in Baku, was the Heydar Aliyev Centre. This is one of Zaha Hadid’s curvy designs, a building that I adore, especially in good light, as it creates fascinating reflections and shadows. They arrived in the evening, though, and oh was I jealous. It looked terrific at night, so now I must return.

While I save up my pennies, though, let me show you what it looks like during the day. Let’s get burrowing!

Outside Heydar Aliyev Centre, Baku, March 2017

The centre opened in 2012, and was named after Heydar Aliyev, the first secretary of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1969 to 1982, and president of the Azerbaijan Republic from October 1993 to October 2003.

After this exciting modern introduction to Baku, let’s head into the centre and check out the old town and the must-not-miss Maiden Tower. Too far to walk, so it’s metro or taxi for us.

We can also find reminders of Azerbaijan’s Soviet days. In fact, just speak to the locals and you’ll find that many of them still converse in Russian as their first language.

Old phonebox

Wherever you wander, it’s hard to avoid the modern, but I very much enjoyed that combination of old and new. The curvaceous Flame Towers are found lurking around every corner, and on every skyline.

View from Maiden Tower

And here the flames pop up again!

And again!

And again – popping up at night

Ok, enough peeping at them from down here. Let’s jump on the funicular and take the lazy route to the higher level of the city.

As it happens, in the tv show, the funicular broke down the day before the competitors arrived. The final checkpoint had been set as the hotel that is located inside one of the flames. As a result, they all ended up clambering (with all the speed they could muster) the long flights of stairs to get there.

At this upper level, you’ll find the sorrowful but interesting Alley of Martyrs and Eternal Flame, which I’ve shown you before, but it’s time to head to the Flame Towers, I think.

And this is where the episode ended, so I’ll leave you here to enjoy the views back down.




Copyright Debbie Smyth, 18 March 2019

Posted as part of Fandango’s Flashback Friday


5 replies »

  1. What a beautiful, fascinating place, Debbie! I wasn’t familiar with the name so thanks for the intro. I normally am not thrilled by the old-modern combination but it works well here. I especially love your set of shots from in and around the Centre!

    Liked by 1 person

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