Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, is one of the Middle East’s most prominent cultural centres, as well as one of the world’s lowest lying capitals. Offering a mixture of 19th-century and modernist architecture, the city is home to a progressive European culture born out of the prosperity of the oil boom years.
Baku's history dates back to Stone Age paintings found on cave walls, while today remains one of the world's largest oil producers. It was the Shirvanshah rulers of the eighth century that influenced much of Azerbaijan's traditional culture, still visible in structures like the Maiden Tower and Mardakan Castle. Since then, Baku’s governance has changed hands between both Ottoman and Russian rule. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, Baku adopted a strategy of regeneration, one that has transformed the city with modern skyscrapers, luxurious shopping centres and a holiday experience bearing similarities to Dubai.
There’s many exciting things to do in Baku with plenty of modern and historical excursions available. The city’s UNESCO-listed Old Town is where you’ll find atmospheric restaurants serving the Three Dishes Dolma, as well as tea houses known as Chaikhana. The city’s best architecture can be found at Baku’s Palace of the Shirvanshahs while the Heydar Aliyev Centre and the Flame Towers showcase the modernity of the skyline. Nearby excursions are also available to thermal spas, mud volcanoes or the oil fields, where you can learn more about Azerbaijan's intriguing history.