For many people, Christmas means it’s time to take a trip to an unexplored destination. Baku is the perfect place to visit.
Baku is the capital and largest city in Azerbaijan. It is the cultural and industrial center of the country. It has many popular tourist attractions including the Fountain Square, Shikhov Beach and Oil Rocks. It also has several shopping malls where you can get great holiday gifts.
Here are some things you will want to check out when you visit.
There are two Christmas in Baku. One of the is Located inside the old city of Ischerisheher. This market is open year-round, but it revamps at Christmas to be more in line with the holiday season. It’s a great place to find Christmas gifts, souvenirs and national food items.
The other market is located on Nizami St., one of the city’s central streets. The market is named in the Azerbaijan language, but it translates as “Cold Hands, Warm Heart”. It is organized by the Nargiz Fund with proceeds going towards charity.
Th market is a great place for finding souvenirs and books. Stores and restaurants in the area also host their own stands. There is a huge Christmas tree in the center of the market and the stalls are festively decorated. Music plays for those that stroll through.
Attend Midnight Mass
The Baku markets infuse the city with the sprit of Christmas, so it may surprise you to find out that a good amount of the population does not celebrate the holiday. This is due to the fact that a lot of the population is not Christian. Therefore, the emphasis of the holiday lands on the Epiphany (the day when Christ was said to have met the Wise Man) which occurs on January 6.
In spite of this, the country has a Western influence that keeps the city celebrating for a full twelve days. Celebrations start on Christmas Eve and go through the day of the Epiphany and the city is lit up all the way through.
The religion of the area also does not change the fact that it’s a good place to celebrate midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The Church of the Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception is recommended for this type of quiet reflection. It is conveniently located near the Khatai metro station.
Explore the Old City
Baku has an Old City section that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is surrounded by a wall that marks the boundaries to which the city used to extend. Go to the Visitor Information Center to schedule a guided tour or set out on foot yourself.
This section of the city is filled with historical sites including an old building that is said to date back to the 11th century, although some historians think it dates back to the 7th century.
While in the Old City, be sure to check out the Maiden Tower. This landmark happens to be pictured on the country’s currency. The tower houses a museum where you can learn about Baku’s history. You can also climb to the top to take in some amazing sites.
Shirvanshas Palace is another Old City must see site. The Shirvanshas is the dynasty that ruled Azerbaijan from the 9th century to the 16th century. The 15th century building is described as “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture. It has been included in artwork and featured on postage stamps.
It features the main building of the palace, burial vaults, the shah’s mosque with a minaret, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi’s mausoleum, Murad’s gate, a reservoir and remnants of the bath house. It’s a great place to take in views of the surrounding city.
Filarmoniya Park is located outside of the Old City. It’s well maintained and features a stately fountain and impressive landscapes. It makes for a great way to connect with nature and there are plenty of picnic areas as well.
The Baku Eye is Baku’s version of the London Eye, Europe’s largest Ferris wheel. However, the one in Baku is not nearly as tall. In any case, it provides terrific views of the Caspian Sea.
If you ride at night, you will also be able to catch a glimpse of the “burning” flame towers. These are three flame shaped towers that represent the element of fire. They are located in a region where natural gas flares shoot out from the earth.
The Carpet Museum
The Carpet Museum features a collection of Persian carpets. It explores the history of carpet weaving and Azeri ceramics and costumes. The building itself is designed to resemble a folded-up carpet.
Older and newer carpets are on display and they are inspiring pieces of art. Exhibits have English explanations.
You can even make a day of sitting outside the museum. It features a canal called Mini Venice. You can watch the boats go by or even take a boat ride yourself.
Fountain Square is located in the heart of the downtown area which is full of restaurants, cafés, shops and bars. It is so called for the grand fountain located in its center.
The Caspian Waterfront
You will also want to take a stroll through the park located at the Caspian waterfront. It is usually decorated for Christmas and it provides a great view of the city and it surrounding areas. It features greenhouses with exotic plants from all over the world. There are also plenty of restaurants, rides and arcades.
Baku may seem like an unlikely holiday location, but with so much to see and do, it makes perfect sense to add it to your holiday itinerary. What will you be doing when you arrive?
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