Baku: First Impressions and İçərişəhər

I want more pictures. Hayley, where are the pictures? It doesn’t count if there are no photos…. Alright, I have heard the clamors of my blog’s audience. You want pictures, you got them right here!

But, in all seriousness, I can understand why you guys back home want to see pictures. Hopefully by now you all know where Azerbaijan is on the map, so you have a good idea of its geography and know that it is in the Caucasus. But what does a booming capital city in the Caucasus look like? Furthermore, Baku has been referred to as the “Pearl of the Caucasus,” what does that mean? Come and take a walk with me….

First Impressions

The first few photos I took during my first walk to my university, on my second day in Baku. I had trusty Google Maps on my phone to guide me and I got there alright! Even mustered up the courage to look like a dorky tourist and snap some photos. Since then, though, I’ve gone a different way to and from the university almost every time – still working on my route!

Area just north of my apartment

Area just north of my apartment

There are a surprising amount of fountains here; in front of buildings, in plazas, in parks, one on my university’s campus, everywhere.

There are a surprising amount of fountains here; in front of buildings, in plazas, in parks, one on my university’s campus, everywhere.

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Just walkin’ along

Just walkin’ along

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This would be an awesome photo if my finger didn’t get in the way. *sigh*

A building across from ASEU

A building across from ASEU

A couple buildings down from my university

A couple buildings down from my university

This is a plaza/park a short walk from my house. See? Fountains!

This is a plaza/park a short walk from my house. See? Fountains!

Ceiling design of the famed Içərişəhər metro station from my “Metro Mishap” post.

Ceiling design of the famed İçərişəhər metro station from my “Metro Mishap” post.

 Some buildings near my university

Some buildings near my university

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 Walking around....

Walking around….

 Another lovely fountain!

Another lovely fountain!

A nifty pavilion

A nifty pavilion

Floor detail surrounding the pavilion. I want this design in my future home someday.

Floor detail surrounding the pavilion. I want this design in my future home someday.

Detail on the pavilion window

Detail on the pavilion window

 Looking back

Looking back

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Just over that large wall is the Old City, or, Içərişəhər

Just over that large wall is the Old City, or, İçərişəhər

 The famous Flame Towers peaking over the trees

The famous Flame Towers peaking over the trees

 *Gasp* A fountain!

*Gasp* A fountain!

 Fountain Square. This is a huge swath of downtown Baku dedicated to shopping, restaurants, cafes, nightlife, entertainment, the arts....it’s pretty amazing. I’ll try to write a separate post about this in the future.

Fountain Square. This is a huge swath of downtown Baku dedicated to shopping, restaurants, cafes, nightlife, entertainment, the arts….it’s pretty amazing. I’ll try to write a separate post about this in the future.

 Walking through Fountain Square

Walking through Fountain Square

 Statue of a girl talking on a cell phone and holding an umbrella by the McDonald’s....because why not?

Statue of a girl talking on a cell phone and holding an umbrella by the McDonald’s….because why not?

Here's Fountain Square at night; really pretty.

Here’s Fountain Square at night; really pretty.

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 Just a general cityscape

Just a general cityscape

And traffic like any other large city

And traffic like any other large city

İçərişəhər (The Old City)

Baku’s İçərişəhər (or Old City; transliteration is “Icheri Sheher”) has been around for a while; about thirteen hundred years (some argue more). This is the original Baku that has seen countless empires and territory disputes, and served as a hub of trade and commerce (I’ve read that salt was harvested here). The city’s limits hugged much closer to the Caspian Sea and was surrounded by large walls and ramparts. For the most part, those limits have been preserved and is designated with the title of İçərişəhər. Another Fulbrighter and I did some exploring last week and this UNESCO World Heritage Site was on the top of our list.

Now, my impression from reading other blogs and articles about this part of Baku made it seem like it was a super-touristy center with nothing but shops and souvenirs. What I learned is that İçərişəhər is still a place where people live (saw a young girl walking home from school with her mom, laundry hanging to dry), and is a place which houses several businesses, hotels, and consulates (Poland, Italy, and another eastern European country that I can’t recall). So yes, it’s a popular point for tourists but it’s much more than that. Some things that caught my eye….

 Architecture
Looking up, always look up!

Looking up, always look up!

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Love the stark difference in this photo: Clean and simple on the right, textured and earthy on the left.

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Lots of twists and turns along narrow streets–you could easily get lost here. In fact, I’m sure we were in places we weren’t supposed to go!

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Portion of the large rampart I mentioned earlier.

Portion of the large rampart I mentioned earlier.

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At one point, we suddenly arrived right behind my university. One of the great things about ASEU is its location to the Caspian, Fountain Square, the Old City, and more.

At one point, we suddenly arrived right behind my university.
One of the great things about ASEU is its location to the Caspian, Fountain Square, the Old City, and more.

There is it!

There is it!

What's that?! A fountain!

What’s that?! A fountain!

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This was the front of an art studio.

This is the front of an art studio.

The artist stuck his old paintbrushes with his plants - because that’s what artists do.

The artist stuck his old paintbrushes with his plants – because that’s what artists do.

Details
Carpets in front of a shop

Carpets in front of a shop

Detail from a window grate

Detail from a window grate

Sweet kitty sleeping in a plant pot  (:

Sweet kitty sleeping in a plant pot (:

Islamic-themed motifs on a building. I have been so captivated by the combination of Islamic architecture and themes with Russian ones (both pre-Soviet and Soviet-era).

Islamic-themed motifs on a building. I have been so captivated by the combination of Islamic architecture and themes with Russian ones (both pre-Soviet and Soviet-era).

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I don’t know why this string of red tulle caught my eye, but it did. It went around the corner, almost followed it...almost.

I don’t know why this string of red tulle caught my eye, but it did. It went around the corner, almost followed it…almost.

Graffiti on part of the rampart wall

Graffiti on part of the rampart wall

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Despite having almost no rain in the last two months (according to what people have told me), there are several hints of green lushness.

Despite having almost no rain in the last two months (according to what people have told me), there are several hints of green lushness.

The Flame Towers
And those iconic towers always loomed a short distance away...

And those iconic towers always loomed a short distance away…

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And there you have it, some pictures. Actually, well over 60. I’m trying to get caught up on my posts; internet connections have been spotty since my arrival, but it was successfully installed in my flat earlier today. So expect the next one to come fairly quickly!

Until next time…  (:

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5 comments

  1. great photos. I love that you ‘look up’. So much to see. Love your eye for architectural features. And fountains! Who doesn’t love them.? Hope you find a carpet you love and buy it and bring it home. You have all year to shop!

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