(Today’s photos and those from some of the previous and subsequent days were inadvertently taken at a high ISO setting resulting in a lot of graininess on many of the photos. I’m probably more disappointed about this than you are!)
We started the day on the south side of the city at Martyr’s Lane, a memorial to Bakuvians who died during the 1990 invasion of the Red Army. The monument rises up a hillside to gardens that have spectacular views of the city and its bay.
We made our way down to the Old City where we visited the grounds of the 15th C. Palace of the Shirvanshahs, the ruling dynasty in the Middle Ages. The palace complex was extensively restored in the early 2000’s and a platoon of young archeology student under the direction of their teacher still toil on the finishing touches. The restoration helps the visitor imagine the lifestyle of bygone days in all its grandeur.The Arabic script carved into huge stone blocks is particularly impressive.
After a lunch of tasty local cuisine in a subterranean, open air courtyard restaurant we walked through Iceri Seher (Old City) to its signature landmark, the 90 foot tall, 12th C. Maiden’s Tower. There are many legends associated with the tower. Your Google skills will allow you to read about the Maiden’s Tower if the gory details interest you! Photos from the tower show excavated Old City Ruins in the vicinity of the Tower as well as the thriving carpet and souvenir trades that prosper in the surrounding lanes.
In mid-afternoon we took a 60km drive south of the city to Gobustan (Qobustan) to view12,000 year old Stone Age cave dwellings where several thousand petroglyphs (etchings in the walls of the collapsing caves) depict the animals, customs and tranditions of the people who inhabited the region. Our guide worked at the site as a child and young man helping to develop interpretations of the findings. His insights brought the place to life as did the small on-site museum.
The shores of the Caspian Sea once came to the base of the cliff dwellings. The sea has receded several hundred meters over the milleniums but you still have magnificent views of the Sea.
During my previous visit to Baku there were dozens and dozens of early 20th C. oil rigs visible just off the coast of the Bay of Baku. In the intervening years, these rigs have all been dismantled, which probably bodes well for environmental restoration but forces you to use your immagination to visualize life here during the initial oil boom. If you want to see this forest of offshore oil rigs, it is still possible by renting a copy of the James Bond movie, The World is Not Enough, and watching the opening scenes.
On the return drive to Baku we stopped at the contemporary Bibi Heybet Mosque that shined with polished marble despite a gloomy sky. Just below the point on which the mosque sits there is a large industrial shipyard that doesn’t exactly compliment the contemporary mosque.