What to expect from Old City -Baku
How old is the “old city” (also known as the inner city) of Baku, you ask??
That my friends, historians and archaeologists have yet to settle amongst themselves. Some say it dates back to the 12th century yet others beg to differ and consider the widely accepted timeline starting from the 12th century to be an underestimation to the historical gem that stands strong to date.
Obviously I just googled all of that before coming here, because my mind lacks the power needed to retain such sensitive historical facts for over a period of 10 seconds.
However (god forbid) google may not be able to answer all your questions therefore it is recommended that you take a guided tour of the old city (that lasts for about 3 hours and starts at three different times during the day), otherwise roaming around this historical marvel may feel like reading a book upside down; interesting, but incomprehensible.
What the old city tour offers:
- Maiden Tower
Its time to pump that heart rate up because you need to climb approximately 100 steps to reach the top of the tower. The tower has seven floors, each with some historical significance, so you will have roughly 5 minutes at each floor to catch your breath and to pretend to listen to your guide.
Relatively speaking the tower must have been one skyscraper back in the days and we enjoyed quite a view of the city standing on the rooftop.
Although a great view and leisure was not on the agenda when this tower was originally constructed to help the soldiers launch an effective projectile attack on the opponent’s ships in the Caspian sea.
- The arena
The arena is nothing fancy. It was supposedly a place where important events were held and some recent successful excavations have resulted into a few of the finding as shown in the picture below
- The Hammams
Don’t get your hopes too high, the hammams have now been converted to souvenir shops except just one hammam which is now a modern day spa and promises you an “authentic” experience that is bound to knock your socks off. Sure the “authenticity” comes with a heavy price tag, then be it your souvenirs or your mud mask 😉
- Ali Shamsi’s art gallery
After spending a good couple of hours pondering over the relics of history and visualizing the words of the tour guide, this modern day artist, Ali Shamsi’s art gallery was a breather for our over stimulated imagination. If you have a knack for such things then you are welcome to step in, meet the maestro himself and appreciate his work before moving on to the last part of the tour.
- The Shrivanshah palace and the Shah mosque
By the time you reach the Shrivanshah palace, you will almost be done with 3/4th of your trip. The palace turned museum is not as luxurious as it sounds, with no fancy courtyards or hammams attached. Although walking under pomegranate and pistachio laden trees in the courtyard makes you feel surreal but the not so over the top architecture and simple interior of the palace makes you appreciate the ruler’s humble character indeed.
You will end the trip after witnessing the magnificent Shah Mosque that also falls under the perimeter of the Shrivanshah palace
This is all that you may expect from the inner city tour. You may also find walking tours that explore the other part of the city with you, known as “bayircity”; outer city and as the name suggests it basically covers the attractions outside the walled old city of Baku.