distinctive flavours, vibrant character, deep hospitality
Baku’s sparkling new architecture might lead you to think of the city as essentially new. But look again. It only takes a quick wander around the city’s UNESCO-listed antique core and the almost Parisian streets surrounding it, to realize that things are far more interesting. Of course, beneath the veneer of any city lies a deeper personality and in Baku it’s not hard to feel the warmth and humanity of Azerbaijani culture, a mélange of Turkic, Persian and Russian influences forged into a proudly distinct whole. Delve deeper and you’ll find a cultural history traced back to Palaeolithic times via pagan temples, early Medieval Christianity, forward-thinking Islam, Russian traditions and a deeply ingrained sense of respect for guests. Baku is a city awash with art galleries, theatres and music venues, and the love of literature is reflected in so many streets that are named for local writers. On top of all this there’s the delight of discovering the subtleties of Azerbaijani cuisine from saffron and world class Caspian caviar to more modest home-cooked dishes that shine with a remarkable freshness of flavour.