The Old City, Baku’s medieval core, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by 12th-century walls and brimming with Oriental architecture and history. Within the atmospheric walls, you’ll find a maze of narrow alleys home to a few thousand residents as well as museums, monuments, art galleries, all sorts of eateries and much more. The place is like a living open-air museum!
Among the sights not to miss are the Maiden Tower, which is shrouded in mystery and legend – still today its date of construction and original purpose are not entirely known, though there are many ideas! Elsewhere, the 15th-century Shirvanshahs’ Palace is the former residence of the Shirvanshah dynasty who ruled in the medieval period. It’s a stunning architectural complex which besides the palace itself includes a mosque, mausoleum, hamam, divankhana, gates and reservoir.
Besides these two best-known sites there are plenty of hidden gems to discover, from the Museum of Miniature Books, whose collection includes the world’s smallest book measuring just 2x2mm, to the Marionette Theatre, which stages performances of two Uzeyir Hajibeyli masterpieces: Leyli and Majnun and The Cloth Peddler. There’s also a wealth of historic mosques (don’t miss Mohammed Mosque!), caravanserais and hamams to explore, which sit side by side with small, independent art galleries, restaurants, rooftop bars and cafes.