Azerbaijan’s capital and the largest city in the Caucasus region, Baku is a modern blend of inspirations remaining from the country’s varied past. The city itself is divided into three sections, İçəri Şəhər (the ancient city), the Soviet built city, and the newest part of the city.

In the UNESCO-recognized Old City, fascinating structures dating back as far as the 7th century are sheltered from the contemporary and Soviet-built sections of the city by massive walled fortresses. Traces of the ancient Zoroastrian culture of fire-worship can be found throughout the entire region, one of which may be the Maiden’s Tower, a mysterious structure within the Old City that some historians think may have been an observatory or perhaps a Zoroastrian temple.

In Baku visit Ateshgah, commonly called the Temple of Eternal Fire, and venture outside the city to see Yanar Dag and the centuries-old flames sustained by natural gas.

For those interested to see how modernity has settled into the ancient lands, Baku has a National Opera and Ballet, as well as an Aqua Park. Meanwhile, the near eastern traditions have also held their own, such as the Hamam Mechellesi, the city’s oldest public bath. Whether you are up for the adventure, ready to take home the bragging rights, or just want to see how public baths work before returning to the comfort of your private hotel spa, the hamam experience offers great insight into the regional culture.

The Caspian Sea is also well within reach in Baku, and a cruise around the Absheron Peninsula offers an unforgettable view of this hidden Eurasian treasure. Its seaside location gives Baku temperate year-round climate.

One fun fact places Baku, and Azerbaijan squarely in the center of the world. It’s average temperature (57.6 degrees Celsius) is the same as the average temperature of the entire earth within a tenth of a degree. Travel to Baku truly does take you to the cross roads of culture and history, and even the weather captures a snapshot of the world in miniature.  .