A short stroll through the streets of Baku and you will be amazed by the beautiful contrast between the city’s architectural styles. From the 12th century Maiden Tower and 15th century Palace of the Shirvanshahs in the old city, to the Soviet era buildings and to the modern centres and skyscrapers. From a few key spots, you can see Baku’s entire history at a glance.
In the early 2000s, prompted by economic development, late modern and postmodern architecture started appearing across the city, quickly becoming landmarks of the Azerbaijani capital.
1. Flame Towers
The Flame Towers is a group of three skyscrapers in central Baku. The shape of the project is not by chance, it reflects Azerbaijan’s nickname of The Land of Fire. The façades of the buildings are completely covered with LED screens, so the towers come alive at night, turning into dancing flames.
They were built between 2007 and 2012 and the cost of construction is estimated at US$350 million. Each of the towers serves a different purpose. The tallest one, on the south, is a luxury apartments residential building. The tower on the north houses the Fairmont Hotel, while the third one, on the west, is an office building.
2. Crystal Hall
The Crystal Hall is an indoor arena and concert venue built for hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, after Azerbaijan won in 2011. The façade is complete with 12,000 LED lights that create different dynamic lighting scenarios. During Eurovision, these were used to display, on the outside, the flags of the countries that were being announced on stage.
“The characteristic crystalline shape of the building and its illuminated façade is the response to Azerbaijan’s special request for the creation of a widely visible and visually effective landmark as a bridge between Asia and Europe that will be noticed in an international context”, the architects from German firm GMP Architekten explained.
3. Heydar Aliyev Center
The Heydar Aliyev Center opened on what would have been the former Azerbaijani president’s 89th birthday, on 10 May 2012. The museum was designed by Iraqi-British architect Dame Zaha Hadid, a major figure in the post-modern architecture of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, nicknamed “the Queen of curve”.
The museum perfectly reflects this title, having no straight lines and no corners anywhere in its construction, flowing into the shape of a wave. It mirrors the Caspian Sea and symbolises, at the same time, an eternal cycle.
4. Crescent Project
The Crescent Development Project is a skyscraper complex being built on the coast of the Caspian Sea, in the historic port of Baku. The project comprises three skyscrapers: The Crescent Hotel, The Crescent City and The Crescent Place.
The hotel is a curving arched building, designed to look like a crescent moon, referring to the symbol present on the Azerbaijani flag. Heerim Architects, who designed the project, said the hotel’s shape is also “an attempt to reinvent the concept of skyscraper beyond the traditional”.
The Crescent City is the second tallest building in the country, after Baku Tower, and will be used as an office tower, while The Crescent Place will be a high-rise residential building, including space for retail outlets, restaurants and cafes.