In fall 2014, our Exeter International travel experts spent time exploring Central Asia and the Caucasus, where they visited four- and five-star hotels and enjoyed unique regional entertainment. (To see photos of our travel adventures, take a look at our Facebook albums here and here!) This trip, travel specialist Mariana visited Baku, the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan (and of the entire Caucasus region!) … and an up-and-coming luxury travel destination for 2015.
Below, Mariana shares a little of what she learned during her luxury travels in Baku:
Baku: A Renewed Art Scene
“It would be easy to dismiss Baku as another playground for the rich, similar to Dubai, with its luxury hotels, super modern architecture and avenues lined with shops of uber-luxury Western brands (including those devoted to children, with high-end designer stores like Gucci Kids and Versace Kids appearing).
However, despite the rampant corruption in the public sphere, oil money is put to good use and is spent on renovating the historic parts of the city or displaying public art all around the city. One result of this focus on building fantastic new museums is the Carpet Museum (pictured below), which is home to the largest collection of Azerbaijan carpets in the world, some of which date back to the 17th century. This treasury of the national culture has exhibited collections from ceramics, to Bronze Age metal works and jewelry, to national garments, to modern applied art.
Another way that oil money benefits Baku is by modernizing some of the existing museums, like The Maiden Tower (pictured below). This impressive architectural feat is ‘thought to date to as early as the 7th or 6th centuries BCE and to have been an astronomical observatory or fire temple,’ the Tower website reveals.
Baku’s Old Town and the continuously lovingly renovated Villa Petrolea, which once belonged to the Nobel family, are just two highlights of Baku beyond the glitz. The inner city of Baku, in fact, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From Baku to Boulders
However, what impressed us most on our recent trip was the Gobustan National Park. Situated about 40 miles outside of Baku, Gobustan National Park features about 6,000 engravings that date back from 5,000 to 40,000 years and in 2007, it was included into the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
To walk freely among the rocks and boulders, just few inches away from these priceless pieces of ancient art, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Anyone who visits Baku should take time to make this trip away from the glitzy capital.”
Exeter International is known for creating one-of-a-kind experiences, behind the scenes touring and expertise in travel to Russia and Eastern Europe. Four Seasons Hotels are known for unsurpassed luxury and hospitality throughout the world. Baku. Budapest. Moscow. Prague. St. Petersburg.
Visit the Caucasus for a luxury travel experience in 2015. Begin planning your 2015 winter trip to Baku by contacting Exeter International at (813) 251-5355 / (800) 633-1008, or view a Sample Itinerary to learn more about the “Ultimate Baku” tour.