If you’re like many of us, you may know next to nothing about the city of Baku, Azerbaijan. However, that is likely to change - not just because you are reading this article, but because Baku is poised to become a lot more of a player in the world cultural, business and tourism arenas. Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan and is the largest city on the Caspian Sea. It has long been an industrial and oil-producing centre and, since the fall of communism, has slowly been coming into it’s own as a modern and vibrant international city which has begun to capture the attention of the world.
The Eurovision Song Contest will be held there in May 2012, an event which will not only be a boost to tourist-oriented businesses and hotels in Baku, but will also be a major public relations coup as millions of viewers tune in to the programme. The city has also put in a bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics which, even if unsuccessful, will give the city further coverage in the press and more exposure in the public eye.
The city has been revitalized in the past couple of decades, with many of the structures from the communist era being demolished to make way for new civic projects, including parks, greenbelts, and the new infrastructure for a modern cultural centre. The city has begun to rival many of the great cities of Europe and the rest of the world. Indeed, Baku has been dubbed the “Paris of the East”, partly for its architectural diversity. There is plenty of cultural diversity in the city, as Azerbaijani’s secular republic allows for religious freedom and ethnic equality. The Baku hotel and nightlife scene reflect the city’s cosmopolitan vibe and it is likely that the city will continue to flourish and grow as a tourist. destination. It certainly makes for a unique travel destination.