Azerbaijan – The Heydar Aliyev Centre of Baku

Throughout all my visits to Baku, Azerbaijan, there has been one building, of many great ones I may add, that has filled me with the wow factor. The Heydar Aliyev Centre, stands as a huge unique building, to say the least, and until today I hadn’t had the opportunity to explore and take a closer look. Well today was the day, and it did not disappoint one bit!

I took a few moments to wander around the outside. To see it with your own eyes does it so much more justice than 2D photographs. It is hard to show just how flowing the building is to perfection. Baku was until not too long ago a sprawling mass of block buildings from the soviet era. In all my visits I have seen a lot of change, especially in the modern architecture and this building is one of the pinnacles of that wonderful change to modern times. The building flows in all directions in line with how a natural landscape would be in the area. Plus no matter where you stand as you walk around it, it looks completely different in shape.

The designer and architect was non other than the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. An architect very well known the world over who was made a Dame by the Queen and also won the highest prize for architecture in the UK, The Stirling Prize. Known in media circles in the UK as ‘The Queen of the curve’ I can look at the Heydar Aliyev Centre and see quite a bit why! Other famous buildings designed by Zaha Hadid include The Aquatics Centre for London 2012, the Broad Art Museum in Michigan USA and the Guangzhou Opera House in China.

I had only been on the outside and was in awe of the place, time to get closer and take a step inside 🙂

The wows keep on coming from within. The curves, the flows, the topography of the landscape still shows. And the light! The light shining through the windows into the open white spaces is hard to describe and hard to show.


Every single minute bit of detail has been looked at in years of design for this building. Take the sweeping stairs for example, looking up them you see stairs and curves. But from the top you can look back down and the stairs themselves seem to disappear and blend in, giving it a wall/slide effect.

The ambience within is something that I could not work out how it was done. The ceilings were high and curved, so much open space, yet I could hardly hear any of the people in the vicinity talking. It was an ambience that led to a true calmness and wonder, especially with all the white and light.

If you ever want a rest you could also relax amongst the gardens within. Real and not fake green gardens with trees to sit amongst to have your coffee, tea or a meeting? 🙂

On the first floor I took in the museum that has many items on display that show Azerbaijan through the ages. From traditional clothing to musical instruments, to other designs throughout the city. A little Baku all in one space so to speak.

Beneath the building is a real special treat to anybody that like vintage cars, and I mean lots of pristine vintage cars. I spent a while looking myself but sorry, no photos allowed I am afraid. Spotless Cadillacs, Model Ford Ts, too many cars to name here but a favourite of mine was the old Porsche Tractor.

I took another look in wonder at the inside and then stepped back out the door, into the sunshine and the open park space outside around the building.

Local people and tourists alike had come to this part of Baku to enjoy the sunshine, some downtime, and the backdrop. I was gutted I had never made it to the building in the past but have made up for it now. I must stress that The Heydar Aliyev Centre you need to discover with your own eyes and senses.

Written by Paul Steele

Paul is the founder and Editor of the site. An avid hiker and trekker. Travel, adventure and photography are passions that he combines to make his articles here. Likes to see the positive in everything.


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