Baku, the capital and commercial hub of Azerbaijan, is a low-lying city with coastline along the Caspian Sea. It’s famed for its medieval walled old city, which contains the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a vast royal complex, and the iconic stone Maiden Tower. Contemporary landmarks include the Zaha Hadid–designed Heydar Aliyev Center, and the Flame Towers, 3 pointed skyscrapers covered with LED screens.
Other notable sites include the reconstructed Bibi-Heybat Mosque, a pilgrimage center, and the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum, housing a vast collection of ornate carpets from the region. The Baku Museum of Modern Art showcases 20th-century Azerbaijani painters and sculptors. Another prominent museum, the National Museum of History of Azerbaijan, is housed in an Italian Renaissance–style mansion from 1902. National Flag Square contains one of the world’s tallest flagpoles (162m), while bustling Fountains Square is a hub for shops and restaurants. Beyond the city, Yanar Dag is a continuously blazing natural gas fire.