When a taxi whizzed me to the old city of Baku from the airport, I marvelled at all the modern buildings that define the city. Among them, and probably the most outstanding: the Heydar Aliyev Centre, which lies to the northeast of downtown Baku. I immediately mark it for a future visit. After walking along the boulevard of Baku and seeing the controversial War Trophies Park, we head away from the Caspian Sea coast. We think we see a tea stall, ask for a cup, and soon thereafter realise that it actually is an open-air car repair shop. Still, the guy prepares us tea, and even offers a refill. The small gestures that make travel so interesting. We say goodbye at the subway station, and I continue walking northwest until I reach a big road cutting through the city. I need to cross, walk up the hill on which I see Heydar Aliyev Centre, until I finally find an underpass.
When I finally reach the sloping square, I am at the northern side of the Heydar Aliyev Centre. Just north of it, I see nondescript apartment blocks, with which much of the city is filled: quite a contrast to the architectural masterwork that rises high above me. The entire building consists of curves, and appears to represent one fluid movement. It folds, it rises, it falls, and in between, I see windows hidden between sections. On the north side, these are actually very high. I walk the north side of the centre, until I am directed away from the building by a guard who doesn't seem to understand that this architectural work could be appreciated from the small hill. I walk around it, and see that the western side of the building has completely different shapes.
It is only when I see a man walk past the Heydar Aliyev Centre that I realise the scale of the building: it completely dwarfs the passer-by. I reach the south side of the building, the main entrance and the front side of it. Its face, so to say. I walk to the southwest side, and sit down to take a good look at this building that looks so different from the various sides, while still having a fluid appearance. This masterpiece was designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, and she surely managed to create something unique. I watch how people walk by, how a man dressed in black sits with his bike at the foot of one of the curves of the building. How the curves flow up, meet, and culminate in a high roof. When, later on, I walk down the park and turn around for a last look, I see the centre reflected in one of the pool. Subtle beauty reflected and multiplied.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Heydar Aliyev Centre (Azerbaijan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Heydar Aliyev Centre. Read more about this site.