Azerbaijan is an Eastern European country that perfectly combines traditions and modernity. It is a land of contrasts, with many serenely beautiful places far away from the city bustle existing in complete harmony with the liveliness of Baku. Along with the country’s natural areas, traditional festivals, tours and leisure time by the sea, be sure to visit its museums of history and modern art for a visit to Azerbaijan that is unforgettable.
Gala Open Air Museum
Forty kilometres (25 miles) from Baku there is Gala, the well-known open-air historical and ethnographic museum. The museum – founded in 2008 at an archaeological site located in the village by the same name – is dedicated to the history of the Absheron Peninsula. Here, you can see how the Azerbaijani lived, what they ate and drank, and how they managed their households during the period from the 16th to 19th centuries. The territory of 1.2 hectares (3 acres) hosts old-time houses – portable tents made of animal skins, subsequently replaced by stone and beaten cobworks with cupolas – along with an ancient blacksmith shop, market, pottery, bakery, threshing mill and other interesting medieval buildings. You can see, touch and take pictures of all of them. You can even try to bake bread in a common oven, weave a carpet, make pottery, or feed the camels, horses and donkeys peacefully resting in their stalls.
Baku Museum of Miniature Books
The museum has several thousand fairy-sized books, including miniature editions of the works of Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Gogol and Chukovsky. The books originate from around the world, and are written in numerous languages, including Azeri, Russian, English and German. The oldest book in the museum is a miniature copy of the Quran, dating to the 17th century, while the smallest tome (6 x 9 milimetres, or 1/4 x 2/5 of an inch) is the Russian book The Most Miraculous Thing, which can be read only by using a magnifying glass. It is the first and so far the only museum of miniature books in Azerbaijan and in the world.
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art opened in 2009. About 1,000 works of Azerbaijani painters and sculptors, mainly working in avant-garde style, are collected here. Visitors can familiarize themselves with works of painters and sculptors whose names represent Azerbaijani culture. Contrary to classical museum traditions, the exposition expands beyond the exhibition space, reaching into the art cafe and restaurant, and included in the Museum structure. The Museum also hosts an exposition of children’s fine arts, promoting the development of children’s interests and teaching them about the world of beauty; a video hall presenting documentaries; an exhibition hall for private shows; and a library and bookshop offering a collection of books on world art, architecture and sculpture.