Trans Eurasia travel

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Baku's Old City

Narrow alleys, dozens of small, forgotten little mosques some barely distinguishable from the houses that surround them, a handful of old caravanserais and plenty of quirky, overhanging balconies. This delightful and evocative pastiche nestles in the long, powerful curve of the restored Old City wall, bustling with towers and battlements, but you'd better hurry to see it while any of its antique character remains. Durig the mid-1990s the mini oil boom seemed in danger of turning every building into an oil company HQ. This trend reversed noticeably for a while after the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and as bigger companies moved out.

Sadly in the last couple of years the builders have returned once more While most new structures have been very carefully designed and stone-clad to fit tastefully within the city's stylistic cocktail, some of the most recent constructions are unforgivable travesties - such as the two new houses behind Baylar Mosque. Still, there remain homely 'lived-in' corners to discover and it's worth simply launching yourself into the alleys and wandering aimlessly.