Haydar Aliyev Center is undoubtedly the most exciting building constructed in Baku over the last years. This impressive 619,000-square-foot complex was opened to the public in May 2012 and is a clear symbol of the city’s rapid development and transition from the Soviet era into the 21st Century. Currently it houses the museum dedicated to the former president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, and is one of the main cultural venues in the city.
Following a competition held in 2007, Zaha Hadid, the award-wining Iraqi-British architect was appointed the chief designer of the building. From the start her idea was to create a building that would break away from the rigid and heavy Soviet architecture, which dominated the city, and to capture the enthusiasm of a young nation that looks optimistically to the future. The design of the building establishes a continuous, fluid relationship between its surrounding plaza and the building’s interior. ‘‘Elaborate formations such as undulations, bifurcations, folds, and inflections modify this plaza surface into an architectural landscape that performs a multitude of functions: welcoming, embracing, and directing visitors through different levels of the interior” (ArchDaily). Interestingly, according to its creators, the fluid design of the building is also a modern interpretation of the islamic architecture of the region. You will find more information about this fascinating construction here.
One of the floors of the building hosts the Heydar Aliyev’s Museum engaged in studying, promoting and protecting the heritage of the former president of Azerbaijan. Apart from the interactive exhibition about the history of Azerbaijan and different stages of Heydar Aliyev’s life and work, visitors can admire as well the gifts received by the former president from various world leaders and a collection of the cars used by him in different stages of his political career.
The cultural center
The museum is worth paying a visit not only because of its unique design but also because of the original exhibitions held there on a regular basis. Among the exhibitions currently shown at the center is the world premiere of the Cradle to Cosmos exhibition by the United States Space & Rocket Center where the exhibits include the spatial stations, original particles delivered from cosmic space and other planets, pieces and models of satellites, aeronaut suits and accessories, etc.
The center is situated about 15 mins drive from the center of Baku and it’s best to get there by taxi (about 4 AZN, depending on the traffic) or by marshrutka (minibus, 20 qapik). It is open Monday-Saturday from 10-19. The entry fee to the Museum of Heydar Aliyev costs 5 AZN (students pay 2AZN). Visitors have to buy additional tickets to see the other exhibitions.