It is a true crossroads both geographically (Eurasia/Middle East) and culturally. Modernity has found Baku but a five minute walk past extravagant boutiques and froufrou restaurants is like transporting yourself back to the Soviet era. Some of the structures look so forlorn you are certain no one lives there right up until a small elderly woman out of a Russian novel with 'Babuska' for a nickname comes shuffling out of a dark corridor. After she almost gets creamed by some a-hole in a $120,000 Mercedes in front of a mosque you realize you are in a unique place. Oil may have created a large 'boom' but the reverberations only reach so far. There may not be enough natural gas to heat everyone's home but Yamaha Waverunner's can be purchased to circle oil and gas platforms in the Caspian (assuming you have the dough of course).
|Might want to hire a translator|
|Is it just me or does he appear to be screaming, "Waaazuup, Playaa!!"|
|Have a spontaneous desire to know your weight while strolling in the park?|
Today the park serves as a memorial to the victims of what is known as the Black January Massacre resulting from Moscow's crackdown on Azerbaijan's independence movement on January 19-20, 1990 in Baku. By most accounts, including a non-governmental organization (Shield) based in Moscow, Russian soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians, sparking deep-seated anti-Soviet sentiment. Gorbachev later lamented that his declaration of a state of emergency in Baku was one of his biggest political blunders.
Eventually the Kirov statute was dismantled and the museum beneath it allowed to decay to its present dilapidated state. Wandering through the interior felt a bit like I was wandering through a movie set. Vandals have done a number on the carved murals decorating the centerpiece wall but you can still make out figures (most notably Lenin) and dates. It is a shame more has not survived although I am surprised the museum is still there at all, especially so close to the highly revered Martyrs Alley. Maybe allowing everyone and their mother an opportunity to pay their disrespects is no accident.
|Lenin has looked better|
Almost all the gravestones in and around Martyr's Alley contain pictures of the deceased printed on the marble. Many are adorned with flowers and patriotic ribbons. At the end of the main walkway lies the Eternal Flame Memorial.