Baku's wealth is down to the region's immense natural resources
Baku's wealth is down to the region's immense natural resources ©Getty Images

Baku is ...
• The capital city of Azerbaijan.
• The lowest-lying capital city in the world – 28 metres below sea level.
• Windy: its name is derived from the ancient Persian 'Bādkube' (pounding winds) – hence the local nickname, 'City of Winds'.
• A city founded on oil, which has been exported from here since the 19th century.
• Twinned with Dakar, Naples, Houston, Bordeaux, Kyiv, Haifa and Rio de Janeiro, among others.
• A former host city of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, and the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, and the venue for the 2019 UEFA Europa League final.

Where is it
The biggest city in the Caucasus region, Baku is also the largest urban base on the shores of the Caspian Sea. It is nearly 2,000km from both Moscow and Istanbul, 9,000km east of New York, and 5,500km west of Beijing.

The stadium has a capacity of nearly 70,000
The stadium has a capacity of nearly 70,000©Sportsfile

Baku Olympic Stadium
• Completed in February 2015, 'Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu' can seat nearly 70,000 and was first used for the European Games in the summer of that year.
• The stadium will stage the 2019 UEFA Europa League final.
• The Azerbaijan national team are the stadium's principal tenants.
• The President of Azerbaijan, and those of FIFA and UEFA, attended a ceremony to lay the first stone of the stadium on 6 June 2011, as part of celebrations marking 100 years of Azerbaijani football.
• Close to the shores of Lake Boyukshor, it is part of an Olympic Village complex which includes training facilities and accommodation.
• Baku has yet to host the Olympic Games, but continues to show willingness having put in bids to stage the 2016 and 2020 editions.

Matches at Baku Olympic Stadium
13 June, time tbc – Group A match
17 June, time tbc – Group A match
21 June, time tbc – Group A match
04 July, 18:00CET – Quarter-final

Getting to and around Baku
Heydar Aliyev International Airport lies 20km northeast of Baku, a 45-minute bus ride from the city's central rail station. The city has a two-line metro train system, which can shuttle visitors to the picturesque Old Town as well as within walking distance of the Olympic Stadium, with bus and taxi services relatively inexpensive.

Where to stay
Rapid expansion of the city in recent decades, and increasing numbers of foreign visitors, mean there are plenty of modern hotels in Baku. See useful links below.

The Flame Towers are hard to miss by night
The Flame Towers are hard to miss by night©Sportsfile

What to see
For culture: The walled old town, Icheri Sheher, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, containing the Maiden Tower and the grand 15th-century Shirvanshahs Palace, home to the dynasty that ruled this region in the Middle Ages.
For atmosphere: It is worth taking to the streets at night: Azerbaijan has some stunning modern buildings which are illuminated after dark, not least the Flame Towers.
For fresh air: National Park (Milli Park) runs parallel to the seafront at Baku, from Freedom Square (Azadlıq Meydanı) to National Flag Square (Dövlət Bayrağı Meydanı), which boasts an amusement park and musical fountain.

Eating and drinking
Foreign visitors may notice similarities between Azerbaijani cuisine and those of Turkey and Iran. A keynote meal is pilaf, a rice dish flavoured with saffron and mixed with meat or vegetables, while dolma (vine leaves stuffed with minced meat) are as popular as they are over in Turkey. Lamb or sturgeon kebabs are another winner. Tea – served without milk – is another staple, to accompany delicate baklava pastries; sweet sherbet is the cold drink of choice.

Football in the city
Azerbaijan's footballing stock has been on the rise, with Neftçi, Qarabağ and out-of-towners Gabala all playing UEFA Europa League group matches in Baku, and Qarabağ UEFA Champions League ones in 2017/18 as the first Azerbaijani team to qualify. Founded in 1937, Neftçi were long the most successful club in Baku, their rivalry with Khazar Lankaran considered the nation's Böyük Oyun (great game). Qarabağ currently play in the city, with İnter Bakı and Zirä also competing for fans' attention in Baku.

Get out of the city
Want to know why Azerbaijan is known as the land of fire? A 25km journey outside Baku brings visitors to Yanar Dağ (Fire Mountain), a hillside which is constantly burning – even in heavy wind and rain – due to natural gas seeping through the soil. Further out, Gobustan National Park features extraordinary rock carvings dating as far back as 40,000 years, as well as another geological phenomenon which owes much to Azerbaijan's oil and gas reserves: mud volcanoes.

Useful links
Azerbaijan Travel
Lonely Planet
Baku Olympic Stadium:
Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA):