The Heydar Aliyev Center

The Hedyar Aliyev Centre is a stunning building with amazing exhibitions inside. It’s definitely one of the things to see in Baku, when you’re there. We spent more or less three hours exploring the building from the inside and from the outside and it was a true feast for the senses.
There are many entries and finding the right one was rather confusing. We got chased around a lot until finally we found the place that sold tickets (it’s where all the posters are, guys). With tickets in hand we downloaded a super useful app for free to use as an e-guide.

My husband is mentally preparing for an alien abduction

So Who’s Heydar Aliyev?

Just to give you some background, Heydar Aliyev was a president for 10 years up until one month before his death in 2003. His son, Ilham Aliyev is the current president of the country. The current president’s wife, Mehriban Aliyeva apart from being the First Lady is also the first vice-president of the country. Nepotism much? iPhone cases with the faces of the whole family in different configurations are available at most tourist locations…
You’ll often hear during your trip to Azerbaijan that Heydar was a great man. Countless buildings, streets and other places of interest in the country are named after him. You can learn everything you want to know about him and more in the Heydar Aliyev Centre – the exhibition dedicated uniquely to him occupies three floors. Of course, that’s the official version of things.

The Mauro Corda Exhibition

Apart from the Heydar Aliyev part of the center there are numerous world-class exhibitions there. When we visited the place in April 2019 a big part of the first floor was occupied by a marvellous collection of sculptures by Mauro Corda. I must say that he was unknown to me before I visited Baku but I was very happy to be introduced to his work. Here are my personal favourites I’ve seen inside of the spaceship:

I really love the detail here!
A quick visit to the island of Dr. Moreau
Seems like someone was inspired by the myth about Romulus and Remus and the origins of Rome
Why so serious?
The protagonist of Sharknado 7? I don’t think anyone believes they’ll stop at 6 movies.
The English Patient in Baku

Puppet Master: Baku Edition

I never thought much of puppets to be honest. I’m sure I enjoyed some puppet shows as a child and certainly liked some of the Puppet Master series movies as a young adult but that’s about it. That’s why I didn’t exactly drop my panties when I saw that there was a puppet and doll exhibition in the Heydar Aliyev Center. I was wrong – I should have! So many of them very really amazing tiny pieces of art. Have a look at my selection of the best of:

Have you ever played Neverhood? This doll really reminds me of the game.
Hey there, wana make out?
I’m not sure why but this doll makes me feel sad
I love the imagination of the maker of this doll!
A Queen Nefertiti doll, anyone? Certainly better for raising ambitious daughters than a Barbie!
A rare spotting of an Internet troll

What Else Is There?

The other exhibitions were not as interesting as the ones I’ve photobombed you with in detail. The old car showcase was really not my thing. There was also a Russian painting exhibition, which had one painting I particularly liked:

A curiosity is a collection called “Mini Azerbaijan”, which presents miniature versions of the most important Azerbaijani buildings including… the Heydar Aliyev Centre itself. How post-modern and meta-artistic is that?

Last but not least, there were certain exhibits relating to the culture and traditions of Azerbaijan.
I really liked the small collection of musical instruments that you could listen to by standing on a circle-shaped carpet, as shown by the Husband:

We also enjoyed looking at some traditional costumes. However, the models were quite smug and I needed to put them in their place.

In brief, the Heydar Aliyev Center is an absolute must if you’re visiting Baku. Appreciate it from the outside and have some time left to explore the inside too. It’s really easily accessible with public transport so there’s no need to invest in an organised tour to go there.

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