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Cradled idyllically amid densely forested mountains, Qabala has blossomed into Azerbaijan’s prime rural getaway. It now has dazzling hotels that would seem indulgent even in Baku. The ravishing Heydar Aliyev Congress Hall has hosted international heads of state, who were able to fly in directly to Qabala’s new international airport. And in winter, Qabala is one of the country’s two ski resorts. Nowhere in Azerbaijan has risen so rapidly and professionally to the national challenge of developing tourist infrastructure in the provinces.
But it wasn’t always so.

Far from it. Neither the Qabaland funfair/theme park nor the splendid Qafqaz Riverside Hotel had yet been built back in 2008 when I researched the fourth edition of my guide. I happened through again in 2010, astonished to find all the new construction that had gone on in just two years. And not only because of the vision and audacity in its funding. Amazingly the whole map had changed

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We have been coming to Azerbaijan for six years now and have restored several important monuments in Icherisheher (Baku’s walled city, known as the Old City – Ed.), in line with quality standards and international guidelines (Venice Charter, 1964). With hindsight we can say that the decision to make use of European experience in an eastern cultural context was wholly positive
Mingachevir is a neat, planned city of well-tended wide green avenues, attractive parks and several interesting public statues. Now home to around 100,000 souls it was built in the mid 20th-century, a couple of kilometres downstream from its raison d’être, a 1550m arc of hydroelectric dam.
Established in 2002 by an organisation called The One Minutes, part of Amsterdam’s Sandberg Instituut, the One Minutes Junior workshops give young people the opportunity to learn how to make short one-minute films on topics relating to child protection, social inclusion, the health and wellbeing of children, healthy life styles, violence and peace building.
On this date in Nuremberg, Germany, possibly the largest and most scandalous trial in world history took place. It is enough to simply list some of the names of those in the dock: Hermann Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Rudolf Hess, Walther Funk, Erich Raeder.
The City Cluster venues (Baku Sports Hall, Freedom Square, Tofiq Bayramov Stadium, Heydar Aliyev Arena) form a loose ring around Baku’s central Fountain Square. The popular meeting spot has McDonald’s glowing at one end, KFC at the other, with trees, fountains, paved walkways and European fashion chain stores in between.
The language, art and spiritual values of the people of Southern Azerbaijan have been under pressure for the last 80 years. In literature this pressure is reflected in the recurring themes of rebirth, revival, separation and self-assertion.