Baku Boulevard, also known as the seaside national park, is the favorite promenade of many Baku residents and visitors. Its establishment goes back to more than 100 years, to a time when Baku's oil barons built their mansions along the Caspian shore, and the seafront was gradually built up.
In 1909, Muhammad Hasan Hajinski, Head of the Municipality's Construction Department, informed a session of the Baku Duma that a seaside boulevard would be established for people to use in their leisure time, and that he would personally supervise the work. The Baku Duma provided money for the construction of the boulevard, and the city's tycoons also made their contribution. The initial boulevard was shorter than the present one.
At the beginning of the Soviet period, the boulevard`s area was mismanaged, and maintenance was neglected. The situation deteriorated further as the sea began to rise so high that many of the trees and shrubs in the park started to die because of the salinity of the water. Baku Boulevard developed further after the construction of leisure attractions in the 1950-1960s.
Clean-up, renovation and reconstruction work accelerated after President Heydar Aliyev signed a decree on December, 29, 1998, granting national park status to the boulevard. On January 10, 2008, the cultural and ecological importance of the city's seaside promenade was acknowledged in President Ilham Aliyev's decree and the Seaside Boulevard Office was established under the Cabinet of Ministers.
Today, the park covers an area of 3,750 meters, and is located on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. It starts at the National Flag Square and ends at Freedom Square.
Deputy Chief of the National Seaside Park Department Nazim Majidov talked about the ongoing renovation work in an interview with local media.
"Baku Boulevard is the site of a great project. A Dutch company is now helping us with the purification of sea water," he said.
"In the past three to four years, Baku Bay has been gradually cleaned of household waste, construction pieces, and oil polluted areas in the sea surface. However, this is not enough," Majidov said.
"The Azerbaijani Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, and other relevant state agencies, are discussing a fundamental solution to this problem with the Cabinet of Ministers, and Baku Bay water will probably be as clean as Lankaran and Nabran sea water which is far from oil-polluted areas," he added.
"At present, sea tours are made to Flag Square and Crystal Hall by two ships," Majidov explained.
Referring to the possible usage of the boulevard for sea transportation, the official said that the Maritime Administration and other departments within the organization, as well as State Caspian Sea Shipping Company, and the Navy deal with the issue.
Majidov went on to note that Baku lies on the Caspian Sea with one end on the Zigh settlement, and the other one on the Bibiheybat settlement. The seaside boulevard will probably be extended in these directions in five to ten years. Beautiful, rare and interesting trees are supposed to be planted in the park along with the existing willow and plane trees.
Majidov also said that, "Pearl" (Mirvari) café - which has been operating for 50 years and has maintained its beauty - is considered to be a logo of the boulevard. Moreover, "Little Venice" turned into an attractive place after repairs.
"The channels have been widened, the water is always clear, beautiful boats are always moving... There are also two restaurants, one of which offers Azerbaijani dishes and the other offers foreign cuisine," he said.
The Deputy Chief also said that the employees of the office frequently visit various European cities and always say that Baku has become one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
"Foreign guests are astonished by the city's beauty and lighting system, and we always give them advice on different issues. All of these measures are part of our government's care for the city, particularly the National Seaside Park," he said.
"We are trying to give a national appearance to the newly constructed buildings around the boulevard, such as the naming and lighting of "Flame Towers" and the three-color lighting of world-known "Hilton hotel"," Majidov said.
The Deputy Chief said that a new 60 diameter ferris wheel will allow riders to see clearly the city's beauties from above.
"The ferris wheel is under construction by Dutch company ADO-G and meets European standards. The carousel has an automatic closing door safety system. The cabins will also have an air conditioner in summer and a heater in winter," he said.
"The lighting system of the ferris wheel will be as beautiful as the Flame Towers and Crystal Hall that will make it a symbol of Baku in the future," the official stated.
Majidov also added that the boulevard office will not allow any price hikes, and will immediately take measures against such entrepreneurs.
Many cultural and sports events are held at the boulevard frequently. Another innovation which may be put into place is having non-smoking areas.
Furthermore, the administration of the National Seaside Park has announced that free areas equipped with exercise machines will be placed in the new parts of the boulevard in 2014.
Youngsters and elders alike enjoy visiting the seaside park. The free wireless network will be definitely exciting for youth and also businessmen who will be able to work in the open air.
A sport complex will be constructed in the National Seaside Park in Baku in the next few months.