Our journey around Europe makes a stop in Baku (Azerbaijan) for the 1st European Games.
Baku is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. Baku is located 28 metres (92 ft) below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world located below sea level. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal parts: the downtown area and the old Inner City. At the beginning of 2009, Baku’s urban population was estimated at just over two million people. Officially, about 25 percent of all inhabitants of the country live in Baku’s metropolitan area.
Baku is divided into eleven administrative districts (raions) and 48 townships. Among these are the townships on islands in the Baku Bay and the town of Oil Rocks built on stilts in the Caspian Sea, 60 km (37 mi) away from Baku. The Inner City of Baku along with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. According to the Lonely Planet‘s ranking, Baku is also among the world’s top ten destinations for urban nightlife.
The city is the scientific, cultural and industrial center of Azerbaijan. Many sizeable Azerbaijani institutions have their headquarters there, including SOCAR, one of the world’s top 100 companies and others. The Baku International Sea Trade Port, sheltered by the islands of the Baku Archipelago to the east and the Absheron Peninsula to the north, is capable of handling two million tons of general and dry bulk cargoes per year. In recent years Baku has become an important venue for international events. It hosted the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in 2012 and will host the 2016 European Grand Prix and Euro 2020.
The city is renowned for its harsh winds. This is reflected in the city’s nickname, the “City of Winds“.
PLACE OF COMPETITION
The Tofiq Bahramov Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium. It is currently used mostly for football matches. It serves as the home ground for the Azerbaijan national football team and holds 31,200 seats making it the second largest stadium in the country. The stadium is also used by the Azerbaijan Premier League clubs in the final rounds of European competitions.
The Tofiq Bahramov Stadium was built in 1951. Its construction started before the World War II in 1939, but was suspended. When its construction resumed, it was finished by the German prisoners of war. Initially the stadium was named after Joseph Stalin and built in form of C. After the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956 (denunciation of Stalin) it was renamed after Vladimir Lenin. In 1993, the stadium was named after the famous football referee Tofiq Bahramov who died in the same year.
In 2011, Presidential Reserve Fund of the State Budget of Azerbaijan for 2011 allocated $10 million for capital repairs and reconstruction of the stadium. The stadium was renovated and reopened on 16 August 2012.
The stadium was one of the venues for the group stages of the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. One Group A match, a semi-final and the final were played there.