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New This Week: Sovetski From Above and Below

October 24, 2016

Mehelle is a growing project with new material going up on our map every week. We'll be highlighting one of these new stories here every Monday.

 

When looking at video and photos from Sovetski over the past two years, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a neighborhood on the outskirts of Baku. Even when walking its streets one feels as though they've left the capital, entering some undefined space separate and surely far from the glittering lights and glass skyscrapers of Azerbaijan's capital. In truth though Sovetski is the absolute heart of the city, a five minute walk from the popular Targova shopping distract. This summer while recording footage for our project, the sound of F1 race cars racing around the carefully preserved walls of Baku's Old City could be heard buzzing over the razed homes of Sovetski.

 Sovetski, the area covered in our map, is in the center of Baku, and a short walk from the city's major tourist destinations

 

Even among residents there is some debate on the exact borders of Sovetski, but the towering statue of Neriman Nerimanov is often mentioned as a starting point.

 This is a 360 video, click and drag to change the angle and view.

 

To the left of the statue one can see the massive glass Flame Towers that look over the whole city. To the right, flowing up and down hill are the streets and smaller neighborhoods that collectively make up Sovetski. In the past, walking in this direction would take you through narrow streets like these:

 This is a 360 video, click and drag to change the angle and view. Video taken in Spring 2016, this area has since been razed.

 

A 10-15 minute walk down hill will land you behind the Azerbaijan State Academic Drama Theatre, or Azdram as its know locally. This massive theater sits in front of, and partially obscures Sovetski from the rest of the city. 

 This is a 360 video, click and drag to change the angle and view. Video taken in Spring 2016, this area has since been razed.

 

To the right is the back of Azdram. Across the street from there are homes, stores, and the smaller Yug Theater. The small red hut to the left is a store, the small hut behind it in the trees is a shoe repairman. Follow the walls of Azdram down hill from here and you end up in front of the theater.

 This is a 360 video, click and drag to change the angle and view.

 

In front of the theater is the Winter Park, or Qish Bulvar, built over the neighborhood formally called Basin. It's construction closely mirrors what is happening in Sovetski now. To the right of the park its a short walk to Targova and the streets surrounding it that make up the modern face of Baku. This sudden switch from a bustling, polished city, to the destroyed streets of Sovetski over the course of a single block is jarring.

This is a 360 video, click and drag to change the angle and view. Video taken in Spring 2016, this area has since been razed.

 

For over a century Sovetski has been a vital part of the heart of Baku. It has been home to doctors, academics, historians, and of course thousands of people that work in and run modern Baku's tourist destinations. While its now largely disappeared, we hope at least a part of it can live on in Mehelle.

 

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