Gustaf Mannerheim arrived in Baku on July 15, 1906. The oil town was in chaos: an attempted revolution, striking workers and ethnic clashes between Azeris and Armenians had left the oil capital both blood stained and oil soaked. It was incredibly unsafe, and so Mannerheim barely stayed a day in Baku. He boarded the General Kuropatkin, a ferry, for Krasnovodsk (now Turkmenbashi) almost immediately.
A century later, I was intrigued by the booming oil industry in Baku and so I stayed here almost a week, exploring the old oil fields and interviewing oil executives and Azeri activists. I then boarded an old Soviet-era freighter, the Azerbaijan, and took a night-sea voyage to Turkmenistan.
Click on the icons to view photos of the oil boomtown of Baku.
Click on features to view details of voyage across the Caspian Sea.