Historically, visiting the Təzə Bazar market in Baku was not just about buying weekly groceries. It was a family weekend tradition – to delve into the unforgettable atmosphere of chatting to bazaar merchants, many of whom were almost like next of kin.
Here you could find out the latest news, city stories and legends, which made the everyday life brighter and turned grocery shopping into an exciting process. It is impossible to convey the atmosphere, the smell and the humor of a bazaar with words – but we asked several Baku residents to share their recollections of it.
67 years old, pensioner
“From one generation to another, our family conducted a bazarlyg – buying everything necessary for the table, especially on holidays, at the Təzə Bazar. I remember the days when I was a little girl, walking with my mother along the aisles and looking with great interest at the stalls full of fresh food. I remember even the slightest details – every back alley at the bazaar, food stalls, jolly merchants, unforgettable smells. Almost like it all happened yesterday. For me it was not just another bazaar – it was one of the most favorite places in the city, where I always got a boost of positive emotions. “Try and barter” was the unofficial motto of customers at Baku’s markets since the olden days, and Təzə Bazar was not an exception to this rule. Good manners here was not just about bargaining for a cheaper price, but also to have a conversation with a merchant before buying anything. And you could buy anything here!”
41 years old, cook
“Təzə Bazar played a major role in me becoming a cook. I always liked to cook, but merchants here taught me many of the tricks. I jokingly called them “the spice queens”, making them blush a little. At the same time, they willingly shared their secret recipes, opening unimaginable combinations of spices and herbs to me. Today I’m doing something I love professionally, and that is something I want to thank my queens for – warmest regards to Maryam and Ulvie! This bazaar to me represents the real, live heart of Baku. And even the most top-notch supermarket would not be able to replace it.
And I would also like to note, that here you could always buy natural black caviar, which was in deficit back in the days”.
45 years old, accountant
“Combinations of tasty smells and vivid colors everywhere – this is how I remember my favorite bazaar. You won’t believe it, but while going grocery shopping to the Təzə Bazar with my grandmother, I learned the geography of Azerbaijan – pomegranates from Geichai, watermelons from Sabirabad, lemons from Lenkorani and so on. I understood just how rich our land is with delicious foods from all other regions – lavishly represented at the stalls. Every visit to the bazaar, irrespective of the season, gave me feelings of a holiday, a child’s joy and a hot summer. Also, merchants let me try sweets which mother didn’t let me eat at home”.
35 years old, graphics designer
“I always wanted to have a dog, but my parents were against it – they thought it would distract me from my studies. And everything started to take a turn for the better for me when I started coming to Təzə Bazar – where an animal market also existed. First, they sold house pets and decorative birds, and then they started selling dog puppies. Here I met a friend for many years. He couldn’t take his eyes off me, and once we started to leave – he started weeping. And my parents gave up. That is how we had a new family member – a German Shepherd named Zeus”.
39 years old, tour guide
“For many years I’ve been including Təzə Bazar into a tourist route I developed. And noticed that tourists from any country loved the market, grasping its atmosphere. There have even been those who returned to Baku and requested another tour to the market. Of course, guests never left the bazaar empty-handed. Thy bought dried fruits and spices, which could not be bought anywhere else. Foreigners also fell in love with tandoori-baked bread after visiting Təzə Bazar – it really is delicious, as far as I can remember! This place is part of our cultural code and one of Baku’s landmarks. Visiting this market has always been a good way to experience the real life of not only Baku, but that of entire Azerbaijan. That is why I am hotly anticipating the time when this bazaar gets a second lease of life and returns into my tourist routes”.