The capital of this former Soviet republic has shed its dour, industrial image and evolved into a vibrant metropolis combining the old world charms of Istanbul with the architectural ostentations of Dubai.
This weekend it has the perfect stage to show off its decade-long transformation: the Eurovision Song contest.
But later on Wednesday the International Olympic Committee will choose the official candidates in the race to host the 2020 Games.
Five cities are hoping to make the shortlist: Tokyo, Madrid, Istanbul, Doha and Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman assesses Baku’s chances.