The Villa Petrolea contains a museum of the oil industry in the mansion of the Nobel family. When the Nobels from Sweden invested at Baku in 1879 the area was environmentally degraded and called ‘the black city’. The Nobels built the Petrolea estate with houses for 100 employees overlooking the Caspian Sea, a school, hospital, theatre and club. They improved the land with imported soil and plants and made a 10.5-hectare park. The buildings were in Byzantine style for hot summers.
‘Branobel’ (Brothers Nobel Oil Company) became one of the largest oil companies in the world, run by Ludwig Nobel (1831-1888). It pioneered pipelines and oil tanks and built the world’s first oil tanker ship, the 'Zoroaster'. Ludwig’s son Emmanuel ran the company until about 1920 when it was nationalised by the Soviets.
The mansion dates from 1884. It was restored and opened to visitors in 2008 with a club, conference centre and museum.