Republic of Azerbaijan
“If you knock on any door in Azerbaijan, or anywhere in the Caucasus, say that you are a foreigner and have no place to spend the night, the owner of the house will immediately give you his largest room. He and his family will move to the small room. Moreover, during the week, two weeks, or the month that you stay in his house he will take care of you and will not let you want for anything‟
(Alexander Dumas, French author, 1858)
Republic of Azerbaijan
Republic of Azerbaijan is located in the south-east in the Caucasus region and is surrounded by the mountains of the Caucasus from the north and west. It is bordered by Khazar (the Caspian Sea) from the east, Russia from the north, Georgia from the northwest, Armenia from the west and Iran from the south and Turkey from the south-west. The total area of the Republic of Azerbaijan is 86.600 km square and population estimated 9.6 million people and city of Baku its capital.
Some believes that the name of the Azerbaijan was taken from people who worshipped fire and lived in this territory since ancient times and while the others believe that this name is linked to an ancient Turkish tribe, "Azar."
The territory of Azerbaijan is considered from the best sources for the experts of archaeological excavations. The earliest evidence of human settlement in the territory of Azerbaijan dates back to the late Stone Age (before two million years) and is related to the Guruchay culture of the Azykh Cave. Also, the oldest human jaw, known as "Azykh cave human beings jaw» which belongs to the era of Achill indicates the first human settlements in the territory of Azerbaijan. The archaeological evidence have been included the Republic of Azerbaijan on the map of the first human settlements in the continent of Europe. The Republic of Azerbaijan contains nine out of eleven climate provinces on the Earth. The existence of sandy deserts, snow, tropical forests, volcanoes, sea, and chains of mountains in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan creates variable terrain and all this leads to the growth of the kingdoms of animals and varied distinctive flora.
Republic of Azerbaijan regained its independence on October 18, 1991, after it has been in Soviet Union government for a long time. The official language of the State is Azerbaijani language and the national currency in circulation is AZN. The religion of the majority of the country's population is Islam. Republic of Azerbaijan is a secular, centralized state and established diplomatic relations with 158 countries and acceded to 38 international organizations.
Baku – the capital of Azerbaijan
Baku - the capital of Azerbaijan, the largest city in the Caucasus and one of the most beautiful cities in the world is compared with Naples, San Francisco and other big cities of the world. The city is situated on the southern coast of the Absheron Peninsula and is the largest port in the Caucasus.
According to one version, the name Azerbaijan comes from the Persian language "Badkube" - "wind blow", probably because of strong winds, hence "Baku - the city of winds", according to another version, Baku means - a city on the hill. The name Azerbaijan is found in written sources from the IX century. But the historical sources indicate that the settlements on the place of the city appeared long time ago. They tell about the area, notable with "flames rising from underwater rocks". These "eternal" fires appeared in spots of natural gas yield.
The evidences of the ancient age of the city are rock carvings left by primitive people on the walls of caves in Absheron and Gobustan (12 thousand years ago), as well as various archaeological finds, rock inscription left by Augustus, Gaius Octavius, narrating of military camps, set in this area in the I century BC. Considering all given above, we can establish that the city of Baku is more than 5,5 thousand years old. Throughout its history the city has endured a lot - several times he was completely burned and looted, but revived again.
Today Baku is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. In the capital of Azerbaijan, are spoken three languages: Azeri, Turkish and Russian. In Baku you can feel the fusion of eras and cultures and meet the architectural monuments of various international schools of architecture.
In Baku resides over half of the whole country’s population (more than two million inhabitants). Here concentrated the oldest oil fields, the famous Oil Stones of deep base, powerful crane vessels, modern floating rigs. Baku is also a cultural center of Azerbaijan. Here was opened the first National Theatre, the first library and appeared in print the first newspaper. In the modern city is also well developed the entertainment industry: 7 theaters, 11 universities, 30 museums, a philharmonic society, libraries and cinemas, restaurants and nightclubs.
Old city – Icherisheher:
This traditional greeting is deep-rooted and is used by Azerbaijanis to greet guests in their home with courtesy and respect. Following the tradition of our country, we also welcome you into our home – Icherisheher. The history of Icherisheher dates back to ancient times. It is difficult to determine the exact date in history when the city was built by our ancestors, but it has existed for thousands of years which is evidenced by the many ancient monuments which still remain today. Icherisheher is the pearl of Azerbaijani architecture and culture and many significant restoration works have been undertaken within recent years. Under the attention of President Ilham Aliyev, Icherisheher has undergone a complete renaissance.. With the establishment of the State Department of the Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisher, this ancient heart of Baku has undergone rehabilitation and reconstruction appropriate to the environment of the old city. The first lady of Azerbaijan and UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva, as well as other distinguished members of our society are all actively involved in these restoration activities. We will continue our work to regularly improve and update the new website for Icherisheher. Please let us know if you have any comments about how the website can be improved. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Dear visitors: We hope that you find the Icherisheher website interesting and informative. We are happy to welcome you, your friends, your families and guests to Icherisheher. You will be greeted at the entrance to the old city with the same words used by generations of Azerbaijanis to greet their guests: Welcome to Icherisheher!
In 1977 the complex Icheri Sheher received the status of the historical and architectural reserve. Since 2000 it has been in the UNESCO list of World Heritage.
The State Historical-Architectural reserve of Icherisheher is located in the downtown area, close to the Icherisheher Underground Station, along the intersection of the main roads of Baku. It is 24 km from Heydar Aliyev Airport, 5 km from the railway terminal and 10 km from the bus terminal.
1 to 3 hour excursions to various monuments in Icherisheher can be organized according to itineraries chosen by visitors.
1) One of the main entrances do Icherisheher is the Qosha Qala entrance, also known as the Shamakhy Gate. The Qosha Qala entrance, dating from the XII th century, is surrounded by a fortress wall which is 8-10 meters in height and 3-3,5 meters in width. The fortress walls were built by order of Shirvanshah III Manuchehr (1120-1160AD), according to an inscription found on a stone after the destruction of one of the towers. In the medieval period, the old city was surrounded by double fortress walls that protected it from external attacks. The outer part of the walls were surrounded by moats, and in case of an attack, the moats were filled with water thrugh special canals. In addition, there was also a moat between the outer and inner fortress walls. The moat was filled with oil and set afire during enemy attacks. Thus, in order to try to capture the city, one had to go through fire and water.
2) Entering Icherisheher through the Qosha Qala entrance, you come upon a large square. Here, to the right of the Qosha Qala entrance, the Old Customs Building was located. In addition to customs procedures, everyone entering the old city was required to undergo sanitary and hygienic treatment and animal feet were treated with a special solution made from tar. Only after this process were travelers admitted to the city.
3) Saint Nicolay Church was located on the right side of the square. The e site now houses a department of the electric company.. Not long after Azerbaijan and Russia merged in the 1850’s, the Russian Government decided to erect a church on the highest point of Icherisheher. The architect Belov built Saint Nicolay Church in the Georgian-Byzantine style and it was 45 meters height and was completed in 1858. At the insistence of the Georgian exarch, it was named after Archbishop Nicolay Miralikiyski who lived in the town of Mira in the state of Likiya before the time of Christ.
4) On the left side of the square are the remain of the Baku Khans Residence, an architectural monument of the XVIII th century. This complex was a residence of the Baku khans who ruled Baku from 1747 to 1806. The entrance, in the form of a curved arch, still exists and contains an inscription with the date of its construction. In 1806 when the Baku Khanate was annexed to Russia, general Boulghakov lived at the residence. The gilded oil paintings on the walls of the Baku Khans residence were removed by order of general Boulghakov.
5) The “China House” (dating from the XIX th century) was a built by Baku merchant Haji Mammad Hussein mammadov. According to archive materials, statues once appeared on the upper sides of the building. Currently, the building now houses the Museum of Ethnography and Archeology.
6) The Multani Caravanserai (dating from the XIV th century) is located on Qulle (Tower) Street in the so-called historical area of Baku, Old City and was built along a commercial caravan route. It was a medieval guest house where Multan merchants stayed and dealt in commerce and trade. Caravanserai was named as Multani for the city of Multan, Pakistan.
Multani caravanserai was built in the traditional compositional scheme. This kind of caravanserai was used as the shopping center, as well as embassies and communication infrastructure, as one or another region’s market.
The main construction material of the monument is small blocks and building stone, small, granular limestone of the used as traditionally in Shirvan-Absheron architecture school. The older ceiling of underground rooms was built from a complex mixture of lime, stone of the correct shape. The foundation of the building is the rock massif used in the natural shape.
7) The Bukhara Caravanserai, located opposite the Multani Caravanserai, functioned as a shelter for merchants coming to Baku for trade. It was built in the late XV th century along a commercial road passing through the Shamakhy Gate. The yard of the rectangular caravanserai is octagonal in shape. It was a place to stay overnight for the merchants and travelers from Central Asia, in particular from Bukhara, so people called it Bukharian caravanserai.
Caravanserais have been one of the most important elements of Eastern architecture. None of the eastern cities could ever exist without several caravanserais. Hundreds of caravanserais were built on numerous trade routes between the East and West, which were vital for the normal functioning of the trade routes. Caravanserai literally means “palace for caravans” or “palace on a trade route”. In the Middle East and Central Asia it was often a place of rest, located in unpopulated areas, to house animals and people.
8) Khanegahs are places where rhe Sufis lived and worked. Khanegays as a rule were located on the commercial caravan routes and consisted as a complex which included a number of monuments such as a mosque, tomb, hamam, caravanserai and other religious and public monuments. Khanegahs were sacred places of honorary burial. The monument was revealed during archeological excavations carried out 1964.
9) The Maiden Tower is the symbol of Baku and it is located in the southeast part of Icherisheher. This monument, with its uncommon form, is unique in the world for its giant cylinder shape which is 28 meters in height. At the base of the monument, the tower walls are 5 meters thick and 4 meters thick on the top level. The tower has 8 arches which divide it into 8 floor. The monument, built between the VIII-VI th centuries BC, acted as a temple and played an important role in the fortification of Baku during the Middle Ages.
10) Close to the Maiden Tower, the remains of Saint Bartholomew Church can be found. Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He preached Christianity in baku where fire-worship traditions had been deep-rooted and for that he was put to death in front of the Maiden Tower. In 1892, Saint Bartholomew Church eas built on the area of an ancient temple. However, during the Soviet period, the church was demolished like many other churches. The Christian church canonized Apostle Bartholomew, and June 24 th is celebrated as saint barthlomew’s Day.
11) Haji Bani Hamam (XIV th century) In the old city, each mahalla (community) had its own hamam (bath). According to their architectural design, the lower half of the hamam was underground to ensure that the building was warm in winter and cool in summer. The hamam was also a place of coomunication and played the role of a social club. In addition to they sanitary and hygienic functions, hamams were also the best place to spend relaxing leisure time.
12) The Mugham (Easten Music) Theatre (XV th century AD) is a two-floored caravanserai (guest house). The caravanserai has two entrances and a closed octagonal courtyard. 20 cells (rooms) are on the first and 22 are on the second floor around the perimeter of the octagonal yard.
13) The Ashur Mosque (XII th century AD), on asaf Zeynalli street was built by master Nejef Ashur Ibrahim oglu. The folk name “lezghin Mosque” was given to the mosque in the late XIX th – early XX th century when the oil industry began to develop in Baku. During this period of development, immigrant labor began to pour into Baku, including workers from Dagestan. The mosque was given to the Lezghin workers for their religious ceremonies.
14) The Djame Mosque (XII th century) played a significant role in the social, political and cultural life of medieval Azerbaijan. Islam was the ideology of the Azerbaijan feudal states and the bearers of Islam were the Muslim clergy. The clergymen had great powers and were significant property owners which allowed them to generate considerable income. Education was also in the hands of the clergy. This board control meant that the clergy had a strong influence over social institutions and they were able to maintain their financial freedom. For these reasons, even judges had to look to clergy for their input. In the medieval period, Djame mosques functioned as public and cultural centers. The state courts were located here and all orders and decrees were made public from them. The Djame Mosque was rehabilitated many times including during the late XIX th early XX th century when it was rehabilitated by the well-known Baku merchant Haji Sheyhali Dadashov.
15) The Medrese (XII th century AD) was an education establishment under the control of the mosques and it was responsible for training secondary school teachers.
16) The Mahammad Mosque is a monument from the ancient Islamic period. An Arabic inscription along the entrance of the northern façade states: “The mosque was built by rais (chief) Mohammed ibn bubekr” h. 471 (1078-79 AD). In those times, the city governor was called the rais (chief) and he was elected by the wealthy strata of society. The rais acted as a bridge between the authority and the population. They constructed a number of building, mosques and hamams throughout the city. The people also gave this mosque the name “Siniq Qala) or “Broken Tower”.