Idea #500 – Discovering the old city of Baku in Azerbaijan
The city of Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, in the east of the country, on the south shore of the peninsula of Abseron, by the sea Caspian Sea. Its history begins three thousand year ago , but the oldest written inscription date only of the 5th century.
In the second half of the IXth century, Baku is integrated into the State of Chirvanchahs. In 1191, the chirvanchah Akhsitan Ier ibn Manuchihr, transfers the capital of the State from Shamakha to Baku. In the XIIth century Baku is surrounded with a double wall and with ditches, strengthened by the Tower of the Virgin.
The city knows a fast decline in the XIIIth century during the invasion of the Mongols but its economy returns to the next century; in this period, the Azeri storekeepers send diverse goods towards the Golden troop, the Russian principalities, Iran and Central Asia and the Caspian Sea is then mentioned in certain sources as “sea of Baku”. In 1501, Shah Ismaïl takes the city and Baku becomes a part of the State séfévide. In 1578, the Ottoman army invades Baku. In 1607, the city passes again under the authority of Séfévides. The strengthening of the central power in the XVIIth century gives a boost to the development of the city, and the peninsula of Abseron becomes a reference in term of production of tapestries. This wealth attirealors little by little the attention of Russia; Peter the Great sends an expedition in the Caucasus of the South and on July 26th, 1723, the Russian troops occupy Baku, before withdrawing from it in 1735, following the conclusion with Iran of the treaty of Gandja. In mid-April on 1920, the detachments of the 11th Red Army arrive at the north border of Azerbaijan, crosses the border and takes Baku. The democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, established in 1918, falls and Baku becomes the capital of the Soviet socialist republic of Azerbaijan.
Among the worthwhile monuments, let us quote the district of the old town, an old district and a historico-architectural reserve situated in the city center, registered in the list of the monuments of the UNESCO world heritage. You can visit in particular there the Tower of the Virgin (in Azeri: Qiz Qalasi), the old element of symbolic defense of the maritime facade of the city; the Palace of Chirvanshahs (in Azeri: Sirvansahlar sarayi), palace of the governors of Chirvan, built in Baku in the XVth century during the reign of Chirvanshah Khalilallah; the caravanserais of “Bukhara” (XIVth century) and of “Multan”.
Where is it?