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Area 2200 sq km

 History of Baku traces its roots back to the antiquity, though exact date of its establishment is not known up to present. Territory of Absheron peninsula, where the city is located, has very favorable geographic location, comfortable bay, warm dry climate, fruitful soil, natural resource, so the appearance of the ancient settlements here is quite understandable.

Baku, its, oil, 'burning land' were known far from its boundaries long time ago. "Eternal fires" in its outskirts are always reminded in the written sources of the middle ages related to Baku. Byzantine Pisk Paniysky, who was describing the cities of Caucasian Albania, was one of the first ones who informed about them at the beginning of V century. he noted about the place, where "the flame was rising from the underwater rock". Baku had been noted in the essays of Arabic geographers and historians as small but developed feudal city since IX century. Undoubtedly, Baku is a source of white and dark-gray oil. Caravans from the whole Near East, Slovenian, Byzantine, Chinese, Venetian, Indian merchants were coming here for the oil.

CAPITAL | Views: 821 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 10.05.2011

Water seller. End of 19th century
Water seller. End of 19th century

by Kamil Farhadoglu

All of Baku used to be located within the area of the presentday Icheri Sheher, i.e. actually Baku was Icheri Sheher. In the first half of the 19th century, the city began to grow and expand beyond the fortress walls.

As a result, the fortress came to be called "Icheri Sheher” (Inner City) and what was outside was the "Outer City”.

When Icheri Sheher was being built in the Middle Ages, it consisted of twisting streets which defi ned small neighbourhood areas – there were nine in all. Each area centred on its mosque: the Juma mosque, Shah mosque, Mahammadyar mosque, Haji Qayib mosque, Hamamchilar mosque, Siniqqala mosque, Qasim bay mosque etc. Each had its own mullah.

Each to his own

Some of the areas were named after people who had arrived in Baku and settled in Icheri Sheher. The Gilaklar block was occupied by merchants who had arrived from Gilan. Gunsmiths from Dagestan lived in the Lezgi block.
Most of the population of Icheri Sheher were craftsmen, merchants or sailors.

Some areas were named after the professions of the craftsmen who lived there.

The Hamamchilar (bathhouse workers), Bazzazlar (leather workers), Hakkakchilar (engravers) etc. The people of Icheri Sheher – Azerbaijanis – also fell into various clans. Some of them had very interesting names.

Near the Small Caravanserai. Late 19th centuryNear the Small Caravanserai. Late 19th century
The White-trousers, the Chicken-eaters, the No-Chickens, the Greyheads etc. The Greyheads were so called because their hair went grey early and the White-trousers got their name because they were seamen – and there were various jokes about them. In the past, everyone living in Icheri Sheher had a nickname. Although sometimes these nicknames were quite funny, they did not off end people or cause them to object. At one time there are known to have been four people living there who carried the name Haji Zeynalabdin.

Each had a nickname: Plasterer, Mule, Thank-you, No-Cheese. Or Agamali, always ready to give a helping hand, was nicknamed Shortie because he was.... not very tall.

CAPITAL | Views: 1068 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 08.05.2011

Part of Parapet Square, 1930s (now Nizami square) Part of Parapet Square, 1930s (now Nizami square)

by Kamil Farhadoglu

Baku’s incorporation into the Russian Empire in 1806 marked the start of a new phase in the city’s development, both in terms of layout and architecture. The city changed even more dramatically after it was given the status of a governorate in 1859.

CAPITAL | Views: 1090 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 08.05.2011

Underground passage unearthed in Baku

by Dr. Kamil Ibrahimov

Restoration work in Vahid Park, the former Governor´s Park just outside the walls of Baku´s Old City on the Azneft side, has unearthed an underground passage. Archaeologist Dr Kamil Ibrahimov, senior researcher at the Old City State Historical and Architectural Reserve, looks at the history of the passage and what it tells us about the Old City´s water supply system.

First of all, it is important to identify the newly discovered underground passage in historical and archive maps and other sources.

CAPITAL | Views: 922 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 08.05.2011

by Kamil Ibrahimov

Restoration work is now complete at the Philharmonia Park, just outside the walls of Baku´s Old City. The park, formerly known as the Governor´s Garden or Vahid Park, slopes down towards the Caspian from the Philharmonia Concert Hall. Dr Kamil Ibrahimov, senior researcher at the Old City State Historical and Architectural Reserve, takes a look at how this lush park came to be created in arid Baku.

CAPITAL | Views: 740 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 08.05.2011

The Old City of Icheri Sheher occupies 22 hectares in the center of Baku. It hosts over 50 historical and architectural monuments from various eras. The Palace of Shirvanshakhs, the Maiden Tower and Synyg Gala (The Broken Tower) are among the monuments which survived till present day.


CAPITAL | Views: 527 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 07.05.2011

Fire Temple - Ateshgah

In early history Azerbaijan was called the "land of the sacred fire”. Although the "everlasting fire” mentioned by early travelers such as Alexandre Dumas was due to the gas and oil deposits erupting from the earth, it became surrounded by legend and mystery. Some 2,600 years ago, Zarathustra was formulating Zoroastrianism, one of the first major monotheistic religions. His idea to use fire as a metaphor for the mysteries of God probably came from witnessing the spontaneous flames that rise so eerily from Azerbaijan's Absheron Peninsula. Today some such fires still burn. Most notable is Yanar Dagh near Mammedli, where a small hillside is constantly and naturally aflame. 

On Absheron there were many temples of Fire as well. From their variety the most famous is the well-preserved temple Ateshgah ("the Fire Place") in Surakhany, located 20 kilometers east of the town center. The temple was built over a pocket of natural gas that fuelled a vent providing an 'eternal' fire. This kind of use of fire in Zoroastrian temples led to the followers of Zoroaster (Zarathustra). 

CAPITAL | Views: 462 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 07.05.2011

Towers of Absheron

In the XI-XIII centuries in connection with the consolidation of the Shirvanshahs in the territory of the Apsheron Peninsula a great construction work was carried out. Among the buildings of that time the towers and castles hold a special place; they served as reliable strongholds for the feudal lords in the intestine wars, also as shelters and places of defence during the foreign invasions. Particularly this question was keenly raised in the XII century, when Apsheron was exposed to the attacks of the Russian buccaneers from the sea. Thus in 1175 Shirvanshah Akhistan I repulsed several raids of the Russians, who attacked on 73 vessels.

CAPITAL | Views: 706 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 07.05.2011

Sabael Castle

In 1235 Shirvanshah Fariburz III had a fortification built on one of the rocky islands of the Baku bay which was subsequently called the Sabael Castle, Shahri Saba, Shahri Nau, the city under water, the caravanserai, the Bail rocks, etc. Wrapped in legends, the castle is completely under water at present and is about 350 meters distant from the shore.

Sabael Castle

CAPITAL | Views: 526 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 07.05.2011

Shirvanshakh's Palace

The Shirvanshahs’ Palace ensemble is the biggest monument of the Shirvan-Apsheron branch of the Azerbaijani architecture. In the XV century following the rise of economic and political importance of Baku, which was one of the strongly fortified fortresses and the main port in the Caspian, Khalulullah, the Shah of Shirvan, transferred the Shirvanshahs’ residence from Shamakhy to Baku.

CAPITAL | Views: 676 | Added by: shamsi_84 | Date: 07.05.2011

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