Icherisheher Old City
Icherisheher Old City is unique pearl of the Azerbaijan nation’s cultural heritage and source of pride of each Azeri citizen. It was encircled with 500-meter length fortress walls constructed in 12th century. This unique city located in the scope of relatively higher hill on the shore of the Caspian Sea is called Baku’s historical centre.
State of the Shirvanshahs (XIV-XVI centuries) by Shirvanshah I Ibrahim, Shirvanshah I Khalilullah, and Shirvanshah Farrukh YasarThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
The capacity of stone city which was the capital of the ancient state of the Shirvanshahs having a history of thousand years in Azerbaijan statehood, is 22 hectares. Nearly 500 historical monuments are located in this territory (mosques, caravanserais, bath-complexes, residential buildings, etc.), three of them are of world importance, while 28 are national and 453 are of local value.
Icherisheher is most time called city within the city. Only fortress walls recognize modernity and past and Icerisheher is an uncommon city inside a walled town. "Icheri Sheher” is the live organism having the infrastructure and inhabited files where 1300 families are living here . It contains 10 expositions and museums, 18 hotels and over 100 trade centers.
Icherisheher by The Charter of the State Department of the Historical and Architectural Reserve of IcherisheherThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
Icherisheher-Old City is unique pearl of the Azerbaijan nation’s cultural heritage and source of pride of each Azeri citizen. It was encircled with 500-meter length fortress walls constructed in 12th century. This unique city located in the scope of relatively higher hill on the shore of the Caspian Sea is called Baku’s historical centre. The capacity of stone city which was the capital of the ancient state of the Shirvanshahs having a history of thousand years in Azerbaijan statehood, is 22 hectares. Nearly 500 historical monuments are located in this territory (mosques, caravanserais, bath-complexes, residential buildings, etc.), three of them are of world importance, while 28 are national and 453 are of local value.s.
Maiden Tower - The symbol of BakuThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
Maiden Tower was built in Baku in cylindrical shape on the Caspian Sea shore, on a giant rock sloping towards the sea. Elongated buttress added to it from the side of the sea. Buttress which is adjacent to the castle served to both sides' standing on a solid foundation. Height of Maiden Tower on the northern side is 28 m, on the south side is 31 meter and diameter is 16.5 meter. Thickness of walls is 5 meters on the ground floor, while the upper part is 4 meter.
Height of the tower first floor is 3 m, the average height is 2.5 meters and the outer part is divided into 8 floors. Each floor is separated from each other with dressed stone roofs. Only access to the castle is arched door on its western side, at a height of 2 meters from previous surface of earth and 1.10 meter width. Contact between the floors are kept through the stairs made inside south-eastern walls of the tower. Interestingly, playing the role of the medieval fortification, contact between the second and the first floor, is available by circular holes in the ceiling, ladder or rope.
According to some archaeologists, the bottom part of Maiden Tower is 2,600 years old. So, lower part of the monument is relatively more ancient than upper. Most scientists believe that, the Tower concerns the VII-VI century B.C. temples for unusual structure. According to the assumptions, temple of fire-worshipers has been found in several places around the tower. The monument is considered to be an observatory as well. Scientific researches in this area, give ground to assume that, the tower was built in VIII century B.C, by local tribes who worshiped fire and the sun. The sun year-round and giving ancient people the opportunity to observe some important celestial bodies allow a group of scientists to be persistent on Maiden Tower's use as ancient observatory. Most likely, as the historical realities change, the designation of the castle changes as well. A unique monument emerged as a temple played a role of a medieval fortification. There are many hypotheses about the function of the tower. The first version' supporters consider that to be a defensive castle.
Maiden Tower first floorThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
The first floor displays archaeological artefacts dating back to the 2nd -1st centuries BCE that were discovered during excavations around Maiden Tower. They inform us of Baku’s history as an ancient city. Asaf Zeynalli Street (between the Tower and the Muhammad Mosque), where the artefacts were found, is probably the oldest part of the city.
As the level of the Caspian Sea has fluctuated over the centuries, and some ancient cities are known to have been inundated, parts of ancient Baku are probably still under the waters. An electronic screen displays a brief summary of the materials displayed on all the Tower’s floors.
Maiden Tower second floorThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
A video on the second floor features different hypotheses on the purpose and function of Maiden Tower. For some scholars, it was a Zoroastrian temple. The dead were laid on the top of the temple as food for the birds, then the bones were slid down pipes in the walls and buried. On this basis they date Maiden Tower to the 8th -7th centuries BCE.
Some scholars believe that the Tower was a fortified part of the Shirvanshahs’ defensive structure and was used to send signals from the top to other towers in times of danger. Since Maiden Tower is aligned so that the ancients could observe the sun’s rise at significant times of the year as well as some of the most important celestial objects, other scholars have insisted that the monument was used as an ancient observatory.
Maiden Tower third floorThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
Maiden Tower is 28 metres high on its northern side and 31 metres high on its southern side. The walls are 5 metres thick. In appearance the Tower is cylindrical in form with a supporting wall of almost the same height. The eight storeys are separated from each other by stone floors. They are connected by steps built into the south-eastern wall.
Originally, however, there were no steps between the first and second floors. There are two vertical spaces within the walls. One of them, a well cut in stone, opens directly onto the third floor. The well is 21 metres deep. Water from the well has been analysed and found to be suitable for drinking.
The water wellThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
One of the interesting features of Maiden Tower structure in Baku is its construction of well. The well with 0.7 m diameter is inside the south-eastern wall. Calculations have shown that, the well has nothing to do with the level of sea water. The well water was chemically analysed, its being fully fit for drinking, determined. The well gob begins from the level of the third floor and lasts 13 meters down along the wall. It was concealed in the Tower wall to ensure the safety of the well.
Maiden Tower fourth floorThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
There is a model of Icherisheher, the soul of Baku, on this floor of the Tower. The model represents the historical architectural monuments to be found within Icherisheher: the globally significant Maiden Tower, the Shirvanshahs’ Palace, Muhammad Mosque and the nationally significant Arcade religious-architectural complex, the Haji Bani bath, the Multani and Bukhara caravanserais, the Double Tower Gates, the Agha Mikayil and Qasimbey baths and the small caravanserai. In the centre of the model, a red-lit monument displays external and internal views on a video screen.
Maiden Tower fifth floorThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
Here there is a display of electronic books. As you scroll through them, various pages from the Tower’s history will be revived before your eyes and the Tower will share its mysterious secrets. Book I - “The Legends of Maiden Tower”, Book II - "Maiden Tower Festival", Book III - "Maiden Tower in Art".
Maiden Tower sixth floorThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
On this floor you see a model of the eight-pointed emblem that is the state symbol of Azerbaijan. In the spirit of patriotism, scenes from Azerbaijani films (battle scenes from the films Babek and Nasimi) and a Diorama based on the artist K. Hippius's engraving, "Sea View of Baku", as well as a display of defence weapons and daggers on the glass animation.
Maiden Tower seventh floorThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
Many researchers state that Maiden Tower was initially built for religious purposes and that it was a temple where religious ceremonies were held. They say it was connected with the beliefs and rites of the local people who at that time worshipped the sun. The video installation here is about the sacred nature of fire for the Azerbaijani people from ancient times.
Maiden Tower eighth floorThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
The animation “Ancient Observatory” suggests that, from its structure and position, Maiden Tower was used as a solar observatory. The astronomers observed sunrise on the horizon. The structural features of the building, especially the position of the base, are oriented to suit some of the most important events in the solar cycle.
Bird nestsThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
Given the global importance of the monument, for the purpose of the monuments preservation and secure of the current appearance for future generations the conservation work was carried out in 2009 -2013 there due to assigment of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Maiden Tower.
Initiative on making alternative nests for long-winged migratory birds (lat. "Apusapus"), nested in the spaces between the stones of the monument in the process of conservation, is connected with the name of Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Specially-prepared nests as a part of this initiative have been installed on the building in front of the monument. As for the castle, 150 nests were kept with no risk of damage to the castle.
Nomination For success in improving social significance of the museum by EMYA European Museum of theYearAwardThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
The Maiden Tower won the award of European Museum of the Year 2015� competition organized by the European Museum Forum held in Glasgow of Scotland attended by known museums of 21 countries of Europe in the category For success in improving social significance of the museum. It received the award for significant contribution to the improvement of museology. EMYA “European Museum of theYearAward has proved to be the longest running and most prestigious museum award in de world in the museum sector.
"Dome - Masoud bin Davud" stoneThe Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher
To determine the period of construction of the Maiden Tower, one of reliable documents is 04x06 meter written stone located on outer side of the wall, above fortress door, on height of 14 meters.
"Dome - Masoud bin Davud" words written on the stone. Later the deployment of inscription of Maiden Tower on the wall uneatly has also been identified. It was very roughly stuck on the part of the fortress wall covered with stone pipelines. Other researchers suppose that, these insciption mounded there after fortress built.
Aliyeva Gulnar Alakbar
Deputy Director of the “Icherisheher” Historical Museum of Icherisheher State Historical-Architectural Reserve Department
Phone: (+99412) 437 31 75
Gasimova Irada Rafig
Head of the Public Relations and Mass Events Department of the “Icherisheher” Historical Museum of ISHARD
Phone: (+99412) 437 31 86
Gasimova Gunel Aliakbar
Junior Scientific Researcher of the Scientific Research Department of the of the “Icherisheher” Historical Museum of ISHARD
Phone: (+99412) 437 31 75
Mammadova Aynur Ramiz
Senior Scientific Researcher of the Scientific Research Department of the “Icherisheher” Historical Museum of ISHARD
Phone: (+99412) 437 31 86