Architecture of Azerbaijan

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Architecture of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan memarlığı) refers to the architecture development in Azerbaijan.

Architecture in Azerbaijan typically combines elements of East and West. Many ancient architectural treasures such as the Maiden Tower and Palace of the Shirvanshahs in the walled city of Baku survive in modern Azerbaijan. Among other medieval architectural treasures reflecting the influence of several schools are the Shirvan shahs' palace in Baku, the Palace of Shaki Khans in the town of Shaki in north-central Azerbaijan, the Surakhany Temple on the Apsheron Peninsula, a number of bridges spanning the Aras River, and several mausoleums. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, little monumental architecture was created, but distinctive residences were built in Baku and elsewhere. Among the most recent architectural monuments, the Baku subways are noted for their lavish decor. The urban planning and architectural activities are regulated by the State Committee for City Building and Architecture of Azerbaijan Republic.

Development of architecture from ancient times till the adoption of Islam[edit]

Architecture reflects the history of the humankind. It started with natural caves that served as homes for ancient people. Azerbaijan has numerous such caves within its territory, particularly in the foothills of the Major Caucasus and Minor Caucasus Mountains, in the Talysh Mountains, in the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, in Zangilan, Kalbajar, Gadabay, Khanlar, Shamakhi as well as the Azokh cave, which was discovered in the territory of the Fuzuli region. It was determined that people lived in those caves nearly 1.5 million years ago and tried to adapt natural caves to their lifestyle as a result of increasing awareness and the development of labor and building tools. [1]They drilled hole (flues) in the ceiling to guide fire smoke out of the cave, and they made special hollows into internal walls to keep their tools. The construction works that were carried out in caves by the ancient people resulted in the appearance of artificial caves in later stages. The artificial caves were made into sheer cliffs and at the foothills of the mountains, just as natural caves are situated. They can be found in the south-eastern foothills of the Major Caucasus, in the Minor Caucasus, on the Bargushad and Akara banks in the Qubadli region, near the villages of Maraza, Sundi and Darakandi in the Shirvan region, as well as in the territories, which long ago belonged to the ancient states of Manna and Midia. Wherever the artificial caves were built, ancient people tried to build them at a certain height above ground level for security purposes. The methods of artificial cave construction started changing after the invention of masonry. People began to build new mud and half-mud huts after masonry was invented. Such buildings were usually constructed into mountainsides and hillsides. Ancient people did not have strong skills in masonry building and were not capable of constructing buildings to their desired height. They created an underground grotto in the lower part, while the upper part (the entrance) served as a porch of natural stones to protect them from heat and cold. Scientists report that such buildings existed even before the state of Midia and were widespread during the period of Midia.[2] At first masonry was used in front sides and laterals, then in back sides of grotto in next development period of buildings of cave type. Replacing of flat walls by masonry and improvement of people's construction skill leaded gradually to appearance of overground buildings. The buildings based on artificial caves passed a long way of historical development and became known under the name of Garadan in the history of architecture. Garadans that were built in Azerbaijan were gradually adapted to the local climatic condition and acquired various architectural-planning qualities. Domestic animals were usually kept in such residents as well. According to the historical sources, garadans were used in Azerbaijan until the beginning of the 20th century.[3] Megalith architectural monuments-cromlechs, menhirs (herdsman's stone), dolmens and Cyclopes buildings were widespread along with the oldest places of residence found in Gobustan (caves, different primitive shelters and etc.).


These monuments made of high stones are called "galadja" or "horukdash" by people. Defense buildings as Chalkhangala near Nakhichevan (Bronze epoch) and Oglangala on the bank of the Arpachay river (II-I thousand years B.C) belonged to Cyclopes buildings. Rocky buildings (Bastam, Danali, Galaoglu and etc.) were found near the Araz river in Southern Azerbaijan. New towns, defense buildings, grand towers were constructed in connection with birth of Manna state in the territory of Azerbaijan in IX-VII centuries B.C, then Atropatena state in the south. Research of toms on cliffs of the Urmiya lakeside and monument complex in Hasanli region show that flat of porch type had been built since VII century. The fire altar (where holly fire kept) only religious monument of that time remained till nowadays. Architectural types, appeared in that period, influenced on consequent architectural development of Azerbaijan, as well as architecture of Iran and other Near East states in the Ahamanies period. Fire temples, appeared in connection with fire-worship spreading, are main religious buildings constructed before Islam.[4] Important steps were taken in town building in the period of Caucasian Albania (IV century B.C -VII century). Strong fortress walls and earthenware water-piping of Gabala town, defense system ("long walls") built Damirgapi (Darband) passage, Chiraggala (VI century), Round Christian temple in Lakit village (V-VI centuries), basilica in Gum village (approximately VI century A.D.), temple complexes in Mingachevir (VII century) show high level of town-building culture. Architectural monuments of Sasanis period particularly attract attention. Gilgilchay wall, prolonged from the Caspian shore to the foot of Babadagh mountain, and Beshbarmagh wall, prolonged from Beshbarmag mountain in present Davachi region to the Caspian shore, create wide idea on development of fortification buildings. Architectural direction changed in connection with spreading of Islam in Azerbaijan after Arabic occupation (VII century). Construction of buildings of new type as mosques, madrasas (religious school, caravanserais etc. became major line in architecture. Barda, Ardabil, Maragha, Urmiya, Shamakhi, Shamkir, Shabran, Beylagan, Gandja and Nakhichevan were important towns of Azerbaijan in that time. Turning of Shamakhi, Gandja and Nakhichevan into big towns happened in this period. Christian temples, defense fortification were built in some provinces of Caucasian Albania along with Islamic buildings. Djavanshir tower, built in the territory of present Ismayilli (approximately VII century), and tower complex near Yukhari Askipara village of Gazakh region (V-VIII centuries) particularly attract attention.

Albanian building

Generally, Albanian buildings made in Azerbaijan territories before and after Islam took important role in architectural development. Some of them such as building remains of IV-V centuries in Pashan and Mukhakh villages of Zagatala region, Govurgala (VI century) in Boyuk Galdak village of Shaki region, Albanian monuments (IV-VIII centuries) in Boyuk Amirli village of Gabala region, Albanian church (middle ages) in Oguz town, Albanian church (I century) in Garakand village of Khodjavand region Nagorny Karabakh, Albanian temples in Sos village (IV century), Iatsi village (temple of V,VII and VIII centuries), in Tagaverd village (675), Guneychartar village (1236), Aterk village of Agdara region (V century), Kolatag (614), Gochogot (672, 698), former Dostahir (713), Gasapet (718), Chaldiran villages (XI century), as well as Susanlig (IV-V century), Vang (IX century), Trakhtik (1094), Tsakuri (1131), Mammadadzor (1147), Tug villages (1197) of Upper Nagorny Karabakh, Shushikand (905), Chanagchi (1065 and 1100), Khachmaz (1100), Khantsk (1122), Khndzristan villages (1202) of Asgaran region has been preserved till nowadays. [5]

Development of architecture in the Middle Ages[edit]

Monuments of the Nakhichevan architectural school differ by the bashtagh composition with multy-colored glazed ornaments, while the buildings belonging to Shirvan-Absheron school stand out for their simple architectural elements and decorative engraving ornament. Magnificence of architectural structure and decor difference are typical for the best monuments of the Tabriz school. [6]

Momina Khatun Tomb

Style peculiarity of the Nakhichevan school reflected on tower-shaped mausoleums with rich decor and proportionate structure and other buildings, preserved till nowadays. Peak of this school presents Adjami Abubakr oglu Nakhichenai's creation, the author of mausoleums Yusif ibn Kuseyr (1186) and Momina Khatun (1186) in Nakhichevan, as well as destroyed religious building complex. Character monumentality, composition proportionate and decor weakness, rational construction for his time, ornament playfulness is typical for his creation. His ornamental composition based on organic unity of art and mathematic thinking. Adjami's composition and decorative ornament styles influenced on mausoleums of certain countries. Mausolem "Goy gunbaz" in Maragha (Blue cupola -architect Ahmad Mahammad oglu,1196) is particularly close to Adjami's style. Maragha monuments occupied important place in the development of Azerbaijan architecture. Some of them, preserved till nowadays, are mausoleum "Girmizi gunbaz" (Red cupola - architect Bakir Mahammad,1148). Mausoleum "Uch gunbaz" (Three cupolas - architect Abu Mansur Mahammad,1185), built in Urmiya in this period, is close to Maragha monuments by its architectural structure.[7] Architectural styles, formed in the brick buildings of the Nakhichevan school, reflected on stone mausoleums such as Gulustan near Juga village, Nakhichevan AR (early XIII century), Seykh Babi Yagubi in Babi village (1273-1274, architect presumably Ali Madjidi) and Mirali in Ashagi Veysalli, Fuzuli region (XIII-XIV centuries). Because of similarity between mausoleums in Barda (architect Ahmad ibn Ayyub al-Hafiz Nakhichevani,1322) and Garabaglar village, Nakhichevan AR (early XIV century) and time of their construction show that they were built by the same architect.. Names of many Azerbaijan architects, mason and architectural ornament masters of X-XII centuries are preserved in different building inscriptions, stone flags, decorative ornamental wares and other sources till nowadays.[8]

Khudaferin bridge

Grand bridges were built in Azerbaijan in XII-XIII centuries. Some of them are Khudaferin bridges with 15 spans (XII century) and 11 spans (XIII century) over the River Araz, Broken bridge with 4 spans in present Gazakh region (Red bridge, XII century), 3 bridges built over the River Gandjachay (remains, XII-XIII centuries), bridge over the River Giziluzan near Minaya town, Southern Azerbaijan ("Maiden Tower", XII century) and etc. particularly draw attention.

Juma Mosque of Quba

Stone constructions, volume-to-space laconism of the architecture, engraving plant ornament on stone are typical for Shirvan-Absheron architectural monuments, passed long development way. Sinniggala minaret in Baku (Mahammad Abubakr oglu, 1078), Maiden Tower (architect Masud Davud oglu, XII century), Mardakan towers (Round tower, architect Abdulmadjid oglu, 1232; Four-cornered tower, XIV century), Nardaran tower (architect Mahmud Sad oglu,1301), Ramana tower (XIV century) and etc. are the best monuments of this school . "Bayil castle" of Shirvanshahs, built in Baku port in XIII century and remained under water, is one of the most interesting buildings of this period. This building complex, surrounding with tower walls with stone engravings, script and pictures on it (1235, master Zeynaddin Aburashimd oglu Shirvani and presumably architect Abdulmadjd Masud oglu), is rare architectural ensemble. Pirsaatchay khanagah (abode) formed in XIII-XIV centuries is one of buildings belonged to the Shirvan-Absheron architectural school. Construction date (1256) and name if its architect (Mahmud ibn Magsud) preserved on the minaret of this religious complex, built around Pir Huseyn mausoleum. Mature period of the Shirvan-Absheron architectural school is reflected in Diribaba mausoleum in Maraza (1402), Sheykh Guneyd mausoleum in Hazra village, Gusar region (1544) and Palace of the Shirvanshahs complex in Baku (1420-60). Birth of Elkhani state in the middle of XIII century caused certain reanimation in architecture.. Maragha observatory was built in the ruling period of Hulaku khan (1256-65), the founder of Elkhani dynasty. Tabriz city became center of architecture and art in connection with removal of capital to Tabriz city. Towns such as Arguniya, Gazaniya, Rashidiyya were built around Tabriz.[9]

Noah tomb in Nakhchivan

Political and economical life of Azerbaijan concentrated in the south of the country in connection with birth of Safavis state and declaring Tabriz the capital, as well as losing administrative center significance of Shirvan in the late XV century - early XVI century. Art traditions reached new development stage due to town expansion. Position of Tabriz in Azerbaijan architecture particularly strengthened. Azerbaijan architects and naggashes worked in other countries, created interesting art patterns in XV-XVI centuries. "Signatures" of Azerbaijan architects remained on architectural monuments in Bursa, Cairo, Baghdad, Damirgapi (Darband), Herat, Samarkant and etc. The graceful gates of Green mausoleum in Bursa city (1420-21) were made by Azerbaijan master Ahmad Tabrizli. Tabriz masters decorated sanctuary of Green mosque in Bursa (1424) with porcelain made by their arms. Ali Tabrizli (was known under the names Captive Ali, Adjam Ali), the Azerbaijan architect taken to Istanbul by Sultan Salim I after Chaldiran battle (1514), built general arch of Topgapi palace and Sultan Salim mosque in Istanbul (1522).[10] XVI-XVII centuries were continuation of old traditions. Different town-building works were carried out in the territory of Southern Azerbaijan in XVI century. XVII century is significant with development of towns and creation of central complexes in those towns. Construction of different buildings spread due to trade development in XVII-XVIII centuries. Caravanserais were built in Shamakhi, Gandja, Baku, closed markets in Ardabil (Geysariya market) and Tabriz, as well as religious and residential constructions. Residence constructions, mosques, caravanserais and trade buildings took important place in structure of Azerbaijan towns of that time. Bath-houses were widely spread in Azerbaijan towns as in other Feudal East towns. Bath-houses served as places of rest, meeting, conversation and table game, as well as ceremonies along with sanitaria-hygiene. The best examples of Azerbaijan bath-houses were remained in Nardaran village, Absheron, (1388, architect Kashtasif Musa oglu), Icharishahar part of Baku (Qasimbey bath-house, XIV century , Hadji Qayib bath-house, XV century), Basgal (XVII century), Gandja ("Hollow bath-house ", XVII century), Shusha ("Merdinli" bath-house), Quba ("Hollow bath-house ), Shaki ("Agvanlar bath-house" XIX century), Agdam (bath-house of Abdal Gulabli village, architect Kerbalayi Safikhan Qarabagi,1900). Disintegration of Azerbaijan into separate khanates and economical disorderliness of the country caused stagnation in architectural and construction development in XVIII century. In separate cases architectural solution lag is observed in architecture of buildings, elevated on base of old traditions. Turning point appeared in the town-building along with this. Big towns and residential places became administrative and art centers of khanates.

Askeran Fortress

Asgaran tower, built by Nagaorno-Karabakh khan Panahali (then was expanded by Ibrahim khan), is the largest defense building of that time. Asgaran tower, elevated on the right and left banks of the River Gargar, is consisted of two fortifications. Interesting examples of popular residence constructions of XVIII-XIX centuries remained in Zagatala, Shaki, Ordubad, Shusha, Guba, Gonagkand, Gandja and Absheron.

Maiden Tower[edit]

Maiden Tower

The Maiden Tower (Azerbaijani: Qız Qalası) is a 12th century monument in the Old City, Baku, Azerbaijan. The Shirvanshahs' Palace, dated to the 15th century, it forms an ensemble of historic monuments inscribed in 2001 under the UNESCO World Heritage List of Historical Monuments as cultural property, Category III. It is one of Azerbaijan's most distinctive national emblems, and is thus featured on Azeri currency notes and official letterheads. The Maiden Tower houses a museum, which presents the story of historic evolution of the Baku city. It also has a gift shop. The view from the roof takes in the alleys and minarets of the Old City, the Baku Boulevard, the De Gaulle house and a wide vista of the Baku Bay. In recent years, the brazier on the top has been lit during the nights of the Novruz festival. Baku's Maiden Tower is a legendary place and world famous landmark in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan. The Tower is covered by cloud of mysteries and legends which are rooted to the History of Azerbaijan and national Culture of Azerbaijan. The pool of tower's epics and legends is a part of Azerbaijan's culture and national heritage. Indeed, Some epics became a subject for scenario for ballets and theatre's plays. The Maiden Tower (ballet) is a world class Azerbaijani ballet created by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli in 1940 and ballet's remake was performed in 1999. Consequent to the receding of the sea shore line of the Caspian Sea, a strip of land emerged. This land was developed between the 9th and 15th centuries, when the walls of the old city, the palace including the huge bastion of the Maiden Tower were built.

The Shirvanshah Palace[edit]

Shirvanshah Palace

The Shirvanshahs ruled the state of Shirvan in northern Azerbaijan from the 6th to the 16th centuries. Their attention shifted to Baku in the 12th century, when Shirvanshah Manuchehr III ordered that the city be surrounded with walls. In 1191, after a devastating earthquake destroyed the capital city of Shamakhi, the residence of the Shirvanshahs was moved to Baku, and the foundation of the Shirvanshah complex was laid. This complex, built on the highest point of Ichari Shahar, remains as one of the most striking monuments of medieval architecture in Azerbaijan.

The various sections of the Shirvanshah complex were not all created at the same time, and there was not a general plan for the entire complex's construction. Rather, each building was added as the need arose.

Ornamental designs found on the buildings of the Shirvanshah Palace.

Below: Drop-like medallion from the Royal Tomb with the name of the architect, Mohammad Ali, and the word for architect (me'mar) encrypted to be read in the reverse reflection of a mirror.

Much of the construction was done in the 15th century, during the reign of Khalilullah I and his son Farrukh Yassar in 1435-1442.

The buildings that belong to the complex include what may have been living quarters, a mosque, the octagonal-shaped Divankhana (Royal Assembly), a tomb for royal family members, the mausoleum of Seyid Yahya Bakuvi (a famous astronomer of the time) and a bathhouse.

All of these buildings except for the living premises and bathhouse are fairly well preserved. The Shirvanshah complex itself is currently under reconstruction. It has 27 rooms on the first floor and 25 on the second.

The actual original function of the Shirvanshah complex is still under investigation. Though commonly described as a palace, some experts question this. The complex simply doesn't have the royal grandeur and huge spaces normally associated with a palace; for instance, there are no grand entrances for receiving guests or huge royal bedrooms. Most of the rooms seem more suitable for small offices or monks' living quarters.



This unique building, located on the upper level of the grounds, takes on the shape of an octagonal pavilion. The filigree portal entrance is elaborately worked in limestone.

The central inscription with the date of the Assembly's construction and the name of the architect may have been removed after Shah Ismayil Khatai conquered Baku in 1501.

However, there are two very interesting hexagonal medallions on either side of the entrance. Each consists of six rhombuses with very unusual patterns carved in stone. Each elaborate design includes the fundamental tenets of the Shiite faith: "There is no other God but God. Mohammad is his prophet. Ali is the head of the believers." In several rhombuses, the word "Allah" (God) is hewn in reverse so that it can be read in a mirror. It seems looking-glass reflection carvings were quite common in the Oriental world at that time.

Scholars believe that the Divankhana was a mausoleum meant for, or perhaps even used for, Khalilullah I. Its rotunda resembles those found in the mausoleums of Bayandur and Mama-Khatun in Turkey. Also, the small room that precedes the main octagonal hall is a common feature in mausoleums of Shirvan.

The Shirvanshakh Tomb[edit]

Tomb of Shirvanshakhs

This building is located in the lower level of the grounds and is known as the Turba (burial vault). An inscription dates the vault to 1435-1436 and says that Khalilullah I built it for his mother Bika khanim and his son Farrukh Yamin. His mother died in 1435 and his son died in 1442, at the age of seven. Ten more tombs were discovered later on; these may have belonged to other members of the Shah's family, including two more sons who died during his own lifetime.

The entrance to the tomb is decorated with stalactite carvings in limestone. One of the most interesting features of this portal is the two drop-shaped medallions on either side of the Koranic inscription. At first, they seem to be only decorative.

The Turba is one of the few areas in the Shirvanshah complex where we actually know the name of the architect who built the structure. In the portal of the burial vault, the name "Me'mar (architect) Ali" is carved into the design, but in reverse, as if reflected in a mirror. Some scholars suggest that if the Shah had discovered that his architect inscribed his own name in a higher position than the Shah's, he would have been severely punished. The mirror effect was introduced so that he could leave his name for posterity.

Remnants of history[edit]

Another important section of the grounds is the mosque. According to complicated inscriptions on its minaret, Khalilullah I ordered its construction in 1441. This minaret is 22 meters in height (approximately 66 feet). Key Gubad Mosque, which is just a few meters outside the complex, was built in the 13th century. It was destroyed in 1918 in a fire; only the bases of its walls and columns remain. Nearby is the 15th-century Mausoleum, which is said to be the burial place of court astronomer Seyid Yahya Bakuvi.

Murad's Gate was a later addition to the complex. An inscription on the gate tells that it was built by a Baku citizen named Baba Rajab during the rule of Turkish sultan Murad III in 1586. It apparently served as a gateway to a building, but it is not known what kind of building it was or even if it ever existed.

In the 19th century, the complex was used as an arms depot. Walls were added around its perimeter, with narrow slits hewn out of the rock so that weapons could be fired from them. These anachronistic details don't bear much connection to the Shirvanshahs, but they do hint at how the buildings have managed to survive the political vicissitudes brought on by history.

In the courtyard can be seen some of the carved stones from the friezes that were brought up from the ruined Sabayil fortress that lies submerged underwater off Baku's shore. The stones have carved writing that records the genealogy of the Shirvanshahs.

The complex was designated as a historical site in 1920, and reconstruction has continued off and on ever since that time. According to Sevda Dadashova, Director, restoration is currently progressing, though much slower than desired because of a lack of funding.

Development of architecture in the 19th century[edit]

The construction of advanced buildings, after Northern Azerbaijan was ceded to Russia, had a significant importance. New buildings such as theaters, schools, hospitals, and houses were constructed in the middle of the 19th century. The establishment and continuous development of capitalist relations produced a strong impact on the architectural development of Azerbaijan. The peculiarities of Azerbaijani architecture can easily be found in Baku buildings that were built during the period of oil industry development in the 19th-20th centuries. Baku was becoming one of the largest cities in Russia.[11] The architecture of Azerbaijan was developing in two main directions - the house composition principles that played a significant role in the planning of housing structure, and European architectural traditions. Local architects and popular masters created their housing compositions at the base of traditional architectural forms. The representatives of the European Architectural Schools (St. Petersburg Civil Engineering Institute and the Emperor's Academy of Arts) also contributed to the construction of housing in Baku. The national architecture did not have opportunities for revelation, and the market was dominated by European architectural styles and eclecticism. The strengthening of European architectural tendencies in buildings and the unavailability of professional local architects prevented the national architectural styles from developing. This is why any kind of usage of the national style in architecture was very important for the development and propaganda of national architecture. Nevertheless, at that stage, it was only reflecting itself in the construction of religious and cultural-residential houses.[12] In addition to residential housing, the most typical constructions built in Azerbaijan in the 19th century were trade houses. Such buildings were usually used as trade enterprises and handicraft workshops. Shops in Baku, Ganja, Shusha and Quba are the most vivid examples of such buildings. Hospitals and small medical enterprises were also built in Azerbaijan during this period. The hospital, built under architect G.Hadjibabayev's project in Salyan in the 1860s, operated until the beginning of the 20th century.[13] The construction of theater buildings started in Azerbaijan in the second half of the 19th century. That was a completely new type of architecture in Azerbaijan The first theater building was constructed in Shamakhi (in 1858, by architect G.Hadjibabayev), followed by the Tagiyev theater in Baku (currently known as the Azerbaijan State Theater of Musical Comedy, 1883, I.Kongovitski, destroyed at the end of the 1980s ) and Mayilov Theater (currently known as the Azerbaijan State Theater of Opera and Ballet, in 1911, by architect N.G.Bayev, the building burnt down in 1985 and underwent reconstruction from 1986-87). Large and monumental religious buildings were constructed in the first half of the 19th century.[14] Local style architecture schools continued with the old traditions in some ways, which appeared in Azerbaijan in this period. The typical external peculiarities of mosque buildings were taught in local architecture schools of Azerbaijan such as Baku-Absheron, Guba-Gusar, Gandja-Nagorny Karabakh, Shaki-Zagatala, Lankaran and Nakhichevan.

The Bey mosque in Baku (Icharishahar, architects Mahammad Haashim al-Bakuvi and Mirali an-Nagi bin Seyyid Huseyn,1895), the Gasim bey mosque (architect Mashadi Mirza Gafar Ismayilov, 1896), the Tazapir mosque (1905-14), the Goy mosque ( Blue mosque - 1912-13), the V.Mukhtarov's mosque in Amirjan (1909, architect of all three mosques is Z.Ahmadbayov) are the most typical buildings standing for capitalism.

Goy Mascid(Blue Mosque)

European architecture failed to lay down its roots in the Karabakh area, which was known for its long time held architectural traditions and a variety of national architectural monuments. In Karabakh, it was simply missed among the local styles. Nagorny Karabakh had a special architectural school, of which Karbalayi Safikhan Garabagi was the most well-known representative. Karbalayi Safikhan, who was loyal to local traditions and principles, restored the Imamzade complex in Barda (1868), the Agdam mosque (1868-70), the Ashagi mosque (1874-75), the Yukhari mosque or the Juma mosque in Shusha (1883), the Hadji Alakbar mosque (1890), rural mosques in Horadiz (1891-1908) and Godjahmadli (1906) - currently known as the town of Fuzuli, the Tatar mosque in Odessa (1870s), the Garabaglilar mosque in Ashgabad (1880s), and so on.[15] The construction of factories, stores, ports, bridges, stations and other structures led to the formation of industrial and transport architecture in Azerbaijan. Two different industrial areas existed in the period of capitalism development. The first was Baku - the industrial center of Azerbaijan, with large oil plants and suburban industrial areas. The second consisted of manufacturing buildings for silkworm-breeding plants, quarries, cotton cleaning plants, wineries, copper plants in Gadabay and Qalakend, as well as copper and cobalt plants in Dashkasan. The connections between these industrial areas improved after the Baku railroad station was built in 1883. The development of various fields of industry led to the evolution of industrial architecture in Azerbaijan.[16]

The development of architecture in the 20th century[edit]

The first stage of the architectural development in Azerbaijan during the Soviet period was related the construction of the working settlements of Binagadi, Rasulzade, Bakikhanov, Montino, Mammadyarov around Baku). Working settlements in Absheron were the first examples of young Soviet architecture.

The general layout the Greater Baku - one of the first general layouts in the former USSR, envisioned the construction of new districts. The transportation infrastructure was improved and measures were taken to resolve housing problems in Absheron. The railway station linking Baku with the petroleum districts was built in 1926.[17] The buildings constructed along the former Soviet Union's first railroad had quite interesting architectural solutions in them. The Sabunchu station building, constructed at that time (architect N.G.Bayev), is one of the most interesting examples. The construction of the Mammadyarov settlement - one of the first housing estates of that time, was of the Soviet importance.

Government House constructed in 1952 in Baku

The first graduation of the Faculty of Construction of the Polytechnical Institute of Azerbaijan was in 1929. Young architects S.Dadashov and M.Useynov started to create actively and developed numerous projects within a short time. Among the most attractive of their projects are the Bayil factory (present maternity hospital), new building of the Azerbaijan Industry Institute (currently known as the Oil Academy of Azerbaijan) - both 1932, the House of Fine Arts Workers, several housing buildings, the Pedagogical Technical School in Gazakh - all in 1933.[18] The works regarding planting of trees and gardens in Baku began in the 1920s. M.A.Sabir's statue was replaced by the present monument (sculptor J.Garyagdi, architects G.Alizade, A.Ismayilov). Construction of the new seaside boulevard (extension of the old boulevard) in 1930s had influence on improvement of the central part of the general plan of the city. Big public houses' completion and greenery expansion, provided in general layout of 1924-1927s, are typical for Baku architecture development of this period. One of the important measures in implementation of general layout was construction of the territory uniting the 28th May street and the Bulbul avenue. The Nizami Theatre and the former building of the Ministry of Food Industry of the Republic of Azerbaijan (both in 1937-1939), built upon projects by S.Dadashov and M.Useynov, draw attention for volume-space structure and architectural solutions. They used forms and styles that were typical for antique Greek and Renaissance architecture. A number of schools were built in Baku and other cities of Azerbaijan during 1933-36. Four-storied buildings, constructed upon projects by S.Dadashov and M.Useynov in Baku and other towns of the country, distinguish for expressiveness of architectural solutions. Classic forms along with national architecture traditions are typical for these projects.[19] Tendency towards adaptation of new architecture to national architecture characterize Azerbaijan architect's creative search of that time. Joint activity of S.Dadashov and M.Useynov took leading place in the development of this direction.

Project on reconstruction and consequent development of Gandja (S.Godjamanli and A.P.Slobodyanik), approved in 1939, was one of the largest general layout of the republic towns after Baku one in the soviet period. New industrial buildings, schools, institutes (the Pedagogical Institute building named after Hadji Zardabi, S.Dadashov, M.Useynov, 1940), cinemas, club and hotels, bridges over the River Gandjacay were built after establishment of soviet rule. Projects of Nizami Gandjavi's statue was worked out in connection with his 800th anniversary (sculptor F.Abdurrahmanov, architects S.Dadashov, M.Useynov) and erected after the Second World War (1946; the USSR State Award, 1947). Thorough reconstruction works were carried out in Nizami Mausoleum, projected in the type of traditional Azerbaijan mausoleums, structure of poet's mausoleum was much more changed (architect F.Imamguliyev) in connection with his 850th anniversary in 1980-1990s.

Nizami Mausoleum


The general layouts of Yevlakh, [[Khankandi] and Shaki were also developed in the 1930s. The construction of schools was in the focus of attention at that time. The activities in the architectural sector encouraged the establishment of the Department for Architectural Works under the Azerbaijan SSR SPC in 1944. The necessity for the construction of new industrial centers was motivated by rapid development of economy in Azerbaijan. The establishment of Sumgait and Dashkesan buildings in Azerbaijan began in mid-40s, followed by the construction of Mingechevir. The projecting and construction of the Neft Dashlari (Oil Stones) - steel pillar settlements in the open sea - heralded the beginning of a new era in post-war architecture. The Neft Dashlari was built in connection with the discovery of rich oil fields in the Caspian Sea in 1949. This extraordinary settlement includes dwelling houses, cultural objects, overpasses, etc.[21] The rebuilding of the Baku city center continued together with the creative activity of Azerbaijani architects in the 1950s. Reconstruction works were carried out in the city center, where a number of advanced buildings were erected. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan was built during 1950-1960s. The buildings of the Baku branch of V.I.Lenin's Central Museum (1954, 1955, H.Madjidov), M.F. Akhundov's Republican Library (1960, M.Useynov), the Azerbaijan State Theater of Drama(1960, G.Alizade, M.Mammadov), Central Department Store (1961,N.Kangarli) and others have also enriched the architectural image of Baku.[22] Public and cultural-housing destination buildings were constructed in other towns as well. Construction of culture buildings in Dashkasan, Mingachevir, cinemas, shopping centers, kindergartens and schools in Baku and region centers became mass. The construction of the Musical Dramatic Theatre in Nakhichevan (1961, A.Ismayilov, H.Madjidov) laid down the basis of the city center, as envisioned in the general layout. Administrative building with longish structure constructed in the center of Gandja (1960, F.R.Leontyeva), occupied superior place.[23] The measures on the liquidation of wastefulness in projecting and construction of buildings, as well as the expansion of industrial bases heralded the beginning of a new stage in the architecture of Azerbaijan. These measures included building of numerous apartment houses in free areas and necessitated radical changes in the project procedures.[24] The wide-scale construction of identical buildings took the place of individual projects. This was how large housing estates were built within a short time. The new period in town-building and architectural development of Azerbaijan began in Azerbaijan in the 1960s. Baku, the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan, grew into a large capital city during these years. This was also the time of erection of wonderful architectural ensembles and advanced buildings, which defined the city image. Most of them were projected at personal initiative and under the strict control of Azerbaijani national leader Heydar Aliyev. It should be noted that Heydar Aliyev made an outstanding contribution into the development of the general layout of the Baku city. He determined the future fate of the Baku city by meeting the modern town-building requirements. The industrial buildings built in and around Baku, the infrastructure and transportation system, were the basis of the current independence and economic growth of Azerbaijan.[25] The necessity of subway construction appeared due to the difficulties in transport communication between separate districts of Baku in result of speedy expansion of the city. It is interesting that underground construction had been already provided in the general layout variant of 1932 of Baku. The first sector of the first line (5 stations) of the Baku subway was opened on November 6 1967. Baku was the fifth republic, owning underground transport, in the former USSR at this time. The construction of the first line of 12 stations of the Baku subway was over with opening of station "Nizami" on December 31 1976. The second line of 4 stations, was launched in 1985, and the third line of 2 stations in 1989.[26]

Location Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan Designer Ajami Nakhchivani Dedicated to Yusif ibn Kuseyir

The Baku subway is very interesting due to the high level of its architectural arts, quality of construction and the synthesis of architecture and fine arts. Yusif ibn Kuseyir Mausoleum and Momine Khatun Mausoleum - the examples of rare arts created by Adjami Nakhichevani, whose 850th anniversary was celebrated in 1976, were salvaged and reconstructed. [27]

Momine Khatun Mausoleum

Besides, Nagorny Karabakh and surrounding regions ( Lachin, Kalbadjar, Zangilan, Gubadli, Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Agdam) were occupied in result of the war begun by Armenia against Azerbaijan since 1990s. Numbers of Azerbaijan monuments remained in these territories were destroyed. Different decisions and measures, related to protection problems of Azerbaijan towns and all town-building systems, have been carried out. Shaki (196 8), Icharishahar in Baku, Shusha and Ordubad ( all in 1977), Lahidj settlement (1980), Nardaran village (1992), Shabran town, Davachi region (2002), Ilisu village, Qakh region (2002), Arpachay bank, Ordubad region (2002), Chiraggala tower, Davachi region (2002), Kish village, Shaki region (2003), Pir Huseyn khanagah (abode), Hadjigabul region (2004) were declared as historical reserves of the architecture of Azerbaijan. Large works on preserved zones carried out in historically formed towns as Nakhichevan, Ganja, Shamakhi. Working out of cultural heritage protection is directed to spreading of experience, acquired in planning and construction of Guba, Gazakh, Lankaran, Lahidj, Barda, Zagatala towns, as well as settlements like Tala in Nardaran village (Absheron), Gala, Mardakan, Zagatala regions. [28]

Development of architecture in the 21th century[edit]

Heyder Aliyev Center[edit]

Heydar Aliyev Center

Azerbaijan is a modern and strong country attached to its past and advancing confidently into the future.

Azerbaijan is a country cherishing its values. Respect for national and moral wealth, history, traditions, the human factor and citizens is our top priority. The modern Azerbaijan is recognized in the world through its nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev. And the Center bearing the name of Heydar Aliyev has become a symbol of modern Azerbaijan and modern Baku. The building of the Heydar Aliyev Center is an embodiment of the development of the present-day Azerbaijan and its attachment both to the past and to the future. [29] The logo of the Heydar Aliyev Center also represents a reflection of this idea. The Center’s logo symbolizes Azerbaijan’s forward-looking aspirations, the progress and the future of the country. [30] The silver color of the logo epitomizes the overcoming of obstacles and moving towards a goal. The silver color is a symbol of leadership, struggle, dynamism, wisdom, transparency, development and innovation. The lines of the logo harmonize with the building of the Heydar Aliyev Center and embody Azerbaijan’s dynamic development, the country’s aspirations to becoming an international leader and progress through perpetuation of values such as attachment to the Motherland and people. The Heydar Aliyev Center’s logo emphasizes the institution’s mission viewed through the prism of global and national values, nation building traditions and the message to be passed over to future generations. [31]

The Center’s slogan "To the Future with Values!" is based on this idea.

Flame Towers[edit]

Flame Towers

Located on a hill overlooking Baku Bay and the old city center, this iconic trio of buildings transforms the city’s skyline and promotes its historic identity. Baku’s history of fire worship provided the inspiration for the design, which consists of three flame-shaped towers, each with a different function, set in a triangular shape. They are visible from most vantage points in the city.[32] Flame Towers (Azerbaijani: Alov qüllələri) is the tallest skyscraper in Baku, Azerbaijan with a height of 190 m (620 ft). The buildings consist of apartments, a hotel and office blocks. The estimated cost of Flame Towers is around US$350 million. Construction began in 2007, with completion in 2012. HOK was the architect for the project, DIA Holdings served as the design-build contractor, and Hill International provided project management.[33]

Carpet Museum[edit]

Azerbaijan Carpet Museum

In 2007, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed a decree for the creation of a new building for the museum in the territory of Seaside National Park, within the framework of a joint project of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and UNESCO. In 2014, under the direction of Austrian architect Franz Janz, the museum building, which meets the all modern requirements, was completed. Over the years, the museum is continuously developed and has become one of the main storage of samples of the Azerbaijan national culture. [34] The museum has become a research-training and cultural-educational center where many events, such as exhibitions, international symposiums, and conferences, are held. During its 50 years of existence, the museum has organized more than 30 exhibitions in different countries throughout the world. In 1983, on the initiative of Heydar Aliyev and the organizational support of UNESCO, in the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum was held an international symposium entitled Art of Oriental carpet weaving. Later, international symposiums such as Azerbaijan Carpet Weaving Art (1988) and Azerbaijan Carpet and Applied Art (2003) were held with the close participation of the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum. Additionally, in 2007 the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum participated in an international symposium entitled Azerbaijan Carpet Weaving Art dedicated to Latif Karimov’s 100th anniversary, which took place at UNESCO’s Headquarters, in Paris. The museum cooperates closely with influential international organizations, such as the European Textile Network (ETN), the European Museum Forum (EMF), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), UNESCO, and the Intergovernmental Foundation for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation (IFESCCO).[35] In 2004, a law on the Preservation and Development of Azerbaijan Carpet was enacted with the museum’s participation. The law aimed to implement the registration of Azerbaijan carpets, protect and support their development, and coordinate scientific and methodical training. In 2010, the Azerbaijan Carpet Weaving Art was included in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity through the assistance of Mehriban Aliyeva, First Lady of Azerbaijan, the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, member of Milli Majlis (National Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan), and Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO.[36] Today, the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum, which is located in one of the country’s most modern buildings, not only stores a rich collection of artifacts and carpets (our nation’s most valuable heritage), but also operates as the site for the comprehensive research of traditional carpet weaving art and its popularization within world culture.[37]



Castles and fortresses[edit]

Skyscrapers and highrises[edit]

At the end of the 1990s the highrise buildings abundantly appeared in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. The most eminent buildings are "Flame Towers", "Port Baku Towers", "Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku", "Azure". "SOCAR Tower" and "The Crescent Development project" are under construction and planned to be the highest after completion.


See also[edit]


Seyran Valiyev and Fuad Akhundov both contributed to this article. The book "Baku" by Leonid Bretanskiy was also referenced (Iskusstvo (Art) Publishing House: Leningrad, Moscow, 1970).