Baku Old City «İcheri Sheher»
To touch the history of the country people must investigate its oldest places. Start the excursion through Baku from Icheri sheher-the inner city. There is an opinion that Old City with Maiden Tower was built in 12th century. Other scientists say that this monumental complex was created not earlier as 7th century. Nobody know exactly how old these pieces of architecture are, but they remain the main part of modern Baku. This place has two gates. Having a walk about this territory you can notice Shirvanshah’s Palace – a rather clear evidence of the past time in Baku city. It takes us back in time when Shirvanshahs dynasty ruled here. A magnificent look of this Palace impresses modern tourists. Karavansaray will help you to know Eastern architecture as it is an important example of it. In ancient times all eastern cities had several caravanserais. They were traditionally built on trade routes between two different parts of Eurasian continent – Europe and Asia. It was a place where merchants and travelers could stay for rest. In Inner City tourists could also observe pagan temples that render the atmosphere of far gone days. A museum in Maiden Tower helps to learn some facts from historical evolution of Baku. This Tower looks like a cylindrical structure with eight stores.
In the course of the many wars over the centuries, the walls were repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. The present perimeter of the fortress emerged in the 13th-15th centuries replacing an older one. A stone found in the ruins of one of the walls, bears the following kufic inscription:”Fortress built by the order of Shirvan –Shah Abdul Hidja Manutchehr of the Kesranid line (1120-49).”On the both sides of the gateway there are stones carved with texts from the Koran inserted into walls. The walls have been restored several times. Now the citadel,Icheri –Shekher a unique historical monument. This open-air museum of Azerbaijan culture has been in the main preserved. Most of the important medieval structures (the caravanserais , the mosques, the baths and of course Maiden Tower and the Palace of the Shirvan-Shahs) are intact. The 14th-15th century private dwellings, have nearly all been lost though. In those far away times, the nobility and countries of all ranks lived at court, the clergy round the mosques , the merchants and peasants bringing their produce to the market in the caravanserais. The citizens, artisans and small traders, who were not very numerous, had fairly modest dwellings. It is hardly surprising therefore that only a few of these foundations have been preserved. Fur ther on you will find yourself in a narrow lane with a restaurant on every side. On the right is Bukhara, so called because it is set in a genuine 16th century Bukhara caravanserai. It specializes in Azerbaijan national cuisine. It has 16 private rooms arranged around a patio, which are attractively decorated with low tables, benches and brightly-coloured mutakka cushions. The waiters wear the national dress. On the left you have the Multani restaurants , also set in a 14th century caravanserai where Indian merchants from the Multani province used to stop. The Multani consists of two cellars with stylish interiors and period lamps over the tables. Above in the tea-room serving, there is a choose of oriental sweets ; it has nine private rooms, two of them are furnished in oriental style,with carpets and mutakka cushions. Notice the 14th century ventilation shafts in the wall as you enter the building.
Past the caravanserais is the famous Gyz Galassy(Maiden Tower), a structure unparalleled for its architecture whether in East or West. Rising to a height of 90 ft, it stands much the same way as it did a thousand years ago, though today it is not surrounded by the waves of the Caspian Sea. Standing on a coastral rock face which protected it from dampness and from tunnels being dug under its walls, the cylinder-shaped Maiden Tower has strange projection at its base which gives in the apperiance of a resort. The projection is conventionally referred of a resort to as a buttress but scholars tend to discount the view that is was built for defense purposes or to give the tower additional structural strength or to protect if from erosion by the sea waves. Nor has anything been found within the buttress to suggest that it served as an additional chamber or secret room. Another riddle of the masonry of the outer walls smooth below it starts to be ribbed from about halfway up the tower and buttress. Was this for decorative purposes to break the minority of the huge expanses of walls or is the different style of stonework accounted for by different building periods. The archaic shape of Maiden Tower the change of masonry style and colour of the stone darker than that of the earliest of the dated monuments of the Old City the 11th century Synyk –Kala minaret –suggest that it can be attributed to an earlier date of around 5th-6th ruins of the obviously ancient buildings around tower support this suggestion.