Azykh Cave The oldest cave in Azerbaijan inhabited by people is Azykh Cave. This cave is one of the most ancient human habitats in the world. Azykh Cave is located near Fuzuli town of Garabagh. In 1960, an expedition led by Azerbaijani archaeologist Mammadali Huseynov discovered Azykh Cave and started to unveil it. It became clear that it was the habitat of the oldest human beings of the world (they were called Azykhantrops). In 1968, as a result of long-lasting excavations in Azykh Cave by M.Huseynov, the low jaw bone of a human related to the Neanderthal type was found. The examination carried out on the find proved that it had at least 350-400 thousand year history.Bones related to bear, lion, rhino, deer, horse, boar and other wild animals were also found in the cave. Traces of a bonfire and stone instruments were also found in the cave. These instruments are dated 1 to 1.5 million years. According to specialists, the jaw bone found in Azykh Cave is the forth in the world by its age. Archaeological finds of this kind related to earlier periods had been discovered in Tanzania, Kenya and France. It is sufficient to prove that Azerbaijan has its own significant place among the territories where the most ancient humans had lived. Azykh Cave covers 800 square kilometres of area. Azykh Cave draws attention by the fact that it is the biggest of the caves so far found in the Caucasus. The Azerbaijani territory, in which this cave - where once the oldest human beings of the world lived - is located, has been under Armenian occupation since 1993, and there is no information about the cave’s further condition.
Gobustan Rock Drawings Museum of Petroglyphs is another name for Gobustan - a mountainous place in the southeast of the Major Caucasian ridge located 60 km from Baku . The archaeologists found there the ancient sites of primitive people who left behind numerous rock drawings - Petroglyphs. This primitive art displays the culture, economy, outlooks, customs and traditions of ancient people. Long time ago the sea waves licked these mountains and then abandoned them leaving characteristic relief traces on the polished rocks. After their first accidental discovery in the 30s of the 20th century more than 6 thousand of these unusual drawings (on 1,000 rocks) have been found. Along with them ancient primitive dwellings - caves and sites - and more than 100 thousand objects of material culture have been found.Gobustan's petroglyphs are referred to various epochs. They were made from the10th -18th centuries BC to the Middle Ages. The drawings clearly reflect the entire evolution of humans. Here are the scenes of mountain goat hunt, ceremonial dances with spears - the most ancient period of time, mesolite. Now you see the images of horse and unmounted hunting, battles, collective work, harvesting, a woman near the fire. These are the first centuries AD - transition to a new level of social order. Closer to the Middle Ages the drawings decrease in sizes and become more schematical. Rock drawings perpetuated the figures of the animals which lived there for the last 10 thousand years - goitered gazelles, wild goats, deer, wild boars, horses, lions, etc. There are also images of birds, fishes, snakes, lizards and insects. Among the abundance of drawings a special place is occupied by the images of boats with oarsmen. It is the evidence of the fact that ancient settlers were good seamen. These images attracted attention of the well-known scientist and traveler Tur Heerdal who repeatedly visited this place. Except for the ancient drawings a remarkable Latin inscription was found at the foot of Mount Beyuk-dash in Gobustan. It is dated 1st century AD and testifies about the Roman armies stay near Baku . Since 1966 the territory of Gobustan has been regarded as national reserve. Today is an open-air museum. Annually this stone picture gallery is visited by thousands people from all over the world.
Albanian Church Albanian Church is an christian religious place, built in the 1st century. A similar churchs can be found in Qabala which today is a city in Sheki region, but served as the capital of Albania (ancient Azerbaijan state) for past many centuries.
Absheron History In the Open Air Forty kilometers from Baku there is Gala, the well-known open-air historical and ethnographic museum. The museum, founded in 2008 at an archaeological site located in the same-name village, is dedicated to the history of the Absheron Peninsula. There, you can see how the Azerbaijani lived, what they ate and drank and how they managed a household over the period from the XVI to XIX centuries. The territory of 1.2 ha hosts old-time houses – portable tents made of animal skins, subsequently replaced by stone and beaten cobworks with cupolas, an ancient blacksmith shop, market, pottery, bakery, threshing mill and other interesting medieval buildings. You can see, touch, and take picture of all of them. You can even try to bake bread in a common oven, weave a carpet, muddy in pottery or feed camels, horses and donkeys, peacefully resting in their stalls.
Many monuments and exhibits were brought to the Gala Museum from different corners of the Absheron Peninsula; they were renovated or fully reconstructed. All together, they help to get an idea of the life of the medieval people in Azerbaijan. It is interesting to know that scientists have found the evidence showing that the first settlements on the site of Gala village appeared much earlier, at least 5,000 years ago rather than in the Middle Ages. Rare exhibits of antiquity as well as cave paintings of primitive people with pictures of hunting and ritual sacrifice, also found their place in the richest museum exposition. The Gala Museum territory hosts also several exhibitions, where the tourists can see ancient household items, glassware, jewelry and other interesting exhibits cased in glass. A guide, whom is best to hire in the museum, will help you not to get lost in the maze of the history of the Apsheron Peninsula.
Ateshgah Temple,Baku The Temple of Eternal Fire - Ateshgah - is an authentic Azerbaijani exotic. It is well-known practically all over the world. It is located 30 km from the center of Baku in the suburb of Surakhany. This territory is known for such unique natural phenomenon as burning natural gas outlets (underground gas coming onto surface contacts oxygen and lights up). The temple in its present state was constructed in the 17th-18th centuries. It was built by the Baku-based Hindu community related to Sikhs.However, the history of the Temple is even longer. From times immemorial this was the holy place of Zoroastrians- fire worshippers (approximately beginning of our era). They attributed mystical significance to the inextinguishable fire and came there to worship the relic. After the introduction of Islam Zoroastrian temple was destroyed. Many Zoroastrians left to India and there continued their worship. But in the 15th -17th centuries the Hindus-fire worshippers who came to Absheron with trading caravans began to make pilgrimages to Surakhany. The Indian merchants started erection of the temple. The earliest temple part is dated 1713. The latest - the central temple-altar was built with the support of merchant Kanchangar in 1810. During the 18th century chapels, cells, a caravanserai were added to the central part of the temple. On у can find carved inscriptions in Indian lettering there. In the early 19th century the Temple acquired its present-day appearance. Ateshgah is a pentagonal structure with a castellation and entrance portal. In the center of a yard the altar-sanctuary executed in the form of a stone bower on which angles some more centers are located towers. In the center of an altar - a well from which beat "eternally" burning gas. Above the entrance portal is a traditional guest room or "balakhane". Near the temple there is big pit where they used to burn bodies of dead Hindus in the sacred fire. In the mid-19th century due to the movement of the surface the natural gas yield ceased. Pilgrims interpreted it as the punishment from the gods and left. Ateshgah as a place of worship existed until 1880. Today this ancient Zoroastrian temple has been opened for tourists attracting them with artificial fires.
Yanar Dag, Baku vicinity Azerbaijan is historically called the Land of Fire, and it is not for the sake of a witty remark. At a whim of nature, the land of this Caucasian country located on the picturesque coast of the Caspian Sea, is replete with underground sources of oil and gas that long for blowing out. Natural gas in the Azerbaijan bowels is so much that it comes to the surface over and over again. In some places, a match dropped accidentally or deliberately, a torch, or any spark can ignite the gas, which will keep on burning until it fully exhausts. In times of old, Azerbaijan was a country of fire-worshipers, followers of the Zoroastrian cult. People believed that fire sources were the manifestation of divine power, they worshiped them, building altars and temples. One of the most famous and popular tourist places of the "eternal flame” in Azerbaijan is the mountain of Yanar Dag. Actually, it is rather a hill than a mountain, with natural gas burning on its slope from ancient times. Meter-long tongues of fire are licking the stratified earth approximately for 10 m in width, searing those who approached too close. People occupy the benches to watch the blazing hill in the evening, when the its sight is most effective. Yanar Dag is located 25 km to the north from Baku, in Mehemmedi village. There are buses running to it from the city, so you can get there fairly cheap and easy. From the year 2007 Yanar Dag is declared a state-protected conservation area.
Towers of Absheron By the XI-XII centuries, Baku became a large commercial seaport on the Caspian Sea. For safety reason the Shirvanshakh dynasty’s rulers initiated a large-scale building activity to strengthen the city’s fortification works. The fortress was protected with three rows of walls built around it and also with a deep moat dug near it. Furthermore, the mountains surrounded the city were built up with additional defensive structures in a form of flag towers and small fortresses All these towers and palaces made up a city’s common defensive system which is located on the Apsheron Peninsula today. The beginning of the construction of the towers and castles dates back to the XI-XII centuries. They include the famous Maiden Tower, Sabil fortress, Ramana fortress, Mardakyand fortress and Shikh fortresses. These fortresses were mainly occupied by a military post which was to form the city’s first line of defense in case of attack. In the XI-XIV centuries Baku was subject to attacks of the Turks-Seljuks, Mongols and Russ. In year 1175 Shirvanshakh Akhistan with the help of the towers and fortresses existed by that time, managed to prevent the occupation of Baku by the Russ who had arrived there by 73 ships. These towers, in addition to their defensive function, were used as flag ones. When enemies were approaching the city, its defenders used to burn oil on their tops, thus, warning the city folk about the danger. One of the castles forming the defensive system of Baku was the Bayil Castle submersed almost completely under water. The fortress was built opposite the city in the XIII century in the Bayil bay, but due to the earthquake of 1306 the water level there dramatically increased, and the fortress found itself deep in water. The castle was shaped in irregular rectangular. It was girded by 1.5-m wide walls with 15 towers built along their perimeter. The fortress location was chosen so as to protect Baku from attack from sea. The Maiden Tower was also a part of the Baku’s defensive system, though whether this function was its main one, the scholars cannot say as yet. The Maiden Tower is an 8-storey building resembling a cylinder by its shape. In the XVIII-XIX centuries the tower was used as a lighthouse. In the township of Ramana, near Baku, there is another fortress of the XVI century – Ramana Fortress. It was built of white stone. The fortress height is 15 m. The Ramana Fortress was built by Shirvanshakhs’ order for defensive purpose. According to documentary records, in the Middle Ages, there was an underground way running from the Ramana Fortress to the Maiden Tower. In Mardakyan township not far from Baku there is another defensive fortress – the Mardakan fortress built in the middle of the XIV century by Shirvanshakh Akhsitan’s order in honor of the victory over the defeated enemy. The fortress was used as a place for accommodation of a military post and as an observation post. The fortress’ height is 22 m. The Shikh fortress or Ishyg Galasi (Light Fortress), another one defensive fortress is located in the same village. This 16 m-high fortress was built in year 1232 as an observation post.
Old Baku Bathhouses Among dozens of sights and architectural structures of Old Baku, its bathhouses can be subsumed under a separate group. Such bathhouses as Gadzhi Gaib, Aga Mikail, Kasum bek, and the famous bathhouses in Shirvanshakh Palace were functioning there. The general regularities of town planning methods in Baku as well as in the whole East can be traced in bathing building structures. More often bathhouses were built either as part of palace complexes and public buildings, located in the city’s center, or built separately in a city’s service and utility zone. Special attention must be given to palace bathhouses built in every palace complexes of eastern rulers. Among such Baku’s bathhouses, the one located in the Shirvanshakh Palace, is of special interest. This is a large bathhouse, consisting of 26 premises revealed in the course of the archeological digs of 1939. All the premises of the bathhouse were presumably covered with domes, while the building itself was a basement one. The bathhouse consisting of two square premises were divided into smaller ones. There were rooms for undressing – “baiyr” (outer). They are followed by bathing rooms – “icheri” (inner). The bathhouses were fitted with basins containing hot and cold water – “khazna”. Next to the basins with hot water there was a furnace chamber to heat water. There was also “khyalveti”, a place for single washing. The bathhouse premises were fitted with small swimming pools of round shape and cells for shoes.
The Gadzhi Gaib bathhouse: stands out among the ones located in the service and utility zone of Old Town. It is situated opposite the Maiden Tower. The exact date of erection of this bathhouse is unknown, but the scientists date it approximately to the XV century. The bathhouse entrance portal is of square shape. The bathhouse itself consists of an icebox as well as dressing and bathing rooms. The dressing and bathing rooms have octagonal central halls, surrounded with small premises. In the center of the hall there are basins with hot and cold water. The bathhouse, like the one in the Shirvanskakh Palace was heated with a system of channels built under the floor. The Aga Mikail and Kasym bek bathhouses should be also mentioned.
The Aga Mikail bathhouse: was built in the XVIII century in the south-western part of Icheri-Shekher by the Skemakhi’s resident Gadzhi (Kafir, non-Muslim) Aga Mikail. The location area of this bathhouse is popularly called rubbers’ quarter. This bathhouse is almost the same as Baku’s other bathing huts, but unlike to the Shirvanskakh bathhouse and Gadzhi Gaib bathhouse, the dressing and bathing rooms are of square shape there.
The Kasum bek bathhouse: was built in the XVII century near Salyan gates. This bathhouse was popularly called as “Sweet Bathhouse”, because the tea served there came together with sweets. The bathhouse consists of a vestibule, dressing room, bathing room, swimming pool and furnace chamber. Bathhouses in the East played an important role in every-day life. They were an essential element of any palace complex or residential quarter. The Baku’s bathhouses are very picturesque from point of view of architecture and interesting to visit.
Icheri Shekher,Baku The Icheri Shekher Fortress - Baku acropolis The “Baku Acropolis”, “Old Town”, “Inner Town” – these are the names for this unique historical ensemble located right in the center of Baku. “Icheri Shekher” is the heart of the city. It was the place, on the hill by the very sea, where ancient Baku was originated. Icheri Shekher is the oldest living quarter in Baku. It was declared a historical and cultural reserve in 1977, and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. Sometimes, Icheri Shekher is referred as a fortress, because its area of 221 km2 is fully surrounded with a well-preserved vallum. The territory of Icheri Shekher was inhabited with people as early as in the Bronze Age and by the VIII-XI centuries it had been completely populated. Behind the dilapidated fortress’ walls there survived numerous unique monuments: the Shirvanshakh Palace complex with a shrine, divankhane, and mosque, as well as “Gyz Galasy” (the Maiden Tower), mosques and minarets, the ruins of caravanserais and bathhouses. The buildings of the old fortress are of special nature. Due to the insufficient territory, anciently, the buildings were erected “wall-to-wall” there. There were no gardens, while yards were extremely small and separated by “strings” of narrow streets, alleyways and tight corners. When in the XV century, the Shirvanshakhs moved their capital from Shemakha to Baku, Icheri Shekher proceeded with a large-scale construction. It was the period when theShirvanshakh Palace, a pearl of the fortress was built. It should be noted that Baku of the XVII-XIX centuries did not extend outside Icheri Shekher. There located rulers’ palaces and living quarters. From 1747 to 1806 it was the capital of the Baku khanate. It was not until the start of the oil boom, when the city began to expand, extending outside Icheri Shekher. The vallum itself is of great interest. Once, there were two of them separated by moats but at the beginning of the XIX century, Baku was developing so rapidly that the outer wall had to be demolished and its place was build up with residential houses. There was only the inner wall left in the city. It is extant with 25 towers and 5 gates up to date. People say that, as early as in the 30-s of the ХХ century there were over 900 buildings and only a half of them have survived by the beginning of the XXI centuries.
Holy Myrrhbearers Cathedral in Baku: Cathedral of the Holy Myrrhbearers of the Russian Orthodox Church Holy Myrrhbearers Cathedral in Baku was built under project of the Russian architect Verzhbitsky, Fyodor Mikhailovich. The funds for this project was allocated by the War Office of tsarist Russia, as well as the private donation made by Baku merchant Gadzhi Zeynalabdin Tagiev The Church name has its own history. In 1909 this Church was built for the 206th Saliyan pultan, accommodated in Baku. It was consecrated in honor of the women who came the first day after Saturday to the tomb of resurrected Jesus Christ for ritual anointment - to embalm the bones with fragrance and myrrh. Thus the name of the cathedral church in Baku was originated In Soviet time the church was closed. It housed first warerooms and then a gym. The Church was slowly destroying at this period. The events, which took place in January 1990, resulted in hitting its bell tower with two shells, thereat some of its parts were destroyed In 90-s the Russian Orthodox Church began restoration work on the temple. The building’s architecture was restored. His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II on his visit to Azerbaijan on 27 May 2001 administered the consecration of the Church and gave it a status of Diocesan Cathedral Church. After restoration, the Church was opened on 24 March 2003. The Church is also notable for a Baku patron Apostle Bartholomew’s piece of hallows and the Holy Icons of the Mother of God of Tikhvin and Caspian which are kept there.
Bukhara caravanserai,Baku: Caravanserais have been one of the most important elements of Eastern architecture. None of the eastern cities could ever exist without several caravanserais. Hundreds of caravanserais were built on numerous trade routes between the East and West, which were vital for the normal functioning of the trade routes. Caravanserai literally means “palace for caravans” or “palace on a trade route”. In the Middle East and Central Asia it was often a place of rest, located in unpopulated areas, to house animals and people. All caravanserais were divided into two types: open and closed. Closed caravanserais were small fortresses to repel the attack in case of danger. They were one or two storey buildings, surrounded by fortified walls. Inside, there were warehouses, stables and corrals for animals, as well as living premises. Open caravanserais were typical for cities. They were more like hotels with stables and corrals for animals. In addition there were teahouses, bathhouses, and many other buildings and facilities for travelers. Bukhara caravanserai in Baku is an example of an open type caravanserai. It is located in the Icherishekher old town right opposite Multani Caravanserai. It was built late in the XV century on the trade route passing through Shemakha gates. Basically, it was a place to stay overnight for the merchants and travelers from Central Asia, in particular from Bukhara, so people called it Bukharian caravanserai.The caravanserai has a square shape. The inner courtyard was adapted for rest. There were individual cells for an individual stay. The entire perimeter of the building has pointed arches, which give the caravanserai a more impressive appearance.
Juma Mosque,Baku Many of the architectural monuments of Baku were built on the ruins of very old buildings belonging to the pagan period in the history of Azerbaijan. Thus, according to archaeologists, the Maiden Tower is built on the site of a pagan temple. The basement of Sabail castle also contains some fragments of the older buildings. Juma mosque in the Icheri-sheher can also be listed among such monuments. Juma mosque or mosque in the Icheri-sheher has been functioning since the 12th century. This mosque was built in 1899 at the funds of Baku philanthropist Khadja Shikhali Dadashev. In 1888 the Russian academician A.Pavlinov took measurements of the Juma Mosque. The mosque was built on the site of the temple of fire worshipers. Only four uncoated arches remained from the old building, they allegedly belonged to the temple. According to many modern archaeologists, there was a pagan sacred center on the site of Juma Mosque, where the fire worshipers gathered.In the 14th century pagan temple was converted into a mosque. According to the inscription on the Mosque, "in the month of Rajab in the year 709 Hijri (1309) Amir Sharaf al-Din Mahmud ordered to update this mosque." In the 15th century, minaret was attached to the north side of the Mosque. By the end of the 19th century the old mosque came into disrepair and was replaced by a new one - Juma Mosque. Juma mosque itself is small. There is little hall for men, women's prayer rooms. The conical dome of the building, which rests on four pillars located in the center of the Juma Mosque ,is of special interest.

Multani Caravanserai,Baku
When we talk about the Ancient East, trade caravans are one of the most common associations. For centuries, the Great Silk Road had been linking Europe and the East. Numerous caravanserais were functioning along the entire length of road. Often, one could see a lonely caravanserai awaiting weary travelers in the middle of the desert. Also caravanserais were spread in the big cities with brisk trade. Caravanserai literally means a palace on a trade route. Sometimes this name did not reflect the reality. Most caravanserais were simple one-story structures of square or rectangular shape with minimum of amenities. Often, in desert trade routes one could find only a wall with a yard and a well inside it, just to quench thirst for weary travelers and their animals. But sometimes, truly royal buildings, represented by small fortresses, could come before the eyes of travelers. Architecturally, these caravanserais are called closed ones. They were built to beat off a potential attack. They were one or two storey buildings, surrounded by ramparts. Inside, there were warehouses, stables and corrals for animals, as well as livingpremises.Urban areas were presented with the other type of caravanserais - an open one. It looked more like a medieval European hotel and inn. There were stables, a teahouse, sauna and many other buildings and facilities necessary for travelers.An example of this is Multani caravanserai in Baku. It is located in the old part of town – Icherisheher. This caravanserai was built in the 15th century for Indian merchants, fire worshipers, who came from the city of Multan in India (present-day territory of Pakistan).Like the majority of caravanserais, Multani caravanserai has a square shape. There was a well in the courtyard. Along the perimeter of the building there were cells for individual housing. Also, the caravanserai had stables and farm outbuildings.Studying the caravanserai, scientists discovered that it was built on the ruins of an older building. This is a characteristic feature of many remained architectural monuments of Baku.

Shirvanshah Palace
Shirvan Dynasty Palace Complex is a jewel in the crown of Azerbaijani architecture. It was erected there in the 15 th century (when Shirvan residence moved from Shemakha to Baku ). The complex comprises the two-storey palace building, the tomb, the mosque, the divankhane, the Mausoleum of Seiid Yakhya Bakuvi, the bath house, the East Portal and Murad's Gate (15 th century). When looking at the Palace Complex from far offshore you will clearly notice that it descends stepwise from Baku Hill top, i.e. the Palace Complex's three main structures occupy three levels. The well-shaped buildings crowned by domes, decorated by unique drawings made in fine and deep carvings, the magnificent masonry – all these together delight the eyes of those who come there in order to admire the Middle Age craftsmen's work.

Tuba-Shakhi Mosque,Baku
Tuba-Shakhi Mosque in Mardakjan village was constructed in the 15th century by the order of some Tuba-Shakhi and was named after her. This cult structure has survived in good condition is an example of classical architecture of medieval Azerbaijan. The mosque's walls were made from smooth dressed stone; the rectangular windows are decorated with geometrical patterns of stone lattices. The facade top is decorated with the carved cornice. The portal entrance juts out a little. It looks quite modest as it is not distinguished by decoration. Above the portal there is the indication of the year of its construction (1481-1482). The mosque rooms are connected with one another and the main hall by the curved arched. In the center of the hall stands a low faceted drum with a peaked dome towering above it. Mikhrab is in the southern wall. Tuba-Shakhi Mosque interior expressiveness is achieved by the fine ratio of harmony creating volumes.

Gyz Galasy, Baku Vicinity
The most magnificent and mysterious landmark of Baku and in particular "Icheri-sheher" is "Gyz Galasy" - "The Maiden Tower". It has no analogues in entire Orient and is considered an unofficial symbol of Baku. The cylindrically-shaped tower was constructed on a ledge of the rock jutting into the Caspian Sea . It is made from grey limestone and converges to its top. Therefore its walls thickness at the basis is 5 m, and at the top - 4 m. The tower stands 29.5 m tall, its diameter is 16.5 m. Inside Gyz Galasy is divided into 8 tiers. Each of them is covered by a stone dome with a round aperture. The access to the very top is possible by means of winding stone stairs. The wonderful view of entire Baku bay opens from there. There is a 21 m well inside the tower. The water there was pure and fresh. The light got inside the tower through narrow loophole-type windows. The tower's age is still a subject of historical disputes. In classical history the time of its construction is defined by 12th century. So says a Kufi inscription on the outside tower part (at the height of 14 m from the ground): "gubba" (dome) of Massud ibn Davud". But many historians argue this point of view saying that the slab in the brickwork appeared later to fill up a gap in the wall. Having studied the lime mortar and the color of the stones used for the tower construction, the scientists assume that it was erected not earlier than the 1st century (the most ancient building constructed with such mortar was found in Gabala and is dated 1st century AD), but not later than 10th century AD (as the stones used for construction of the tower and Mohammed's mosque are practically identical). And finally the others consider that at exterior comparison of the brickwork it is clearly seen that the lower tier of the structure is much older than the upper one. Thus, the tower was built in 2 stages: the bottom part of the monument (up to 13.7 m ) had been constructed in the 5th-6th centuries, and the upper part was completed in the 12th century. What was the purpose of this tower? It was poorly suitable for defense because of its small area. Narrow window apertures did not serve well for resisting enemy attacks. Most likely originally the tower was constructed as a Zorasatrian temple of fire: in those times people were not buried - their corpses were exposed to predatory birds. But in the 12th century "Gyz Galasy" was one of the most powerful strongholds of Shirvan Dynasty. In the 18th - 19th centuries the Maiden Tower was used as a beacon. "Maiden" means "unsubdued", "impregnable". Local residents' legend runs as follows: “The Shah fell in love with his own daughter and decided to marry her. Terrified by the forthcoming marriage with her father and in attempt to dissuade him, the daughter asked her father to build a tower in hope that during construction her father would change his mind. But the Shah did not change his decision so the girl climbed up the tower and jumped from it into the sea”. According to another legend, the biblical one, it was near "The Maiden Tower" where Saint Bartholomew, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, was executed. Bartholomew appeared on Baku 's territory in the 1st century AD popularizing Christianity among pagans. However, Bartholomew's doctrine was rejected and he was executed near the walls of "The Maiden Tower". The place of the execution is marked by a small chapel. In Fact it was absolutely real and is clearly visible in the 1890 photo of "The Maiden Tower". Inside the tower there is a museum. Its collection consists of ancient utensils, carpets, amusing installations showing life in the 18th-19th centuries: oil recovery from a well by means of a bucket, a supper in chaikhana, etc. The tower has been repeatedly restored. Presently the big market place and surrounding arcade have been renewed. Since 2000 it has been in the list of UNESCO monuments.

Bayil Castle, Baku
This mythically sunken city is surrounded by an aura of secrets, legends and enigmas. Bayil Castle is a kind of "Baku Atlantis" sunk as a result of human imperfection … However, unlike Atlantis the existence of Bayil Castle is unequivocal. In 1232-1235 Shirvanshah Fariburz III in attempts to protect Baku from the sea began construction of a stronghold which later got the name Bayil Castle, also known as Sabayil Castle, Shakhri Saba, Shakhri Nau, "submerged city", "Bayil Stones". The castle shrouded in legends is an outstanding monument of Azerbaijani architecture connected with Alexander the Great, Aristotle and others. Now it is completely under water at about 350 m from the coast. The Bayil Castle was constructed according to the project of architect Zejnaddin ibn Abu Rashid Shirvani. The structure is similar to extended irregular rectangular (180 х40) . The foundation shape was exactly the same as that of the island's coastline. Fortifications of the castle were 1.5-2 m thick with 15 towers 3 of which were round, and 12 - semicircular. During the excavations the foundations of 9 premises were found. The western wall is adjoined with the destroyed platform - the basis of the central tower which was used simultaneously as a watchtower and a beacon. Historians also believe that there was a fire-worshippers' temple. Along the entire upper part of the Bayil Castle there runs a strip of inscriptions in Arabian and Farsi together with the images of human faces and imaginary animals. The overall length of the inscription is about 400 meters. Among the decrypted parts of the inscription are three fragments with the construction date - the year of 632 (1234-1235), and the name of the architect. Further in the text there is the genealogy of Shirvanshahs Mazjadids dynasty done by means of human crowned heads images. The figures of various animals designate the years of this or that Shirvanshah rule. These inscriptions have no analogues in the Middle East; it was rhe first time that pictures of humans and animals were found on a Muslim monument. Unfortunately, the Bayil Castles' upper part is completely destroyed; only the bottom part of the walls and towers has survived. In 1306 as a result of the strongest earthquake which occur in the south of the Caspian Sea and the sea level rise the Bayil Castle sunk under water. From the early 14th century and up to the early 18th century the structure was deluged by the Caspian Sea. In 1723 due to the Caspian Sea level lowering the top of the tower appeared above the water. But today it is completely under water.

Khansarai (The Palace of the Sheki Khans)
Sheki has preserved its ancient city-build structure and it is rich in beautiful architectural monuments. Sheki was the main center of silk production in the Caucasus, and in XVIII-XIX centuries, being the capital of Sheki khanate, it developed and turned into the trade, cultural center of Azerbaijan. Old Sheki "-as founded in the southern part of Big Caucasus, relatively in a flat place and was on the main trade way of Neighboring East. But a strong high-flood in 1772 destroyed the city. After the natural disaster the city was transferred in a safe and relatively high place in Nukha. This place was mentioned in Ptolemy's "The Geographical Study". The mountains from three sides surround Sheki, and on its territory Gurjana and Deyirman rivers unite. Its relief and location on the slope of the mountain influenced the structure of the streets and squares. The winding, streets, the narrow by-streets and blind-alleys gave a complicate, but acceptable and also beautiful form to the building plan of Sheki. An ancient part of Sheki "Yukharibash" was declared an architectural reserve in 1968. There was discovered 13 blocks, which were formed according to the medieval city-building principles. In every block there was a mosque, a bath-house and a local square. The highest point of Sheki is Mahammadkhasan Khan stronghold was formed in 1743-1754 years. There are two gates (Ganja and Shirvan), which are surrounded by stronghold walls. The building of Khan's Palace, a round place for praying and other subsidiary buildings are the models of architectural beauty on its territory. The building of Sheki Khans' palace according to its expressive architectural structure, numerous shining walls, which decorate the interior and the riches of graceful wooden works can be considered a rare architectural work. On the Gurjina riverbank, there is a street of mastership and trade center. There are also the biggest caravan sheds (Yukhari and Ashagi Caravan sheds), shops, workshops, Friday Mosque and some patrimonies. The natural landscape, and unusual beauty, enriches the appearance of Sheki, and from an expressive background to its architecture. A lot of verdure and the old street, made of cobblestone, intensify connection between the city and nature. The mosques, the bath-houses, one or two-storied dwelling houses, which were built in XVIII-XIX centuries in Sheki blocks can be considered as an architectural monuments. The decoration of ancient houses of Sheki with bright colours, the ornament of wooden windows and the beautiful fireplaces confirm the medieaval traditions of the natural architecture. The best model of these houses is the house of Sheki Khan (XIX century). One of the interesting monuments of Shek is also a water-supply system.

Sheki Caravansarai (Caravan Palace)
Located on the M.F. Akhundov Avenue, Caravan Sarai or Caravan Palace is a historically cherished monument that was built by the Sheki Khans. The Caravan Palace was built as a resting place for the caravans that passed along the Silk Road through Azerbaijan. The site on which Caravan Sarai is built is said to be one of biggest stopovers for caravans in the Caucasus region. The Caravan Sarai has been decorated with traditional stained "Shebke" glass and frescoes and finds its notation among many poems of Ajerbaijan.
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