Postcards from Azerbaijan — Kamran Imanverdiyev —

The Nizami Museum of Azerbaijan Literature is located in Baku, Azerbaijan. Nizami’s mausoleum is located in Ganja. The monument was built on Nizami’s grave in 1947, and replaced a similar obelisk dating from the early 1900s. The mausoleum is an elegant marble covered structure about 20 m tall. Behind it there is an open area with a display of scenes from Nizami’s books, sculpted in metal. Monuments to Nizami are found in many cities of Azerbaijan, as well as in Tabriz (Iran), Moscow, St. Petersburg and Udmurtiya (Russia), Kiev (Ukraine), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Marneuli (Georgia), Chişinău (Moldova).

There are many cafes, restaurants with outdoor seating and loads of clothes and souvenir shops all around the fountains. There are, of course, many benches in the park to the other side of the fountains where you can put your feet up and relax… or just sit in one of the outdoor cafes and check out the people walking by – it’s a great sighta

There was a wide-spread saying in the past: “There is no city without a fortress.” So it is obvious now why the ancient people associated the conception of a city with fortresses. Since the defense of any ancient city, its influence, economic status, as well as its organization of public services and amenities were determined by its fortress, both in Azerbaijan and in Middle Asia, the concepts “fortress” and “city” often signified the same notion. Firm walls, high turrets, huge towers were not only the means of security, they symbolized a dignity and splendor.

The first information about cities located on the territory of Azerbaijan dates from the 1st millennium B.C., the period of Manna and Mydia states. The history of cities neighboring Urmiyah has been studied mostly from Assyrian and Urartuan sources. The ancient settlements in the 1st millennium B.C. were built by the group principle, and in the head of all those groups dominated the city fortresses, which embodied the defense system. As we see in the ancient manuscripts, the defense system of the cities consisted of firm walls and turrets, and was surrounded by deep moats and steep earthen obstacles. The Assyrian armies, the strongest armies of that period of times, seized these city fortresses with great efforts, and often even could not manage with them because of a thought-out I defense and a fortification system.

The core of present-day Baku is the old town, or fortress, of Icheri-Shekher. Most of the walls, strengthened after the Russian conquest in 1806, survive, as does the 90-ft (27-m) tower of Kyz-Kalasy (Maiden’s Tower, 12th century). The old town is highly picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient buildings.

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