Heydar Aliyev and Icheri Sheher

On some measures related to protection and restoration of “Icheri Sheher” Historical Architectural Reserve in Baku city

17 fevral 2003-cü il

 Baku city, the capital of Azerbaijan has an ancient and rich history. Every corner, every stone of this beautiful city left us a legacy of our great ancestors, demonstrate the highest genius, a great power and the ancient culture of Azerbaijan people. Baku, which is etched in stone by encyclopedia of the history of our architecture, is inseparably linked with construction of ancient buildings in each region of Azerbaijan. Several generations of Azerbaijanis in the course of history have contributed to the formation of a unique architectural appearance of Baku. This image of our capital created by centuries with its peculiar relief reflects the unity of rare architectural masterpieces. Architectural monuments of Baku have turned into a symbol of our national culture and history. Due to its national color and unique beauty, Baku occupies worthy place among famous cities in the world.

Erection defensive fortifications and fortress walls in IV-VIII centuries on the territory of Azerbaijan indicates the wealth of natural resources of the country, advanced socio-economic status for its time. Historical environment formed in this period in Azerbaijan has become an impetus for the development of many areas of the country's culture. As mentioned by ancient historians and travelers, location of Azerbaijan on Grate Silk Road created favorable conditions for its development of architecture, carpet weaving, pottery and jewelry and other crafts in such cities as Baku, Nakhchivan, Ganja, Barda, Gabala and Beylagan. Broad revival happened almost in all fields of culture has a strong impact on the rapid development of architecture and town-planning in XII century, which gave to the history of mankind such a great personality as Nizami, a brilliant poet and thinker.

The most ancient part of Baku, completely surrounded by the fortress walls at the time, is Icheri Sheher. The perfection of engineering and architectural solution of a number of defensive, religious, public and household constructions and buildings stored there until the present time, indicates a high professional level of architectural schools, occupying an important place in the cultural history of our nation. This “city-museum” in the open air, created by the mind and labor of ancient Azerbaijani architects and artisans perpetuated their names on the headstones of Icheri Sheher generates sense of boundless pride in the heart of every Azerbaijani. Icheri Sheher is a national wealth, national glory of the Azerbaijani people.

Icheri Sheher is a highly valuable pearl of town-planning art, which has received high development in Azerbaijan during the Middle Ages. Maiden Tower, fortress walls, complex of Shirvanshah palace, mosques, caravanserai, zorkhana, baths, market square and other objects located on its territory are priceless monuments, visibly embodying separate stages passed by architectural art of Azerbaijan. The inner harmony prevails in buildings of Icheri Sheher, which, at first glance, give an impression of chaotic constructions. Structure of squares, blocks, buildings and streets is planned taking into account relief, climate of the territory, peculiarities of national mentality of Azerbaijani people.
Wealth of archaeological materials acquired as a result of regularly conducted excavations in Icheri Sheher, practically demonstrates that Icheri Sheher is an inexhaustible resource that provides valuable and reliable information about the many undiscovered pages of history of Azerbaijani people, including the history of its statehood, rich treasury of its material and spiritual wealth and which still needs research. Specialists have found that cultural coatings discovered during archaeological excavations in the territory of an ancient settlement of Icheri Sheher are of particular importance for the history and culture of Azerbaijani people.

Fortress walls surrounding Icheri Sheher are different from other ancient fortifications and defensive buildings in the territory of Azerbaijan by its originality and grandeur. Azerbaijan is one of the main points located on Great Silk Road, so caravanserais and commercial buildings was constructed in Icheri Sheher. The complex of Shirvanshah palace built in XV century, due to the fact that Baku became the capital of the State of Shirvan, gave special beauty and grandeur to the appearance of Icheri Sheher. Divankhanas, tombs and mosques included in this complex of palace differ in subtle consistency of their scale, successful use of new building materials, harmonious placement of carving and architectural elements. Oil production started in the middle of XIX century in Baku influenced on appearance of Icheri Sheher. Due to the talent and hard work of many generations of our people, Icheri Sheher has emerged as a unique monument of history and architecture of Azerbaijan in early XX century.

In 1952-1957 fortress walls of Icheri Sheher have been restored. In 1977 it became a historical and architectural reserve of Azerbaijan. And in 1985, the territory of Icheri Sheher was declared as a national historical and architectural reserve. Icheri Sheher included into UNESCO’s World Heritage List on 2 December 2000 is a unique example of town-planning art not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the whole world.
Preservation of “Icheri Sheher” historical architectural reserve, which is a national treasure of the Azerbaijani people, its propagation and transmission to future generations is the sacred duty of Azerbaijani state, every citizen of Azerbaijan.