Maiden Tower in Baku

The most majestic and most mysterious monument of Baku Maiden's Tower, or Giz Galasy, rises in the south-eastern part of the fortress of Icheri Sheher and has long been considered a symbol of the city. This unique construction of Azerbaijani architecture has no analogues in the East.

The most majestic and most mysterious monument of Baku Maiden's Tower, or Giz Galasy, rises in the south-eastern part of the fortress of Icheri Sheher and has long been considered a symbol of the city. This unique construction of Azerbaijani architecture has no analogues in the East.

The maiden tower is erected on a ledge of the coastal rock and represents a cylinder 28 m high and 16.5 m in diameter, lined with local gray limestone. The walls at the base are 5 m thick and 4 m above at the top. Inside the tower is divided into 8 tiers, between which was a screw stone staircase, paved in the thickness of the wall. In the rock inside the tower a well is penetrated by a depth of 21 m.

An unapproachable stone beauty keeps a lot of secrets. One of them - for what, after all, it was erected. Dimensions of the Maiden Tower and the lack of conditions for a long stay inspire doubts about its fortification.

As a true lady, the Maiden Tower hides its age, and the time of its construction remains undefined until now.

Most likely, the tower was a religious construction of the pre-Islamic period. This is evidenced by ancient ritual wells, located at the foot. Another fact, confirming the cult nature of the building, is the research of Abbas Islamov. He discovered that it was on the day of the winter equinox (December 22), a day revered by many ancient cults, that the rays of the sun at sunrise penetrate exactly into the central window of the Maiden Tower, and then according to a certain pattern and all the above windows. The tower was associated with the cult of the sun, which was reflected in its design.

There are versions that originally the tower was built as a temple of fire (the word "Gala" is a "tower", it also has the meaning "to breed a fire" in Azeri), Zoroastrian dahma (that is, a tower where corpses of people were torn to pieces at the top) , an observatory, but none of these versions can withstand serious criticism.

In the 12th century. The maiden tower became the main stronghold of the most powerful Baku fortress, in the 13-19 centuries the Maiden Tower was used as a lighthouse, and since 1964 the Maiden Tower became a museum included in the 2000 list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

About age
As a true lady, the Maiden Tower hides its age, and the time of its construction remains uncertain until now. Many believed that the Maiden Tower was erected in the 12th century. This is the age of the plate with an inscription located on the outside of the tower. However, this plate apparently appeared on the tower later, as it is accidentally and inaccurately embedded in the masonry, not above the main entrance, but somewhere on the side.

Some scientists, establishing the age of this "lady", focus on the solution used in the construction, and date its appearance in the 1st century. ad. Others determine the age of the Maiden Tower in stone - then the building appeared in the 9th century.

The well-known historian S. Ashurbeyli advanced the assumption of the construction of the Maiden Tower in the first centuries of our era, MA Nabiev - in the 6th century. ad. There is a suggestion of DA Akhundov about the erection of the tower in the 6th century. BC. The historian of Azerbaijan architecture L. Bratnitsky believed that it was erected in two stages: the lower part of the monument, up to a height of 13.7 m was built in the 5th-6th centuries, and the upper one was completed in the 12th century. There is no doubt one thing - for many centuries the tower not only beautifully preserved its appearance, but also overgrown with many legends, further enhancing its attractiveness and charm.

For many centuries, the tower not only beautifully preserved its appearance, but also overgrown with many legends, further enhancing its attractiveness and charm.

Legends
The appearance of a host of legends around the Maiden Tower is associated not only with the age of the citadel, but also with its name. The name "Maiden" is found in other towers on the territory of Azerbaijan and the East and, apparently, means "unconquered", "unapproachable".

According to one of the legends about the Baku Maiden Tower, the shah fell in love with his own daughter and decided to marry her. Horrified by the upcoming marriage with his father and wanting to dissuade him, her daughter asked to build a tower and wait until it was completed. When the tower was ready, the shah did not change his mind. And then the girl climbed the tower and rushed from it into the sea.

The plot of this legend has grown fond of many artists and poets. In 1923, the famous Azerbaijani playwright Jafar Jabbarly wrote the poem "The Maiden Tower". The first Soviet film, created in Azerbaijan in 1924, was also based on the plot of the legend. "Maiden Tower" is also called the first Azerbaijani ballet created by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli in 1940.