The old city is the central part of the city of Baku. From this place, the history of the capital of Azerbaijan began. Locals call this place Icheri Sheher in translation from the Azerbaijani language means “Inner City”. The Old City of Baku has visited annually by many tourists from all around the world. The old city is open to visitors from all side.
In Icheri Sheher, you can meet at every step the historical-cultural monuments of an old era. These are walls, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, bathhouses (hammams) and caravanserais. There are many ancient mosques on the territory of the reserve; local museums display exhibits obtained during archaeological work in the area of the old city.
The old city of Baku was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. In 1977, the place received the status of the architectural and historical reserve of Azerbaijan.
The historical complex includes many architectural monuments that have survived to our times such as mosques, towers, churches, squares and other significant buildings of the period of the reign of shahs.
The territory of the old city is surrounded by huge castle walls. The width of the wall reaches about 3.5 meters, and its height in some places reaches 10 meters. The fence of Icheri Sheher, in addition to being the boundary of the reserve, is also of cultural significance. The high wall of the old city is one of the architectural monuments of the quarter. The reserve area is 22.1 hectares. Today, about 1300 families live within the territory of the old city.
History of Icheri Sheher
Historians attribute the emergence of the old city in the 5th century AD. The results of archaeological excavations confirm the fact that Icheri Sheher, as a small settlement, originates from the time of the ancient period. On the territory of the old city of Baku, exhibits were found dated to the VI – I centuries BC.
In the early Middle Ages, the territory of the settlement was part of a separate administrative unit in the Shirvan region. In the period from the 7th to the 10th centuries, little is known about present-day Baku. They found remains of a medieval city on the border of Icheri Sheher date back to the VIII century. In the period from V to X century, the city was just beginning its path to its economic development.
After the collapse of the Arab Caliphate in the 11th century, the Shirvanshah dynasty became the rulers of the territory in the area of the old city. In the XII century, the residence of the dominant government was moved from Shemakha to Baku. It is this period that historians consider the founding time of the old city of Icheri Sheher, as it appears in our time.
After the Shirvanshahs’ Reign was moved to Baku, a fortress wall was built around it, and in the center of the complex were built structures that served as defensive structures (Maiden’s Tower). After the long formation of Shirvan as an independent state with its capital in the city of Baku, from the 15th to the 16th centuries, the economy in this territory has been actively developing, the construction of new buildings begins, including the Shirvanshahs palace, bridges, tomb, caravanserais.
How to get the old city of Baku
The Old City of Baku is located in the city centre of Baku. Seaside Boulevard runs along the eastern and southern borders of the old quarter. About 500 meters from the reserve begins the Caspian Sea. The old city is located on a hill in the Sabail district of Baku. On the east side is Neftchiler Avenue, and in the southwest, outside the complex is the Philharmonic Garden.
The cultural part of Icheri Sheher
The old city of Baku is found in various branches of world art. The description of the old quarter can be found in the work of K. Said “Ali and Nino”. For the first time, the historical reserve of the capital was depicted in a painting by E. Kempfer in 1630. Also, Icheri Sheher can be seen on the canvases of the creators: T. Salakhova, A. Azimzade, A. Kuprin and others. In the streets of the old city, Soviet directors filmed their films: V. Chebotarev, G. Kazansky, R, Bykov, L. Gaidai.