Baku, Azerbaijan Culture and Sports

By | December 14, 2021


The center of Baku is the old city, an ancient fortress. The walled city of Baku was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2000. Many of the walls and towers are still preserved, which were fortified after the Russian conquest in 1806. This part is very picturesque, with a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and old buildings. Among them are the Palace of the Sirvansás or Şirvanşahlar Sarayı (15th-16th centuries), two serrallos of caravans (old inns), the Maiden’s Tower or Gız Galası (from the 11th century, with a nice view over the port), the Persian baths and the Friday mosque (where the Museum of the Catifa and Applied Arts was located, and now again a mosque… by the way, the catifas are now in the old Museum Lenin). The old city also has dozens of small mosques, many of them without finials show particular details that distinguish them from the neighboring building. It is currently on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The ensanche, to the south of the old city, was built after the massive oil exploitation began about a century ago, and features interesting historicist architecture. This is where the museums of fine arts, history and literature are located, all of which are housed in the mansions of millionaires from before the Russian Revolution. Baku is the capital city of Azerbaijan according to itypemba.


Baku was an aspiring city to host the XXXI Olympic Games in 2016, but was eliminated in the preliminary round of voting. Important chess events such as the FIDE Grand Prix are held in this city.


Baku fortified city with Shirvanshah Palace and Vergen Tower. World Heritage

The Fortified City of Baku with the Shirvanshah Palace and the Vergen Tower, were built on a territory inhabited since the Paleolithic, revealing evidence of Zoroastrian, Sassanid, Arab, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman and Russian presence in cultural continuity. The City of Inner (Icheri Sheher) has preserved much of its 12th century walls. In that same century, the Maiden Tower (Giz Galasy) was built on older structures dating from the 6th and 7th centuries BC, and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs from the 15th century, which is considered one of the jewels of Azerbaijani architecture. The ensemble was included in the List of World Heritage of UNESCO in the year 2000.

Foundation criteria

  • Criterion (iv): The Walled City of Baku represents an exceptional and rare example of a historic urban ensemble and architecture influenced by Zoroastrian, Sassanid, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian cultures.


The property boundary follows the boundary of the walled city, which with the remains of its walls, planning and buildings, encompasses the attributes that express its outstanding universal value. The erosion substantial structure of some of the buildings within the walled city came shortly after the registration of ownership, partly as a result of an earthquake, and also because of the demolition illegal and uncontrolled development. The property was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2009. The property’s value has changed somewhat since registration, due to development that accompanied the disintegration of the previous Soviet management system and remains vulnerable to the negative visual impacts of the adjacent new development. The new management structure effectively combines municipal functions as well as property conservation functions.


After the inscription, the demolition and the complete reconstruction of some buildings negatively impacted the authenticity of the urban complex in general. As a result of the measures taken to allow the property to be removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger, the remaining attributes can be said to convey the property’s outstanding universal value in terms of materials, design and urban planning. The coherence and functions of the historic city are supported by a vibrant local community.

Protection requirements and procedures

The walled city of Baku and its buffer zone are inventoried and protected as national monuments. The city center is protected by the presidential decrees of 2005 and 2007, and the buffer zone is protected by a decree issued by the Council of Ministers. In 2007, the Administration of the Historic-Architectural State of the Reserve “Icherisheher” (SHAHAR), created under the Cabinet of Ministers, formally received full responsibility for the management of the property instead of the authorities of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the City of Baku. SHAHAR is independently serviced and funded by the Government. An Integrated Management Action Plan (IAMAP) has been developed, along with a Conservation Master Plan. The Conservation Master Plan has been reviewed by all stakeholders and formally approved, and will be integrated with the IAMAP, adopting the urban planning system of the city of Baku. Actions in the IAMAP will be carried out, buffer zone; documentation and monitoring of the state of conservation of the property; formulation of norms and procedures for the regulation of the rehabilitation of existing buildings and eventual new constructions; maintenance and improvement of public spaces; development of strategic interventions to improve the quality of life in the area; and the organization and management of community outreach and education programs.

Baku, Azerbaijan Culture