The Maiden Tower in Baku
By Daniel Alcalá |
The walled city of Baku is World Heritage and one of its icons is Qiz Qalasi, better known as The Maiden Tower
TRAVEL TO BAKU AND DISCOVER AZERBAIJAN
Baku has its roots on the coast of the Caspian Sea and its origins date back to the 6th century. The city is prepared to receive you with its attractive touristic infrastructure and, best of all, it’s the destination where you’ll find the historic border between Asia and Europe.
Interestingly, the city of Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, is in vogue among travelers. That’s because it harbors thousands of years of history combined with modern streets and buildings. It’s also an example of tolerance in Western Asia because Azerbaijan is the first Democratic Republic in the Islamic world.
There are many touristic attractions in the city. Among them you’ll find the port on the shores of the Caspian Sea, the walled city that is also known as the Old City and, within the wall, the Maiden Tower or Qiz Qalasi.
The city of Baku portrays a peculiar landscape that combines parts of the old and the modern city in one single view.
The city belonged to the Persian and Byzantine empires before becoming part of the Russian Empire in 1813. Later, in 1991, with the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, it became a democratic republic. Nowadays, thanks to its oil resources, it’s a prosperous city whose contemporary architecture reflects this fact.
This combination between history and modernity is so evident that the Austrian architect Hermann Tilke designed a 6,061 kilometers through the streets of Baku and its shoreline in order to host the first Formula 1 race in Azerbaijan.
THE HISTORY OF THE MAIDEN TOWER IN BAKU
In order for you to enjoy this magnificent combination we recommend starting your tour around Baku in the Old City, which has been declared World Heritage. It houses architectonic treasures such as the Maiden Tower, also known as Giz Galasi or Qiz Qalasi in Persian. It’s located near the Caspian Sea shoreline, west of the city, and it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens. Although the original purpose of its construction in the 12th century is not really known, nowadays it houses a museum, and at a certain moment in time, it was also an astronomical observatory, a lighthouse and a temple. Actually, it’s represented in Azeri bills and in some official documents used in the country.
When you visit the tower, your tour guide will surely narrate some of the legends behind this tower. One of them says that a young maiden jumped off the top of the tower because her father had forced her to marry someone she didn’t love. She asked him to build the tower for her, and when it was finished, she killed herself. This is just one for the stories you’ll learn on your visit, so take note!
The Maiden Tower is a 28-meter tall semi-cylindrical structure with eight levels.From the top floor you’ll have one of the best views of the old city and the bay, so don’t forget to take your camera if you want to take some pictures.
Although the tower was first built on the seashore, now it’s farther from it because the shoreline was modified with the destruction of some soviet buildings and the creation of huge gardens in the whereabouts.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS NEAR THE MAIDEN TOWER
Remember that, as it occurs in many historic centers, you can cover the whole area on foot. Also, don’t forget to plan a long day because you’ll enjoy seeing the buildings when they’re illuminated after sunset.
Among the tourist attractions you’ll find near the Maiden Tower, consider visiting the Shirvanshah Palace, which is also listed as World Heritage. It’s a complex made up by several buildings, most of which date back to the 15th century, although some are even older than that.
Another attraction is the Miniature Books Museum in the Old City. It’s the only museum in the world with a collection such as this, and it was created with the private collection of Zarifa Salahova.
Now the only thing that’s missing is for you to establish a date for your trip to Baku.