The Maiden Tower

The Maiden Tower

The most majestic ,mysterious and beautiful monument of Baku is Gyz Galasy – the Maiden Tower rising in the south-eastern part of the fortress of Ichari Shahar. This building of the Azerbaijani architecture does not have any analogues in the East. There are numerous debates on the date of construction and purpose of this monument, at present it attracts the attention, most of all for its unparalleled form.

There are numerous thoughts about functional purpose and date of construction of the Maiden Tower. This tower called a temple of fire worshippers, defensive tower, observatory, Zoroastrian hut and so on.

Purpose of the Maiden Tower

It is also rather hard to define the primary functional purpose of the Maiden Tower. The original construction of the tower as a defence structure gives rise to doubt. It is of little use for a defence because of the small area and the lack of the conditions for a long stay. The existing narrow window openings directed towards the sea and not intended to repulse the attack of the enemy. Though it is somehow possible to defend oneself from the enemy only from the top of the tower. Besides, calculated that it could be possible to build another wall around the city with the stones and lime spent on the construction of the tower. There are versions that primarily the tower constructed as a temple of fire , a Zoroastrian hut, an observation point. But it doubtless that in the XII century this splendid tower was part of the defence system of Baku and was the main citadel of the Baku fortress, one of the most powerful fortresses of the Shirvanshahs. In the XVIII-XIX centuries the Maiden Tower  used as a beacon. 

Meaning of the word

The tower repeatedly  restored and modified. The last restoration happen in the 1960s. In 1964 the Maiden Tower became a museum, and since 2000  included in the UNESCO list of the monuments.

The word “Maiden” also found in the names of the other towers in the territory of Azerbaijan and the East and perhaps it means “unsubdued”, “impregnable”. There are a number of legends connected with the etymology of the name of the Baku “Maiden Tower”. According to one of them, the shah fell in love with his own daughter and decided to marry her. Terrified by the forthcoming marriage with her father, and wishing to dissuade him, the daughter asked him to build a tower and wait until its construction completed. When the tower was ready, the shah did not change his mind. And then the girl climbed the tower and threw herself into the sea.


Legend about Maiden Tower

Closely analysing the legend it possible to surmise that the possibility of the marriage between the father and the daughter  believed to date the legend back from the pre-Islamic period. Besides this, the legend testifies to the fact that the Caspian Sea swashing at the very foot of the tower. Irrespective of the etymology of the legend, it plot was the favourite theme of many artists and poets. In 1923 Jafar Jabbarly, the famous Azerbaijani playwright wrote a poem called “the Maiden Tower”. The first Soviet film made in Azerbaijan in 1924  also based on the plot of the legend. “The Maiden Tower” also the name of the first Azerbaijani ballet, composed by Afrasiyyab Badalbayli in 1940.

1 Comment

  1. Malik says:

    Symbol of Azerbaijan. I remember picture of Maiden Tower on the postcards. Really nice !

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