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Walled City of Baku

Walled City of Baku
Photo (c) David Chamberlain
The Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower is an old town, which is also a fortress.

Most of the walls and towers, strengthened after the Russian conquest in 1806, survived. This section is picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient buildings: the cobbled streets past the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, two caravansaraies (ancient inns), the Maiden Tower (nice view of the harbor), the baths and the Djuma Mosque. The old town also has dozens of small mosques, often without any particular sign to distinguish them from the next building.

In 2003, UNESCO placed the Inner City on the List of World Heritage in Danger, citing damage from a November 2000 earthquake, poor conservation as well as "dubious" restoration efforts.


Alfons and Riki Verstraeten (Netherlands):
The Walled City of Baku was the other WHS in Azerbeidzjan we visited, including Shrivanshah's Palace and the Maiden Tower. Pity, the restauration activities made the tower almost invisible.
Date posted: October 2012
Christer Sundberg (Sweden):
+39 an humid was my first impression of Baku, the largest and most cosmopolitan city by the Caspian Sea, a city that easily could become a major tourist resort if the tourist hotel was in place, houses refurbished and the oil industry somewhat more careful about polluting the water. The actual World Heritage Site, the Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower, is located in the centre of the town, next to the Fountain Square and the main shoppingareas on Nirzami Street. The Shirvanshah’s Palace has been recently refurbished and together with the Maiden Tower and Caravan Saray’s, it provides an excellent image of life of the mid-15th century and days of the Silk Road trade.

My stay in Baku lasted for a week which also provided me with the opportunity to see more of the Absheron peninsula where Baku is located and the south and northwest of Azerbaijan.

Everything in Baku is centred around oil since the mid 19th century when the Swedish Nobel brothers together with other oil-prospectors basically started the world-wide oil-boom ou of Baku. But even before these days, the Baku area was filled with oil-related phenomenas. Today you can visit Zoroastrian Astegah Fire Temple, a sacred temple since the 6th century as well as burning mountains besides finding thousands of “donkeys” – oil-pumps working 24/7 delivering the black gold.

My traveling also took me further south, to Gobustan where you find strange nature phenomenas as mud-volcanoes and the over 12.000 year old petroglyphs (listed on the tentative World Heritage Site), over 6000 rock carvings, witness of ancient mans’ civilization by the Caspian Sea. When I later headed north of Baku, to the small town of Quba, I found myslef in the mountain landscape of the Caucasus, reminding me more of Norway and Austria than Azerbaijan.
Date posted: August 2005
Solivagant (UK):
Taken as a whole Baku is, in my opinion, “worth a journey”. However, the medieval part of it, which has been inscribed as a WHS site, is not particularly notable or interesting in itself – “worth a visit” for an hour or so if you are already there but a bit lost in the modernity of Baku and lacking the scale and atmosphere of some other such Central Asian medieval cities. Perhaps its most amazing aspect is that it even survived the changes in Baku during the Oil boom and the Soviet era.

There are however a number of sites on the WHS Tentative list around Baku which should not be missed including the petroglyphs and “singing stones” at Gobustan and the Zoroastrian Fire Temple in the suburb of Surakhany. A number of more modern sights are also “worth the journey”:-
a. many fine buildings from the 19th century “oil boom city”
b. the “surreal” environment in the oil fields around the city with pipework, “nodding donkeys” and seeping oil everywhere
c. the artificial islands and roads leading from the shore to oil wells stretching far out into the Caspian
Konul Amrahova (currently USA):
Baku is not just a beatutiful city but it's a unique one. extraordinary cultural experience, friendly people, beauty of the Caspian sea will indulge you to stay there as long as possible. human beings live only once and there are things that we ought to see before we die and Baku, Azerbaijan is one of them.
Thanks for your attention
Chatham Hall student

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Site info

The Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower
Country: Azerbaijan
Inscribed: 2000
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (4)
Category: Urban landscape, Urban continuity

Site history:
2009Removed from Danger list
2003In Danger
Loss of authenticity due in part to the earthquake in 2000 and to the urban development pressures
2000 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»Baku tourism

In the news:
» World Heritage Committee removes Baku from Danger List welcoming improvements in the ancient city's preservation (25-06-2009).

Related links:
» Shirvansahlar Sarayi in the Digital Library of ArchNet.
» Window to Baku.
» Wikipedia.
» Traveladventures.

Related Forum posts:
Not available

Getting there

This WHS has 1 location(s).


Baths . Caravanserai . Lighthouses . Mausolea . Walled cities .
Destroyed or damaged by Earthquake .
Caspian Sea . Caucasus .
Golden Horde . Sassanid Empire .
Human Activity
Astronomy and Astrology . Sea Ports .
Religion and Belief
Mosque . Sufism . Zoroastrianism .
Built in the 12th century .
First inscriptions . Located in a Capital City . Lowest (below sea level) . On Banknotes .
World Heritage Process
Former In Danger List sites . Inscribed on a single criterion only .

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