Architecture of Azerbaijan

Architecture reflects the history of the humankind. It starts with natural caves that served as homes for primitive men. Azerbaijan has numerous caves, particularly in the foothills of the Major and Minor Caucasus, Talysh Mountains, in Nakhchyvan, Zangilan, Kalbajar, Gadabay, Khanlar, Shamakhy and Gazakh districts, and in the Azykh Cave in Fuzuli district. Closed towns, defence constructions, huge fortress walls were constructed in connection with the birth of the State of Manna in the territory of Azerbaijan and then the emergence of the State of Atropatena in the north. Important steps were taken in town building in the period of Caucasian Albania. Lasting fortress walls and earthenware water pipe in the Town of Gabala, stone-made defence system  in Damirgapy Pass (Derbent, "long walls"), oval Christian temple in Chyraggala, Lekit village, basilica in Gum village, complex of temples in Mingachevir and other findings point out the high level of town-building. During the rise of the Arab Caliphate, Barda was the architectural center of Azerbaijan. Mosques and other religious buildings, caravanserais, bazaars, bath-houses were built in Barda, which is called "Baghdad of these places" in historical sources.

Different architectural schools (Aran, Tabriz, Nakhchyvan, Shirvan, Absheron) emerged due to the collapse of the Caliphate and formation of small states in Azerbaijan.  The schools had common features in architecture. Yusif Ibn Kuseyr and Momina Khatun mausoleums created by Ajami Abubakr oghlu Nakhchyvani are the peak of the Nakhchyvan school.

The most outstanding and valuable monument of the 18th century is Sheki Khans' Palace. It was constructed as the summer residence of Mohammad Hasan Khan. The facade of the Palace is richly painted with anecdotal drawings displaying scenes of hunting and war, as well as intricate geometrical and vegetative patterns. There are 6 rooms, 4 corridors and 2 glass balconies in the Palace.

Surrounded by fortress walls, Icherisheher (Old Town) is located on the small hill on the coast of Caspian Sea. Icherisheher covers Maiden Tower and Shirvanshah Palace. The Palace was built after the capital of the State of Shirvanshah moved from Shamakhy to Baku. The Shirvanshah Complex includes Divankhana, Shirvanshah Palace, Shirvanshah Mausoleum, Shah's Mosque with a minaret, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi Mausoleum, Murad Gate, Palace Bath-House and Reservoir. In XII century, Maiden Tower was included in the defence system of Baku and changed into one of the biggest fortresses in Shirvanshah. 

In December 2000, Icherisheher and Maiden Tower were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Azerbaijan’s architectural heritage was subject to huge losses in the last century. Besides, Garabagh and adjoining districts ( Lachyn, Kalbajar, Zangilan, Gubadly, Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Aghdam) were occupied as a result of the war begun by Armenia against Azerbaijan since the 1990s. A great number of monuments of Azerbaijan in these territories have savagely been destroyed.