Monday, November 17, 2008

Baku’s Maiden Tower

I found this resin souvenir building recently and wanted to know what was the inspiration and where it resides. The city of Baku is the capital and largest city in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The most majestic and mysterious monument of Baku is Gyz Galasy, or “The Maiden Tower,” which was once called Göz Qalası or "The Eye Tower." The Maiden Tower is one of Azerbaijan's most distinctive national emblems, which is on Azeri currency notes. It houses a museum and a gift shop. The view from the roof takes in the alleys and minarets of the Old City, the Maritime National Park, the De Gaulle house and a wide vista of the Baku Bay. In recent years the brazier on the top has been lit during the nights of the Novrous festival. Constructed in the 12th century, or possibly earlier, the tower’s architectural style and construction sequence are obscure. Estimates for its age go back to an unlikely 2,500 years. It was built by the 12th century architect Masud ibn Davud, who was probably the father of the architect of Mardakan Round Tower. There are a number of competing explanations for the “Maden” name: One legend concerning a maiden who threw herself off its top, to her death in the waves below. Another idea stems from the fact that the tower has never been taken by force. Finally, some consider that it was once a watch tower. The old town area of Baku was originally on the shore of the Caspian Sea. Due to land reclamation in the early 20th century, the tower is now separated from the Caspian by a busy main road and public gardens.

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