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The Maiden Tower
Written by Punith Jain on July 20, 2020 Share on

The Maiden Tower in Baku: What, When and Why was it built?

The Maiden Tower is an iconic 12th-century monument situated in the old city( Icheri Sheher) of Baku, Azerbaijan. Listed under the UNESCO World Heritage List of Historical Monuments in 2001, this building holds utmost importance in Azerbaijan’s history and culture. Surprisingly, you will find this odd-looking building on the back of Azerbaijan’s 10 manat banknote and official letterheads. However, let’s explore the murky past behind the Maiden Tower. Here is what we know and don’t know about this Eurasian monument till date.

Also read: Why is Azerbaijan Called the Land Of Fire? Everything that you need to know!

What is Maiden Tower?

Maiden Tower in Baku
Credits: Pixabay

Also known as Giza Galasy in Azerbaijani, the name Maiden Tower itself exudes mystery. This 7 storied cylindrical building stands 100 feet tall and 55 feet in diameter. It is believed that the king imprisoned many young virgin women inside for forced marriage. Nearly 200 people can fit inside at one go and very less is known about its exact age, function and historical context.

Undoubtedly, a must-visit attraction in Baku The Maiden tower has its inspiration in various poems, plays and ballets. The tower also houses a museum, reflecting the historic evolution of Baku city and its legends.

Also read: Explore the Best Tours in Baku, The Capital City of Azerbaijan

History of Maiden Tower

Azerbaijan’s 1 manat banknote
Credits: Google images

Honestly, there is no proper evidence of the exact time during which this tower was built. However many scholars strongly believe that it was built at 2 distinct periods. The lower part dating back from the 7th and 8th century BC and most parts originating during the 12th century. Almost a difference of 2500 years from the earliest to most recent structures.

A popular Zoroastrian belief is that there are 7 steps to reach heaven and this 7 storied building is the gateway to heaven. This architectural wonder is built on a solid rock foundation along with a rainwater harvesting well on the second floor. It is a splendid representation of stone masonry and ancient plumbing system.

Also read: Best Museums to Visit in Baku- Azerbaijan For All The History Lovers

Why was this tower built?

Painting of The Maiden Tower
Credits: Google images

The tower is a prime example of early pre-Islamic Zoroastrian architecture. The early Zoroastrians worshipped the four elements of earth, fire, air and water. This Tower is a testament to their worshipping practises while many others suggest Maiden Tower’s purpose lay in defence. Standing tall on the corner of a walled city and on the shores of the Caspian Sea, you cannot think otherwise.

There is also an interesting story behind how a devastating earthquake saved the people from slavery and besieging of the fortress of Baku. Initially built as a temple and later renovated as a defence tower, this tower has a deep-rooted historical and cultural importance in Azerbaijan!

Also read: 5 Most Charming destinations in Azerbaijan – The land of Fire

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