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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Azerbaijan

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There are currently 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Azerbaijan: Walled City of Baku  with Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower and Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscpe.

What is UNESCO World Heritage Sites? The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is incarnated in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.  The text of Convention is the main working tool on World Heritage.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites selected by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selectioncriteria. The criteria are regularly revised by the Committee to reflect the evolution of the World Heritage concept itself.

Only countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention, pledging to protect their natural and cultural heritage, can submit nomination proposals for properties on their territory to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

By this Convention  Walled City of Baku  with Shirvanshah's Palace andMaiden Tower in 2000 and Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscpe in 2007 were included to The UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The Walled City of Baku reveals evidence of Zoroastrian, Sasanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian presence in cultural continuity which was built on a site inhabited since the Palaeolithic period. The Inner City (IcheriSheher) has preserved much of its 12th-century defensive walls. The most ancient monument of Icherisheher is Maiden Tower (GizGalasy) is built over earlier structures dating from the 7th to 6th centuries BC, the tower is one of the most noted landmarks and Azerbaijan's most distinctive national emblems. One of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture is the 12th- to 15th-century Shirvanshahs' Palace, which is located at the highest point of Icherisheher. 

Within the Palace complex are the Divankhana  or, as some researchers believe, the Tomb of Shah, the residential building of Shirvanshahs, the remains of Key-Kubad Mosque, the Tomb of SeyidYahyaBakuvi, Murad’s Gate (the only monument of the 16th century), the Tomb of Shirvanshahs’ Family, the Shah Mosque and the Palace bath-house. Earlier monuments of Icherisheher include the Mohammed Mosque, together with the adjacent minaret built in 1078, and remains of the 9th- to 10th-century mosque near the Maiden Tower.

There are also numerous historical-architectural monuments of the medieval period such as caravanserais, hamams (bath-houses), mosques and residential buildings of the 18th to 20th centuries located within the property.

The magnificence of Icherisheher lies in the combination of its distinct architectural monuments and its historically composed architectural spatial planning with original street views, which have merged into a single entity to reflect its long history and the melding of cultures that have influenced its development over the past nine centuries. Icherisheher is still a living, vibrant city with residential areas housing local communities.


Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape covers three areas of a plateau of rocky boulders rising out of the semi-desert of central Azerbaijan, with an outstanding collection of more than 6,000 rock engravings bearing testimony to 40,000 years of rock art. The site also features the remains of inhabited caves, settlements and burials, all reflecting an intensive human use by the inhabitants of the area during the wet period that followed the last Ice Age, from the Upper Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. The site, which covers an area of 537 ha, is part of the larger protected Gobustan Reservation.  On their themes rock carvings of Gobustan are marked with diversity. These are mainly depictions of men, women, ancient ox, cheetah, gazelle, lion, boar, etc. Various signs, tamgas, and also depictions of snake, lizard, swastika, sun, cross, etc. were registered as well. At the same time here one can come across depictions of collective labor scenes, as well as scenes of hunting on different animals and battle scenes.  These monuments are ancient drawings, cupules for preparing fluid diet and gathering of rain water, two-sided hollows for tying-up animals, signs, tamgas, ancient inscriptions and so on. Revealed and registered on more than a thousand rocks and stones these monuments were created by an ancient man and are the reflection of his agricultural and intellectual activity. On their themes rock carvings of Gobustan are marked with diversity.

Petroglyphs of Gobustan are artistic chronicles of the past. They bear a great importance both for the study of the pre-history of humanity and for the study of lots of spheres of primitive art: graphics, music, dances, the art of stone processing, etc.


Used links: World Heritage Centre - World Heritage



12 September, 2015

Inji Nabiyeva

Azerbaijan University of Languages

International Relations and Area Studies / American Studies

inji nabiyeva