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Baku City

HISTORY OF THE CITY OF BAKU

Baku, the big scientific-cultural and industry center, is the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Baku is one of the oldest and biggest cities in East for antiquity, territory and population. People inhabited since very ancient times in the city of Baku and Absheron peninsula and created here settlements. This was connected to the physical-geographical position of Baku, located in the center of junction of migration and trade routes from the North to the South, from the West to the East (‘Silk Road’), its climate and energy resources and fuel called naphtha.

‘Book of The Dead’ contained information for the first time on Baku 3500 years BC, in time of Egyptian Pharaoh Menesa. At the same time, writings on the walls in Absheron and Gobustan of 12 thousand years ago, archeological findings, as well stone writing of August Guy Octavi about military camps made around Baku (40 km to the south) by Emperor of Rome Pompeii and Lukul in order to occupy Caucasus in I century BC prove Baku is ancient city. Considering these histories, Baku ages more than 5,5 thousand.

Some researchers identify Baku with Gaytara (Gangara), Albana, Baruka and etc. The Sasani treasure of V-VII centuries found in Baku proves people have lived here then. Baku is called Baghavan and Atesh-i Baguan in sources of V-VI centuries. According to Arab sources (X century) name of Baku was Bakuya, Bakuh, Baku, in Russian sources (XV century) it was noted as Baka, in Persian-language sources of Sefevi reign like Badkube.

In early Middle Ages economy of Baku was based on oil and salt production, madder and saffron raised in Baku and Absheron region. Their export to remote eastern countries via onshore caravan routes and sea was an important factor of development of feudal city. Being the part of Shirvan, Absheron was special geographic, economic and political unit due to its natural and economic features. Baku city that was economic and political center of Absheron was the only circle of feudal lands, which were economically connected to its villages and were under vassal subordination of Shirvanshah.

In late X and XI centuries, due to decline of the Abbasi Caliphate, rulers of several provinces and countries, including the Shirvanshah started to independently rule.

In late X century Baku became one of the major cities in Shirvan. Population was engaged with craftsmanship, trade, vine growing, silkworm breeding, gardening, water and melon growing, farming, oil production, fishery and etc. Development of feudal relations, trade and craftsmanship contributed to the progress of the city. Baku, situated in the junction of international trade routes, was of great importance in commercial ties between East and West.

Baku was popular as port city since X century. Late XI-early XIII centuries was era of progress of Baku. After strong quake in Shamakhy in 1191 Shirvanshah Akhistan moved the capital to Baku temporally.

Late XII-early XIII centuries was feudal development period of Baku city. Constructing several buildings in the city the Shirvanshah strengthened it. Castle walls of the city were built in first half of XII century. The defense system of the city included Maiden Tower as well.

In the 30s of XII century the Mongol attacked on Azerbaijan, occupied several cities. Baku, located away from the great road the invaders came, seemed to suffer less in comparison with other cities. But the upper part of Maiden Tower was destructed while the city was occupied by the Mongol. The country economy was destroyed by the Mongol occupation and destruction of the country, oil economy of Absheron and Baku temporally collapsed.

But later, in late XIII century, XIV-XV centuries, Baku became major port sea in Caspian Sea, and one of important cities of Azerbaijan and Near East when it was capital of the Shirvanshah state of the Derbendi dynasty. Baku was active participant of international transit trade of silk and other goods between East and West. It was era of progress in the feudal city.

Despite destructive wars of XVI century, some anti feudal revolutions in Shirvan, connected to the Sefevi state, importance of Baku was not reduced as big trade center and important port in Caspian Sea due to opening of Volga-Caspian route.

After occupation by the Turk in late XVI-early XVII centuries Baku was included again in the Sefevi state. Strengthening of central power, end of feudal conflicts and destructive wars impeding development of productive forces of the country since the 40s of XVII century had positive impact on development of the city life of Baku. Foreign merchants and travelers were visiting the city. They noted rebirth of life in the city, development of craftsmanship, oil and salt production. Role of merchants increased in social life of the city. They possessed all the internal and foreign trade of the city and country. Baku was important port in Caspian Sea. Shamakhy silk and other goods were transported via Baku to Europe, Russia and other countries. Feudal development of Baku lasted by the late XVII century. Since that time all the city life declined not only in Azerbaijan but in all Front Asian countries.

Decline in city life of Baku for the first half of XVIII century is linked to not only change of trade routes, feudal wars and collapse of country but also to expansion of fire arm in East and elimination of need for use of oil in military equipment. City life and trade partly developed in Baku in second half of XVIII century. After occupation of Baku khanate in 1806 by czarism, development of capitalist relations started in Baku.

In 1807 there were 500 houses and 3000 people in Baku. Gulustan Treaty signed in 1813 confirmed annexation of Northern Azerbaijan, including Baku to Russia.

Renaissance of the city is connected to the development of oil industry mainly. First oil well in the world was drilled just in Baku in 1848, white oil plant was built and commissioned in Surakhany in 1863, in 1869 production of oil and gas started for the first time in the territory by mechanical methods.

After Shamakhy city was destructed as a result of the strong quake happened in May 29-30, 1859, Baku became capital. Number of the city population was 13,000 at the time. Due to the above mentioned criteria number of the population increased up to 214,000 in 1913.

Due to the development of oil industry transport ties were formed in Baku city. In 1880 the 26-km railway line was built from the city to Sabunchu and Surakhany fields, and in 1883 the 520-km Baku-Tbilisi railway line was constructed. Communication fields were created in Baku. Telegraph lines were built in sea bottom from Baku to Tbilisi in 1868 and to Krasnovodsk in 1879. The first phone line was built in the city in 1886. In 1907 Baku-Batumi oil pipeline was commissioned. Due to all these, already in 1908 Baku city provided 91,6% of total industry product in Transcaucasus.

First World War, military interferences happened after that had very negative infuence on economic and social life of the country and Baku. Number of the city population decreased 1,3 times in 1913-1920 and this reduction lasted in 1920-1945, which was mainly caused by Second World War and decrese of natural growth because of that.

The city developed much after 1945, Baku city reached very high level in economic development of the republic and public labor share. Due to this industry production fields were created in the city and ties between the city and suburb enlarged. Such a rapid development of Baku city played great role in formation of the city.

A number of historical monuments in Baku city have been protected so far. These include Maiden Tower, Castle Walls of XII century, Shirvanshah Palace built in XV century in the highest part of the castle, Bukharalilar Caravanserai of XIV-XVI centuries, Juma Mosque and etc.

At present territory of Baku city is 2200 sq.m, number of population is nearly 2 million. In addition, in Baku there are nearly 500,000 refugees and IDPs fired from districts occupied by Armenian occupants and from the Republic of Armenia.

Baku includes 11 administrative districts and 5 settlements of city type.

Baku City


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