The Maiden Tower, also called “Giz Galasi” is located in the old city of Baku in Azerbaijan. The Maiden Tower is a historic monument listed in 2001 under the UNESCO World Heritage list of Historical Monuments.
The Maiden Tower is a prominent Baku landmark, a much-loved symbol of the city that looms dark and enigmatic, and is shrouded in mystery, why it was built, or even how it acquired its name Maiden Tower. Therefore, no written sources/evidence survives that record its construction or original function.
It is a cultural property, built in the 12th century (although some sources state the 5th century as the start of its construction) as part of the walled city just close to Shirvanshah’s Palace. The Maiden Tower is the most distinctive national emblem of Azerbaijan, featured on Azeri currency notes and official letterheads.
There’s a museum inside Maiden Tower, showing the historic evolution of Baku city. Thus, the magnificent view from the top takes in the alleys and minarets of the old city, the Baku Boulevard, the De Gaulle house, the wide vista of Baku Bay, and the sea shorelines of the Caspian Sea.
The Khan of Baku has thrown his daughter or sister (not confirmed) threw herself off its top to her death and came to be incarcerated by her brother. Moreover, it is also believed that to escape from the ignominy of incarceration, she jumped to her death from the top of the tower.
The Maiden Tower has a mystique and hoary history was used as an astronomical observatory from the time of this reconstruction, due to the fact that 30 hewed stone protuberances on the tower’s lower section and the 31 protuberances on the upper section, linked with a stone belt, correlate to the days of the month.
As per 1962-63 excavations, the archaeological found ground floor was built on a large rock sloping towards the sea, along with wooden girders each 14 meters high at the foundation of the tower. The Maiden Tower is Baku’s most distinguished landmark, the most majestic mysterious monument, constructed alongside a natural oil well.
The tower is 8 story structure with a height are 97 feet and 54 meters base that can easily accommodate 200 people. The wall thickness varies from 3.2 to 4.2 meters; all floors are connected by a staircase that abuts the circular wall. Another theory indicates, that tower was built for astronomical purposes, as the tower mainly faces the east side pointing to the sunrises and the door faces towards the southeast.
The archaeologists suggest the interior and exterior surface is diamond-shaped, with cut seen as a decorative feature. Historians have also agreed that The Maiden Tower was built for defensive purposes, or maybe for a lookout post or a fire beacon. The word “Maiden” is also found in the names of the other towers in the territory of Azerbaijan and perhaps it means “unsubdued”, or “impregnable”.
A 21-meter-deep water well has been discovered on the 2nd floor of the tower, interpreted as a rainwater harvesting structure, plumbing seen running down from the niches of the tower into the well was meant as a supply source. The tower and city walls were badly damaged in an earthquake in 2,000 which were not properly restored due to a lack of efforts by the national authorities to conserve this cultural heritage.
UNESCO listed the property under the List of World Heritage in Danger from 2004 to 2009. Therefore, due to urban development pressure, makes authorities evolved a Conservation Master Plan to conserve the property and eventually removed the “in danger” tag by UNESCO in 2009.
There’re many Azerbaijani poems & plays that indicate, that legendary tale of the King willing to force his daughter to marry a man she doesn’t love. Even though, many stories tell, that ruler actually wants to marry her daughter.
Anyway, she escapes by requesting her father to build a tower for her, and when the tower was finished. When the tower completed it, he had still not changed his mind. Then she decided to commit suicide by jumping from the top of it.
As of 2011, the tower also participates in “Earth Hour,” a campaign against climate change in which large buildings “go dark” for an hour to draw awareness to the cause. The tower’s unusual construction is impossible to miss the mighty Maiden Tower when visiting Baku. These days the tower is still proudly standing in the Old Town of Baku.