• Keywords: Azerbaijan Cultural Landscape, Caspian Shore defensive constructions, stronhold, barrier, walled city, archaeological remains, Beshbarmag, Gil-gilchay barrier, Chiraggala, Shabran, Mardakan, Shagan, Nardaran, Shirvanshah's Palace, Maiden Tower, Baku Stage Mountain, Apsheron National Park.

1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES

1.1 National and International Classification Lists

The Caspian Shore Defensive Constructions are proposed by UNESCO (Tentative List) as a Cultural site, with date of submission: 24/10/2001, category: cultural and ref.: 1573. Also, in the Tentavite List of UNESCO is recopiled the “Baku Stage Mountain”, with date of submission: 30/09/1998, criteria: (viii)(ix), category: natural and ref.: 1177 “Baku Stage” mountain is protected by the State as a monument of a nature of the special significance pursuant to the Decree of the Government of Azerbaijan Republic No. 167 of March 16, 1982. . The “Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower” is in the World Heritage List of UNESCO, with date of Inscription: 2000, criteria: (iv), category: cultural and ref: 958. The property occupies 22 ha and the buffer zone: 12 ha. Absheron National Park is a national park of Azerbaijan and was established on 8 February 2005 by the decree of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, on an area of 783 hectares (7.83 km2) in the administrative territory of the Azizbeyov district of Baku city, on the base of Absheron State Nature Preserve.[1] It was set up by Order 622 of the President of Azerbaijan.

1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology

Organically evolved landscapes
Relict (or fossil) landscape
Associative cultural landscape
1

1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med

Description

Several ancient remains and defensive obstacles are scattered all around the Caspian Shore territory from Derbent city (Russia, Caspian Sea, north of the Azerbaijani border) to Aphseron peninsula (including Baku) composing an unequalled Archaeological Landscape. The historical and naural importance of the site has been recognized by UNESCO in different ways: the defensive constructions are all proposed in the Tentative List as a Cultural site (“Caspian Shore Defensive Construction”), Baku is classified in the World Heritage List of UNESCO as ” Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower”, and the Baku mountain is also proposed as a Natural site in the Tentativ List (“Baku Stage Mountain”). Med-O-Med has unified all of them in one Cultural Landscape (associative and relict landscape), taking into account its natural and cultural heritage (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008). The site occupies the Caspian Shore territory, and it is charactericed by its defensive character. This character is connected to the particularities of its natural landscape and the history of invasions of the territory: -Cultural Heritage Components: The Caucasus mountain range in the northern border of Azerbaijan was a natural defensive obstacle form the foreign campaigns. On the territory of Azerbaijan the most acceptable way for invasions was the Caspian plain, which finished the mountain range. Through this narrow Caspian plain passed the most important trade waywhich united Azerbaijan and Middle Asia with the South-west Europe. In the northern part of Azerbaijan on the Caspian Shore territory, as the result of historical urgency there was established the complex of defensive constructions, which had military, strategical, trade and economic importance. This complex consists of several defensive obstacles, town stronghold palaces and towers. The geographical boundary of Caspian Shore defensive constructions occupies the territory from Derbent city to Apsheron peninsula, including Baku. In order to protect such big territory, there has been built huge constructions, extending on many kilometers, composing united defensive system. Some examples are: Beshbarmag barrier, Gil-gilchay barrier, Chiraggala stronghold, Shabran town, stronghold constructions on Apsheron peninsula (more than 30: Mardakan stronghold, the old strongholds of Shagan village and Nardaran village, etc.) In XX century, Shirvanshahs began to fortify a defensive system in Baku and it’s environs.In order to become the biggest and the most acceptable harbor on the Caspian seashore, Baku turned into a strong town stronghold after Derbend. A great and important role in the defensive system of Baku stronghold played Maiden tower (5-12) and Bayil (Sabayil) palace, which protected Baku from the sea and is one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture. -Natural Heritage Components: the Caspian Shore is a beatiful landscape, with ecolocial, botanical and zoological values due to the particularities of the salty sea. There area some pretected areas in the region, because of its natural heritage components, as the Aphseron National Park and the Baku Stage Mountain (Tentative List of UNESCO and Monument of a Nature). The Aphseron National Park is technically the easternmost extension of the Caucasus Mountains, but its landscape is only mildly hilly, a gently undulating plain that ends in a long spit of sand dunes known also as Shah Dili. In this part the peninsula is dissected by ravines and characterized by frequent salt lakes. The main interest of Baku Stage Mountain is geological. On the slopes of this mountain at the depth of 70 meters is opened classic column of lower anthropogen deposits. Having explained for the first time by D.F.Golubyatnikov the column of these deposits are introduced into the Worid geology literature as stratigraphic column. Being rich with geological deposits of “Baku” Period and paleontological remnants, this natural monument is unique and is of grest importance. Location on the coast of the Caspian Sea and close to the center of Baku City, wide panorama of the Caspian from this height increases the aesthetic value of this mountain.

2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY

  • Current denomination Caspian shore, Baku, Aphseron.
  • Current denomination Caspian shore, Baku, Aphseron.
  • Original denomination Caspian shore, Baku, Aphseron (Azerbaijani: Abşeron yarımadası)
  • Popular denomination Caspian shore, Baku, Aphseron.
  • Address: Caspian shore of Azerbaijan, form Derbent to Aphseron peninsula, including Baku.
  • Geographical coordinates: The Caspian Shore Defensive Construction: 48°1'-50°1' N 42°1'-40°21' E Aphseron National Park: 40°17′01″N 50°21′34″E Baku Stage Mountain: 40°20′35″N 49°50′45″E Baku city: 40°22′N 49°50′E
  • Area, boundaries and surroundings: The geographical boundary of Caspian Shore defensive constructions occupies the territory from Derbent city (Russia frontier) to Apsheron peninsula. In order to protect such big territory, there has been built huge constructions, extending on many kilometers, composing united defensive system. The Absheron Peninsula is a peninsula in Azerbaijan. It is host to Baku, the biggest and the most populous city of the country, and also the Baku metropolitan area, with its satellite cities Sumgayit and Khyrdalan. There are three districts, of which two are urban (Baku and Sumgayit), and one (Absheron Rayon), is suburban district in Absheron region. "Baku Stage" mountain is located at 40° 20' 50" of northern latitude and 49° 45' 55" of eastern longitude near Bibi-Heybat Settlement of Sabayel District of Baku City of Azerbaijan Republic.
  • Access and transport facilities: Baku has an airport.
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THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF CASPIAN SHORE DEFENSIVE CONSTRUCTIONS: FROM DERBENT TO APHSERON (AZERBAIJAN)

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THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF CASPIAN SHORE DEFENSIVE CONSTRUCTIONS: FROM DERBENT TO APHSERON (AZERBAIJAN) 48.016667, 42.016667 THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF CASPIAN SHORE DEFENSIVE CONSTRUCTIONS: FROM DERBENT TO APHSERON (AZERBAIJAN) (Directions)

3. LEGAL ISSUES

  • Owner: Azerbaijan Government.
  • Body responsible for the maintenance: Azerbaijan Government.
  • Legal protection: Baku Stage mountain is protected by the State as a monument of a nature of the special significance pursuant to the Decree of the Government of Azerbaijan Republic No. 167 of March 16, 1982. Absheron National Park is a national park of Azerbaijan and was established on 8 February 2005 by the decree of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, on an area of 783 hectares (7.83 km2) in the administrative territory of the Azizbeyov district of Baku city, on the base of Absheron State Nature Preserve. It was set up by Order 622 of the President of Azerbaijan.

4. HISTORY

-Caspian Shore Defensive Cosntruction (history): The Caucasus mountain range in the northern border of Azerbaijan was a natural defensive obstacle form the foreign campaigns. On the territory of Azerbaijan the most acceptable way for invasions was the Caspian plain, which finished the mountain range. Through this narrow Caspian plain passed the most important trade waywhich united Azerbaijan and Middle Asia with the South-west Europe. In the northern part of Azerbaijan on the Caspian Shore territory, as the result of historical urgency there was established the complex of defensive constructions, which had military, strategical, trade and economic importance. This complex consists of several defensive obstacles, town stronghold palaces and towers. The geographical boundary of Caspian Shore defensive constructions occupies the territory from Derbent city to Apsheron peninsula, including Baku. In order to protect such big territory, there has been built huge constructions, extending on many kilometers, composing united defensive system. -Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower (histroy): Baku is located in the state of Shirvan, which existed from the 9th century CE until 1538, when it was annexed by Safavid Iran. In 1585 the town was captured by the Ottoman Sultan Murat III, and in 1723 it was occupied by the Russian General Matushkin, when it was destroyed by fire. It became part of the Russian Empire in 1783. – The Inner Walled City (Icheri Sheher) The Inner Walled City, which forms the property proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List, is one of the few surviving medieval towns in Azerbaijan. It retains the characteristic features of a medieval town, such as the labyrinth of narrow streets, congested buildings, and tiny courtyards. The walls of the old town, which still survive on the western and northern sides, were built by Menutsshochr Shah in the 12th century and were repaired in the 19th century. The narrow streets are lined with houses dating from the late 18th century onwards, but also contain earlier monuments, mostly concentrated in the lower, seaward, site of the town. Further to the east lie the 14th-15th century Multani Caravanserai, used by Indian merchants, and facing it the 15th-century Bukhara Caravanserai, built for merchants from central Asia, behind which there is a small derelict 17th century hammam. – The Maiden Tower (Giz Galasy) Located in the south-east part of Icheri Sheher, this unique monument of Azerbaijan architecture was built in two periods. It is an astonishing cylindrical structure, rising to eight storeys and 29.5m high, with a diameter of 16.5m. Each storey is roofed with a shallow vault with a central aperture. The walls are 5m thick at the base and 3.2-4m at the top. The bottom three storeys are thought to date to as early as the 7th or 6th century BCE and to have been an astronomical observatory or fire temple. Evidence for this comes from the existence of a shaft, visible at the back of niches in the second and third storeys, which it has been established extends 15m below ground level. This appears to have been designed to channel natural gas to provide fuel for an eternal flame.The upper part of the tower dates from the 12th century and incorporates a Kufic inscription of Kubey Mesud ibn Da’ud, commemorating a reconstruction in the 12th century. In the upper, medieval, portion of the tower there is a staircase from the floor built in the thickness of the wall in the area next to the projection. – The Shirvanshahs’ Palace The Palace was built in the 15th century, when Shamaha was finally abandoned as the capital in favour of Baku. Construction proceeded during the reigns of Shirvanshah Khalilulla I and his son, Faruk, until the latter was killed in battle in 1501. The palace was seriously damaged by a Russian naval bombardment in the 18th century and much of the upper parts were destroyed. Restoration work was carried out in the 18th-20th centuries. The complex comprises several discrete elements: the residential part, the Divankhane, the Shirvanshahs’ mausoleum, the Palace Mosque with its minaret, the baths (hammam), the Mausoleum of the Court Astrologer Seyid Yahya Bakuvi, the slightly later Eastern Gate, and the mosque of Key-Gubad. – The Tsarist period city in the Buffer Zone.This lies outside the Inner Walled City, nominated for World Heritage inscription, but constitutes a buffer zone protecting the setting of the latter.

5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION

5.1. Natural heritage

  • Heritage: Archaeological
  • Geography: Coastal area
  • Site topography: Natural
  • Climate and environmental conditions: The climate of the area is semi-arid, specific to semi-desert and dry steppe.
Water resources:
There are lakes, rivers, natural springs, waterfall in all the region. The site is a coastal area around the Caspian sea.
Vegetation:

Types and phytomass of flora is too poor in the site. Plants are changed respective of water and saltiness regime of area. Sea coastal sand plants (42,6%), meadows with jigilgamish and paz grass (13,2%), one-year saline grasses (5,2%) etc. are spread. Ephemeras also develop well in early spring. Nearly 25 plant species exist in Absheron National Park. Caspian seal which is considered rare species is encountered in the Caspian sea area of Absheron National Park and it is observed in seal cape mostly in May-August. Caspian seal is the unique species of pinnipedia that has been included to the ‘Guinness” book of records as the tiniest seal of world ocean.

Fauna:

The Absheron State Nature Preserve was created in July 1969 in order to protect gazelles, Caspian seals and water birds that inhabit the territory. More than 50 bird and animal species are encountered in the National Park. Nowadays, in dry areas of the region are found gazelle, jackal, fox, rabbit, badger, in Caspian waters seal and various fishes, birds such as silver gull, wheezing swan, grey and red-headed black, white-eyed black ducks, big white bittern, sandpiper, bald-coot, marsh belibagli, sea bozcha and other migrant birds have inhabited here. Caspian seal (Phoca caspica) is the unique sea mammal that exists in the Caspian sea. It is endemic species of the Caspian Sea and is considered the tiniest species of seals in the world. (prolongation of existence- 50 years). According to the estimations of 1987, the total number of Caspian seal populations is about 360-400 thousand tips. (Krılov, 1989), however according to the estimations of the Committee of Caspian Sea water bioresources in 2005, the number of them is 375 thousand tips. In 1996 the Union of World Nature and Natural Resources Protection carried out discussions on the Caspian seal and included its status into the red book of UWNNRP as a weak species considering the gradual contamination of Caspian Sea and contraction of coastal strip that is living quarters of seals. Mute Swan exists in the great lakes, reservoirs of the Republic and in the coasts of Caspian Sea. Mute Swan is hibernating and migratory bird. Its color is snow-white (young Mute Swans are light grey in color). It has red and black bill. Mute swan has a knob at the base of the bill on the upper mandible. Mute Swan resembles question-mark bending its neck when in water and on earth. It has no voice and only hisses. Mute Swan hibernates in big lakes of Caspian shore and Lowland regions. Its hunting is prohibited. Less part that don’t nest (20-30 species) of Mute Swan is observed in summer. November is considered fall migration period, and the second half of February is spring migration and return period. Underwater part of plants (root and scion) provides its nutrition. The bird prefers threadlike seaweeds in nutrition. Mute Swan is among rare birds decreasing in amount, and has been included into “Red book” of Azerbaijan. The migration of Mute Swan begins in the last days of February. It feeds on various water insects, their larvae, small animals living in silts as well as underwater vegetation.

Land uses and economical activities:
Tourism, fishery, industry. During the last two decades of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century, Baku was one of the major centres of oil production in the world. This generated substantial wealth, as can be seen by the high quality of the buildings dating from this period.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:

This Cultural Landscape comprises a big area which includes the Caspian shore from the Russia frontier to APhseron peninsula. The ancient remains of military points and defensive contruction offer an interesting landscape that mix natural components with historical and cultural elements. In aphseron peninsula the landscape is only mildly hilly, a gently undulating plain that ends in a long spit of sand dunes. Absheron National Park is the closest natural monument to the capital Baku, the most auspicious point for ecotourism, the site holding the most pure water and the clearest air in Absheron beach. Al the defensifve points of the Caspian shore are interesting, especially the walled city of Baku and all its great monuments. Baku mountains has also geological value.

5.2. Cultural Heritage

A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general

Architectonical elements /Sculptures:

-Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower: Built on a site inhabited since the Palaeolithic period, the Walled City of Baku reveals evidence of Zoroastrian, Sassanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman and Russian presence in cultural continuity. The Inner City (Icheri Sheher) has preserved much of its 12th-century defensive walls. The 12th-century Maiden Tower (Giz Galasy) is built over earlier structures dating from the 7th to 6th centuries BC, and the 15th-century Shirvanshah’s Palace is one of the pearls of Azerbaijan architecture. The Inner Walled City is one of the few surviving medieval towns in Azerbaijan. It retains the characteristic features of a medieval town, such as the labyrinth of narrow streets, congested buildings and tiny courtyards. The walls of the old town, which still survive on the western and northern sides, were built by Menutsshochr Shah in the 12th century and were repaired in the 19th century. The narrow streets are lined with houses dating from the late 18th century onwards, but also contain earlier monuments, mostly concentrated in the lower, seaward, side of the town. The Maiden Tower is located in the south-east part of Icheri Sheher, this unique monument of Azerbaijan architecture was built in two periods. It is an astonishing cylindrical structure, rising to eight storeys. Each storey is roofed by a shallow vault with a central aperture. The bottom three storeys are thought to date to as early as the 7th or 6th centuries BC and to have been an astronomical observatory or fire temple. Evidence for this comes from the existence of a shaft, visible at the back of niches in the second and third storeys. This appears to have been designed to channel natural gas to provide fuel for an eternal flame. The main part of the tower is circular in plan, but with a long solid projection to the east which points towards sunrise at the equinoxes. The floors are connected by staircases built into the walls, and are lit by means of narrow windows. The Shirvanshah’s Palace was built in the 15th century, when Shamaha was finally abandoned as the capital in favour of Baku. Construction proceeded during the reigns of Shirvanshah Khalilulla I and his son, Faruk, until the latter was killed in battle in 1501. The palace was seriously damaged by a Russian naval bombardment in the 18th century and much of the upper parts were destroyed. Restoration work was carried out in the 18th-20th centuries. Treasures from the palace, initially taken to Tabriz, were subsequently transferred as booty to the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. The complex comprises several discrete elements: the residential part, the Divankhane, the Shirvanshahs’ Mausoleum, the palace mosque with its minaret, the baths (hammam ), the Mausoleum of the Court Astrologer Seyid Yahya Bakuvi, the slightly later Eastern Gate and the mosque of Key-Gubad. The palace is built on the highest point of one of the hills within Icheri Sheher. Extending over three superimposed terraces, it is clearly visible from the sea from and the heights surrounding the city. The tsarist city lies outside the Inner Walled City but constitutes a buffer zone protecting the setting of the latter. During the last two decades of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century, Baku was one of the major centres of oil production in the world. This generated substantial wealth, as can be seen by the high quality of the buildings dating from this period. The main conservation problem with these concerns the balconies, which were formed of stone slabs supported by slender iron girders. Decay of the stone and rusting of the ironwork has led many of them to be replaced in concrete, usually with the concurrent loss of their supporting stone consoles.

In the case of gardens: original and current style:
In Shirvanshah's Palace (Baku): The lower stores in the domestic part of the palace open on a garden. This garden contains the Mausoleum of Seyid Yahya Bakuvi, a court astrologer, which was originally entered through a rectangular mosque, only the foundations of which now survive. The tomb is a two-storey domed structure. Stored in the garden are sections of a tall inscription, these were recovered from the sea and originally formed part of the wall of the 12th century Sabail island fortress, destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century.
B) Related to ancient remains

  • Archaeological components:

    -The Caspian Shore Defensive Construction, including the Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower: Between Behsbarmag Mountain, located in the end of the Caucasus range, in the southeast part, and the Caspian shore exists the narrowest passage (11.75 km). This passage was built from the raw brick and finished by two parallel walls, which were at the distance of 200 meters from each other. Taking the name from Beshbarmag Mountain, according to the writing sources, Beshbarmag barrier was built in the period of Shah Sasanid Yezdegird 2 (438-457). In this barrier, in the mountain, separately was built a stone stronghold, and on the caravan way, at the foot of the mountain was a caravan shed. Beshbarmag is also a place of imposing warship. In the north from Beshbarmag, there is the Gil-gilchay barrier, which is the biggest monument among the Caspian Shore defensive constructions. The Gil-gilchay defensive barrier was built in the period of Shah Gubad, from Sasanid dynasty(488-531). The Gil-gilchay barrier, which in Arabic sources called “Sur attin” or “Gil divar”, closing the Caspian Shore passage and the Gilgilchay pond, extends through all law south-east parts of Big Caucasus, and finishes in the Babadag mountain. That part of the barrier, which closes the Caspian plain has been made from the raw bricks, but the biggest part of the Gil-gilchay barrier in the mountain was made of stone “of long walls”, and that walls consisted of towers and strongholdes, which gave the firmness to the fortification works. In the strategically important places of the barrier were the special town strongholdes, and also were established many defensive stations, where the guardsmen lived. The rest of the stronghold walls and guardhouses can be seen in a big territory. The best preserved of them is Chiraggala stronghold, which is located in the Devenchy region, in the Chirag village. Being not far from the Gilgilchay barrier, Shabran town, in some sources was called as “Shabran barrier or “Shabran walls”. Shabran town was founded at the same period as Gilgilchay barrier in the century and it as a very important place, where all international caravan ways joined. Shabran was the biggest province in Azerbaijan, producing raw silk, which took an active part in the international transitive trade. Apsheron peninsula, which was in Caucasus Albany, and then in Shirvanshah’s State, was rich in strategically products (gas, salt, saffron), and was very often exposed to Russian, Cossacks, Turkmens, and even Italian brigand invasions. In order to interrupt those invasions, defensive constructions were built, and together with Caspian Shore barriers, they acted as united defensive system. In XX century, Shirvanshahs began to fortify a defensive system in Baku and it’s environs. In order to become the biggest and the most acceptable harbor on the Caspian seashore, Baku turned into a strong town stronghold after Derbend (more information in point 5.2.1. Architectonical elements). A great and important role in the defensive system of Baku stronghold played Maiden tower (5-12) and Bayil (Sabayil) palace, which protected Baku from the sea. Bayil palace was built in 12-‘)4. This palace was supposed to be the gate for the international sea-trade and the first strong stronghold in Baku bay protecting from invasions from the sea, and also to be the residence of Shirvanshah. But as the result of strong earthquake in 1306, and the rise of water level in the Caspian Sea, this palace went down. All big villages on Apsheron peninsula historically consisted of stronghold constructions. Some of them named as palaces still exist. The strongholdes in the defensive system of the Apsheron peninsula, which were built at the same period near to each other, occupy a very important place in Mardakan village. The oldest of them is Mardakan stronghold, which was built in 11 87-1188 in the period of Akhista II Shirvanshah shah. Gershasb in 1204 from Shirvanshahs dynasty built the other stronghold named as Small Mardakan stronghold. Near to the Mardakan stronghold on the seashore of the Shagan village can be seen the ruins of the old stronghold (XIII). The stronghold of Nardaran village was built in 1301. One of the Absheron monumental constructions is Romana palace (XIV). According to the calculations, there were more than 30 strongholdes in Absheron peninsula. The largest number of palaces on Absheron peninsula were built in the villages, in the north seashore. This is because the main danger came from sea, and also because the stronghold towers received the dangerous signals from the northern Caspian Shore defensive barriers and could pass them to other towers on the peninsula. The dangerous signals were pass with the help of the fire at and the smoke in the afternoons. So, the news about the threat spread all over the territory and population, and the army was ready to defend.

  • Historical routes:

    Through this narrow Caspian plain passed the most important trade way which united Azerbaijan and Middle Asia with the South-west Europe.

  • Traces in the environment of human activity: All the ancient cities and remains of defensive constructions.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values

5.3. Quality

Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:
The World Heritage Committee has welcomed the success of the authorities of Azerbaijan in preserving the Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs' Palace and Maiden Tower (Azerbaijan), and decided to remove the property from UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger. The site, which sustained damage during the earthquake of November 2000, was inscribed on the Danger List in 2003. The main conservation problem concerned the balconies, which were formed of stone slabs supported by slender iron girders. Decay of the stone and rusting of the ironwork has led many of them to be replaced in concrete, usually with the concurrent loss of their supporting stones consoles. The site was then also seen as being negatively affected by the pressure of urban development, the absence of conservation policies and by dubious restoration efforts. Improvements in its management have since allowed for the site to secure the outstanding universal value for which it was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2000. In Aphseron National Park there are encountered more than 50 bird and animal species are. Nearly 25 plant species exist in the National Park. Caspian seal which is considered rare species is encountered in the Caspian sea area of Absheron National Park and it is observed in seal cape mostly in May-August. Caspian seal is the unique species of pinnipedia that has been included to the ‘Guinness” book of records as the tiniest seal of world ocean.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:

-Aphseron National Park. -Baku Monument of Nature. -All the Caspian Shore Defensive Constructions, from Derbant to Aphseron peninsula, that have been mentioned in this file. -The walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower.

6. VALUES

Tangible

  • Aesthetic
  • Ecological
The main tangible values of "The Cultural Landscape of Caspian Shore Defensive Constructions: from Derbent to Aphseron" are: -Aesthetic: The Caspian Shore, Aphseron National Park and Baku Mountains compose a great natural landscape, mildly hilly, a gently undulating plain that ends in a long spit of sand dunes and frequent salt lakes. Also the city of Baku, its monuments, palaces and gardens are a very beatiful site. The defensive constructions around the Caspian shore give an espectacular view of the landscape. -Architectonical/Archaeological: There have been found a lot of ancient remains of defensive constructions all around the Caspian Shore. In order to protect such big territory, there has been built huge constructions, extending on many kilometers, composing united defensive system. Some examples are: Beshbarmag barrier, Gil-gilchay barrier, Chiraggala stronghold, Shabran town, stronghold constructions on Apsheron peninsula (more than 30: Mardakan stronghold, the old strongholds of Shagan village and Nardaran village, etc.), the walled city of Baku. The Inner Walled City (Icheri Sheher) of Baku, which forms the property proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List, is one of the few surviving medieval towns in Azerbaijan. It retains the characteristic features of a medieval town, such as the labyrinth of narrow streets, congested buildings, and tiny courtyards. The 12th-century Maiden Tower (Giz Galasy) is built over earlier structures dating from the 7th to 6th centuries BC, and the 15th-century Shirvanshahs' Palace is one of the pearls of Azerbaijan's architecture. -Ecological/Botanical/Zoological: More than 50 bird and animal species are encountered in Absheron National Park. Nearly 25 plant species exist in the National Park. Caspian seal which is considered rare species is encountered in the Caspian sea area of Absheron National Park and it is observed in seal cape mostly in May-August. Caspian seal is the unique species of pinnipedia that has been included to the ‘Guinness” book of records as the tiniest seal of world ocean. -Geological: The main interest of Baku Stage Mountain is geological. On the slopes of this mountain at the depth of 70 meters is opened classic column of lower anthropogen deposits. Having explained for the first time by D.F.Golubyatnikov the column of these deposits are introduced into the Worid geology literature as stratigraphic column. Being rich with geological deposits of "Baku" Period and paleontological remnants, this natural monument is unique and is of grest importance. Location on the coast of the Caspian Sea and close to the center of Baku City, wide panorama of the Caspian from this height increases the aesthetic value of this mountain.

Intangible

  • Historical
The main intangible values of "The Cultural Landscape of Caspian Shore Defensive Constructions from Derbent to Aphseron" are historical and cultural The presence of the defensive points reveals the history of invasions of the territory. Also, Baku reveals evidence of Zoroastrian, Sasanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian presence in cultural continuity.
Authenticity:
The richness of the cultural heritage of arhitectonical and archaeological remains related to defensive acctions along the history, together with the natural diversity of the ecosystem and the beauty of the landscape of the Caspian shore fully reflect Outstanding Universal Value.
Universality:
UNESCO has defined the criterion (iv) for Baku city, and the criteria (viii)(ix) for Baku Stage Mountains. As Med-O-Med considers the area as a whole, including the Caspian Shore Defensive Constructions, the universality of this Cultural Landscape is finally described considering the following UNESCO Criteria: iv) The Walled City of Baku represents an outstanding and rare example of an historic urban ensemble and architecture with influence from Zoroastrian, Sassanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian cultures. It can also be observed in the Caspian shore defensive constructions. vii) Caspian shore contains superlative natural phenomena and areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance, especially important for this file are the Aphseron National Park and Baku Stage Mountains. viii) Baku Stage Mountain is an outstanding example representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life. On the slopes of this mountain at the depth of 70 meters is opened classic column of lower anthropogen deposits. ix) Aphseron National Park and Baku Stage Mountains are outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:
The constructions observed in the area (some defensive constructions, and some parts of Baku city) has arabic and persian influence, due to the historical invasions related to these places.

7. ENCLOSURES

Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):

*** “The Cultural Landscape of Caspian Shore Defensive Constructions from Derbent to Aphseron” is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Azerbaijan which are included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.

Bibliography:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/958 http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1573/ http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1177/ http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/241 http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/521 http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/t1573.html http://www.caspiantravel.com/en/azerbaijan/historical-architectural-monuments http://azerbaijan24.com/component/content/article/42-azer-monuments/181-Caspian-Shore http://www.eco.gov.az/en/ab-milli%20parki/ -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara , Italy.

Practical Information:
Roni Amelan, r.amelan@unesco.org In Seville until 30 June: +33 (0) 61 54 30 212 Lucía Iglesias Kuntz (Spanish): l.iglesias@unesco.org In Seville until 30 June: +33(0)61 46 95 498 Gina Doubleday (Paris) g.doubleday@unesco.org +33 (0)1 45 68 16 60

Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.