Maiden Tower Baku, Azerbaijan

he Eiffel Tower in Paris, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Parthenon in Rome; Athens, its Acropolis. And in Baku-the distinguishable architectural landmark is none other than the Maiden Tower.
Azerbaijanis are incredibly proud of this monument that is shrouded in mystery and legend even though scholars and historians are unable to speak with absolute authority about its origins.

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Azerbaijanis are incredibly proud of this monument that is shrouded in mystery and legend even though scholars and historians are unable to speak with absolute authority about its origins.

Many legends surround the Maiden Tower. Most of them center around the word-“Maiden.” A young girl, according to most versions, ordered the tower to be built and then either locked herself in, or threw herself from its heights into the sea below. As the level of the Caspian Sea has experienced cycles of fluctuation-rising and falling-over the centuries, there is a strong possibility that at one time, the waves did lap at the Tower although today the sea is about a block away although it is getting closer and closer again.

According to one of the most popular legends, it was a king, himself the girl’s father, who fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. But the girl tried to delay her father’s advances by begging him to build the tower and wait until it was completed. When he completed it, he had still not changed his mind. That’s when she leaped into the sea.

One variant even has a happy ending. After the Maiden casts herself into the sea, her lover avenges her death by killing the father only to discover that mermaids have rescued his maiden. Naturally, he manages to find her and get married.

Culturally speaking, specialists believe that the fact that the story depicts a father wanting to marry his daughter probably indicates that the legend predates Islam. Prior to the occupation of Islamic rule in the 7th and 8th century, experts believe that power was transferred via female lineage in the region that now is known as Azerbaijan. To maintain these dynasties, it is believed that sometimes ritualistic marriages were arranged between brothers and sisters, and even fathers and daughters. It is this practice that may be reflected in these legends that surrounds the Maiden Tower.

Despite how many theories there are to explain the Tower, no one has been able to say with absolute authority why it was built. Even the date of the construction of the Tower’s age has been estimated to range between 7th century BC to 12th century AD-a range of time separated by nearly two millennia!

There may be many mysterious towers on earth, but none quite compares to the Maiden Tower. Despite the fact that it has become the symbol of Baku and favorite place of tourists who like to climb to its roof to view the entire city, the building remains stubbornly silent, hiding its history, and thus the ancient past of Baku. Indeed, it is a real “tower of silence.”

Source: Azerbaijan International Magazine

Maiden Tower
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