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Castles of Azerbaijan: Exploring country's greatest castles [PHOTO]

06 February 2017 [10:23] - TODAY.AZ

By Azernews

By Laman Ismayilova

Azerbaijan's collection of castles and fortresses perhaps best illustrates the rich medieval heritage of the country.

Marvelous and austere fortresses built mainly for defense against invaders, those erected beginning are imposing and luxurious. They protected and gave military personnel a safe harbor from the enemy. Fortresses were placed in strategic locations and used to defend important routes.

Let's look over time and distance to find the most impressive fortresses from around the Land of Fire and throughout history.

Historical books and movies tell much about the invincibility of the fortress Alinjagala, which keeps  historic traces and culture of Azerbaijani people.

The extraordinary view of the Alinjagala (Alanjik) fortress attracts many foreign visitors. The fortress, which is perceived as a symbol of strength and military strategy, for centuries has been a critical geostrategic castle.

The walls of the fortress begin from the slopes of the Alinja Mountain and rise until fully embracing the top of the mountain. Its foundations were built of big stones and burned bricks brought from the nearby villages.  

Fortress is on the top of the mountain of the same name, on the right bank of Alinjachay, Julfa region. In the oldest sources it is written in many versions such as "Erinjag", "Erinjik", "Alanjik", "Alinja", and "Alanjug".

There are different assumptions about the construction date of the castle. Some historians think that it is 2,000-year castle. Alinja is depicted as strong fortress in "Kitab-i Dada Gorgud" epos.

The remainders of the beautiful palaces and buildings belonging to the feudals in the Alinjagala were depicted in the literature of the XIX century. It was possible to keep a herd of horses and cattles before and other military ammunition in the fortress. In the rein of Atabaylar-Eldagizlar dynasty in the territory of Azerbaijan, the importance of the Alinjagala rose and turned the place of shelter, for the security of the rulers’ families, which was considered the most strategic military fortification.

In accordance with the Decree of the Chairman of the Supreme Assembly of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic on February 11, 2014, "On the restoration of historical monument Alinjagala", the castle was restored and granted a status of historical and cultural museum-reserve.

A new website dedicated to Alinjqala fortress largely informs the visitors from all around the world about the beauties and majesties of this true witness of history.  

Great historical building is illustrated on this web site

Incredible virtual tour brings you opportunities to explore the whole  beauty of this historical site. One cay enjoy articles, legends, videos and fascinating facts about this medieval mystery.

The Land of Fire is filled with mind-blowing to things to see, both natural and man-made.

The country enjoys hundreds of important historical and cultural places to visit. 

The opulent palaces, royal heritage and amazing age-old architecture inspire awe among the tourists. Centuries-long history is reflected in its architectural gems, where the special place is given to the marvelous fortresses.

The Land of Fire has plenty of remarkable fortresses.

Gelersen-Gorersen Fortress (Come-and-See) is one of those historical places on the north of the country. 

Located not far away from the Shaki city on the western bank of the Kish river,  it was built in a strategic location in the 15th century. No one could seize this fortress.

When the ruler of Iran, Nadir shah, attacked Shaki Khanate in the 8th century, Haji Chalabi, khan of Shaki Khanate, secured in the fortress. When Nadir shah offered him to give in, Chalabi answered: “You will come and see”. Infuriated Nadir shah, who did not expect such an answer, decided to capture the fortress by force. In 1744, the shah approached the fortress with a great army, but couldn’t capture it and fell back. Since then the fortress was famed as Gelersen Gorersen. The amazing natural scenery of the region opens from here.

Gulistan Fortress

Marvelous monument of architecture, built in the north-west of Shamakhi on top of 200-meter high rocky mountain, in the 8th-9th century, has been one of the main strongholds of the Shirvanshahs for nine centuries. Its walls and towers withstood the attacks of the Arabs, Seljuks, Mongols, and Ottoman troops. The fortress has been severely damaged not only by wars, but also by earthquakes, and today there are only ruins left.

The winding ran from the lower part of the Gulistan Fortress to the citadel on top of the mountain surrounded by a continuous ring of powerful walls. The fortress has a long secret passage cut through the rock which is 2 meters wide and 3 meters high. The passage was dug for the purpose of escape. It led to the brook in the gorge. The passage has steps cut in the rock.

Sabail fortress

It was impossible to express a definite scientific opinion about the building that emerged from below the surface about 250 years ago. 

The building complex, which is 40 meters long and 180 meters wide, consists of 15 semi-circular castles, 16 to 28 meters apart and connected by a wall. One of the castles at the four corners – the northern one – stood alone, but the others were connected via small cells. The wall was between 1.2 and 1.5 meters thick. The wall has individual stone panels with frieze inscriptions (70 cm long, 25-50 cm wide and 12-15 cm thick).

From 1939-1969, an archaeological expedition organized by the Institute of History of the Azerbaijani Academy of Sciences, led by Prof Y. Pakhomov and archaeologists I. Jafarzade and O. Isimzade, discovered relics and, at different times, 699 inscribed stone panels.

The stones are currently kept in the courtyard of the Sirvanshahs’ palace in the Old Town.

Ramana Tower

Natural location of Ramana Castle is different, as it is on the rocks. The strong tower walls supposedly are a natural continuation of rocky slopes. There is an arch in the eastern wall of the tower.

Exact construction date of the tower, which is built of white stone, is unknown. It is considered that the tower was built for the purpose of defense and used as a castle during the Shirvanshahs’ reign.

There are two stairs for walking up to the tower walls. It is possible to walk up by spiral stairs from inner side of the tower to a corridor, which was built about 3 meters (10 ft) outside of the tower. The other stone stair walks up to the upper side of the tower from the garden. By means of these stairs it is possible to walk up to the tower walls and look at the village.

Mardakan Tower

Mardakan is one of the oldest villages of the Absheron peninsula. It is named after a tribe called the Mards (the Azerbaijani word for "Braves") who lived in the area during the 1st century AD.

The ancient fortress within the Mardakan settlement of the Baku area. The tower was built and made in four-cornered shape, in the middle of the 14th century by Shirvanshah Akhsitan's son of Shirvanshah Manuchohr. Mardakan Tower was created for honoring the bright victory of Akhsitan against the enemies. The Tower was used as a feudal shelter and of course, as a watching point.

The Tower’s peak is 22 meters, the thickness is below 2.10 meters and also 1.60 meters towards the top. Its inner yard is 28×25. The tower had been divided into 5 ranges from inside. It take 23 min (25.6 km) from the Baku Heydar Aliyev Airport to get there.


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