TODAY.AZ / Society

Mysterious Ashurbekov’s house of Baku is craddle of culture and history

07 July 2014 [10:41] - TODAY.AZ
By AzerNews

On a quiet and shady Gogol street there are houses, each more beautiful than the other. But the house number 28 - Ashurbekovs' mansion, the palace with two silvery domes and monogram on the front, towering between its architectural neighbors, stand out sharply against the other architectural masterpieces.

The old noble families Ashurbekovs, one of the wealthiest families in pre-revolutionary Baku, had a special place among the influential intellectuals of Azerbaijan.

Representatives of this ancient family can be found among powerful oilmen, trustees of the large educational institutions, educators, sponsors, as well as in the field of publishing activities.

Ashurbekovs' mansion, one of the classic examples of Baku architecture of the last century, was built in 1904 and designed by one of the famous engineers in Baku Józef Gos?awski, the author of the projects of Baku City Duma, the girls' school and factory of Haji Zeynalabdin Tagiyev, and many other grand buildings of the city. Ashurbekovs' house is one of the best works of the eminent architect.

The first floor of the mansion was the office of the "Ashurbekov brothers and Co." family firm, while upstairs was resident of Bala-Bek Ashurbekov's family, who received the mansion as a wedding gift. Bala-Bek's parents and elder brother Ali-Bek lived on the third floor.

Arriving from Tbilisi to Baku with his young wife, Bala-Bek Ashurbekov, a man with a good taste and sense of beauty, ordered to paint the house's wall, and invited the most famous painters of Baku, but unfortunately, the picture of the "Oasis" is all that remains of this great painting.

Ashurbekovs' house was not only an architectural masterpiece, but also phenomenon in the cultural life of the city. Soirees at Ashurbekovs brought together all the aristocracy of the city, as well as the creative elite. Mansion's great hall amazed guests with tremendous collections of Oriental and European art. Bala-Bek and his wife were as a benchmark for Baku's elite in the field of charity, philanthropy and patronage of the art world.

Although the family was rich, none of the children were allowed to lead idle life. With their governesses they have been studying languages, playing the piano and needlework. Be it lunch or dinner, the whole family gathered together to enjoy delicious dishes prepared by a personal chef of the family.

Ashurbekovs brothers were famous patrons and no charity event was held without their participation. Building of a mosque in St. Petersburg on the initiative of the Emir of Bukhara, was mostly sponsored with the funds given by Baku millionaires, including Ashurbekovs. Moreover, when the mosque was almost ready, Balabekov donated to the mosque luxury crystal chandelier for the prayer hall.

Unfortunately, the house had to fully experience all the turns of the turbulent times. In the bloody days of March 1918 Ashurbekovs, hiding in Sabunchi from the atrocities of the Armenian dashnaks, who worked for the wider goal of creating a "free, independent and unified" Armenia, were forced to leave their house. The lonely house, witness of so many happy moments of the family, seemed to be left to the mercy of fate.

But, by a lucky chance, the house was saved by family's governess, Frenchwoman mademoiselle Greilo, who hung the French flag at the entrance of the house. Thus, posing house as the building of the French mission, she has kept it from the complete destruction. However dashnaks broke into the house from the opposite side, completely ransacked the apartment and ruthlessly smashed and defiled that what was impossible to carry, but the original idea of the Frenchwoman saved house from total destruction by Armenians.

Only six months after the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic Ashurbekovs were able to return to their mansion, but not for long. The unstable 1919 was followed by 1920, which declared its unconditional verdict barely nascent democracy and statehood. Ashurbekovs left their house, gardens and crafts forever, and managed to leave for Istanbul.

Today this house, remembering so many historical dramas, is a residential building.

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