By Rashid Shirinov
Azerbaijan, a country with ancient history and rich culture, involves many ancient architectural monuments and historic buildings. The country’s Guba region is known for its architectural structures, one of which is the domed bath-house of the 18th-19th centuries – Hundur Gunbezli Hamam.
The opening of the restored architectural monument was held on March 26. The Minister of Culture and Tourism Abulfas Garayev, the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta, the head of the Guba region Executive Power Ziyaddin Aliyev, representatives of the region’s public, cultural figures and scientists took part in the opening ceremony.
The restoration project was approved by the State Service for the Protection, Development and Restoration of Cultural Heritage under Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the restoration work was carried out with the financial support of the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.
The building of the six-room bath-house built of red brick is crowned by a large dome, which allowed to keep the right temperature and humidity inside. Water was supplied from the well under the bath-house or from the city plumbing. The bath-house was used until the end of 1979, and was the main resting place for the Guba people. Hundur Gunbezli Hamam was included in the list of immovable historical and cultural monuments of local significance in accordance with the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan.
In his speech at the opening ceremony, Garayev emphasized that it is very important to preserve history, culture and pass national and spiritual values to the next generations. The minister expressed his gratitude to everyone who participated in the restoration work.
He also noted that historical and architectural monuments in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan are being destroyed.
“Armenian aggressors destroy these monuments, appropriate them, and change their dates. Unfortunately, we cannot do anything regarding this issue. Naturally, after the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, we will seriously deal with these matters,” Garayev said.
The minister added that Azerbaijan raises these issues before the international community. “We applied in connection with the arrival of assessment missions to Azerbaijan, but the occupant Armenia in every possible way hinders the implementation of these missions,” he said.
Since the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and occupation of Azerbaijani territories, the Armenian aggressors destroyed 1,200 historical and architectural monuments, looted 27 museums, while over 100,000 items were exported to Armenia. Moreover, the Armenian occupiers destroyed 152 religious monuments and 62 mosques, 4.6 million books in 927 libraries, including the Holy Quran and rare Islamic manuscripts.
Ziyaddin Aliyev noted the importance of the event, stressing that Azerbaijan pays great attention to the protection of historical monuments and cultural heritage.
Ambassador Cekuta, in turn, stressed that the restoration of the bath-house in Guba will contribute to the economic and tourism development, as well as popularization of the rich history of the region.
“The project, which we were involved in, jointly with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, is very important on a number of different levels, including the expansion of the tourism potential of the Guba city, increasing the economic prosperity in this part of the country, as well as, strengthening of cooperation between the U.S. and Azerbaijan,” he said.
The ambassador added that Azerbaijan and the U.S. work together to create common principles and efforts to move forward and improve bilateral friendship.
“I hope this project will illustrate our willingness to cooperate in difficult times, paying respect to each other’s culture and people,” Cekuta said.
Touching upon his impression of Azerbaijan before finalizing his work in the country, the ambassador stressed that he considers the expansion of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the U.S. as the greatest achievement during his mission in Azerbaijan since 2015.
Cekuta added that he witnessed a great model of tolerant society in Azerbaijan.
“The tolerance that Azerbaijan demonstrates to the representatives of other ethnicities and religions is something that many other countries cannot realize, and this is very important in terms of our reality and the conflicts that the world faces,” he noted.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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