By Laman Ismayilova
A statue of national philanthropist and oil magnate Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev has been erected in Baku.
The three-metre monument was placed near Icherisheher metro station.
However, the official opening ceremony has not been yet announced. The final works are underway in this area.
In 2020, President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva met with a group of art workers. President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on the erection of a statue to Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev.
Sculptor Khanlar Ahmadov's work has been chosen as the best among 26 projects that were submitted to the open sculpture contest initiated by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Cultural Ministry and Baku City Executive Power.
The statue was planned to be installed on the eve of Novruz holiday this year. However, the statue's erection was postponed amid a coronavirus pandemic. The monument is made of bronze, red and black granite.
Born in a poor family of a shoemaker in Icherisheher, the old part of Baku, on January 25, 1821 (1838), Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev had to work from childhood to support his family.
He began his life journey as an apprentice of a bricklayer in Baku. Taghiyev's dedication and hard work ensured quick professional advancement and at the age of 18 he became a contractor.
In 1873, along with his partners, Taghiyev rented a plot of land near the oil-booming town of Bibi-Heybat, a few kilometers to the southeast of Baku. They hired workers and started drilling for oil, but with no success. The partners gave up hope and decided to sell their shares.
Taghiyev purchased them and became the sole owner of the land. He continued drilling and paid workers despite all financial difficulties.
Finally, fortune smiled on him in 1877, when oil gushed out of the well with a mighty force. Oil gush instantly made him an oil baron and a millionaire.
One of the first things Taghiyev did after becoming wealthy was to surface the road between the city and his oilfield in Bibi-Heybat. He then extended the road on to the Bibi-Heybat mosque.
Taghiyev invested in many important projects such as the first textile factory and fisheries. He sponsored the first Azerbaijan National Theater (1883), the first Muslim School for Girls (1896), the first Technical School (1911) and covered all the expenses for the construction of what would later become the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater.
He also helped to solve the water crisis in the city by helping to finance the Shollar water pipeline (1916).
Baku's best-known philanthropist allocated 11,000 old roubles for the construction of the head office for the Muslim Benevolent Society in Saint Petersburg, 3,000 roubles for the education of Armenian orphans, 5,000 for the St. Nina's School for Girls in Baku, 10,000 roubles for the construction of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Baku, tens of thousands of roubles for the construction and repair of mosques and madrasas throughout Russia and Persia.
Taghiyev also provided scholarships for many talented young people who strove for higher education in prestigious Russian and European universities. He built a number of schools and gave a lot of attention to mosques, since he considered them to be centers for enlightenment, culture and science.
After Azerbaijan's "Sovietization" in 1920, the country's wealthy people suffered severe repressions from the Bolshevik government resulting in the emigration of many of them. Therefore, Taghiyev's house and his other possessions were confiscated. He was exiled to his summer house in Mardakan.
Taghiyev's heart stopped beating on September 1, 1924. People remember Taghiyev not only for his great wealth, but for how he spent it.
For his outstanding contributions, Taghiyev was twice awarded with the Order of Saint Stanislaus, as well as with a number of other orders and medals from many countries.
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