By Amina Nazarli
The symbol of Baku --the Maiden Tower-- won the award of “European Museum of the Year 2015” competition.
The awarding ceremony in Glasgow on May 16 was organized by the European Museum Forum. The gala ceremony was attended by over 200 people from 29 European countries.
Baku’s most majestic and mysterious monument - the Maiden Tower or Giz Galasi was awarded in the category “For success in improving social significance of the museum” among 42 other nominees. The Azerbaijani monument received the award for contribution to the improvement of museology.
Built in the shape of a cylinder on the Caspian Sea shore, the Maiden Tower is a construction which rather like a buttress, sticks out from the cylindrical tower on the sea side. The majestic construction was included into the list of World Cultural Heritage of UNESCO in 2000.
There have many calculations and speculations when it comes to determining the date of its construction. Some suggest that it was constructed in between the 4th and 6th centuries AD others have speculated it was built somewhere in between the 11th and 12th centuries. The tower rises to a height of 29.5 meters and has a diameter of 16.5 meters.
The Tower has a secret underground passage which is thought to have run from the tower to the Shirvanshahs’ Palace, which was the last residence of the rulers of the Shirvan State, the most powerful state of Azerbaijan's history. An underground passage was discovered in the Walled City during archaeological excavations in 1982.
Earlier in 2014, the Maiden Tower opened a new exposition after a long process of conservation.
The European Museum of the Year Award was founded in 1977 under the auspices of the Council of Europe. It aims to recognize excellence in the European museum scene and encourage innovative processes in a museum world which still took the more traditional view to focus exclusively on collections rather than on the benefit of society.
EMYA has proved to be the longest running and most prestigious museum award in Europe and is an important occasion for promoting innovative approaches in the museum sector at a continental level.