Old City Reserve tackles impact of COVID-19 [PHOTO]

7 September 2020 11:59 (UTC+04:00)

By Laman Ismayilova

The cultural heritage sector has faced many challenges amid coronavirus pandemic. As a result, a  number of cultural sites have also closed temporarily. These and other impacts of post-pandemic times have been discussed in Baku.

Icherisheher State Historical-Architectural Reserve has hosted International Online Conference titled "World Heritage: Challenges in the Conservation and Development in the Post-Pandemic Era."

The event was timed to the 20th anniversary of the inclusion of Icherisheher, Maiden Tower and Shirvanshahs Palace Complex in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The conference focused on challenges facing the world cities during the pandemic as well as plans and strategies in the post-pandemic times.

First Deputy Minister of Culture, Acting Minister Anar Karimov, representatives of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), the State Tourism Agency and other government agencies attended the event.

In his opening speech, chairman of Icherisheher State Historical-Architectural Reserve Administration Board Asgar Alakbarov highlighted the work done on the protection of the Old City's cultural heritage over the past 20 years.

He provided insight into restoration of Baku Khans House Complex, underground bath and other monuments. Asgar Alakbarov also informed the conference participants about virtual activities carried out by the reserve. He also stressed the wider use of digital technologies by Icherisheher State Historical-Architectural Reserve.

In his remarks, First Deputy Minister of Culture, Acting Minister Anar Karimov spoke about the work done in the country to protect cultural heritage and historical monuments.

The conference also featured a video message from OWHC President and Kraków's Mayor Jacek Majchrowski on the inclusion of the Old City in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

With its defensive fortresses, Icherisheher is a symbol of patriotism and a great source of national pride and dignity.

Numerous unique monuments, including the Shirvanshahs Palace complex, mosques and minarets, the ruins of caravanserais and bathhouses make this place one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

The Old City became the first location in Azerbaijan classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

In 2000, the Old City of Baku, including the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower, became the first location in Azerbaijan to be classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In 2019, historic centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Restoration and conservation works are currently carried out in the Icherisheher State Historical and Architectural Reserve with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. 

In general, there were several baths in Icherisheher. The baths of the Shirvanshahs Palace, Gasim bay, Haji Bani, Agha Mikail, Agha Zeynal and the underground bath are historical monuments that are protected by the state.

Not far from Gosha Gala there is also Baku Khans' Palace, dating back to the 17th-18th centuries. Until 1806, the rulers of the khanate used this complex as their residence.

Baku Khans' Palace includes residential buildings, a khan’s garden, an underground bathhouse, a medieval well, the ruins of a pottery workshop, an irrigation system, a khan’s mosque. Restoration and conservation, as well as improvement work here began in September 2018.

Baggal Gallery, which holds exhibition-sale of souvenirs and traditional crafts, a book house as well as cafe also operate here. 

There is also a beautiful park, which will undoubtedly become one of the most favorite places for recreation for Baku residents and the city's guests.

After reconstructions, Baku Khans' Palace will function as a museum. Here, the wide audience will learn the history of ancient Baku city, revived by modern technologies. The museum's opening ceremony is scheduled for the end of the year. 

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