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The Maiden Tower is a 12th-century structure and a symbol of Baku’s old walled city. In Azerbaijani, it is called Giza Galasy. It is one of the monuments under the UNESCO World Heritage List 2001 of historical monuments as cultural property, Category III.
The tall cylindrical Maiden Tower is an eight-storied structure, which is 29.5 meters high with a diameter of 16.5 meters. Its walls are 5 meters thick at the base. It can accommodate as many as 200 people inside.
It has always been a center of legends and mystery because its function or historical context is unknown to date. Various legends shroud mystery around Maiden Tower and recount that the king incarcerated young women, maidens, or virgin girls for coercing them into marriage. Ironically, it was christened at a later date to reflect Baku's resilience.
This UNESCO-listed iconic building has been a source of artistic inspiration for many ballets, plays, and poems. It features on Azeri currency notes and official letterheads as Azerbaijan’s most distinctive national emblems.
The idea prevails that it was built for defense because it is perched on a rocky outcrop on the corner of the former walled city near the Caspian Sea's shores. Its location suits to be a watchtower, but its design has limitations for stout defense.
It was initially a temple and later developed into a defense tower. It served as a beacon to warn approaching ships during the Russian Empire. In 1964, a museum came into existence to portray Baku’s historical story.
When was it built
Scholars are not unanimous about an accurate estimation of its age and millennium. The earliest to most recent guess differ by 2000 years.
Some historians suggest that it is 2500 years old and dates back to the 7th and 8th centuries BC. Others opine that it was somewhere in the 4th and 6the centuries CE.
Most scholars agree some parts were built around the 12th century.
Some experts believe that it was completed in the 12th century with the ancient walled city. The foundation's stones show distinct appearances, and the initial three stories imply the original structure could date back to 600 BC.
Its structure predates the advent of Islam. It might have begun as a Zoroastrian temple. The early Zoroastrians worshipped the four elements of water, air, fire, and earth in today’s Iran and Azerbaijan. Ateshgah (Fire Temple) around Baku is testimony to the ancient fire rituals and religious practices.
It might have been used as an astronomical observatory. Lunar cycle correlation with the stone protrusions at the lower and upper levels strengthens this speculation.
In all probability, Maiden Tower was believed to have been built at two different periods.
Local folklore and famous legends make it more enigmatic. The tale goes that princes jumped off the tower and committed suicide to escape from marriage. Famous ballet, fairytales, poems, and plays express myriad variations of this story.
It is an epitome of early pre-Islamic Zoroastrian architecture.
Sophisticated design on solid rock with a wooden foundation ensured durability in the event of an earthquake. An intricate plumbing system on the second floor facilitated the collection and storage of rainwater. These were the architectural wonders designed in different eras.
The Maiden Tower narrows moving upward. Its longevity is attributed to deep foundations, the thickness of the walls, and the truncated cone shape.
You will witness old plates, spoons, jugs, and other utensils on the tower's first floor, which has lost their original appearance after excavations. The second floor depicts the three goals of constructing the Maiden's Tower – scientific, religious, and defensive.
You will see a replica of the Maiden's Tower on the third floor in the middle of a well and a hall. Clay ware at the bottom corroborates the well was used for drinking water. The fourth floor impresses with its modern equipment like a large electronic map of the Old City with towering mock-ups of sights.
On the fourth floor, you will see a large electronic map of the Old City. The fifth-floor exhibits e-books. Weapons and daggers are there on the sixth floor. The story of true love ends at the top of the Maiden's Tower.
Timings are subject to change. You will be automatically booked into a time slot as part of the check out process. Please visit the official website to confirm the time slot before your visit.