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Paris Caucasus .. Learn about the architecture of the oil boom in Baku
26/Jun/2018

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) - Until its oil boom nearly 150 years ago, the city of Baku did not extend beyond the walls of its old fort of the 12th century.

But now standing at the top of the 15th century Shervan Shah Palace, a famous site overlooking the capital of Azerbaijan and the dramatic expansion fueled by black gold, Baku is very visible.

From here, the scene moves towards modern flame towers across a number of architectural strata, each revealing rich history and loss at the same time.


The oil boom took place between 1872 and World War I, when the oil-producing Baku oil fields produced more than half of the world's oil, attracting a wave of wealth-seeking entrepreneurs and industry experts, To 140 thousand by 1903.

Since the late 1880s, a small circle of wealthy oil barons and local figures began to build palaces and public buildings such as Musa Nagayev, Shamsi Asadulayev, Zain al-Abidine Tagayev, and foreigners such as Rothschild and Noble Brothers . "

Within a period of only 15 to 20 years, a new urban stratum emerged outside the old Muslim fort. These buildings influenced by the Gothic, Baroque, classical and eastern styles were fully integrated, giving Baku the title of "Paris Caucasus."

"The Independence Street was the first to emerge outside the wall of the Old City," says Gani Nseirov, founder of the free walking tour of Baku.

Two pastel-colored buildings stand at the end of the street, the Renaissance Philharmonic Hall, like the Casino de Monte Carlo, and the sadly black Sadić's brotherhood palace, which housed the first electric elevator in Baku.

Both appeared at the height of the construction boom between 1910 and 1912 and were designed by an Armenian architect from Teplice named Gabriel Ter-Mikilov.

At the time, the population of Baku was a multicultural mix of Azerbaijanis, Russians, Armenians, Jews, Germans and Poles.

Polish architects especially influenced the oil boom in Baku, including Joseph Guslowski, the head of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the tallest building in Baku at the time, which was destroyed by the Soviets in 1937.

Fortunately, there remained two teachers of Goslauxi on Independence Street. His last project, the Baku Hall, is still working, but the elegant building of the Manuscript Institute a few doors was in fact a leading school for Muslim girls when it opened in 1901, while the St. Nina Girls' School is directly opposite Baku City Hall.

Today, the most interesting thing about architecture as a result of the oil boom is the human stories behind these buildings.