By Narmina Mammadova
Baku is a city with a rich and ancient history. It is the largest city of the Caucasus, the city of oilmen. For the past two decades, it has begun to resemble real megacities like New York.
At night, with illumination, the old center of Baku resembles a gorgeous oriental tale. Old houses and palaces of Baku, photographed with great art, can be found on postcards all over the world.
One of the streets of this beautiful city deserves special attention.
Each of us, certainly more than once, strolled or walked on business on this small street, leading to the seaside boulevard. The street is very short and silent enough, as it does not accommodate any objects of mass visits, except fashionable boutiques and the Azerbaijan cinema. But despite the small extent it is saturated with the history of Baku like no other and has reached our days almost without any changes.
Yes, it is about Aziz Aliyev Street. Mihaylovskaya was the original name of the street and in Soviet times, the street was renamed as Zevin Street. From 1991 to 1995, it was called Injasenet.
From 1995 to the present, the street has been named after the Soviet Azerbaijani statesman Aziz Aliyev (1897–1962).
Aziz Aliyev in various years was the people’s commissar of health of the Azerbaijan SSR, the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR, and the first secretary of the Dagestan regional committee of the CPSU.
Each stone, each monogram on the walls of ancient buildings of this street tells about the distant times when the first oil boom began, Baku grew rich and was saturated with European life, which is perfectly reflected in its architecture of the late XIX – early XX centuries.
It all started back in the days when the city had just begun to go beyond the fortress. The Shemakha road leading to Icherisheher was forked at the fortress wall into three branches. And one of the sleeves, the eastern one, bending around the wall, went down along it to the so-called “salt rows” by the sea. This road later turned into the famous Baku street.
Located in the center of one of the most comfortable districts with numerous stores, banks, palaces, hotels, and public places, Mihaylovskaya street used to be one of the business venues of the big city. It was built up with three-storey dwelling houses and vast rows of shopping stalls in classical forms. At times of pre-revolutionary Baku former Mihaylovskaya street was the center for the most prestigious shops such as houseware store owned by Israfilov brothers, or Ramazanov stalls called “Obraztsoviy” row.
Along with the growing importance of the embankment, the significance of the famous street grew. Since the 1880s, multi-storey buildings began to be built on it, testifying to the incomes of its inhabitants.
Gradually, the street became one of the most comfortable neighborhoods. It is noteworthy that unlike many other streets of Baku, there is enough information about the people, who built the houses of this street and lived in them.
Let’s go through the most remarkable addresses.
The house number 1 belonged to Zeynal bek Selimhanovau and was built in 1897.
The house number 2 – there used to be a caravanserai on the site of this apartment building (built in 1882 and demolished in 1988).
The house number 4 is a four-storey apartment building, which was constructed in 1911 and owned by millionaires, homeowners and philanthropists Dadashevs. The Dadashevs family played a huge role in the development of the architectural past of Baku. Representatives of this family were very kind to their beloved city. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Baku covered a whole network of Dadashev houses. One of the representatives of the Dadashev family – Aga Yusif Dadashev died the death of the brave in an unequal battle with the Armenians on the night of March 26, 1918 …
The house number 6 was built in 1896 by architect O. Simson. According to the architects, the building is very original thanks to the eaves with vertical brackets carved from stone blocks, the processing of which has been brought to a sculptural state.
The house number 9, the former Mikhailovsky Rows, was built in 1899 by the project of the famous architect Goslavsky. And so on.
The building of the current cinema “Azerbaijan” and cafe “Hard Rock” deserves special attention. Once the restaurant and furnished rooms “Chanakh-gala” (1910) were located here. After the revolution, the entertainment institution turned into a cinema “Red East”, in the foyer of which, according to old-timers’ memories, every evening before the session, accompanied by a small variety orchestra, popular at that time singer Yevgenia Davis performed. In 1960, in front of the cinema building, a monument was erected to the Azerbaijani poetess Khurshidbanu Natavan by the sculptor-monumentalist, honored artist, now rector of the Azerbaijan State Academy of Arts Omar Eldarov.
Then, the “Red East” has been renamed to “Azerbaijan”, and popular among Baku residents and guests the “Hard Rock” Café, is located in the part of the building overlooking the Natavan monument.
Azerbaijan is the place where the eastern flavor makes up an amazing symbiosis with western progress. It is a specific, a unique culture, a centuries-old history with its customs and traditions, exquisite cuisine that will satisfy the expectations of the most demanding gourmet, and, finally, this is Caucasian friendliness and hospitality.
Azerbaijan still has many wonderful places that delight anyone who gets into it.
Thus, it’s best to visit this pearl of the Caucasus and enjoy the beauty of its capital.
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