Pre-Islamic | Zoroastrian

Architectural design from Azerbaijan’s Zoroastrian period featured fire altars called ateshgah. The tier-based structure of these altars was meant to represent the tree of life. The fire burning atop of the altar signified bliss. The buta, an eggplant-shaped totemic symbol that corresponds with fire and probably predated Zoroastrianism, was frequently rendered. Zoroastrian temples were open, four-column structures that were built to correspond with the four cardinal directions.The Zoroastrian emphasis on fire endures in modern Azerbaijani design. The buta symbol remains prominent in Azerbaijani carpet design.
The Fire Temple at Suraxany, Ateshgah
The Fire Temple at Suraxany, Ateshgah

Today Zoroastrian architecture can be seen in Ateshgah, Ramana, Khinalyg, and Yanar Dag, nearly all of which are near Baku. Zoroastrian imagery is evident throughout the country’s architecture.

AZERBAIJANI Architecture

Old City BakuModern Azerbaijan is both a dynamic, progressive nation and an ancient civilization with vibrant traditions and culture. Nowhere is this combination of old and new more evident than in Azerbaijan’s built environment. For example, the architecture of Azerbaijan’s capital city, Baku, beautifully showcases this legacy. While Baku’s office buildings, apartment complexes, and glass skyscrapers mirror modern European design, ”Old City” Baku, known as  Icheri sheher,  features medieval Islamic domes, minarets, and ancient stone walls.

Azerbaijani Radio Hour

The Voice of the Karabakh Foundation, October 2, 2011. Access any of the shows of the Azerbaijani Radio Hour: The Voice of the Karabakh Foundation at