Ilham Aliyev reviewed the State Historical and Architectural Reserve “Atashgah Temple” after restoration and reconstruction

29 march 2013, 19:05

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has reviewed the State Historical and Architectural Reserve “Atashgah Temple” in the Surakhani district of Baku after restoration and reconstruction.

Flowers were presented to First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva.

It was noted that important projects on the conservation of national and spiritual values and passing them on to future generations are being implemented in the country. In accordance with the instructions of President Ilham Aliyev, the attention being paid to the monuments of history and culture at state level is enhancing every day. The best indicator of that is the decrees and orders signed by the head of state, a consistent policy, the inclusion of a number of Azerbaijani monuments in the UNESCO list of cultural heritage with support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the repairs and restoration of our ancient monuments perpetuating our history, and the large-scale archaeological expeditions conducted in the countryside.

A special place among the monuments of material culture of Azerbaijan belongs to the State Historical and Architectural Reserve "Atashgah Temple" located in the Surakhani district of Baku. Built on the ruins of a temple of fire-worshipers of the 17-18th centuries, this monument has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. By an order of the President of Azerbaijan from 2007, the Reserve has been transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The protection of the territory and strengthening of its logistics were initiated in July 2009. The Reserve and the area around it have been landscaped.

It was noted that the area of the Reserve has been expanded from 4,200 to 15,000 square meters. The main building covering an area of more than 2,000 square meters has been constructed in a special architectural style in harmony with the architecture of the temple. It accommodates the management of the Reserve, a blacksmith workshop, copper, porcelain, wood carving and carpet-weaving workshops, shops producing kelagai and mats, and souvenir and art galleries. The museum, built in a special architectural style, has sections dedicated to ancient residential dwellings and monuments that existed in Baku and the Absheron district at the time. Household items and samples of art used by our ancestors are on display here. The mugham center has a separate sitting area for visitors. It is expected to organize a variety of concerts to promote Azerbaijani mugham.

It was noted that the area surrounding the temple had been extensively landscaped and ancillary buildings constructed with support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation starting from September 2012. The entire work was completed in seven months. All the conditions are available for conducting public events. A modern lighting system has been installed.

Then President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva reviewed the work inside the temple.

It was noted that the Atashgah Temple is a fire temple built in the 17-18th centuries on a place where natural gas came onto the surface and the "eternal" unquenchable fire burned. The current temple was built on the site of ancient Zoroastrian (fire-worshipers) temples. Those temples were built approximately in the 2nd-3rd centuries. In the 17th century, a chapel, 26 cells and a caravanserai were built next to the temple. The cells used to have the necessary conditions for the administration of various religious rites and fire worshipping activities of priests. The pilgrims visiting the temple had the opportunity to relax in the caravanserai. At the beginning of the 18th century the temple assumed its present form.

It was noted that in the courtyard of the pentagonal monument there is a quadrangular structure of the central altar, the upper part of which represents a dome. Above the entrance portal there is a traditional guest room of Absheron - "Balakhana". Built using new architectural traditions, the Atashgah Temple retains the elements of the old fire altars. The earliest construction of the temple, the caravanserai, dates back to 1713 and bears a Sanskrit inscription on it.

The head of state reviewed the pictures of the Atashgah Temple taken in the 19th century, the stands reflecting its appearance before and after restoration and the sketches of the work to be done at the Reserve in the future.

Praising the work done, President Ilham Aliyev gave relevant instructions and recommendations.