CULTURE


Baku Seaside Boulevard – one of most distinctive features of Azerbaijani capital Baku

Baku, March 31, AZERTAC

Beyond the Icherisheher (Old City) - a historic core of Azerbaijan`s capital Baku, which was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000, there is no better way to get a feel for Baku’s relaxed, Mediterranean atmosphere than by strolling the Baku Seaside Boulevard.

The Seaside Boulevard is one of the most distinctive features of Baku, which boasts a wealth of sites of historic and architectural interest.

With its unique array of plants and trees, the Seaside Boulevard is a firm favourite place with both local and foreign visitors.

While the first boulevards were created in the 17th and 18th centuries in western Europe, the history of the Baku boulevard dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when in 1909, a green area was planted between the Caspian seafront and the street running parallel to it.

Construction work in the area began in the second half of the 19th century. A talented Azerbaijani architect, Gasim Bay Hajibababayov (1811-1874), carried out the first engineering work on the seafront, developing a project for the construction of warehouses there in 1862.

The narrow seafront, used in the second half of the 19th century mainly for economic purposes, was home to the warehouses and wharves of various trading companies.

Baku’s sustained development and population growth, the fall in the water level of the Caspian Sea, and extension of the city to the seafront after the demolition of the fortress walls all necessitated an architectural design for the seafront. The creation of a seaside boulevard was repeatedly discussed in the Baku City Duma. At the end of the 19th century, various designs were developed to improve the seafront and construct a boulevard, but they were not implemented because of a lack of funds. This issue was resolved through the efforts of Mammadhasan Hajinsky, a talented engineer, skillful organizer and head of the construction department of Baku City government.

On April 7, 1909, Hajinsky managed to have the building of a seaside boulevard included on the agenda for discussion in the Baku City Duma. It was recommended that Baku City Administration start implementation of this project as soon as possible. The Hajinsky Plan was the first document to provide funds for the construction of the boulevard.

Given the importance of the boulevard in shaping the image of this ancient port city, Baku City Duma announced a competition for the best project.

About 30 specialists took part in the competition, including prominent architects and civil engineers such as Zivar bay Ahmadbayov, Józef Płoszko and Johann Edel. Established architect Adolf Eichler was heavily involved in the landscaping work for the boulevard under the leadership of Hajinsky.

Initially, the boulevard stretched from the Stone Wharf (now Azneft Square) to the Caucasus and Mercury Shipping Company Wharf (now the building of the Abdulla Shaig Azerbaijan State Puppet Theatre).

After the dismantling of a number of wharves, the second part of the boulevard was built in the 1930s from the present-day Puppet Theatre to Bulbul Avenue.

The next stage of development took place in 1936-1938. Work to improve and landscape the area from Azneft Square to the Intourist Hotel had already been completed by that time.

Further improvements were made to the Seaside Boulevard in subsequent years. The Mirvari Cafe, the Bahar and Samad Vurgun summer cinemas, the little Venice area of canals and bridges and other leisure and entertainment facilities were built here in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1967, the architect Mikayil Huseynov proposed a project to reconstruct the Seaside Boulevard.

During the national leader Heydar Aliyev’s leadership in 1969, a new stage began in the development of the Seaside Boulevard. It was reconstructed in the 1970s as part of large-scale greening and landscaping carried out in the republic and the capital. The boulevard was expanded to the east and west, with its length reaching 3.7 km.

On December 29, 1998, national leader Heydar Aliyev, who considered the Seaside Boulevard an integral part of the country’s history and culture, signed a decree granting it the status of a National Park.

On January 10, 2008, President Ilham Aliyev issued a Decree to establish the Seaside Boulevard Department in order to restore the natural landscape of the boulevard, maintain its historical appearance, develop the area’s rich flora, protect the boulevard, and oversee social and cultural events there.

In the area of the Seaside National Park, the vegetation was significantly expanded and made even more attractive with the planting of new varieties of trees and flowers, including exotic plants (palm trees, baobabs imported from Argentina, and cacti from Mexico).

New attractions, cinemas and pleasure boats appeared too. The extension and development of the National Park is being constantly addressed by President Ilham Aliyev, demonstrating the watchful attention and care of the country’s leadership for the National Park.

A number of objects of historical significance were created on the territory of the Seaside Boulevard, including State Flag Square, the State Flag Museum and Baku Crystal Hall, an indoor activities and sports complex which hosted Eurovision.

The boulevard was extended in two directions in 2015 in the lead up to the First European Games – the first part, stretching from State Flag Square to Bibi-Heybat, was named Bail Boulevard, the second – from the Sea Trade Port to the Hotel Boulevard, was named White City Boulevard. The White City Boulevard is 2.7 km long and covers a total area of 33 hectares.

As a result of the reconstruction and improvement work, modern cultural, recreation and catering facilities have been built on the territory of the new boulevard.

Currently, the National Park covers an area of 215.164 hectares, with a total length of 16 kilometers.

 

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