Polish heritage in Baku – Paris of Caucasus

Baku, April 18, AZERTAC

During the rapid development of the oil industry in Azerbaijan in the 19th century, many Poles came to Baku in search of work and a better life, thus laying the foundation of the Polish architectural heritage in Baku, which was considered Paris of the Caucasus.

Although the Poles lived mainly in Baku, Polish architectural heritage can be found in other regions of Azerbaijan.

It was during this time that Baku witnessed a Polish architectural phenomenon, as the urban transformation was overseen by three consecutive chief city architects of Polish origin: Jozef Goslawski (1892-1904), Kazimierz Skorewicz (1904-1907) and Jozef Ploszko (1907-1910), as well as Eugeniusz Skibinski, who worked in the architectural department of the Baku City Council.

The architectural gems created by one more Polish architect, Eugeniusz Skibinski, breathed new life into the city.

Among their works are the Baku City Hall, the Azerbaijan National History Museum, the Institute of Manuscripts, the Palace of Happiness, Presidium of the Academy of Sciences (Ismailiyya Palace), State Prosecutor’s Office, Union of Architects, the Lukoil office building, the Western Caspian University building, the National Museum of History of Azerbaijan, the Baku Railway Station building and many other luxurious buildings.

As the modern Baku was shaped by the famous Oil Boom of the late 19th-early 20th centuries, which turned it into a cosmopolitan hub mixing Western and Eastern influences, these Polish architectures have significantly contributed to the architectural development of the city giving it a new character.

These polish architects also designed a host of fabulous fin-de-siècle buildings.

Each of them spent their most productive years in the city designing stunning buildings that continue to delight both locals and visitors.

Besides architects, among the Poles arriving in Baku due to the opportunities created by the Oil Boom, were also engineers, scientists, scholars, musicians, doctors and teacher.

Although, the Polish community played a prominent role in the oil industry and other areas, however it was in architecture that they left their greatest mark.

The Polish architects designed eye-catching mansions and palaces built for Baku’s oil elite as well as sumptuous civic buildings and cathedrals. Their iconic designs blended the best of local and Western architectural traditions and remain, over a century later, among Baku’s best landmarks.

The Polish architectural contribution spread to other parts of Azerbaijan as well. For instance, the architect Jozef Ploszko supervised the reconstruction of the Juma Mosque in Shamakhi following an earthquake, while Ignacy Krzysztalowicz was the chief architect of Yelizavetpol (now Ganja), where he created a city master plan and designed several buildings. Catholic churches built by exiled Polish soldiers also still exist in Gusar and Zagatala.

Azerbaijan, as a country preserving and protecting the cultural and historical architectural heritage of different nationalities in the country and abroad, has always been committed to promoting the rich legacy and history of these peoples.

On May 31, 2019, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda attended the ceremony to unveil memorial plaques commemorating Polish architects in the Polish Architects Street in Baku.

Memorial plaques featured the names of Polish architects Jozef Goslawski, Kazimir Skurevich, Jozef Ploszko and Eugeniusz Skibinski. Architect of the memorial plaques was Elbay Gasimzade.

The Polish Embassy in Baku and Azerbaijan’s State Tourism Board have recently co-presented a joint project entitled "The Polish legacy in Baku and beyond" highlighting the Polish cultural heritage in Azerbaijan.















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