Past Cities

Baku, Absheron, Azerbaijan

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Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, is located on the Absheron Peninsula along the shores of the Caspian Sea. Its rich history spans several millennia, shaping its cultural, political, and economic significance.

The origins of human settlement in the Baku region date back to the Paleolithic era, with evidence of human presence found in nearby caves. Over time, the area became a hub for trade and commerce due to its strategic location along major trade routes connecting Europe and Asia. Baku's favorable position on the Caspian Sea facilitated maritime trade, fostering cultural exchanges and attracting merchants from different regions.

Throughout its history, Baku has experienced the influence of various empires and dynasties. In the 8th century, the city came under Arab rule, which lasted until the 11th century when the Seljuks established their dominance. The arrival of the Mongols in the 13th century marked a period of instability, as Baku frequently changed hands between Mongol, Georgian, and Persian rulers.

In the 16th century, Baku fell under the control of the Safavid Empire of Persia. This period saw the rise of Baku as a major trading and cultural center. The city's population grew steadily as people from different backgrounds and ethnicities settled in Baku. Merchants from Persia, India, Russia, and Central Asia established commercial ties, contributing to the city's cosmopolitan character.

The 18th and 19th centuries witnessed further changes in Baku's political landscape. In 1806, the city was taken by the Russian Empire, beginning a period of Russian dominance that would last for over a century. Russian control brought significant changes to Baku, transforming it into a major industrial center. The city's vast oil reserves, discovered in the mid-19th century, led to a boom in oil production and exploration, earning Baku the title of "Black Gold Capital." The population skyrocketed as workers from across the Russian Empire migrated to Baku in search of employment in the burgeoning oil industry.

The early 20th century was a tumultuous period for Baku due to the impact of political upheavals and conflicts. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent civil war led to a power struggle in Baku. The city became a battleground between various factions, including Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Dashnaks, and Musavatists. The establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918 marked a brief period of independence for Azerbaijan, with Baku as its capital. However, this newfound independence was short-lived, as the Soviet Red Army invaded Azerbaijan in 1920, bringing the country under Soviet rule.

Under Soviet control, Baku experienced significant industrialization and urbanization. The city's population continued to grow as people migrated from rural areas to work in the expanding oil and manufacturing industries. Baku became an important center for oil production and refining, housing numerous oil fields, refineries, and petrochemical plants.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in the reemergence of independent Azerbaijan, with Baku as its capital once again. The city underwent rapid modernization and development, with new infrastructure projects, high-rise buildings, and cultural landmarks reshaping its skyline. Baku also became known for hosting major international events, such as the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012 and the inaugural European Games in 2015, further enhancing its global profile.