26 May 2017

Bayil Castle

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Bayil Castle, Baku

This mythically sunken city is surrounded by an aura of secrets, legends and enigmas. Bayil Castle is a kind of “Baku Atlantis” sunk as a result of human imperfection …

However, unlike Atlantis the existence of Bayil Castle is unequivocal. In 1232-1235 Shirvanshah Fariburz III in attempts to protect Baku from the sea began construction of a stronghold which later got the name Bayil Castle, also known as Sabayil Castle, Shakhri Saba, Shakhri Nau, “submerged city”, “Bayil Stones”. The castle shrouded in legends is an outstanding monument of Azerbaijani architecture connected with Alexander the Great, Aristotle and others. Now it is completely under water at about 350 m from the coast.

The Bayil Castle was constructed according to the project of architect Zejnaddin ibn Abu Rashid Shirvani. The structure is similar to extended irregular rectangular (180 х40) . The foundation shape was exactly the same as that of the island’s coastline. Fortifications of the castle were 1.5-2 m thick with 15 towers 3 of which were round, and 12 – semicircular. During the excavations the foundations of 9 premises were found. The western wall is adjoined with the destroyed platform – the basis of the central tower which was used simultaneously as a watchtower and a beacon. Historians also believe that there was a fire-worshippers’ temple.

Along the entire upper part of the Bayil Castle there runs a strip of inscriptions in Arabian and Farsi together with the images of human faces and imaginary animals. The overall length of the inscription is about 400 meters. Among the decrypted parts of the inscription are three fragments with the construction date – the year of 632 (1234-1235), and the name of the architect. Further in the text there is the genealogy of Shirvanshahs Mazjadids dynasty done by means of human crowned heads images. The figures of various animals designate the years of this or that Shirvanshah rule.

These inscriptions have no analogues in the Middle East; it was rhe first time that pictures of humans and animals were found on a Muslim monument. Unfortunately, the Bayil Castles’ upper part is completely destroyed; only the bottom part of the walls and towers has survived.

In 1306 as a result of the strongest earthquake which occur in the south of the Caspian Sea and the sea level rise the Bayil Castle sunk under water. From the early 14th century and up to the early 18th century the structure was deluged by the Caspian Sea. In 1723 due to the Caspian Sea level lowering the top of the tower appeared above the water. But today it is completely under water.

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