Let’s start with the tallest statue in Baku—the monument to Nariman Narimanov by Jalal Garyaghdi. Although it was unveiled in 1972, the sketching of the statue began in 1959. The installation of the statue, originally planned for 1966, was delayed. According to the sculptor’s son, the reason for the delay was that Armenians complained to Moscow about the statue, calling Narimanov a nationalist.
After the permission for the opening was finally received, the statue’s misadventures were far from over. Armenians wrote to Moscow again, claiming that since the statue will be the tallest in Baku—taller than the monument to Kirov, it would be an act of nationalism. The Kremlin intervened, but since it was already impossible to reduce the height of the bronze statue, its pedestal of the statue was cut down. The original version of the statue itself was supposed to be 20 m high and the pedestal 12 m high. The artist was always resentful about this change. Another source of the sculptor’s discontent was the buildings around the statue. He believed that being surrounded by building, the statue has a narrow field of vision, and, intended for long-distance viewing, the monument can be seen from a very narrow section. But in spite of all this, the hapless monument is still the tallest statue in Baku, despite its reduced height.
Let’s move along from the Narimanov monument to Istiglaliyyat Street. Tolstoy allegedly said about his favorite novel, Les Miserables, that if all French literature were collected in one library and that library burned down but Les Miserables were saved, there would be no need to mourn French literature. Well, Istiglaliyyat Street to the history of Baku is what Les Miserables is to French literature. One of the first streets built as a result of the expansion of Baku in the late 19th century, it was first named Nikolayevskaya in honor of Emperor Nicholas I. In the time of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the street was renamed Parloman (Parliament) Street. Even now, some people still call it “Kommunisticheskaya (Communist) Street”, that is, by its Soviet-era name. It was finally renamed Istiglaliyyat Street after Azerbaijan gained independence.
No matter what the name it bore, the street always witnessed historical events, and in this regard, Istiglaliyyat Street may as well be called the “Street of Firsts”. For example, the first multi-storey building in Baku was built here—the seven-storey building located in front of the Icheri Sheher metro station. Its foundation was laid in 1911 by a landowner named Mirzabeyov. Construction was completed in 1915, but the Mirzabeyovs could not use the building for a long time. Seriously concerned about the beginning revolutions, the owner sold the building to Musa Nagiyev for 1,200,000 rubles and invested the money in American banks. In 1918, Mirzabeyov emigrated to New York and lived there until the end of his life.
The Philharmonic Garden, the first park in Baku, is also in this area. It was laid out in the 1830s, when the Old City was surrounded by two walls, and for a long time was considered the only public park in the city. It has a very interesting story. As the governor’s wife was bored in Baku and could not find a place to go for a walk, the commandant of the Baku garrison R.R. Howen ordered all shipowners from Lankaran and Iran to bring fertile soil from wherever they traveled. Fruit trees were planted in that soil first, then ornamental shrubs followed. In 1859, a dance floor was built in the garden, and the orchestra played music in the evening. Common folk were allowed into the park once a week, while the rich, officials and oil tycoons could come whenever they wanted.
The building currently accommodating the Institute of Manuscripts named after M. Fuzuli used to host the first secular girls’ school in the Muslim world and the parliament of the first republic. The assassination of General Pavel Tsitsianov, one of the most notorious events in the history of Azerbaijan, is said to have taken place in front of the Gosha Gala Gapysy (Paired Fortress Gates). The general was killed by Ismayil Bey, the cousin of the Khan of Baku, when he arrived in Baku to force the latter to sign the Treaty of Kurakchay and was about to receive the keys to the city. The first ever monument in Baku was erected on Istiglaliyyat Street. But before we go to it, let’s enter through the fortress gates behind the Icheri Sheher metro station and take a look at the Aliaga Vahid Monument, one of the most visually unique monuments in Baku.
The monument is relatively new. Inaugurated in 1990 in the garden near the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall, the statue was moved to the Icherisheher in 2008. Here is what sculptor Rahib Hasanov said regarding the appearance of the statue.
“Architects Sanan Salamzade and Jahangir Mammadov commissioned me to create a statue of Aliagha Vahid in 1989. Having thought about this for a few days, I made a model of the statue out of plasticine. When we look at the appearance of the statue, we see different episodes separately. It depicts Vahid’s wedding party. He is at his own wedding. On the left side of the head is a mugham trio the size of the ear. This symbolizes the inseparability of the national music, mugham, and ghazal. On the other side is Vahid’s funeral: women in headscarves are mourning. At the back of his head, friends and colleagues of the poet are reciting poems and singing ghazals. Aliagha Vahid, Huseyn Javid, Mikayil Mushfig, Jafar Jabbarly, Azer Buzovnaly, Sattar Bahlulzade are also around the table. Vahid admired Fuzuli, and the image depicting the assembly at the bottom of the head is symbolic of that. We humans, both geniuses and ordinary people, come from dust and to dust we will return. The poet’s head comes out of the earth, growing like a tree. The world is falling apart and changing, earthquakes occur, but the earth remains. These trees are also growing on it. This is what Vahid’s secret is. A ghazalkhan’s life philosophy.”
However, this artistic vision was not welcomed by everybody. The author says in an interview that two people came to his workshop to see the statue. One of them was the then Minister of Construction Materials Arif Mansurov, who said rather dismissively, “What a disgrace! There are radishes growing on Vahid’s head. What a shame, to make the statue of a poet of this caliber look like this! I don’t like it.” Curiously, the second person said that he liked the statue very much and had never seen such a work anywhere in the world, and that the statue must be installed in this exact form. Who do you think that person was? Allahshukur Pashazadeh! When leaving the workshop, the Sheikh ul-Islam and Grand Mufti of the Caucasus even made a present of a rosary to the sculptor.
But Arif Mansurov continued to waver. The minister told the author that he would bring another person to look at the statue, and if that person liked it, the sculptor would continue, and if they did not like it, the statue would be destroyed right in front of his eyes. Rahib Hasanov recalls:
“Arif Mansurov, a fat man with a cap on his head, and three people with automatic weapons enter my workshop. The fat man starts walking around the statue. He looks at me and at Arif. Arif finishes a pack of cigarettes within an hour. His hands are shaking nervously. Suddenly this fat man shouts, “Arif, where did you find him?” And I say to myself, well, that’s it, I’m finished. Those were dark times. Arif answers, ‘Why, what is it?’ The fat man says, ‘He’s one of ours… See how he used grass.’ It turns out that the man was a drug lord. I swear to God, I didn’t use any grass, I made the bottom of the statue in the form of a tree. But that drug lord thought it was grass. This was a turning point and the statue got green light. We took it to the UNESCO’s plant in Leningrad but we were told that the waiting list was too long and we should come back in two years. Then a phone call came from Baku saying that the statue should be ready by the anniversary. The statue was cast from bronze. The masters said, ‘We’re so sick of casting statues of Lenin, it was a pleasure to make this one.'”
If we return to Istiglaliyyat Street and continue our way down, we can see the statue of Mirza Fatali Akhundov in the nearby Akhundov Park. Akhundov’s statue is one of the oldest in the city. It was designed in 1934 by Jewish sculptor Pinhos Sabsai. The garden is small, and the monument was designed accordingly, but I think that since Akhundov is the founder of Azerbaijani drama, it would be more meaningful and grandiose if his statue were installed in front of the Azerbaijan State Academic National Drama Theater. Research shows that, like Akhundov himself, the statue suffered from reactionary sentiments and ignorance. On the eve of World War II, a group of young Bakuvians tried to turn the statue around with some tools, resentful that Akhundov stood with his back to their village. In 1977, another young man tried to destroy the monument. When brought to justice, the man said that Akhundov had betrayed his people by preparing a project to reform the alphabet.
If we move further down Istiglaliyyat Street, next to the famous Ismailiyya building we will see the statue of Mirza Alakbar Sabir. The peculiarity of this statue is that it is the first statue erected in Baku. The statue that now adorns the beautiful Sabir Garden did not look like this when it was opened in 1922. In the first version of the monument, Sabir is standing. The statue was replaced with the current version in 1958. The author of the statue is Jalal Garyaghdi. The sculptor said that he had been inspired by Sabir’s famous saying “I look like a venerable mountain standing in the sea”.
There is a monument to Nizami Ganjavi in the garden opposite Sabir. The statue of the poet holding a folded parchment and looking at the Museum of Literature named after him was unveiled in 1949. The bronze statue is 6.2 m tall and weighs 7 tons. The height of the monument together with the pedestal is 15 m. I came across interesting information about this statue in Hamid Herischi’s book Night Channel (yes, the book—after the TV program of the same name closed, the project continued as a newspaper column and was also published in book form). The author writes, “Javad khan in 1806 and Qajar prince Abbas Mirza in 1828 during the war against the Russians established their military headquarters on the tomb of Nizami in Ganja. We know from the history books what happened to the Russian general Tsitsianov, who took Ganja in 1806 and destroyed Nizami’s tomb, how his life ended at the Paired Fortress Gates on Istiglaliyyat Street. Tsitsianov’s body was beheaded and buried near the fortress. A garden was planted there later and a monument to Tsitsianov was erected in it. The garden was named Tsitsianov Park. Now it is called Nizami Garden, and the monument to Nizami stands in the center of it. Nizami Garden and Nizami’s statue stand on the site of the grave of Tsitsianov, who destroyed Nizami’s tomb after his victory…”
There is another interesting claim about Nizami Ganjavi in the book:
“Nizami Ganjavi’s skull was sent to Moscow in 1938 to the famous anthropologist M. Gerasimov to recreate the poet’s facial features. Gerasimov, who conducted research on the basis of the skulls of the great Timur, the poet Rudaki, and the Russian commander Yaroslav the Wise, and reconstructed their original appearance, is said to have also studied Nizami’s skull. The poet’s cranial bones were secretly sent to Moscow as a valuable deposit by the Baku-Moscow train, and delivered to Gerasimov. However, the imminent Great Patriotic War got in the way. As a result, the world community has yet to see Nizami’s face. But that’s not all. It turns out that Nizami’s skull was never returned from Moscow to Baku. It stayed somewhere in a deep dusty corner of a research laboratory. Yes, Azerbaijani literary critics were very careful talking about this, afraid to lose their own skulls. I witnessed one of such conversations…” “We went to the Institute of History and Ethnography to get into this matter. When we expressed our opinion to them, the scientists looked embarrassed. Someone gingerly said that we could search for the documents in the archive. So we went there. An archeological excavation had to be carried out in the archive itself. In short, no document was found to confirm or deny the fact. It’s a dead end.”
There are also statues adorning the building of the Museum of Literature located in front of the monument to Nizami Ganjavi. The building hosting the museum was built in 1850 as a one-storey caravanserai. It also functioned as a caravanserai in 1856-1868. Later, the building was reconstructed, some additions were made, and it began to function as Metropol Hotel, one of the most popular venues in Baku at the time. The building was not only a witness but also a participant of historical events. During the March Massacres of 1918, Armenians set up machine guns on the building and killed many people walking around it. In the time of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, this building hosted the Cabinet of Ministers. During the Soviet era, a memorial museum named after Nizami was created in this building on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of Nizami’s birth. The façade and interior of the building were redesigned in the national style in 1943, and sculptures of prominent Azerbaijani poets and writers were placed on the balcony: Fuzuli (by F. Abdurrahmanov), Vagif (by J. Garyaghdi), M.F. Akhundov (by P. Sabsai), Natavan (by Ye. Tripolskaya), J. Mammadguluzadeh (by N. Zakharov), J. Jabbarly (by S. Klyatskiy).
Among those poets and writers, Khurshidbanu Natavan is especially noteworthy. Although there are not many statues of women in Baku, there are three monuments to Natavan located close to each other in the city center. The main statue of the poetess stands in front of the former Azerbaijan movie theater, very close to the Museum of Literature. Inaugurated in 1961 at the intersection of several central streets, the monument is still in a charming location, as no additional buildings later appeared around it.
The third statue of Natavan in the center has an interesting and sad history. It stands at the other end of Istiglaliyyat Street, in the courtyard of the building that now serves as the National Museum of Art. The building, also known as the Palace of De Boure, is also notable for being the home of many high-ranking officials in Azerbaijan. For example, it was the headquarters of the British Command headed by General Thomson during the ADR period. Later, after the establishment of the Soviets in Azerbaijan and the election of Nariman Narimanov as Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, he began to live in this palace with his family. After 1933, Mir Jafar Baghirov and his family moved into the palace. The statue of Natavan is not exhibited inside the building, but in the backyard of the museum, out of sight, along with the statues of Uzeyir Hajibeyov and Bulbul. We often see the bullet-riddled statues displayed on the anniversaries of the occupation of the occupied territories. [All three busts are now back in their home Shusha liberated in the victorious 44-day Second Karabakh War of 2020.—Ed. ] These war-worn monuments, forcibly moved from Shusha, ended up in Baku in an interesting, rather roundabout way. Thomas de Waal writes about them in his Black Garden:
“In their turn, the conquering Armenians dismantled and sold off dark bronze busts of three Azerbaijani Shusha musicians and poets. Again, these memorials were rescued by chance, this time from a scrap-metal merchant in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. I saw the three bronze heads, forlorn and pocked with bullets, lying in the courtyard of the headquarters of the Red Cross in the center of Baku: the poet Natevan, an earnest girl in a head scarf reading a book, missing a thumb; the composer Hajibekov, a bullet-ridden gentleman in double-breasted suit and broken spectacles; and Bul Bul, a famous singer, with a serious domed bronze forehead.
But for the efforts of a few brave Shusha Armenians, much more might have been destroyed. Mher Gabrielian, an Armenian artist, told me how he came back to his native town on the morning of its capture on 9 May 1992 and saw with horror that marauders and vandals were burning it to the ground. Mher and a couple of his friends stood in front of one of Shusha’s two nineteenth-century mosques to stop a group of young men in an armored personnel carrier firing tank shells into its facade. They barricaded themselves inside the town museum for several days, preventing looters from stripping its collection of carpets, pots, and paintings. As one of the Armenian minority in Shusha, a largely Azerbaijani town, Mher had many Azerbaijani friends. He wanted me to understand how the burning of Shusha grieved him as much as it did them: ‘I know it’s very painful for them, and it is for us too. I personally do not consider myself the victor of this town. The town as such is dead.’”
The author also writes that the bronze bell of the Gazantchetsots church in Karabakh was being sold in a market in Ukraine, where an Armenian officer found it there, bought it for three million rubles and sent it to Armenia. This is one of the faces of war.
Let’s start another walk from Nizami metro station. The first monument we will see is the statue of Ziver bey Ahmadbayov. This is a very appropriate location for it, since some of the surrounding buildings were designed by this architect. Opened in 2011, it is one of the newest monuments in Baku. The author of the monument is People’s Artist Natig Aliyev.
Many cities around the world have the names of the architects of historic buildings associated with them. Baku can be considered a relative exception in this regard, because we cannot say that the architects of the famous buildings in Baku are widely recognized. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when most famous buildings began to be built in Baku, a large number of foreign architects gathered here. One of Ziver bey Ahmadbayov’s distinguishing features is that he was one of the few Azerbaijani architects in Baku in his time. Of the foreign architects of that period, Polish architects were especially active. In 1892-1914, the heyday of the city, four Polish architects in a row served as the chief architect of Baku. Among them, Józef Gosławski deserves special mention.
One of the reasons why foreign architects were preferred at that time was that the local millionaires invited famous architects from abroad to build more beautiful buildings. This luxury did not stop with architects. Manaf Suleymanov points out in his renowned book What I Heard, What I Saw, What I Read that “Baku municipality was the richest municipality in Russia. While the mayor of Tiflis, where the residence of the Viceroy of the Caucasus was, received an annual salary of 4,000 rubles, Baku millionaires proudly invited Rayev from Kursk to be mayor with an annual salary of 20,000 rubles. For comparison, the ministers of the Russian Empire received an annual salary of 15,000 rubles. This ignorant ‘generosity’ of Baku millionaires was always being ridiculed by newspaper columnists.”
Born in 1873 in Shamakhi, Ziver bey is considered to be the first Azerbaijani architect with higher education—which he received at the Institute of Civil Engineers in St. Petersburg in 1902. After the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918, he became the first Azerbaijani Chief Architect of Baku. Another noteworthy aspect of Ziver bey’s work is that the architect, in whose projects we can see clear influence of Western architecture styles, was also involved in the restoration and construction of religious monuments. Thus, his work bears traces of both Eastern and Western architecture. The architect was also involved in the restoration of the famous Shamakhi Juma Mosque demolished by an earthquake. This mosque is now considered the oldest mosque in Azerbaijan (it was built in 743). The most famous religious building designed by Ziver bey is the Taza Pir Mosque. Before the construction work began, the philanthropist Nabat Khanum Ashurbeyova sent Ziver bey to Mecca, Medina, Istanbul and other famous cities of the East at her own expense so that the architect would get acquainted with the religious monuments there.
Ajdarbey Mosque, another famous mosque in Baku, was also designed by Ziver bey. The construction of this mosque, like most famous mosques in Baku, was also sponsored by a philanthropist, Ajdar bey Ashurbeyov—the mosque is named after him. There is a very interesting fragment about this in Hamida Javanshir’s memoir. She writes that one day Govhar Agha, daughter of Ibrahim Khalil Khan of Karabakh, summoned Hamida’s father Ahmad bey Javanshir. Govhar Agha was very old at that time and spent her wealth on charity because she had no children. Govhar Agha asked Ahmad bey what he thought she could do so that the people would benefit from it and her name would live for a long time. Ahmad bey advised Govhar Agha to send Azerbaijani youths to study in Russia and Europe at her expense. He explained that when these young people returned with new knowledge, they would do great things for their homeland and would always cherish the name of the person who made their education possible. But Govhar Agha laughed out loud at this suggestion and said, “Ah Ahmad, you went and studied it yourself and became Russian, so now you want to make me Russian as well?” Instead, Govhar Agha commissioned two mosques to be built in Shusha, Ashaghi Govhar Agha Mosque and Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque, one of the main symbols used in any footage of Shusha and Karabakh. I wonder what would have happened if Govhar Agha had followed to Ahmad bey Javanshir’s advice. Would it have done more for her city?
No need to go too far to see the next statue. The Statue of a Liberated Woman, located in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, is one of the most unique statues in Baku, because, unlike most statues, it is not a monument to a specific person, but to an idea. The author of the statue erected in 1960 is Fuad Abdurrahmanov, and its architect is Mikayil Huseynov. Unfortunately, this beautiful statue, a symbol in the true sense of the word, is now lost among the surrounding skyscrapers. Another noteworthy point about the statue is that, despite the fact that radical believers often voice banal sophistries on many issues, there has yet to be any serious scandal around the statue of a woman removing her headscarf.
Some experts believe that the statue was inspired by the character of Sevil from the Jafar Jabbarly’s play of the same name. This is mostly due to the fact that the image of Sevil and the ideas expressed by the statue complement each other. And here, we should get to know Sevil better, because there is an interesting story behind the image of Sevil. Struggling to find a suitable actress for the 1929 film Sevil, written and directed by Jafar Jabbarly, the latter walked around the city streets looking for the right woman—and found her. This is how the first female film actress in Azerbaijan, Izzet Orujova, began her acting career. But, of course, this sounds much easier that it really was. Let’s see what film critic Aydin Kazimzade says about it.
“Truth is, our girls and women did not go to the movies at that time. The reasons are well known. That is why, when the film Sevil went into production, Jafar Jabbarly walked the city streets looking for a girl for the titular role. One day he met a girl at Teyyare movie theater and saw his Sevil in her. He followed this girl he didn’t know and found out where she lived. Then he took Ismayil Hidayatzade and went to her house. The girl’s father and brothers wouldn’t give their permission for the girl to act in the film. It was the time when first actresses were taking their first steps in Azerbaijani cinema. Izzet, however, was not an actress. Even though she wanted to do it, she was afraid. But Jafar Jabbarly wasn’t Jafar Jabbarly for nothing… As young as he was, he was quite the smooth talker. After many visits, he did get the family’s consent. Jafar Jabbarly was by Izzet’s side every moment, because he was, fortunately, involved in every stage of the making of the film. Izzet wrote about some episodes in her memoirs and shared with me personally as well. There was even a moment during the filming when Jafar Jabbarly took her headscarf off and slapped Balash with it to show Izzet how it should be done.”
The film was a success, as expected. They say that wherever the film was shown, black shawls and headscarves were left on the seats after the screening. Encouraged by the success of the film, Jabbarly began to write the script for Almaz—of course, with Izzet in the lead role again. The playwright did not live long enough to finish this film, but Almaz was eventually completed and screened on the first anniversary of Jabbarly’s death. The role in Almaz was Izzet Orujova’s last screen appearance. After it, Izzet moved on to completely different pastures and succeeded by becoming one of the firsts in that field as well. Izzet Orujova worked in the petrochemical industry and was the first Azerbaijani woman to become an oil engineer. She even rose to the rank of Academician and had many scientific achievements.
Another interesting thing about the Statue of a Liberated Woman is that a poem was written about it. It is probably one of the few statues in the world that were given this honor. The poem in question is Ramiz Rovshan’s “Statue of a Liberated Woman”.
If we move in the direction of Shikhali Gurbanov Street and Fizuli Square, we can see the next statue of our virtual tour—the monument to Mohammad Fuzuli. The 12-meter-high statue has two authors, sculptors Tokay Mammadov and Omar Eldarov. This is not the only statue of the great poet in Baku. The first one was designed by Fuad Abdurrahmanov. However, the latter encountered some difficulties in his work, because the image of Fuzuli had not been created before him. That is, it was not known what Fuzuli looked like, and it was Fuad Abdurrahmanov who first created his image. According to some sources, the artist suddenly woke up in the middle of the night once and sculpted a face from plasticine, which he always kept on his bedside table. It turns out that an old man came to him in his dream and said, “I am the man you are looking for.” Only after that was the sculptor able to create a real statue of Fizuli. This statue is now the first in the row of the six statues on the façade of the Museum of Literature named after Nizami Ganjavi.
Moving from the Fizuli statue in the direction of the Winter Boulevard, we can see the statue of Uzeyir Hajibeyov in front of the Baku Music Academy. Since the academy is named after the great composer, the location of the statue is perfect. Curiously, when this building was built in 1939, it first functioned as a church, although it does not look like one much. Later, it continued to operate as a music education institution. During World War II, it became a military hospital like many other buildings in the city. After the war, it continued to accommodate the Conservatory.
The monument to the author of the anthem of both the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and the Azerbaijan SSR, the pioneer in many areas in our culture (along with many music-related firsts, he was the author of the first mathematics textbook in the Azerbaijani language), was erected here in 1960. The sculptor is T. Mammadov, and the architect is G. Mukhtarov. The 2.9 m tall monument was cast in bronze and placed on a 3.1 m tall granite pedestal. There is an interesting scene about this statue in Seymour Bayja’s 18.6 cm. In the part titled “Snow”, the poet walks for two days half-starved and meets his friend in front of the statue of Uzeyir Hajibeyov. His friend tells him that he received an honorarium and invites the poet to dinner. The poet approaches the statue, saying “a real man gives you bread both in life and as a statue” and clears the composer’s date of birth, leaving the date of death covered with snow.
Let’s move to Jafar Jabbarly Square to see our next monument—the statue of Jafar Jabbarly, about whom we have already talked a little. Installed in 1982, this monument is probably one of the most popular meeting points in Baku. Its sculptor is Mirali Mirgasimov, and its architect is Yusif Akhundov. The interesting thing about the statue of Jafar Jabbarly is that the work on it took more than 22 years—Mirgasimov won the competition to make a statue of Jafar Jabbarly in 1959. Apart from technical problems, the reason was that the sculptor worked very meticulously on this project. Mirali Mirgasimov says, “I cannot make Jafar look ridiculous. I will die sooner or later, but the monument belongs to the people. They look at it and live this nation’s history and culture.” The sculptor had problems with this statue from the very beginning. Although Mirgasimov won the competition, he had fierce adversaries. Apparently, those people could not accept having been defeated by this artist, who was physically weak and had some limitations (the sculptor was deaf and had a heart condition). The statue itself had a serious impact on the sculptor’s health: he had two heart attacks while working on it.
The first heart attack happened when the author was arguing with an official of the Central Committee about the height of the statue. When one of the officials told him that the statue should be 5 m tall, Mirali Mirgasimov replied, “You hold a very important post, but it will be the way I as an artist know it should be.” The sculptor’s adversaries also raised the issue of the location. They insisted that the statue should be installed in the small park behind Nizami movie theater instead of its current location. The author objected, saying that the park was too small and thus unsuitable for the 5.5 m statue.
Mirgasimov had a second heart attack when he saw that the statue carved in a Ukrainian quarry weighed 140 tons instead of 280 tons. Researchers say there are interesting and semi-legendary facts about that granite: although there was a permission to make the pedestal of the statue of granite, some evil-wishers sent a letter to the wrong place, and the base was made in a different color in a different quarry. The sculptor went to Ukraine together with his family and managed to resolve the issue, albeit not without difficulty. The monument was brought to Baku with great effort. It is even said that seven tanks were used to pull the statue.
By the way, there is another interesting monument created by another hearing-impaired sculptor in Azerbaijan. This one, however, is located in Istiglal Park in Shamkir, not in Baku. The statue is of composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov sitting at a grand piano and poet Ahmad Javad standing next to him. The author of the statues is sculptor Azad Aliyev. Interestingly, a bust of Beethoven sculpted by him stands in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador in Central America.
But let’s return to Baku. As we move up from Jafar Jabbarly Square to Azadlig Avenue, we come across another interesting monument—the statue of the famous engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla. What is interesting about this statue of the author of inventions that facilitate the work of people around the world today, is that set against the background of a decorative panel depicting an alternating current generator, one of his main and most famous inventions. The author of the 3.3 m bronze sculpture is Omar Eldarov.
There are many monuments to foreign scientists and artists in Azerbaijan. The National Library is one of the buildings especially remarkable in this regard. Although there are many statues here, unlike the Museum of Literature, there are no inscriptions under them indicating who these people and the statues are placed quite high, making them hard to recognize. Not all the statues were installed there at the time when the library first opened its doors to readers in 1961. The statues in the part of the library facing Rashid Behbudov Street were added during the years of independence. In the front of the building there are statues of Nizami Ganjavi, Shota Rustaveli, Pushkin, Mahsati Ganjavi, Mendeleyev, Hasan bey Zardabi, Maxim Gorky, Uzeyir Hajibeyov and Samad Vurgun. Pushkin is one of the most notable statues here, because with the statue in Pushkin Park, there are two monuments to the poet in Baku. Speaking of Shota Rustaveli, there is another, lesser known, monument in Baku dedicated to Georgian-Azerbaijani friendship. The sculptural composition called “Liberated Energy”, the statue of a horse symbolizing strength and energy, was made by Georgian sculptor Georgi Japaridze and Azerbaijani architect Gasimzade. Speaking at the opening of the monument, Heydar Aliyev said that the monument was a gift from the then President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze to the people of Azerbaijan. The statues on the side of the library that were added later are of: Bulbul, Niyazi, Rasul Rza, Mirza Alakbar Sabir, Ajami Nakhchivani and Sultan Muhammad.
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