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Architecture

Shamkir Tower (Minaret)

 

Artist G.G. Gagarin, 19th century

The Arran school of architecture is one of four architectural schools that existed in Azerbaijan in the Middle Ages. The towns of Barda, Ganja, Shamkir and Beylaqan were the main centres of this school. The local characteristics of the Arran style developed in the construction of defensive fortifications, public and religious buildings and houses.
Of the monuments in the medieval town of Shamkir, the Shamkir Tower (Minaret) is considered a masterpiece of Arran architecture. This monument has not survived and we know what it looked like from detailed written descriptions by N. Florovskiy, who visited Shamkir in the first half of the 19th century, and from the pictures of Grigoriy Gagarin and Dubois de Montpere. In his description of the minaret N. Florovskiy notes with regret that the tower was already deteriorating in some places and was leaning. B. Dorn, who visited the medieval town of Shamkir, reported that it had collapsed completely.

Artist M. Mesherskiy, 19th century

According to N. Florovskiy’s description, the foundation of the Shamkir column (minaret) was cubic, measured 7x7 arshins (approximately 4.5x.4.5 m) and was 6.25 arshins high (approximately 4 m). It had a pedestal that measured 6x6 arshins and was 5 arshins high. The lower part of the cylindrical column of the minaret was 5 arshins (approximately 3.2 m), 4 arshins in the upper part (2.5 m), and 18 sazhens high (38.5 m). Together with the base the overall height was 22 sazhens (47 m). The rectangular upper part, 5x5 arshins, was surrounded by a ledge. Beneath the ledge was an inscription in Kufic script. Above the ledge was a round column 6 arshins high and 1 sazhen in diameter in the lower part. The minaret was 28 sazhens high (approximately 61 m). The minaret had a spiral staircase of 124 steps. The tower was built of fired brick and mortar mixed with sand and gravel.

Artist Dubois de Montpere, 19th century