English / Azeri
    Baku or Baky (Baki) is Azerbaijan’s capital and largest city. The first historical reference to Baku dates from AD 885, although archaeological evidence indicates that the area was settled several centuries before that time. By the 11th century AD, Baku was under the control of the Shirvan-Shahs, who made it their capital. In 1723, Peter the Great captured Baku, but it was returned to Persia in 1735. Russia finally captured the town in 1806. After the Soviet victory over the area in 1922, it was declared the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, with Baku as its capital. In 1991 Azerbaijan achieved independence.
   The core of present-day Baku is the old town, or fortress, of Icheri-Shekher. Most of the walls, strengthened after the Russian conquest in 1806, survive, as does the 90-ft (27-m) tower of Kyz-Kalasy (Maiden's Tower, 12th century). The old town is highly picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient buildings. These include the palace of the Shirvan-Shahs, now a museum, the oldest part of which dates from the 11th century. Also of the 11th century is the Synyk-Kala Minaret and Mosque (1078-79). Other notable historic buildings are the law court (Divan-Khan), the Dzhuma-Mechet Minaret, and the mausoleum of the astronomer Seida Bakuvi.
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