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List of World Heritage Sites in Azerbaijan

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Azerbaijan

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designates World Heritage Sites of outstanding universal value to cultural or natural heritage which have been nominated by countries which are signatories to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. Cultural heritage consists of monuments (such as architectural works, monumental sculptures, or inscriptions), groups of buildings, and sites (including archaeological sites). Natural features (consisting of physical and biological formations), geological and physiographical formations (including habitats of threatened species of animals and plants), and natural sites which are important from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty, are defined as natural heritage. Azerbaijan ratified the convention on 16 December 1993.

As of 2021, Azerbaijan has three sites on the list. The first site added to the list was the Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower, in 2000. Due to the damage sustained in the 2000 Baku earthquake, the site was listed as endangered from 2003 to 2009. The Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape was listed in 2007. In 2013, these two sites were given enhanced protection status by the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The most recent site listed was the Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace, in 2019. All three sites are cultural sites. In addition, Azerbaijan has ten sites on the tentative list.

World Heritage Sites

UNESCO lists sites under ten criteria; each entry must meet at least one of the criteria. Criteria i through vi are cultural, whereas vii through x are natural.

World Heritage Sites
Site Image Location Year listed UNESCO data Description
Walled City of Baku with Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower Domes and an minaret in light-coloured stone Baku 2000 958; iv (cultural) The urban ensemble of the Walled City of Baku demonstrates the influences of several cultures that were present in the area through history: Zoroastrian, Sassanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian. The defensive walls date to the 12th century, as does the Maiden Tower, which was built upon earlier structures dating from the 7th to 6th centuries BCE. The Shirvanshah's Palace was built in the 15th century. In 2003, the site was listed as endangered due to the damage sustained in the 2000 Baku earthquake, as well as by the absence of conservation policies, dubious restoration efforts, and pressures of urban development. After improvements in management and preservation, the site was removed from the endangered list in 2009.
Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape Rocks at the entrance to the park Garadagh District and Absheron District 2007 1076rev; iii (cultural) The petroglyphs on rocky boulders at Gobustan document the human presence in the area spanning 40,000 years. There are over 6,000 rock carvings that depict human figures, plants, animals, as well as hunting and fishing scenes. In the period following the Last Glacial Maximum, the climate and vegetation of the area were warmer and wetter than today. In addition to rock art, the remains of settlements and burials have been found on the site as well.
Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace Stained glass windows in the palace Sheki 2019 1549rev; ii, v (cultural) The city of Sheki (or Shaki) lies below the Greater Caucasus mountains and was an important city on the trade routes crossing the Caucasus. The historic centre dates to the 18th century, built after the previous town was destroyed by mudflows. Traditional houses feature high gable roofs. The city became rich due to the breeding of silkworms and trade in their cocoons in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The wealth is reflected in the Khan's Palace and merchant houses.

Tentative list

In addition to the sites on the World Heritage list, member states can maintain a list of tentative sites that they may consider for nomination. Nominations for the World Heritage list are only accepted if the site has previously been listed on the tentative list. As of 2021, Azerbaijan had 10 such sites on its tentative list.

* Transnational site
Tentative World Heritage Sites Tentative sites
Site Image Location Year listed UNESCO criteria Description
Surakhany, Atashgyakh (Fire – worshippers, temple – museum at Surakhany) Fire temple in stone, surrounded by walls Baku 1998 i, iii (cultural) The fire temple at Surakhany was one of the main centres of the Zoroastrian religion in history. The present buildings were constructed in the 17th century and were an active place of worship until 1883. The complex has a pentagonal plan with an open courtyard and a tetragonal altar in the middle.
The mausoleum of Nakhichevan Garabaghlar Mausoleum with intricate decoration and two minarets in the background Nakhchivan 1998 i, iv (cultural) This nomination includes several mausoleums in Nakhichevan, including the Garabaghlar Mausoleum (pictured), Momine Khatun Mausoleum, Yusif ibn Kuseyir Mausoleum, and Gulustan Mausoleum. They were constructed in the 12th century for the local nobles. Some mausoleums were designed by the architect Ajami Nakhchivani. Mausoleums typically feature an octagonal plan and are decorated with glazed bricks with elaborate patterns.
"Binegadi" 4th Period Fauna and Flora Deposit Skeleton of Rhinoceros binagadensis in a museum Baku 1998 viii, ix (natural) This nomination covers the tar pits in the Baku area. They are rich in fossils from the Pliocene period. About 50,000 bones have been uncovered at the site, including 40 species of mammals and 120 species of birds, as well as over 100 species of insects and several plant remains. A rhinoceros skeleton uncovered at the site is pictured.
"Lok-Batan" Mud Cone Baku 1998 vii, viii, ix (natural) The "Lok-Batan" Mud Cone is a mud volcano located in the Baku area. The first documented eruption took place in 1864, followed by around 20 since. The deposits around the cone date to the Pliocene period.
"Baku Stage" Mountain Baku 1998 viii, ix (natural) The "Baku Stage" Mountain is a stratigraphic column with a height of 70 metres (230 ft) in the Baku area. It is interesting in view of geological deposits and palaeontological remains.
The Caspian Shore Defensive Constructions Stone castle with walls and a tower several sites 2001 (cultural) While the northern border of Azerbaijan is protected by the Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian Shore presented a possible way for an invasion. The defensive line stretched from Derbent (now in Russia) to the Absheron Peninsula. The narrowest passage between the Besh Barmag Mountain, the end of the Caucasus range, and the shore is 11.75 kilometres (7.30 mi). Some of the defensive structures from the 12th and 13th centuries include the Maiden Tower, the now submerged Sabayil Castle, and the Mardakan Castle (pictured).
Susha historical and architectural reserve Susha, view from above Shusha District 2001 i, iv, v, vi (cultural) Susha was the capital of the Karabakh Khanate, one of several independent khanates that appeared in the South Caucasus in the 18th century. In addition to its defensive location on the top of a mountain (the highest point is at an elevation of 1,600 metres (5,200 ft)), it was fortified with walls and towers. It was an important stop on the Silk Road.
Ordubad historical and architectural reserve Geysarriya monument, a building in light-coloured stone and brick Nakhchivan 2001 i, iv, v (cultural) Ordubad is located under the Zangezur Mountains. It was an important stop on the Silk Road. The first city, Gala, was founded in the 15th century on the bank of the Ordubadchay river. In the 17th and 18th centuries, trade activities moved to the other side of the river. The period architecture includes mosques, market squares, bathhouses, and caravan sheds.
Khinalig – medieval mountainous village Look at the village from above Quba District 2020 iii, iv, v (cultural) Khinalig is a village located in the Greater Caucasus mountains, at an elevation of 2,300 metres (7,500 ft). It has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. People in the area speak their own language and have unique cultural traditions. Their architecture and lifestyle are adapted to living in a high mountain setting.
Hirkan Forests (Azerbaijan)* Flamingos flying over reeds Lankaran District and Astara District 2020 ix, x (natural) This is a proposed extension to the World Heritage Site Hyrcanian Forests, listed in Iran since 2019. These broadleaf deciduous forests grow between the shores of the Caspian Sea and the arid interior. They are an important biodiversity area and home to the Persian leopard. Three forest areas are nominated in Azerbaijan: Dangyaband, Khanbulan, and the Istisuchay Valley.

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