The word gala (fortress) has different meanings in Azeri. In the limited sense of the word it's used for narrow defense walls, or for small castles. In the broad sense of the word its accepted form in the modern terminology has the meaning 'defensive work'. From that point of view, to talk about Azerbaijan fortresses means talking about all of the defensive works in this ancient country.
As in the world's art of construction, the range of styles of defensive works in the history of Azerbaijan architecture is very wide. Since the ancient times to the last century the defensive constructions were the main functional elements of populated areas and important cities. For that reason, the so-called military architecture of the ancient times and the Middle Ages was considered to be one of the most impressive, powerful and protracted branches of Azerbaijan architecture.
The defensive works that hasbeen remained till the present times are notable by their great quantity and variety of types. The most ancient of them (Oguz Castle, Hel or Horgudash) are called in the modern science as the cyclopian constructions. These castles, that were built of great stones without clay mortar, are the origins of Azerbaijan military architecture and the basement of all Azerbaijan fortresses.
The great quantity of fortresses in Azerbaijan is connected with its historical and geographical conditions. Because of its geographic location, rich natural resources, and well-developed economy, Azerbaijan was often the object of armed conflicts and assaults. More to it, the predatory wars as well as the feudal wars had given impetus to an unceasing development of military architecture.
According to the variety of types and a number of defences, such architecture can be divided into two main groups: regional and local. The first group, including walls and mountain barriers stretching for dozens of kilometers, was mostly built along the borders and in the places exposed to the most frequent assaults. The city fortresses, shelters, mountains, fortresses, castles, towers, etc., formed a part of the local group of defences. The local defences were connected not only one with another, but also with the two regional defensive works, thus providing the functioning of a whole network of defences all over the country.
Permanent wars and the character of a battle strategy in the ancient times and the Middle Ages demanded an intensive improvement of military architecture. The accordance to landscape and relief, the advantageous and powerful location, the integrity and severe plastics turned most of the fortresses into the architecture masterpieces. Azerbaijan architects and builders did not limit themselves by a routine process of erecting reliable military constructions of huge stones, but tried to create a forceful image, thus raising an ordinary practice to the level of the arts. That is the reason why people looking at Shyz Fortress, Derbent Wall, Bazz Fortress, Maiden Towers in Baku and Gedabey are impressed not only by the mastership of the builders and a boldness of engineers, but also by the great emotional strength and artistic perfectness.
Among other architecture constructions, the fortresses were more closely tied to the historic events. They are stone pages of the nation's history book. In the times of threat they called the whole country for struggle, they were shields against the first assault of an enemy, and if the enemy succeeded, the fortresses were transforming into the centers of a resistance movement of the people. The whole nation relied on the inaccessible fortresses - undefeated warriors in its struggle for freedom and independence.
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