Azerbaijan is a beautiful country with a very rich history and great cultural legacy. Various factors influenced the development of Azerbaijani culture: location on the joint of the ancient trade routes, inclusion the country’s territory into a part of other states and etc. This amazing country has always been arena of clashes. There were a lot of governors, who wanted to possess this land: the Sasanians in the Early Middle Ages, the Arabs in the period of the caliphate’s prosperity, and the Safavids who unified the whole Azerbaijan to a powerful state in XVI-XVIII centuries. The contemporary stage of history was marked by even greater variety of currents in many spheres of development. Besides, Azerbaijan bears the title of the bridge between Eastern Europe and Western Asia – that’s where western innovations are combined in a harmony with eastern traditions.
Since ancient times, Azerbaijan has been famous for its craft and trade. Metallic, wooden & ceramic household goods have also been highly valued at the markets of Europe and Asia through many years. Handmade carpets, original jewellery and engraved copper cookware still impress the tourists & collectors, who ready to pay fabulous sums for extremely rare antique goods.
Architectural monuments, made by professional sculptors of Azerbaijan, still amaze hundreds of visitors by their indescribable beauty. The capital of Azerbaijan is Baku – the largest city on the Caspian Sea. Baku is noted as a very windy city, hence it’s called "The City of Winds". The symbol of Baku is Maiden Tower, which refers to the XII century. The Mausoleum of Momine Khatun, which also refers to the XII century, is built by great Azerbaijani architect Adjemi & located in a city, called Nakhchivan. There are a lot of stunning palaces in Azerbaijan, for example, the Palace of Sheki Khans (XVIII century), the Palace of the Karabakh Khans (XVIII century) & finally, the Palace of Shirvanshah’s Palace in Baku (XV century), which has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.
The literary heritage of Azerbaijan, including dramatic composition and folklore, is also rich with different works, for example, by such epic creations as “The Book of Dede Korkut”, the “Koroglu”, romantic dastans “Asli and Karam”, “Ashiq Qarib”. The cultural legacy is also reflected by powerful revelation of the classic Azerbaijani poets and writers: Nizami Ganjavi (“Khamsa”), Muhammad Fuzuli (“Layla and Majnun”), Molla Panah Vagif, Molla Vali Vidadi, Seyid Azim Shirvani, Jafar Jabbarly, Samad Vurgun and others.
Azerbaijan gave the world the entire pleiad of outstanding artists: Mirza Kadym Irevani, Azim Azimzade, Sattar Bahlulzade, Tagi Tagiyev, Togrul Narimanbekov. Their magnificent works decorate lots of galleries and museums of different countries.
Azerbaijani dramatic art has been revealed in XIX century. First performances were set on comedies of Mirza Fatali Akhundov - ethnic Azeri playwright and philosopher. Establishment of the first theater in Azerbaijan gave a powerful stimulus to the development of dramaturgy at the end of the XIX century. Performances have been shown not only in Baku, but also in many provincial towns. The history of Azerbaijani theater began with the production of Uzeyir Hajibeyov’s opera “Leyli and Majnun” - the first one in the Muslim world. For this moment, there are 26 theaters functioning in Azerbaijan.
A special theme is the music of Azerbaijan. It includes various styles: folk songs, Azerbaijani jazz, Ashiqs’ art, mugham. The Ashiks are the folk singer-poets, who perform folk songs, dastans. But the main genre of the traditional Azerbaijani music is mugham. Mugham and the art of Azerbaijani Ashiqs are included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. This List includes also the traditional art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving, craft and performing arts of the Tar, and also Copper craftsmanship of Lahij.
The contemporary period of the development of Azerbaijani culture goes in two ways. On the one hand – old traditions are saved & old schools are revived. On the other hand – new motifs are added. These motifs are reflected in such spheres as architecture, music, fine arts. But only by seeing and hearing all this beauty, you can understand its harmony and versatility.
These qualities are also applied to the citizens of Azerbaijan. Representatives of many different nations (Azerbaijanis, Russians, Jews, Lezgins, Talysh, Turks and others) live here in peace and harmony, various religions are being professed (Islam, Judaism, Christianity). Therefore, all these factors, combined with the traditional Azerbaijani hospitality, will turn this country’s visitor staying into unforgettable and magic journey.