“For centuries, Azerbaijan has been a place where religions, cultures and civilizations coexist. We are not only a geographical, but also a cultural bridge between the East and the West.” The remarks by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev most precisely define the essence of the tremendous work that Azerbaijan is carrying out in one of the most authoritative international organizations – UNESCO.
A country of ancient culture – Azerbaijan has always been ready to share its treasures with the world. The Gobustan National Historical and Artistic Reserve, where more than six thousand rock paintings, settlements, burial mounds and megalithic structures of the Stone Age are preserved, is one of the World Cultural Heritage list. It also includes Icharishahar – a medieval architectural complex in the center of Baku, consisting of the Old City, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and the Maiden Tower.
The UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is growing more actively. It includes the Novruz spring festival, Azerbaijani mugams and the heroic epic of the Turkic tribes “The Book of My Grandfather Gorgud in the Language of the Oguz Tribe”, the art of Azerbaijani carpets and kalaghayis – women’s silk scarves, the copper crafts of the mountain village of Lahij, Chovgan –the ancient horse riding game on Kharabakh horses, the culture of making lavash and dolma, ashig singing, production and performance of music on tar and kamancha, “Yalli” and other traditional Nakhcivan group dances.
But, this is only the beginning of great work, Azerbaijan believes. There are many historical and cultural monuments that are centuries and even millennia old: the Azikh cave, in which people lived more than a million years ago, formidable fortresses and magnificent palaces, Albanian temples and mausoleums of the wonderful architect Ajami, magnificent mosques and multi-arch bridges. And this land keeps many more secrets. Their discovery will probably make it possible not only to fill the empty pages in the annals of humanity, but also to take a fresh look at its history. For the great scolar and enlightener, founder of Azerbaijani scientific historiography Abbasgulu agha Bakikhanov, asserted that “living in the present, not knowing the past, means entering the desert without a path and wandering in it without a goal.”