Azerbaijan International

Summer 2004 (12.2)

The Ali and Nino Walking Tour
by Betty Blair and Fuad Akhundov

National Art Museum
Niyazi 9
(Pre-Soviet: Sadovaya Street)

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The Art Museum really consists of two major buildings: the entrance being at the lower building, which was built as the residence of Mr. De Bour, manager of Rothschild's Oil Company (Shell). The building was designed by German architect Nicholas von De Nonne and completed in 1891. The mansion overlooks the summer concert stage of the Philharmonic Hall (then Baku Club).

During the early years of the Soviet period, the building was the residence of Baghirov, the First Secretary of the Communist Party in Azerbaijan and Stalin's right-hand man in the country. The second building of the art complex (the one higher on the hill and closer to the President's Aparat) originally housed St. Mary's High School for Russian Girls. It was built in 1885.

The National Art Museum is not mentioned in the novel, but certainly it was a dominant landmark in the city at the time when Ali and Nino spent so much time meeting each other in the Governor's Park across the street.

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