Azerbaijan International

Summer 2004 (12.2)

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

Ashurbeyli Residence
Gogol 28

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This three-storied residence occupies an entire block and opens up to an inner courtyard, which is typical of much of the architecture built during the Oil Baron period in Baku. Teymur Ashurbeyov constructed the house as a marriage gift in 1904 to his son Bala Bey and daughter-in-law Ismat Khanim, who were the parents of the late Sara Ashurbeyli. Joseph V. Goslavski was the architect.

When the Bolsheviks stormed Baku in 1920, the Ashurbeyov property was confiscated. The family fled to Turkey via Georgia on the Black Sea. For six years, they lived off the sale of diamonds, which Ismat had managed to smuggle out with her when they escaped.

The parents sacrificed everything to provide an education for their six children in Istanbul. Homesick Bela Bey decided thought in 1926 it must safe to return with his family to Baku. It was a tragic decision that led to his death 10 years later when Stalin arrested tens of thousands of people. Bala Bey was found guilt of being a "nobleman, landowner and oil-industrialist" and was imprisoned and eventually executed. His wife and children were left to struggle in a one-room apartment.

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