Azerbaijan International

Summer 2004 (12.2)

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

City Hall
Istiglaliyyat 4
(Pre-Soviet: Nikolayevskaya Street)

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Left: City Hall, completed in 1904, was designed by the Polish architect, Joseph Goslavski.

The City Hall is one of the most prominent buildings in Baku. Originally planned as a monumental and ceremonial building, its main façade looks out onto Istiglaliyyat Avenue. The building was under construction from 1900 to 1904. It has two additional wings that serve as administrative offices for Baku's municipality.

The architect for this project, Joseph V. Goslavski (1865-1904), was of Polish descent and came to Baku in 1891 after graduating from the Institute of Civil Engineers in St. Petersburg. He soon became one of the most sought-after architects in the city. Other buildings that Goslavski designed include: residences for the Oil Baron Ashurbeyli (See No. 29) and the Alexander Nevski Russian Orthodox Cathedral, which Stalin had dynamited in the mid-1930s (See the cathedral in "Then and Now" photo of City Hall).

Goslavski's biggest client was Oil Baron Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, for whom he designed his own home (now the National History Museum, No. 25), the first boarding school for Muslim girls named the Alexandrian Russian Muslim Female Boarding School (now Institute of Manuscripts, No. 13), and the Music Comedy Theater.
Tragically, Goslavski succumbed to tuberculosis and died shortly after he had completed City Hall. He was only 39 years old.

The City Hall is mentioned in "Ali & Nino" in the context of being adjacent to Duma Square (now Baksovet Metro) where Azerbaijanis gathered to resist the aggression of Armenians and Bolsheviks in March 1918. They weren't very successful and an estimated 10,000 Azerbaijanis were killed within a few days.

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