Azerbaijan International

Summer 2004 (12.2)

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

Literature Museum
Istiglaliyyat 53
(Pre-Soviet: Nikolayevskaya Street)

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This building was originally constructed as a caravanserai for merchants traveling by camel and horse through the region. At that time, the building was only one story. In the 1860s, the new owner Haji Agha Dadashov ordered to the Chief Architect of the Baku province Gasimbey Hajibababeyov to reconstruct the building. Hajibababeyov added a second floor. In 1915 civil engineer Alexander Nikitin added a third floor and the building became Metropol Hotel.

After Baku gained its independence from the Russian Empire in 1918, Fatali Khan Khoyski convened the New National Government in this building starting in September. Azerbaijan's independence was short-lived - only 23 months - and when the Soviets established themselves in Baku in 1920, the building was used to house the Trade Union (1920-1930).

Later, by governmental decree on November 1, 1939, a decision was made to convert the building into the Azerbaijan Literature Museum in honor of poet Nizami on the occasion of his 800th Jubilee. Architects Sadigh Dadashov (died in 1946) and Mikayil Useynov (1905-1992) prepared the project and added a fourth floor. The statues of great Azerbaijani writers are featured in the six archways - Fuzuli (15th century), Vagif (18th century), Akhundov and Natavan (both of the 19th century), Mammadguluzade and Jabbarli (both of the 20th century). The building Museum opened in 1945.

Hotel Metropol is not mentioned in the novel, but it was an important landmark and played a valuable role in the efforts to establish Azerbaijan as an independent nation.

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