Azerbaijan International

Summer 2004 (12.2)

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

Wedding Palace
Murtuza Mukhtarov 6
(Pre-Soviet: Persidskaya Street)

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Above: Left: Private residence of Oil Baron Murtuza Mukhtarov, built in 1911-1912. The design is based on a palace that his wife saw while traveling in Europe. Soviets confiscated the property and converted it into a Wedding Palace.

Right: The grand entrance through which Bolsheviks rode their horses in 1918. Mukhtarov fired upon the soldiers and then turned his gun on himself. Photos: Blair.

Murtuza Mukhtarov (1855-1920) was one of the wealthiest Oil Barons in Baku. Known for his drilling expertise, he is said to have had 2,500 employees working in his oil company. His companies manufactured machinery for derricks and drills for oil wells. Mukhtarov's residence occupies nearly an entire block. It was built by the Polish architect I.K. Ploshko in 1911-1912. The design was based on a French Gothic Palace that his wife saw while traveling in Europe.

Mukhtarov's life ended tragically in 1920. He abhorred the Bolsheviks and is quoted to have said, "As long as I'm alive, no barbarian will enter my house in soldier's boots." When the Bolsheviks charged into his Palace, riding their horses up the grand staircase, Mukhtarov fired at them and then turned the gun on himself.

The Soviets confiscated his property. During the Soviet period, this enormous ornate residence was converted to a Wedding Palace where bridal couples ceremoniously registered their marriages. The expansive building also houses the Composers' Union. This residence is not mentioned in the novel but it is one of the largest oil baron residences in the city.

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