People dwelled and created settlements in Baku and Absheron peninsula many centuries ago. The main reason for this, were Baku’s physical and geographical situation; its location on the very centre of the intersection of ongoing migration and trade roads from North to South, from East to West (“Silk Way”); climate conditions;energy resources and fuel which had been well-known here as nafta since ancient times.
We can briefly summarize the history of Baku as follows. Baku was noted as a city of miracles in ancient scripts and has a very old history. Travellers of ancient times visiting these places used to write loads of articles about amazing flames of Absheron peninsula. The first script about Baku was mentioned in “The Book of Dead” which dates back to the 3500 years B.C. – the period of reign of The Egyptian Pharaon Menesa. The archepological findings and scripts on the rocks with the age of at least 12.000 years, found in Absheron and Gobustan are the best proof for the ancient history of Baku. Besides, there are numerous archeological buildings and monuments ofIII-I milleniums in the outskirts of the Baku, like the Lake Zigh, the residential areas Shuvalan, Mardakan, Binaghady, Amirjan and others. The stone scripts about military camps made around the city of Baku (40 km south of the city) by Roman emperors Pompeus and Lukull during their invasion of Caucasus, written by August Guy Octavi are the best examples for this.
In the written sources of the V-VI centuries Baku is named as “Baghavan” and “Atesh-i Baguan”; in Arabic sources( Xcentury) it is called as “Bakuye”, “Bakuh”, ”Baku” ; in Russian souces of XV centuries it is mentioned as “Baka” and in persian sources of the Safavid reign its name is mentioned as ‘Badi kube”.
The settlements around Baku also have a very intersting history. Mashtagha is a good example for this with its name related to the tribes of Massagets which settled here from prehistoric times. The history of the village Turkan is related to the turkmen tribes proceeding from the opposite shores of the Caspian Sea and spreading over the western coasts of the sea and along Azerbaijan. It is evident that the name of the village is closely related to the name of the ancient tribes of turkish roots which inhabited this region long ago.
Historically Baku was one of the largest cites of The East. According to the arabic traveller Abu Dulaf (X century), there was an income of 720 thousands dirhams obtained from the two oilfields in Baku. The development of feudal relationship, trade and craftmanship was a good basis for the prosperity of the city. Baku, which was located on the intersection of trade roads played an outstanding role in development of cultural and commercial relationshipsbetween Western and Eastern countries.
Baku became famous as a port city since X century. From the end of XI to the beginning of XIII centuries Baku was flourishing. When Qizil Arslan occupied Shamakhy in 1191, Baku temporarily became the capital of Shirvanshakhs’ state. Shivanshahs’ dynasty used to pay special attention to the strenghtening of the city. In XII century Baku was surrounded by double walls and a deep trench. The “Maiden Tower” was included into the defence system of the city. Shirvanshakhs’ created a very powerful fleet in the Caspian Sea.
In connection with increasing Baku’s economical and political role in the second half of the XIV century, the Caspian Sea was sometimes referred to as the Sea of Baku (it is mentioned in the map, which was created in 1375, in Cathalan language). The historical-architectural buildings preserved upto present days in Baku, like Bukhara Karavansaray (XIV century), Multani(indian) Karavansaray(XV-XVI centuries) not far from the Maiden Tower and others demonstrate the existance of wide range trade relationship with Oriental countries.
During the reign of Shirvanshakh Khalilullah (1417-1462) significant constructions were made in Baku. The complex of Shirvanshakhs’ Palace was constructed at this period.
In 1501 Shakh Ismail attacked Shirvan and occupied Baku and in 1538 the head of Safavids, TakhmasibI annexed Shirvan, including Baku into his empire and it initiated a longlasting rivalry between two turkish countries – Ottomans and Safavids. The empowerment of the central government was a strong stimulus to the progress of the city. Copper money was produced in Baku during the Safavid reign. The main part of people in Baku and Absheron peninsula were busy with carpet-weaving. In XVI-XVIII centuries craftsmanship, especially carpet-weaving was highly developed. Weaving was also extremely popular in Baku.
The first oil well was mechanically drilled in the Bibi-Heybat suburb of Baku in 1846, though a number of hand-dug wells predate it. Large-scale oil exploration started in 1872, when Russian imperial authorities auctioned the parcels of oil-rich land around Baku to private investors. Within a short period of time Swiss, British, French, Belgian, German, Swedish and American investors appeared in Baku. Among them were the firms of the Nobel brothers together with the family von Börtzell-Szuch and the Rothschild family. An industrial oil belt, better known as Black City, was established near Baku. By the beginning of the 20th century almost half of world production was being extracted in Baku.
In 1917, after the October revolution and amidst the turmoil of World War I and the breakup of the Russian Empire, Baku came under the control of the Baku Commune. On 28 May 1918, the Azerbaijani faction of theTranscaucasian Sejm proclaimed the independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). On September the 15th, 1918, the National Army of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and troops of Ottoman Turkish Islamic Army under the head of the army Nuru Pasha freed Baku from bolshevik, armenian-dashnak and English military groups and Baku became the capital of the first ever democratic government in the Turkish and Islamic world – Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. On 28 April 1920, the 11th Red Army invaded Baku and reinstalled the Bolsheviks, making Baku the capital of theAzerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.
During the continuing Nazi German invasion of the southwestern Soviet Union, capturing the oil fields of Baku would have been one of the ultimate goals of Operation Edelweiss, carried out between May and November 1942. The German Army’s closest approach to Baku was no closer than some 530 kilometers (329 miles) northwest of Baku in November 1942, falling far short of the city’s capture before being driven back during the Soviet Operation Little Saturn in mid-December 1942.
Again in 1991, 18th of October, when Azerbaijan declared its independance, Baku became the capital of the sovereign country of Azerbaijan.
Many of the city’s cultural sites were celebrated in2009 when Baku was designated an Islamic Culture Capital. Baku was also chosen to host the Eurovision Dance Contest 2010.
Since 2002, Baku has hosted 36 major sporting events and selected to host the 2015 European Games. Baku is also to host the fourth edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017.
The city also annually hosts the international tournaments such as Baku Chess Grand Prix, President’s Cup, Baku Open.First class sporting facilities were built for the indoor games, including the Palace of Hand Games and Heydar Aliyev Sports and Exhibition Complex. It hosted many sporting events, including FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships in2007 and 2009, 2005 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, 2007 FILA Wrestling World Championships and 2010 European WrestlingChampionships, 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships, 2009 Women’s Challenge Cup and European Taekwondo Championships in 2007. Since 2011 the city annually hosts WTA tennis event called Baku Cup. In 2012, City Challenge Gmbbrought its first motorsports event to the city.The Synergy Baku Cycling Project participates in the Tour d’Azerbaïdjan a 2.2 multi-stage bicycle race on the UCI Europe Tour.