Yes, of course we erase something of history when we wash and sand blast buildings, but that I think is the point. The most visible part of history is the built environment and when we alter that, we change the past. The Azeri people have been going through a process of de-Sovietisation for nearly two decades and an obvious part of that is modification of the built environment. It is not the first time Baku has been through this process.
When the Russians of pre Soviet era controlled Azerbaijan, they decided to put their stamp on the city which from the 1870’s onwards went through a process of “Russification”. Up to that time, Baku was a town that existed only within the precincts of the old city walls.
Then as money from the first oil-boom started to flow, the city began to change. A new city of sandstone towers and finials grew. In the 1890’s there were so many Russians living in Baku that with substantial contributions forced from the Islamic and Jewish communities an Orthodox cathedral was built.
Come 1920, the Bolsheviks entered Baku and for the next sixteen years, the Communists watched with increasing annoyance as the community continued to attend services there. Eventually in 1936, Stalin had it demolished…
… and replaced it with the Bulbul Music School.
On the headland overlooking the city, the new Bolshevik government built a fun fair on top of a Muslim cemetery and erected a monument to Soviet hero Kirov next to it.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, Kirov’s statue was torn down and a monument to the martyrs of the independence erected. The fun fair was removed and the cemetery reinstated.
Many of Baku’s new buildings are designed in the same style as those built immediately prior to the Russian revolution…
… in an attempt to rewrite the past in stone, steel and glass
The process will continue.
With thanks to Azerbaijan International http://azer.com/aiweb/categories/aboutai/aboutai.html