The beginning of the history of protection of Azerbaijan's cultural heritage linked with adoption of Resolution of Azerbaijan Revolutionary Committee, dated 1921, on restoration of the Khans' Palaces in Shusha and Sheki. In 1924, by the Resolution of the Soviet People's Commissars, cultural monuments of national significance were taken into public ownership, and the state is now responsible for registering and protecting them. In the first 20-25 years of the Republic's existence, the attitude to the monuments of national architecture from the side of Soviet authorities was blasphemously. Such unique monument of Baku City, as Islamic cultural-memorial Bibi-Eybat complex (7th-20th centuries), the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (19th century) and the Roman Catholic Church (1900) were blown up, destroyed and razed in the 1930s. In the early years of Soviet rule, restoration works have been carried out by the Central Monument Conservation Service, which had little in the way of resources and could rely only on the enthusiasm of its staff. Common Soviet laws on protection of cultural heritage have been used on the territory of Azerbaijan. Alike these laws another resolutions have been adopted.|
On 14 October 1948, the Council of Ministers adopted a decision "on measures to improve the protection of cultural monuments", as a basis for action in this area. In 1952, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan decided to set up a specialized restoration unit, which started work on some of the country's principal monuments. The monuments restored at that time now count, by reason of their uniqueness, as part of the world's heritage. However, the young architects employed by the unit had no experience of restoration work. During the restoration often were used inappropriate modern techniques and building materials. The restoration department "Berpachi" was created in the beginning of eighties. The main purpose of this department was research and restoration of the monuments of Baku. The beginning of activity of the department was effectively affected on the restoration of monuments of Icheri Sheher and Apsheron.
Until 1992, the protection of cultural and historic monuments was the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's Monument Conservation Department. The Government Committee on the Protection and Restoration of Historic and Cultural Monuments then took over until 2000. This Committee was responsible for protection, restoration and utilizations of monuments on the territory of the Republic. As the following events has shown that the decision was too wrong. A new organized structure, which had no sufficient experience in the field of restoration of monuments, couldn't expand its activity. Since the day of establishment of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in January, 2007, responsibility on Protection, Restoration and Use of Cultural and Historic Monuments was transferred to the Department of Cultural Heritage. All the country's urban and local authorities also have cultural services, which monitor the state of monuments. During the Soviet period the Voluntary Association for the Protection of Cultural and Historic Monuments was created, but this was more interested in propaganda than protection. In recent years the function of this society became weak because of a lack of funds.
The Government has reviewed the lists of state-protected monuments adopted in 1968, 1981 and 1988. A new list, based on the earlier ones, was adopted in August 2001, and has the same legal status as its predecessors. Monuments linked with revolutionary and communist ideology and leaders have been dropped. One of the aims of the list, which covers architecture, archaeology, formal gardens and parks, is to rank monuments according to their importance - world, national or local. Buildings of world or national value may not be privatized. Residential buildings of local value, or apartments located in such buildings, may be privatized only with the consent of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. When such buildings or apartments are already in private hands, protection contracts, prohibiting any perversion of the first look of a monument, are concluded with the owners. The following classification table is based on the latest approved list of state-protected monuments of history and culture.
Type of monument
Formal gardens, parks
Decorative and applied arts (statues, etc.)
Without wishing to detract from the latest list's importance or belittle the efforts of the experts who prepared it, it must be said that extensive research is now needed to update it. Some monuments are protected in reserves. At present, there are 24 historic/architectural, historic/archaeological, historic/cultural and historic/ethnographical reserves in Azerbaijan. Taking into account the significance of some monuments of archaeology, town planning and architecture, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has established 4 new reserves during past the years and one new in 2007 in order to protect and propaganda these monuments:
All reserves are controlled both by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which founds them, and by the local authority. Experience shows that this can create problems, since the efforts of the local authority are not always co-ordinated with those of the Ministry - and conservation sometimes suffers. Big problems in the sphere of monuments' protection have been caused by absence of its protecting system, despite this system's necessity it determined by the Law. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism deals with defining protecting monuments' zones, what is a very complicated issue due to local specific peculiarities. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has no enough responsibilities and wide structure of monuments' protection on the whole territory of the country. This circumstance does not allow to the Ministry to conduct opportune and periodic work in this sphere. Factually, a small staff of cultural centers at local authorities of executive authority carries out these functions. The problem of using architectural monuments is still unsettled. Today, some monuments are not used in accordance with the first functional earmarking. They are used utilizable: for restaurants, cafes, workshop studios, etc. Such using demands holding of necessary communications, sometimes it demands re-planning which, as a result, causes destroying of the monument.
historical/archaeological reserve on the territory of destroyed medieval town shabran, located on the silk Road;
historical/cultural reserve on the basis of Ilisu village (16-17 centuries) in Qakh district;
historical/art reserve of ancient rock art Qemigaya in Ordubad district (Nakchivan);
territory of valley of Arpa river in Sharur district (Nakchivan), where concentrated archaeological monuments
the State historical-cultural and natural Reserve "Yanar Dag"
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the protection, restoration and use of Azerbaijan's cultural and historic monuments are responsibilities of each citizen of Azerbaijan. The protection, restoration and use of Azerbaijan's cultural and historic monuments governed by the Culture Act (6 February 1998) and by the Act on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments (10 April 1998), and also by the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (Paris, 1972) and the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Valetta, 1992). The country's historic and cultural monuments were originally registered under the uniform system introduced by the Institute of Culture of the former USSR in 1969. Under this system, each monument had a "passport" and registration card, and detailed information on it was recorded. During the soviet period, some 1,500 monuments were registered in this way. At present, new national standards of certification and cataloguing are worked out.
Education and trainings of specialists in the sphere of preservation of monuments is provided by Architectural-Construction University and State University of Culture, where correspondingly are trained architects-specialist in restoration and specialists on preservation of the cultural monuments. In the system of National Academy of Sciences there is functioning the Institute of Architecture and Arts, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography where there are conducted scientific researches on studying, discovering and history of cultural heritage. Under National Academy of Sciences there is functioning Scientific-Methodic Council on historical and cultural monuments.
Azerbaijan co-operates closely with UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, and Baku's historic centre, with the Shirvanshakh Palace and the Maiden's Tower, was included on the World Heritage List in 2000, and Cultural - Historical Reserve Gobustan in 2007. Information on two further monuments (Temple of fire-faith adepts "Ateshgah", and the Mausoleum in Nakhchivan), which are on the preliminary list, has been sent to the Centre. Co-operation with international organizations is adjusted. Azerbaijani specialists in the field of preservation and restoration of historical and cultural monuments systematically participate in international conferences and sessions, conducted by UNESCO, ICOMOS, ICROM and other organizations. Restoration and conservation works are conducted generally with financing from the state budget, budget of local authorities and donations of individuals, foreign and international organizations. For example, restoration of small German church ("Kapelhaus") in Baku was fully financed by the German Government. There have been conducted the archeological works and now there are finished restoration works in the Christian temple of V-VI centuries in the Kish village near of Sheki city, financed by non-governmental organizations of Norway.