Summer 2005 (13.2)
Academy of Sciences
Naghiyev - Ismayiliyya Philanthropic Society
Left: Aghamusa Naghiyev (1849-1919), owner
of the building which is now used as the Presidium of the Academy
Street name today: 10 Istiglaliyyat [Independence] Street
Soviet period (1920 -1991): Kommunisticheskaya [Communist] Street
Russian Imperial era (before 1918): Nikolayevskaya [Nicholas
Owner: Musa Naghiyev (1849-1919), known as the wealthiest of
all Oil Barons.
Architect: Joseph Ploshko (Polish, 1867 - unknown)
Date Built: 1908-1913
Use of Building
1913-1918: Baku Philanthropic Society
1918: Government House for the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
(ADR) In March 1918, during the tragic massacre carried out against
Azerbaijanis, the palace was looted and gutted with fire by Armenian
Dashnaks (nationalist revolutionaries) with the support of Bolsheviks
(Communists) in their attempt to take control of the city. After
the Bolshevik occupation, the Soviets rebuilt the palace, but
they were not able to return it to its original state of splendor.
Since 1945: Presidium of the Academy of Sciences.
th e photos to enlarge
The exterior of the building is based on a Venetian palace in
Gothic style. During the early Soviet period, Bolsheviks removed
the Koranic verses from the facade and replaced them with Communist
slogans and golden stars. When the Academy of Sciences moved
there, the words "Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan
SSR" were inscribed along the top of the façade.
The large metallic gold stars and letters still remain, though
the name of the building - Presidium of the Academy of Sciences
- is now written near the entrance in Azeri Latin script and
English translation (not Azeri in Cyrillic script and Russian).
Originally, Ismayiliyya was decorated with excellent murals.
However, most of them were destroyed. Today only the Main hall
and the President's office are highly ornamented. The President's
office is designed in the Mauritanian (Moorish) style, while
the ceiling of the main hall bears traces of Gothic, Baroque
and other European styles.
Musa Naghiyev was born into a poor peasant family but managed
to become the richest Azeri oil-industrialist of the pre-revolutionary
period. He accumulated his wealth unimaginably fast, although
like many of his contemporaries, he had apprenticed as a cargo
handler. Naghiyev started to work when he was 11 years old.
This palace, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city,
was built in memory of his son, Ismayil (1875-1902, who at the
age of 27 died of tuberculosis.
Naghiyev had taken his son to Italy for medical assistance and
was struck by the beauty of one of the palaces in Venice. Eventually,
this building became the model upon which the Ismayiliyya was
Naghiyev hired Polish architect I. K. Ploshko for the project.
Construction was completed in 1913; but five years later, Armenian
Dashnaks burned Ismayiliyya. This was a devastating blow to him
since the palace had been built to the memory of his son. Within
a year, at the age of 70, Naghiyev died of a heart attack (March
4, 1919), before the palace could be rebuilt.
Even though Naghiyev has the reputation of being among the most
miserly of the oil barons, he was also a philanthropist who financed
several important buildings and humanitarian projects, including
the "Sanitorium for Stomach and Intestinal Diseases"
in Mardakan and three hospitals (known during the Soviet period
as Semashko, Shamyuan and Khatai). Semashko, built in 1912, now
bears his name - the Musa Naghiyev First Aid Hospital. The building
is designed in the shape of an "H" (Cyrillic "N")
for his name.
As well Naghiyev was the primary sponsor and trustee of one of
the largest male technical schools, Realni School for boys, which
today houses the Economics University.
Naghiyev became a millionaire unimaginably fast from his investment
in oil. Fearing that he would lose his wealth as quickly as he
had gained it, he began investing in real estate to guarantee
himself a source of regular income. In total, he is credited
with constructing 98 of Baku's buildings, each one more elaborate
than the next. He became Baku's largest landholder. Although
most of his buildings were not gestures of philanthropy, today
it would be impossible to imagine Baku without these magnificent
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