First Lady visits Ateshgah Temple

By: Sara Rajabova

Mehriban Aliyeva, Azerbaijan`s First Lady and Chair of the Baku 2015 European Games Organizing Committee has paid a visit to the Ateshgah Temple State Historical Architectural Reserve.

Aliyeva’s visit was aimed to review preparation process of the cultural monuments for the Baku 2015 European Games, which will take place on June 12 – 28, 2015, AzerTag news agency reported.

The Ateshgah Temple State Historical Architectural Reserve is located in Surakhani district of Baku, which has been included in the UNESCO`s preliminary World Heritage list.

Chair of the Baku 2015 European Games Organizing Committee Aliyeva monitored closely the Reserve.

At the first meeting of the Organizing Committee in last February, Mehriban Aliyeva noted that: “It is of paramount importance that the city of Baku, which will host the European Games, is properly prepared for the Games.”

“Proposals for improvement of the urban infrastructure, development of the transport system, provision of security, optimization of medical services, wide utilization of information and communication facilities and planning of tourism itineraries and cultural programs are being developed by relative organizations,” Aliyeva said.

Ateshgah Temple is considered as one of the most interesting monuments due to its historical significance. Ateshgah with its modern appearance was built in the 17-18th centuries. It is famous for such a natural phenomenon as burning gas (gas contacting oxygen erupted in flames).

The history of the temple goes back to the Sassanid Empire, when Zoroastrianism was the main religion in this region. But when the army of the Caliphate broke into the South Caucasus in 643, the Fire Temple was destroyed. In the 15-17th centuries, Indian fire worshipers, who came to the Absheron with trade caravans, began to make pilgrimage to Surakhani and new buildings were constructed.

The fire-worshipping temple, situated 30 km away from Baku in Surakhani, on the Absheron Peninsula, has undoubtedly attracted the attention of tourists since it was opened for visiting after reconstruction in 1975.

The complex was nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1998.

Currently Ateshgah is a museum which attracts the attention of many tourists. The temple is often visited by Iranian Zoroastrians who conduct their religious rites here.

Azerbaijan carries out all the necessary works in order to once again demonstrate Europe and the whole world its might, hospitality of its people and the dynamic development of the country during the European games.