The temples of Azerbaijan

Historically, Azerbaijan covered a vast territory from the Caucasus Mountains to the Sefidrud River in present day Iran. Numerous caravan routes, including the Great Silk Road, connecting such great civilizations as the Sumer, Assyrian, Greek, Roman, Persian, Turkic, Indian, Chinese, etc., passed through the territory of Azerbaijan. Each of the civilizations by force or by endearment tried to plant their culture and beliefs in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan experienced almost all the major religions before choosing Islam.

Byzantium from the west and Syria from the south-west tried to root Christianity in Azerbaijan, from the south-east Iran planted Zoroastrism, the Khazars attempted to bring Judaism. The Seldjiks, mostly Turkic Mongols, introduced Buddhism. 

Temples were constructed long before a religion was accepted by the majority of the population or long before it was proclaimed a state religion. Thus, a temple in the village of Kish is considered one of the earliest Christian temples not only in the Caucasus but also in the entire Christian world, and was built long before Christianity was accepted in Caucasian Albania. The Temple of Fire in Takhta - Suleyman, mentioned in "Avesta", was not only one of the most ancient fire-worship temples, but also one of the most revered. The Sasanid Shahinshahs were crowned there, though they had highly recognized fire-worship temples of their own. Yampolsky, for example, called Azerbaijan the Papal area of Zoroastrism. One such area was evidently the area of Baku including Gobustan and Absheron that had the still active fire-worship temple as well as numerous ancient temples and altars of fire on its territory. A unique rock Mozdait temple dating back to the beginning of our era has been preserved in the region of Zakatala. Numerous Christian temples have survived to our time in Garabag, Sheki-Zakatal zone and in the Kazakh region. Many Buddhist temples, erected by the early Ilkhams were later destroyed by their descendants that accepted Islam. Unfortunately, no ancient Judaic temple remained to our day. The earliest synagogue of the mountainous Jews, still active in Guba, was constructed at the end of the XIX century. The first ever mosques built outside the Arab Muslim world still remain in Azerbaijan. In accordance with all mentioned above, many considered Azerbaijan a god-blessed country.

Young and independent Azerbaijan has a responsibility and the very honorable task of restoration and preservation of this rich heritage that we have received.