Jewish tracesin Baku
Jews have lived in Azerbaijan for centuries, but their arrival in Baku mainly dates to the 1830s. Later, the community grew rapidly during the Oil Boom, which enticed diverse people to the city in search of work and wealth.
From then on Jews were an integral part of Baku’s uniquely multicultural society and played an outstanding role in its intellectual and cultural life despite their relatively small size. For example, although making up 4.5% of the population in the early 20th century, they accounted for about 30% of lawyers and 40% of doctors. Others became teachers, engineers, musicians and journalists. And some became famous well beyond Baku’s borders – the mathematician Lotfi Zadeh, the physicist Lev Landau, and others.
Since first migrating to Baku, Jews have left an indelible mark on the city’s culture and landscape. Several synagogues still exist in the city: the synagogue of European and Georgian Jews which opened in 2003 and is considered one of the largest synagogues in Europe, and the Synagogue of Mountain Jews which has been functioning since 1945 and following reconstruction in 2011 is well worth seeing for anyone interested in Azerbaijan’s Jewish heritage. The very first synagogue in the city, however, was what is today’s Rashid Behbudov State Song Theatre, which was built in 1901 and functioned as a synagogue between 1910 and 1934. A variety of Jews continue to reside in Baku today, where they have always been held in high regard and symbolise Azerbaijan’s unique brand of multiculturalism.
You can find out more about the Jewish traces in Baku by downloading the brochure, as well as have a tour around the most famous landmarks of Baku’s Jewish heritage by downloading the map below. It will take you around the city and to numerous stops, including two synagogues, State Song Theatre and Landau’s memorial board.