Many cities have them – remnants of an old walled town harking back to its medieval past. But few are as enigmatic as Icheri Sheher in Baku. A Unesco heritage site, the Old Town dates back well beyond the 12th century, with its iconic, mysterious Maiden Tower and commanding Shirvanshah’s Palace. We asked the celebrated photographer David Eustace to go and capture it. In an extract from our Summer 2017 issue, view his beautiful images and read his thoughts on the Old Town
There’s something about the way the light hits the Maiden Tower that makes it look as modern today as it did back in the 12th century. From certain angles, it could be a Frank Gehry creation. Good architecture never dates.
The Shirvanshah’s Palace is a beautiful space: there is an air of mystery, and the light is wonderful. We’re sharing a moment, a view, with the people who lived here in the 15th century.
As an artist, I look for details rather than an overall picture; there were many treasures and surprised I discovered within the multi-layered Old Town. What struck me about visiting over several days, was the way it changed so greatly depending on the time of day – the shadows created vastly different dimensions and shapes.
I love that you can compose something within a frame and give it a whole new depth when the light hits it in a particular way. The shadows are the same as they have been for centuries; there’s nothing else there that distracts from it.
The Flame Towers are an incredible feat of engineering and skill, and the same goes for the ancient decorative doorways of the Old Town – but they’re centuries apart. Both are testament to craftsmen, artisans, visionaries.
When you walk into the Old Town you think, ‘wow’. But then it’s the detail that’s really fascinating. I like the graphic shadows on the cobbled roads, and the triangular shapes they cast on the walls. You can look at it as a wall, or, like me, you can delve a little deeper and look beyond. The greatest commodity of the Old Town is something you cannot buy, and that’s history.
View more of David’s work on his website
This story appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Baku magazine.