By Laman Ismayilova
The year 2021 has finally ended. For Azerbaijan, the past year has been rich in new experiences and major projects aimed at promoting the country’s rich cultural heritage.
Let’s take a look at some of the accomplishments and highlights of the past year.
Shusha declared cultural capital of Azerbaijan
In 2021, the city of Shusha was declared the cultural capital of Azerbaijan. The city has historically been one of the country’s most important centers of historical, cultural, socio-political life. Shusha was liberated from Armenian occupation during the Second Karabakh War in 2020.
After the liberation, major cultural events took place in Shusha, including the Khari Bulbul Music Festival, the Vagif Poetry Days and the Uzeyir Hajibayli International Music Festival.
Last year, the Khari Bulbul Music Festival once again welcomed talented musicians to Shusha.
On the first day, the audience was enchanted by the traditional music of the different peoples living in Azerbaijan.
The concert on the theme “Multiculturalism in Azerbaijani Music” conveyed the message to the whole world that everyone, regardless of nationality or religion, has one homeland.
In addition, Vagif Poetry Days was first held in the poet’s hometown after his liberation from the occupation of Armenia for three decades.
Until 1991, the cultural event was held annually in Azerbaijan on the relevant instructions of the national leader Heydar Aliyev.
The Vagif Poetry Days 2021 brought together folk poets, mugham singers and many other cultural figures.
The large-scale event was marked by fascinating performances, colorful exhibitions, literary colloquiums and a touching poetic composition “From Nizami to Vagif”.
Afterwards, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan hosted a gala concert within the framework of the 13th Uzeyir Hajibayli International Music Festival.
The tradition of celebrating the great composer’s birthday as a holiday was established by the eminent conductor Niyazi, who celebrated this day every year after the death of Uzeyir Hajibayli.
The Azerbaijani State Song and Dance Ensemble performed at the concert under the direction of popular artist Agaverdi Pashayev.
For young talents, a new program “Echoes of the Youth of Uzeyir Art” was presented as part of the festival.
Restoration of cultural monuments
Azerbaijan always pays special attention to the protection of cultural heritage. Large-scale work is being carried out in the territories liberated from Armenian occupation.
About 927 libraries with a book fund of 4.6 million, 22 museums and museum branches with more than 100,000 exhibitions, 4 art galleries and other cultural institutions were victims of Armenian vandalism.
Many cultural and historical sites such as the mausoleum of Molla Panah Vagif, the Bulbul house-museum, the statue of Uzeyir Hajibayli have been restored in Shusha after the liberation of the city.
Restoration work on historical, cultural and religious sites is underway in the liberated lands.
Year of Nizami Ganjavi
The year 2021 was declared in Azerbaijan as the year of Nizami Ganjavi by presidential decree, given the exceptional importance of the poet’s legacy.
The country is also celebrating the 880th birthday of the great poet and thinker with multiple cultural events.
In November, Baku hosted the Nizami Ganjavi International Forum which brought together foreign experts, scientists who study the rich literary heritage of the genius thinker.
The forum featured round tables on multiple topics such as “The influence of Nizami’s work on the political and social traditions of the medieval East”, “Nizami Ganjavi: a modern worldview” and others “, etc.
In addition, Nizami Ganjavi’s 880th birthday was celebrated with a spectacular festival.
The audiovisual project “Festival of Light. Nizami Ganjavi” was presented in Baku from October 14th to 17th.
During the festival, miniatures based on “Khamsa” were recreated on the facade of the National Museum of Azerbaijani Literature and on the Maiden’s Tower.
The project sparked wider public interest in the study, preservation and transmission of Nizami Ganjavi’s rich poetic, philosophical and social heritage to future generations.
Many other cultural events dedicated to the poet have been successfully organized in Azerbaijan and abroad.
In 2021, Azerbaijan actively cooperated with major global organizations such as ICESCO and UNESCO.
Last year, Azerbaijan and the World Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) opened up new perspectives of cooperation and mutual support.
The organization has declared itself ready to help Azerbaijan in the restoration of monuments destroyed as a result of the Armenian aggression.
In addition, ICESCO also proposed to declare Shusha the capital of the Islamic world. The initiative was announced during the press conference between ICESCO Director General Salim AlMalik and Azerbaijani Minister of Culture Anar Karimov.
Meanwhile, the Lankaran region has been included in the UNESCO list of “Creative Cities Network”.
In this regard, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture sent a nomination file to the UNESCO Secretariat.
UNESCO will also celebrate birthdays of Azerbaijani personalities.
The organization will mark the centenary of the outstanding composer Fikrat Amirov in 2022 and the bicentenary of the great philanthropist and oil magnate Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev in 2023.
The decision was announced at the 41st General Conference of UNESCO in Paris.
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