Places of Worship in Baku

The Azeri constitution, mandating no state religion, allows for all faiths to practice their religion freely. Following independence there has been both a Muslim revival and a rise in nationalism. Many religious buildings in Azerbaijan were destroyed during the Soviet era, including the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Muslim Bibi Heybat Mosque, which was rebuilt in 1998.   See religion.
Azerbaijan - Baku: Ajdar Bey Mosque - 'Goy' Blue Mosque - S. Vurgun street -  photo by M.TorresLike in Iran, the majority of Azeris are Shia Muslims (Jafarite rite), whereas Sunni Muslims make up most of the Islamic population of the rest of the former Soviet Union.

Sunni Islam, the more secular branch, practices leadership by consensus, whereas Shia leadership derives its authority by divine right. In a spirit of tolerance.

Most mosques in Baku serve both the Shia and the Sunni communities.


Azerbaijan - Baku: Russian Orthodox Church of Archangel Michael - iconostasis - Pskov style - photo by Miguel TorresThe Christian community is made mainly of Russian Orthodox, with smaller groups of Catholics and Protestants. Some Evangelical churches have been very active after independence.

The main Russian Orthodox church is the Holy Myrrhbearers Cathedral, erected in 1909, closed in 1920 and re-opened in 2000. Baku's old Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was demolished by Stalin in 1936 making the Church of Archangel Michael the oldest Orthodox temple in the city.

The formerly important Armenian community is now completely gone, the church still exists but is closed. Armenian churches all over Azerbaijan have been abandoned or used for other purposes.

A Catholic church was completed in Nobel avenue in the spring of 2007 and immediately suffered an arson attack (a Christian graveyard of Yasamal district was also burned in 2007).. Baku's previous Roman Catholic church was destroyed by the Soviet government in 1931 (Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary).
  • Holy Myrrhbearers Cathedral (Russian Orthodox)
  • Church of Archangel Michael (Russian Orthodox): Ismaylov 38
  • Church of the Nativity of God  (Russian Orthodox):  Academic Shamil Azizbayov 205
  • 7th Day Adventist Church: 3rd Ippodromskaya 27
  • Armenian Church of St. Gregory Illuminator: fountain square (closed)
  • Saint Maryam Catholic church: Nobel avenue
Azerbaijan - Baku: Armenian Church of St. Gregory Illuminator  - belfry - photo by Miguel Torres


Mountain Jews (Tat) Synagogue - Baku - Azerbaijan  (photo: Federation of Jewish Communities of Azerbaijan /FJC)At present the Jewish population lives mostly in the capital (10.000) with important concentrations in Krasnaya Sloboda (3500), Oguz (800) and Privolnoe and several small groups in other towns. The community is composed of Ashkenazi (4000), Georgian (1000) and Mountain Jews, Jewish Tats (11.000).

The Ashkenazi arrived mainly in the 19th century.  The Ashkenazi Jews of Privolnoe are Gerim and Sobbotnik Jews, the former descendants of Russian converts to Judaism and the latter Karaite Jews who adhere to the Bible, but not to the oral halakhic tradition. Tat Jews trace their roots back many centuries and speak a Indo-European Language called Tati (Judeo-Tat dialect). The Tats moved to Baku from a mountain way of life and have become extremely assimilated. The Georgian synagogue in Baku, which closed after the 1991 civil unrest drove many Georgian Jews to emigrate to Israel, was reopened in 1996 with a large, public celebration.

About 40,000 Jews have left Azerbaijan, mostly for Israel. Most Jews emigrated after 1990 but the phenomenon was less serious in Azerbaijan than in many other parts of the former Soviet Union. After the cease fire with Armenia the emigration to Israel ('aliyah') faded. Azerbaijan has developed a strong friendship with Israel. The relationship emerged 1992 when Israel supported Azerbaijan against Armenia in the Karabakh War. Israel has since continued to provide intelligence, security and military training to Azerbaijan, as part of a Israel-Turkey-Azerbaijan alliance.

Georgian synagogue - Baku - Azerbaijan (photo: Federation of Jewish Communities of Azerbaijan /FJC)In Baku there are three synagogues. The Israeli Centre offers educational programs and operates a Hebrew school. The Jewish Community Cultural centre publishes a newspaper, established a theatre club and operates a scientific center. Welfare, health, educational and cultural activities are provided by the Jewish Women's Organization of Baku. Hebrew is taught at the Baku State University.

A new synagogue situated in Dilara Aliyeva street is being built, Ashkenazi communtiy, with Azeri and international financing. The 1,000 square metre, white-stone-clad building will have three stories and space for 300 congregants, plus a kosher cafe seating 70, classrooms, and a library of Hebrew books. This will be the largest synagogue in the Caucasus.
  • Georgian Synagogue: D. Aliyeva 171
  • Mountain Jews (Jewish Tats) Synagogue: Sh. Badalbeily 39
  • Ashkenazi Synagogue: D. Aliyeva 171
Ashkenazi synagogue, a former army storage space given to the Jewish community in 1946 - Baku - Azerbaijan  (photo: Federation of Jewish Communities of Azerbaijan /FJC)
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A to Z of Azerbaijan / A dan Z ye Azerbaycan