…and she held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly—slowly.
Then she slipped through it, and shut it behind her, and stood with her back against it, looking about her and breathing quite fast with excitement, and wonder, and delight.
(The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911)
These beautiful, wooden, handmade creations that surround you, me and everyone are from everywhere I have travelled in Azerbaijan: Qabala, Sheki, Zagatala, Quba, Nakhchivan, and also where I live, in Baku. The first wooden doors appeared and were used in ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire and Persia. From those times up until the modern day only one thing has changed in the concept of doors – their design. But the main purpose is still the same: doors protect us from the outdoors and separate our personal life from the public world. Throughout history, they have also protected our cities from enemies or welcomed our friends…
Maybe you haven’t paid enough attention to these beautiful creations all around us, or maybe you think these pieces of wood are nothing special, but I will say that doors are history and that they have witnessed the most interesting moments in the lives of our modern cities. I love to explore and photograph these ancient wooden doors, and now I want to share with you my collection of the 50 most beautiful and historic examples.
The small handmade door inside the Khan’s Palace in Sheki (1) belongs to the eighteenth century and is decorated with stunning floral patterns. The door from Nakhchivan (2) is simple but notice the two different knockers – for men on the right and women on the left. The Quba (6) door is similar to the one in Nakhchivan but the double knockers were removed at some point in history.
In Baku, the large arch-shaped door of the Caravanserai in the Old City (3) was wide enough to accommodate camels and cargo and belongs to the fifteenth century, whilst the exquisite ornamental designs of the door to the Juma mosque (5) date to 1899. The ancient Udi church in the village of Nij features a door with Albanian Christian crosses and was constructed in the 3rd century (4) (and repaired in 2006). In northwestern Azerbaijan, the huge Zagatala Fortress door (7), made in 1830, once served as the door to an entire ancient walled city and today it is protected as part of the Zagatala Historical Art Reserve.