Architectural features of the Maiden Tower. Part 2.

A wall with two projections is part of the tower original design and not part of fortress walls.

Usually people describe the tower as a large cylindrical volume and projection, which is adjacent to it. However, the tower can not be considered without adjacent (fence) with two bulges to its rear wall. This fence was never part of the fortress walls, as it is sometimes presented. The old city plans show that the tower was located inside the fortress walls and adjacent was apart from them. It is an integral part of the design of the tower, though its purpose is not fully understood.

The adjacent (fence) with two bulges is an integral part of the design of the tower.  The old city plans show that the tower was located inside the fortress walls and adjacent was apart from them.


Part of the wall adjacent to the tower was redesigned during the "restoration" of the 1960. As seen from the drawings done before the restoration, the wall had only two bulges and ended almost at the trailing edge of the tower. During the "restoration" the wall was continued and completed with third bulge, which is not part of the original design of the tower. The border of the new part can be easily distinguished on the wall.


A stone slab with an inscription was built into the former niche or window.

The Maiden Tower has a two-row Arabic inscription written on a stone slab and mounted on the surface of the tower in the upper right of the entrance. The inscription reads: "Gubba (dome, vault) of Masud ibn Dawood". For a long time the tower was dated XII century by this inscription. However this stone slab was not in the original design and appeared on the tower later, as it casually and carelessly mount into the masonry. It locates not above the main entrance as usually, but somewhere at the side, at a height of 14 meters above the ground. Most likely, the slab with the inscription is a tombstone, which during the repair patched the window in the tower. On examination one can see that there was a square niche or window on this place. After installation of the stone slab the upper part of the niche was patched with random stone plate, and the gaps around were closed up with mortar (that was not in use during the original construction of the tower). The fact that the on-site slab was a window, indirectly confirmed by its location - a niche located almost on par with the main window of the tower, but on the opposite side from it.

The stone plate with the inscription did not exist initially and was let into the masonry later. The gaps around were closed up with mortar that does not exist on the front surface of the tower. A niche located almost on par with the main window of the tower, but on the opposite side from it.


Mortar appeared on the ribbed side of the tower later, probably in the XII century.

If compare the front (south-west) and rear (north-eastern) sides of the tower, one can note that the ribbed surface of the rear part was smeared with mortar. This mortar was partially crumbled, but it still covers almost the entire rear surface. The front part of the tower is almost free from mortar, and it is clear that it never been there. It is difficult to imagine that mortars were used during the construction of the tower to gloss the ribbed surface - why build a ribbed surface and then try to align it with a solution. In addition, the remnants of a similar mortar were found around the slab with inscription which let into the surface of the tower in the XII century. Thus, we can assume that in the XII century the Maiden Tower was "renovated". During these works some of the old stones in the lower parts were replaced (around these stones the remnants of the mortar can be seen), the entire northern side of the tower smeared with lime mortar, and slab with inscription was let into the existing niche (this slab is likely to immortalize the name of the master who carried out the work). We can only guess what other changes have been made at the time.

The rear (northern) part of the tower, with traces of the mortar on the entire surface. The front (southern) portion of the tower with mortar just around the building inscription.


The windows of the tower could not be used for defensive purposes.

Location of all windows on one side of the tower refutes the assumption that the windows could be used for the defence. The windows are directed only towards the sea. There are steps inside the windows niches, but to approach directly to the windows is very difficult. Space in front of windows so narrow and limited that from the window you can see only the sky or the horizon of the sea, but not the area under the tower.

Penetrated through the windows light was directional. If the windows would serve only to illuminate the inner of the tower, it is much more logical to make them much bigger. A narrow slit of windows and cones expanding inside served to direct sunlight at certain points, and not lit all the tower.

A narrow slit of windows and cones expanding inside for the directional light. The space in front of windows are too narrow and limited.


At the winter solstice the sun rises exactly opposite the main window.

The days around 22 December, when the sun rises at the lowest height above the horizon, are the days of the Winter Solstice. In the northern hemisphere the shortest days and longest nights of the year occur during this time. Those days were very important in the culture of many peoples, and served as reference points for employment in agriculture, construction, and other vital areas of society. After the winter solstice, the daylight hours start to increase, indicating that spring is coming. For ancient people, it was a divine miracle - the victory of light over darkness, the birth of a new life. In those days people performed various rituals. Obviously, the Maiden Tower was also included in these rituals and worship of the Sun. Only in Winter Solstice the sun rising in the sky, is framed precisely in the main window of the tower. The sun's rays, passing along the ledge, enter the main window and project onto the opposite wall. At this point on the wall all other rays from widows were converged. Perhaps there was something related to the ritual on this wall, such as a niche, arranged with a purpose. But unfortunately, this place was thoroughly patched during "restoration", and now only traces of the new masonry can be seen on the wall.

On December 22 the sun rises directly in the frame of main window.  Beam enters the tower through the main window and projects onto the opposite wall

For the first time the story of the Maiden Tower connection with the winter solstice was suggested by Abbas Islamov. To test this version, we met the sunrise inside the tower during the Winter Solstice and took pictures. Later these photos were published in some magazines (albeit without attribution).


At the Winter Solstice the sun consistently penetrates the upper windows.

The small upper windows above the main window located on an arc. At the winter solstice the rising sun penetrates into the main window. Then as the sun rise above the horizon along the arc sunlight consistently enters the small upper windows of the tower, one after another to act as a spotlight on the back wall. This effect cannot be seen well today because of the presence of the floors. But, if they were to be removed (as it was before) then the effects should become apparent to the ground level viewers, looking upwards from the inside the hollow tower.

Small upper windows  located on an arc. Sunlight consistently enters the small upper windows of the tower, one after another


There was a special indentation on the ledge of the tower for directing the sunlight into the main window.

If you compare the photos of the tower before and after "restoration" of 1960's, you may notice a slight difference on the ledge of the tower. There was an indentation on the edge of ledge, which was patched during the restoration work. This indentation may seem unimportant, but a detailed investigation can determine that it played a major role in the construction of the tower.

On the old photo the indentation is located below the ribbed side.
On the second photo the indentation patched up to the ribbed side.
 The indentation was in line with the main window and it's height was equal to the height of the window.

The indentation was in line with the main window and its height was equal to the height of the window. During the restoration the indentation was patched in accordance with the shape of the ledge's lower part. The new stones used for the patching are plainly visible on the edge of the ledge. What was the purpose of the indentation? As we know, the windows of the tower are directing to the rising sun. The center point of the tower, the main window and indentation are on the same line. The indentation was done in order to direct rays of the rising sun through the main window to the exact center of the tower. It played the role of a "foresight". Typically, the sun rises in line with this setup only for a few days during a Winter Solstice. Penetration of sunlight to the tower at this time could be a signal for the preparation of certain rituals.

The center point of the tower, the main window, the indentation and rising sun are on the same line during a Winter Solstice.


© Copyright Faig Nasibov, 2008,