Little is definitively known about Baku’s most famous landmark, the eight storey high Maiden Tower, with walls five metres thick, which is clearly a fortress, but whose precise purpose, history and the reasons for its name and shape are shrouded in mystery. There is a list of far-fetched stories surrounding its construction, which was certainly no later than the 12th century, but believed by many to go back to the 7th or 8th. The most popular, but by no means most likely, of which concerns an unfortunate maiden, imprisoned by a despotic king – in some accounts her incestuous father – hell-bent on marrying her. Agreeing to marry the despot/father upon completion of a tower in her honour, she inspected the finished work, climbed to the top and hurled herself to her death in the waters of the Caspian, which at that period came right up to the base of the tower, thus preserving her maidenhood and giving the tower its name. A more likely history of the name is that maidenhood symbolises the impregnability of this impressive fortress, which accounts also for the several other Maiden Towers across the region, notably in Istanbul. The building’s curious cross-section – like a teardrop, or the stylised flame motif found in a good deal of traditonal Azeri textile-work – resembles a Zoroastrian fire symbol that is tied in to their fire worship, but does this make the tower a definitively Zoroastrian construction? Noone is entirely sure.