Sheki Khans’ Palace

The most outstanding and valuable monument from the 18th century in Azerbaijan, the Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace is inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. The palace was built in 1752-1762 as the summer residence of Hussein-khan Mushtag, local king. The façade of the palace is richly painted with drawings displaying scenes of hunting and war, as well as intricate geometrical and plant patterns. In the center is a huge stained-glass window made from multi-colored glass mosaics (up to 5,000 glass pieces were used in each square window). Other smaller windows in the palace are also made of pieces of colored glass and covered with openwork stone lattices. The basic material for building the palace was raw bricks, river stones, plane trees and oaks. The most amazing is that not a single nail or glue drop was used for the construction! Everything is in place due to special craftsmanship, the secret of which was lost and is now being brought back to life by local artisans. In fact, it took ten years to build the palace: two years to build the basic building, and eight years to make all of the decorations. There are only 6 rooms, 4 corridors and 2 mirrored balconies in the Sheki Khans’ Palace. All the windows and doors of the palace were skillfully assembled from pieces of wood and colored Venetian glass. All of the light that filters in to the palace is rich in colors of the rainbow, from the red, yellow, blue purple and green colored glass. Each room of the palace differs from one another and each is skillfully decorated. All the walls and ceilings are painted with miniatures: mythical birds in a garden of paradise, with unusual flowers and animals. The natural paints used for the pictures are admired by visitors because of their bright colors. These decorations show that in the second half of the 18th century, the Sheki khanate was the center of well-developed wall painting. The paintings on the walls of the Sheki Khans’ Palace were all made with natural paints, and have been preserved pretty much intact since the time when they were painted. The first room that visitors entered was a receiving room, also used for meeting with diplomats and other politicians. There was a small fountain, which could be turned on when the shah wanted to talk to his closest advisors and keep his conversations secret. The windows were made with small pieces of colored glass inlaid into an intricate wooden lattice, and even though each window weighs close to 17 kilograms (37 pounds) they can be opened for ventilation. The women’s room on the second floor was richly and delicately decorated with paintings of flowers and birds, as would suit the women better. Here, the wife of the shah would meet with wives of visiting diplomats. The windows could be opened to create a breezy verandah. A large meeting room was the center of the second floor. The walls were covered in numerous paintings, with lots of flowers and birds. The ceilings were designed to perfectly mirror the carpets that would have been on the floor.

Venue

Sheki Khans’ Palace

Address
Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Sheki, AZ5503

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