Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

To return to Azerbaijan was a delight, a country I have fallen in love with. So much culture, so much genuine friendship and way too much to see and do in one trip. This time I headed out of Baku and up to the North of the country and got to marvel in some truly incredible places. I shall start with a monument that made my jaw drop. Kahn’s Palace in the ancient city of Sheki.

DSC03680_B Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

Sheki Khan’s palace is truly one of those buildings that the beauty and inspiration cannot be reproduced in photo. The detail and the history is spellbinding and I could have wandered for hours taking it all in. In the mid to late 1700s Sheki was the capital of the Sheki Khanate (kingdom) of Azerbaijan in the Caucuses, ruled by a khan (king). One must remember that this was only a small building, however the only one remaining of a huge complex comprising of residential buildings and a great winter palace. Built as the summer residence of Hussein-khan Mushtad (the grandson of Gadzhi Chelebi).

An amazing fact about the palace is that not one drop of glue or a single nail was used to put it together. Making this fact even more incredible are the windows coloured yellow, red and blue demand a closer inspection and makes. The light coming in is mesmerising and perfect. Individual windows with each square metre consisting of 14,000 little pieces of hand crafted wood and over 5000 pieces of coloured glass.

DSC03686_new Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03684 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

Inside there are 6 rooms, each with their different original purpose and intricate design. Not one inch is missed with fine detail. The ground floor has a grand reception room, a rainbow of colours hits you immediately. Thousand upon thousands of images, floral to symbols of culture. Even when you look up the mind goes into awe with the shapes and detail. Mirrors perfectly placed to capture the coloured light coming in.

DSC03716 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03702 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

Each room is decorated very differently from each other. Upstairs on the first floor the rooms are seperated side by side, one for the King and one for the Queen. These were mainly used for reception and guest hosting purposes. Again the wall paintings catch you spellbound. Realising this was mid eighteenth century made the whole thing more magnificent.

DSC03710 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03737 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

Pomegranates adorn many of the pictures. Of course when in Azerbaijan I had come to see this fruit daily as juice and the seeds with my meals. Fresh and in abundance. Of course used in pictures like this it is a symbol of abundance and fertility.

DSC03696 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03697 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

The main central room has a central banner of pictures running all around the room. Battle scenes are the main. Each face, of which there are thousands of people, is unique and not one actual person depicted. Closer inspection reveals the great attention to detail again.

DSC03706_new Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03727 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

Once there was water rushing down through the area producing natural springs that would have made these fountains run naturally. I was trying hard to imaging the room full with people. The colours in full glory and the sound of water flowing. Must have been quite a place to be.

DSC03729 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03728 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

Today I must thank a most tremendous guide that went out of her way to explain all about the palace and the paintings within to me. Zamina Rasuloya (below) had all the patience in the world (thank you) as I wanted to find out more and more 🙂

DSC03740 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03741 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03755 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03683_B Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

DSC03746 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

Looking at the palace from the front you cannot miss the great big sycamore trees just in front to the left and right. Dating back as old as approx 1530 they have enabled the palace to stay standing through wind, storm and earthquakes.

DSC03743 Azerbaijan – Sheki Kahn’s Palace

Written by Paul Steele

Founder of and avid hiker, climber and trekker. Never liking to sit still and always seeking new adventures around the world. Sharing personal views here and tweeting live via @paul_steele


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  1. Paul. Since teaching the sweetest Azerbaijan families in Turkey it’s been on my list, and everytime I see one of your posts, I want it more. Great shots!

  2. Nice shots – I’d love to know how you got the photos! I went to Sheki in October 2012 and they told me I wasn’t allowed to take any inside the palace. I’m very jealous – the interior is beautiful and I wish I could have captured some shots as well!

  3. Mr. Paul as I understood you were in Sheki in the autumn of 2012. I was born in Sheki. But I didn’t realise how beautiful Sheki is! Reading this article I understood one thing that I haven’t know too much about my wonderful town. The pictures you have taken are really have to be taken. The pictures reflect how rich our historical culture is. I appreciated your work. Thank you for sharing. Good luck in your further works.

  4. Wow, just…wow. This world has so much to teach me. I really hope I get here someday! Stunningly beautiful, can’t imagine what it would be like in person.

  5. Dear Paul Steele,
    Thank you for your article about our fabulously beautiful city. I live in Sheki and so nice to read about our city from such a connoisseur of beautiful as you. After your article I fell in love with my city again and it is great that now other people know about it.
    Thank you again, good luck. We would be very glad to meet you in our country again, you will be our welcome guest, though, after such words and such an attitude to our city and our people I do not want to call you a guest. Now you are one of our fellow-countryman.We look forward to your arrival.

  6. tried leaving a comment not sure if it worked initially…

    Happy that you enjoyed your trip to Sheki. I am sure the guide must have told you how khan loved his wife and how one of the rooms conveys wisdom and love in the family. Best wishes from Azerbaijan!


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