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. This time I started with a visit to a historic monument that made my jaw drop. Kahn’s Palace in the ancient city of Sheki.
Sheki Khan’s palace is truly one of those buildings that the beauty and inspiration cannot be reproduced in photo.
History of The Palace
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, the only one remaining of a huge complex comprising of residential buildings and a great winter palace. It was built as the summer residence of Hussein-khan Mushtad (the grandson of Gadzhi Chelebi).
The Building and Light
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.
The materials used included brick, river stones, trees of plane and oak. As a building it took just 2 years to build the basic shape, but it took 10 years overall, a further 8 years to make the decorations and small parts.
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.
Each room is decorated very differently from each other. Upstairs on the first floor the rooms are separated 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.
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 the pomegranate is a symbol of abundance and fertility.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.