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.

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.

outside Sheki Kahn's Palace

Sheki Khan’s palace is truly one of those buildings that the beauty and inspiration cannot be reproduced in photo.

BaldHiker Social Walks

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).

coloured windows of Sheki Kahn's Palace

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.

great interior paintings on walls

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.

small parts making great decor

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.

cultural images on the walls


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.

decoration Sheki Kahn's Palace
ceiling of Sheki Kahn 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 the pomegranate is a symbol of abundance and fertility.

stained window glass
pictures tell a story

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.

coloured glass and light
natural spring inside 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.

spring room walls

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 🙂

the guide at Sheki Kahn's Palace
decor above the door at entrance
garden at the front
frint view of Sheki Kahn's Palace Azerbaijan

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.

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  1. andrea mendonca says:

    Hey, Would you recommend traveling to Azerbaijan in the Winter months January? Are the mountain villages accessible by road?

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi Andrea, yes, actually that is when I have travelled there most often

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Tara hi 🙂 amazing to see with your own eyes believe me.. thank you

  2. Wonderful article & photos (well done for convincing them to let you take them!)! Feels like being there again…

  3. 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!

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi Corinne.. I can’t help myself from keep going back now I have seen what it is like 🙂 thx

  4. 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!

  5. Excellent!!! thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Robert Rosen says:

    Thank you for bringing us along on your travels. I can’t find a link to subscribe. Happy New Year.

  7. 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.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Thanks very much. Yes the culture is so rich.. I will be back to learn more

  8. ChieftainJenn says:

    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.

  9. 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.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      you are so lucky to live in a beautiful place

    2. Paul Steele says:

      you live in the most wonderful place. I shall return soon to learn more. The kindness of the people is incredible. Thank you

  10. Anisha 'A Niche World' says:

    Definitely somewhere that’s been on my radar for some time now! Interesting about the palace. I am inspired!

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Thanks Anisha. It is truly a wonderful country

      1. Abid Samed says:

        Dear Paul,
        Thank you for you wonderful pictures and brief information about our country and Sheki. It will be pleasure for us to see you again in our lovely and beautiful country.

        1. Paul Steele says:

          cannot wait to visit again 🙂

  11. I was there in September, it’s really amazing. Paul thanks for your article and great pictures.

  12. Thank you for being our guest.We would be very glad to meet u in our country again. Good luck to all of u

    1. Paul Steele says:

      A wonderful country and lovely people

  13. 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!


    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hello, yes… so much to learn from there. Adored it truly, thank you

  14. I liked the point of viw of auther as i am from Sheki 🙂

    1. Paul Steele says:

      so lucky to live there. thank you

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