Shirvanshahs palace baku

Nestled in the heart of Baku, the marvelous Shirvanshah Palace stands as a testament to Azerbaijan’s rich cultural heritage. With its stunning architectural details and captivating history, this ancient palace is a must-see destination for history enthusiasts and culture-seekers alike. Whenever I visit Baku I always take the time to spend time here and take in the wonder.

Dating back to the 15th century, the Shirvanshah Palace was once the residence of Azerbaijan’s ruling dynasty. It served not only as a political center but also as a symbol of power and grandeur. As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by beautifully adorned halls, intricately carved walls, and ornate ceilings that transport you back in time.

tall tower at Shirvanshahs’ Palace of Baku

A visit to the Shirvanshah Palace offers the opportunity to explore various rooms, including the burial vaults, the Ishqabad bathhouse, and the exquisite Divankhana (reception room). Each space tells a story, preserving the memory of Azerbaijan’s dynastic past.

Marvel at the intricate Islamic geometric patterns, admire the skillful craftsmanship, and soak in the ambiance of this architectural marvel. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan, the Shirvanshah Palace guarantees an unforgettable experience.

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History and significance of the Shirvanshah Palace

The Shirvanshah Palace holds immense historical and cultural significance. Built during the reign of the Shirvanshahs, a Persian dynasty that ruled over Azerbaijan from the 9th to the 16th century, the palace served as the royal residence and the center of power. It symbolized the dynasty’s influence and prosperity during that era.

The Shirvanshahs were the rulers of Shirvan, a land located within modern Azerbaijan. The Shirvanshah Islamic dynasty ruled the area from around 800 AD through a time being Persianised from its origins of Arabic. The dynasty lasted way up until the 1600s.

The old capital for them was actually further inland at Shemakha, a place that has suffered many a great earthquake in history. So in the early 15th Century the ruler of the time, Ibrahim I of Shirvan, took the decision to move the capital to Baku, and to start building a palace.

inside Shirvanshahs’ Palace of Baku

The palace complex was not only a residence but also included religious, administrative, and cultural buildings. It was a hub of political activities and witnessed the rise and fall of various dynasties.

Architecture and design of the Shirvanshah Palace

The architectural brilliance of the Shirvanshah Palace is awe-inspiring. The complex showcases a harmonious blend of various architectural styles, including Persian, Arabic, and Azerbaijani. The attention to detail and the intricate craftsmanship displayed in every corner of the palace is a testament to the skills of the artisans who worked on it.

The palace complex is designed in a way that reflects the hierarchical structure of the society at that time. The higher you go within the complex, the more private and exclusive the spaces become. The outer walls are fortified and austere, while the interiors feature exquisite decorations and luxurious elements.

Azerbaijan - Shirvanshahs’ Palace looking out

Explore the different sections of the palace – Divanhane, Mausoleum, Palace Mosque, and Palace Bathhouse

The Shirvanshah Palace is divided into several sections, each offering a unique glimpse into the palace’s history and function. One of the main sections of the palace is the Divanhane, which served as the reception hall for the rulers. It features beautifully ornate ceilings, intricate tile work, and arched doorways that provide a stunning backdrop for visitors.

mausoleum at Shirvanshahs’ Palace of Baku

Another notable section is the Mausoleum, which houses the tombs of the Shirvanshah rulers. The mausoleum is a serene and solemn space, adorned with intricate stone carvings and calligraphic inscriptions. It serves as a reminder of the dynasty’s legacy and the importance of honoring the past.

In 1435 the then ruler, Shirvanshah Khalilullah I, wanted a family tomb on the grounds for his mother and son, this was to become a mausoleum for 7 of the family members.

The doorway to the mausoleum, above, is bigger than it looks in the photo believe me. Full of inscriptions from the top to the door, the fine detail carries on throughout. From the top there is a passage from the Koran giving glory to Allah. The architect, Ali also has his name carved on within the tears sections as you come down. Above the door the reason for the building is written out and translates as:

“Khalilullah I, the greatest Soltan, Great Shirvanshah, the namesake of the divine prophet, the defender of the religion ordered to construct this light burial-vault for his mother and son in 839” (1435–1436)

colourful dome at Shirvanshahs’ Palace of Baku

Inside you will find new tombstones, from the small for children to the larger, laid in a line on the floor in a great high room. Archeologists found the 7 remains still there in 1945, along with many burial treasures. All long thought lost throughout many conflicts and invasions since.

The Palace Mosque, located within the complex, is an architectural marvel in itself. Its minaret stands tall, and the interior is adorned with delicate tile work and intricate patterns. The mosque served as a place of worship and reflection for the ruling dynasty and their subjects.

Lastly, the Palace Bathhouse, also known as the Ishqabad bathhouse, offers a glimpse into the bathing rituals of the time. The bathhouse features a series of interconnected rooms with domed ceilings and beautiful tile work. It is an interesting space to explore and understand the importance of communal bathing in the culture of Azerbaijan.

looking up at Shirvanshahs palace baku

Highlights of the palace – Sheikh’s Tomb, Keygubad Mosque, and the Palace Museum

Among the many highlights of the Shirvanshah Palace, the Sheikh’s Tomb stands out as a place of reverence. It is the final resting place of Sheikh Yusuf, a revered religious figure who played a significant role in the spread of Islam in Azerbaijan. The tomb is a beautifully decorated structure, featuring intricate carvings and calligraphy.

The Keygubad Mosque, located within the palace complex, is another architectural gem. It is a small mosque with a central dome and elegant decorations. The mosque was a place of worship for the ruling dynasty and their entourage.

For those interested in delving deeper into the history and artifacts of the Shirvanshah Palace, the Palace Museum is a must-visit. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, including pottery, jewelry, manuscripts, and weapons, providing a comprehensive understanding of the palace’s significance and the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan.

stone architecture

Tips for visiting the Shirvanshah Palace – opening hours, ticket prices, and guided tours

To make the most of your visit to the Shirvanshah Palace, it’s essential to plan ahead. The palace is open to visitors from 10 am daily.

Tickets can be purchased at the entrance or online, and discounts are often available for students and seniors. Guided tours are also offered, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the palace’s history and significance. Whether you choose a guided tour or explore on your own, be sure to allocate sufficient time to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and history of the palace.

vew of the old city from Shirvanshahs’ Palace of Baku

Nearby attractions and activities in Baku

While visiting the Shirvanshah Palace, take the opportunity to explore other attractions and activities in Baku. The old city of Baku, also known as Icherisheher, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to many historical and cultural landmarks. You can wander through its narrow streets, and a big tip is to visit the Maiden Tower.

The Baku Boulevard is another popular destination, offering stunning views of the Caspian Sea and a vibrant atmosphere with cafes, restaurants, and entertainment options. Don’t miss the Flame Towers, a modern architectural marvel that dominates the city’s skyline.

For those interested in modern art, the Heydar Aliyev Centre is a must-visit. Designed by the renowned architect Zaha Hadid, the center showcases contemporary art exhibitions and hosts various cultural events.

entrance way at Shirvanshahs’ Palace of Baku

Interesting facts and legends about the Shirvanshah Palace

The Shirvanshah Palace is not only a place of historical significance but also shrouded in interesting facts and legends. One such legend is the story of the hidden treasure of the Shirvanshahs. According to local folklore, a secret treasure is buried somewhere within the palace complex, waiting to be discovered by the fortunate.

Another fascinating fact is that the palace was built without the use of any mortar. The stones were carefully cut and fitted together, creating a solid structure that has withstood the test of time.

stone tower at Shirvanshahs’ Palace of Baku

Preservation and restoration efforts of the Shirvanshah Palace

Over the years, the Shirvanshah Palace has undergone several restoration and preservation efforts to ensure its longevity. The palace complex was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, further highlighting its importance and the need for its protection.

Architectural experts and historians have worked tirelessly to restore the palace to its former glory, using traditional techniques and materials to maintain the authenticity of the structure. The ongoing preservation efforts are crucial in safeguarding the palace for future generations and ensuring that its historical and cultural significance is not lost.

Conclusion: Why the Shirvanshah Palace is a must-visit in Baku

The Shirvanshah Palace is a captivating destination that offers a glimpse into Azerbaijan’s rich history and cultural heritage. With its stunning architectural details, intriguing legends, and fascinating artifacts, the palace provides an immersive experience that transports visitors back in time.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply curious about Azerbaijan’s dynastic past, a visit to the Shirvanshah Palace is an absolute must. Explore the beautifully adorned halls, soak in the ambiance, and let the stories of the palace unfold before your eyes. Discover the historic charm of the Shirvanshah Palace and create lasting memories in the heart of Baku.

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3 Comments

  1. PurpleTravelKate says:

    Such lovely pics, it sounds like a great trip.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      It is kate.. I keep going for more 🙂

  2. Loved the pictures and the history of the place. Seriously considering adding Azerbaijan to our travels!

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