Old Palace of Sheki’s Khans

The Palace of the Sheki Khans, located in Sheki, high in the Caucasus mountains of Azerbaijan, was the summer residence of the Sheki khans, or “rulers”. Built in 1797, full restoration works were carried out between 1955 and 1965 under the supervision of two talented architects, Kamal Mamedbekov and Nikolai Utsyn, who used the ceremonial hall on the second floor of the palace as their workshop.

Along with the pool and plane trees, the summer residence is the only remaining structure from the larger palace complex, which once included a winter palace, residences for the Khan's family and servants' quarters.

The two-storey palace measures 32 meters by 8.5 meters and is renowned for its lavish decoration, both inside and outside. Constructed of Russian wood, with French stained glass, Ottoman mosaic tiles and Iranian mirrorwork, the exterior is decorated with dark blue, turquoise and ochre tiles in geometric patterns. Inside, murals coloured with tempera (a medieval method of painting on wood panels) were inspired by the works of Nizami Ganjavi, a 12th-century poet.

The layout of both floors is identical; three rectangular rooms are separated by narrow, south-facing halls (“iwans”) which provide access to the rooms. The floors are accessed separately. Entered from the south through the two iwans, the ground floor was used primarily by clerks and petitioners. Two stairways attached to the northern façade gave access to the first floor, which was reserved for the Khan's family and their guests.