The Palace of the Shirvanshahs

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs in Azerbaijan is a 15th century palace complex, described by UNESCO as "one of the pearls of Azerbaijan's architecture". It is located in the Inner City, or Old City, of the capital Baku. Together with the Maiden Tower and other historic monuments, it is inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage List of Historical Monuments.

In the 15th century the Shirvanshah dynasty, under Ibrahim I of Shirvan, transferred his capital from the city of Shamakhi to Baku following a devastating earthquake. He committed himself to the construction of the palace - a memorial complex built around the sacred place of worship (pir) and tomb of Seyid Yahya Bakuvi, a Helwati Sufi saint.

The complex contains the main palace building, the divanhane (banqueting hall), burial vaults, a mosque with a minaret, the mausoleum of philosopher and thinker Seyid Yahya Bakuvi, Murad’s Gate, a reservoir and the remains of a bath house.

The main building of the complex was started in 1411 by Shirvanshah Sheikh Ibrahim I. The two-storey building of the palace has three narrow winding staircases and a large doorway leads from the courtyard to the second floor into a high octahedral lodging covered with a cupola. A small octagonal vestibule behind it connects it with the rest of the lodgings in the palace.

The Shirvanshahs were patrons of the Helwati Sufiye order, and Shirvanshah Khalilullah I was buried with his family in the grounds of the palace. After the Safavid conquest of Baku in 1501, the Sufi order was expelled.

Water from the wells inside the grounds of the palace were once considered to have healing qualities, as was the hill on which the palace was built. Over centuries, the complex fell into ruin and was known in Baku as Baku Khans Palace.