Palace of Shirvanshahs [video]

18 May

The Shirvanshahs’ palace complex, one of the most beautiful monuments of national architecture, was built by the order of Khalilullah I (1417-1462), Shirvanshah in 1420-60, in the old part of the city of Baku. The palace is situated on the highest point of one of the hills of the Icheri Sheher, the Baku fortress. Picturesquely spread over three terrace-yards the ensemble can be seen from the sea and the heights surrounding the city.  Its building is crowned with cupolas with proportioned portals and a minaret. It has fine, deep carvings of decorations and inscriptons and splended masonry.

The ensemble contains the dwelling-house, the Divankhane, the Shirvanshahs’ tomb, the palace mosque with a minaret, the bath- house, the mausoleum of court scientist Seyid Yahya Bakuvi and the later Eastern Gate. The dwelling house is characterized by strict, concise forms, the sunny tones of the smooth walls, the stately portal with deep niches, the patterned network of the upper upper windows and window slits on the ground floor. The divankhane was the place for official receptions and state meetings. The rotunda of divankhane is is crowned with a cut-stone cupola with a pointed arch, surrounded by an arcade. The high, well-proportioned portal of the main entrance is decorated with ornaments and inscriptions of unusual polish and beauty. The Turbe, the Shirvanshahs’ family tomb, is the work of architect Muhammad Ali, whose name was skilfully ciphered in the ornamental medallions on the portal, which is as beautiful and rich as the portal of the Divankhane. The palace mosque is situated next to the tomb. The polished ornamentation of Arabic writing at its minaret announces the date of the building, 1441. In the southern yard of the complex there is an octangular mausoleum of court scientist Seyid Yahya Bakuvi. The entrance cupola of the Bakuvi minaret at the Eastern Gate was built in 1585-86 by Ottoman Sultan Mourad III.

Archeological excavations revealed a 26-room bathhouse, the Shah’s underground water supply pipe 10 metres’ deep and a well containing 500 liters of water. It has been partially destroyed, but what remains shows the rational arrangement of the premises, surrounded by cupolas and arches, and the skillfully arranged system of water –supply and water heating. The Eastern Portal is the work of architect Amirshah (1585), which is the only part of the palace built in the 16th century.

The immence attractive force of this unique ensemble of monuments made the government of Azerbaijan convert it into a State Historical and Architectural Reserve-Museum, the Shirvanshahs’ Palace Complex, in 1964. the old part of the city of Baku, including the complex and Maiden’s Tower, is on UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage List and is preserved as historical monument of international importance.

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