Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#750 Khan's Palace (Xan Sarayi), Sheki, Azerbaijan

Within the walls of Sheki's Haci Chelabi Nukha's Fortress lies the magnificent and unique Khan's palace, which was finished in 1762 and is the only structure remaining from a much grander construction. Enormous plane trees (Chinar trees) said to date from 1530 and a charming rose garden sit in front, and the outside has a pretty turquoise, ochre and black patterned front. What makes it so lovely is the decorations by multiple 18th and 19th Century artists inside, which was recently extensively (re)restored. With mirrored stalactites (known as muqarnas in Arabic), geometric patterns, painted scenes, and the regionally unique wood-framed, stained -glass geometric windows called shabaka, it has more unique artistic elements that almost any building I've seen anywhere. The shabaka themselves are jigsaw-intricate connections of tiny bits of wood and individual, loose, hand-cut pieces of glass. Each piece of glass is still held in place by carefully nailed bits of wood and it rattles in a strong wind (a workshop is near the entrance to the fortress).
It really is quite a tiny place with only one room's depth and only two floors high, but as every corner is covered it is gorgeous. While the apartment upstairs depicts the heroic battles of Haci Chelabi, including swords, guns, and severed heads, the lady's room next door has pastoral, flowery images while the lord's room has hunting, mythical beasts and lions eating antelopes!
Supposedly the balcony that emerges to the right of the building was the Khan's 'amnesty' window, from where he both sentenced and forgave criminals. The other balcony was for the Khan's wives!
Source: Loney Planet Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan 3rd Edition, 2008
Mark Elliot's Azerbaijan 4th Edition 2010


  1. Impressive! Can I enter the palace on Sunday?

  2. Sorry - don't have a clue, but imagine it's too late for your request by now!