About Sheki Fortress
Sheki Fortress was the khan’s citadel in the Azerbaijani city of Sheki, which was the capital of the independent Sheki Khanate. It is located in northern Azerbaijan in the southern part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range.
History of Sheki Fortress
Sheki Fortress was substantially built during the reign of Sheki Khan Haki Celebi (1743-1755). Sheki Fortress was the khan’s citadel in Sheki (or Shaki), which was the capital of the Sheki Khanate until absorbed by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. The fortress features northern and southern gates, and numerous defensive bastions.
Approximately 40 buildings were constructed inside the fortress walls, which extend to some 1,300 metres, at 2.2 metres thick. Sheki Fortress once included a winter palace, residences for the khan’s family and servant’s quarters. At the height of the khanate, the fortress contained public and commercial structures of the city.
Only the palace of the Sheki khans remains, along with its pool and plane trees. The Khan’s Palace was built in 1797 by Muhammed Hasan Khan to house the rulers of Sheki. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.
The fortress was restored extensively between 1958 and 1963. Sheki itself is a small city near the forests of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. The town’s name is derived from the ancient tribe that inhabited the region, known as “sakas”.
Sheki Fortress today
While there is little that remains of Sheki Fortress today except its impressive walls, the fortress site contains the UNESCO-listed Khan’s Palace. Views over the surrounding landscape are possible from the castle walls. Sheki is also known for its Islamic architecture, history related to the Silk Road and its food.
The grounds of the fortress also include a café and shops selling local crafts.
Getting to Sheki Fortress
Sheki can be reached from the capital city of Baku by taxi and minibus, which takes about four hours. The train station is located 11 miles from the city centre, so a taxi or bus is necessary to complete the journey.