Shirvanshahs’ Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Shirvanshahs’ Palace

Baku, Baku, Azerbaijan

Shirvanshahs’ Palace is a fifteenth century castle complex in Baku in Azerbaijan.

Peta Stamper

08 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Denis Svechnikov / Alamy Stock Photo

About Shirvanshahs’ Palace

Shirvanshahs’ Palace (Palace of the Shirvanshahs) is a 15th century castle and complex in the old city of Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku.

Originally constructed by the ruler Shirvanshah Khalilulla I and his son, Faruk, Shirvanshahs’ Palace had both royal and religious significance. However, Shirvanshahs’ Palace is somewhat incomplete as construction was halted in 1501 when Faruk was killed in battle.

Nevertheless, Shirvanshahs’ Palace remains one of Baku’s main sites and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, described as “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture”.

Shirvanshahs’ Palace history

Under Ibrahim I of the Shirvanshah dynasty during the 15th century, the capital was moved from Shemakha to Baku following an earthquake. Ibrahim committed himself to building a palace, and the chosen site is believed to have once been a sacred worship site and tomb of a Sufi saint. Wells inside the palace have since been thought to have healing properties.

The palace fell into ruin when the Sufis were expelled by the Safavids in 1501. In the second half of the 16th century, war broke out again – this time between the Safavids and the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish Ottomans conquered Baku in 1578 and begun restoring the palace. Turkish pashas lived there until the 17th century.

Shirvanshahs’ Palace was also severely damaged in the 18th century during the Russian invasion of 1723 by Peter I when the city was bombed. The Russian military partially renovated the palace, but destroyed many of the Arabic features.

Shirvanshahs’ Palace today

Upon first entering Shirvanshahs’ Palace, visitors go into a central courtyard through which they can access the residential parts of the palace. Much of the Shirvanshahs’ Palace is in ruins and other aspects were subject to thorough renovations, not all of them entirely sympathetic.

However, Shirvanshahs’ Palace contains many beautiful and authentic structures and inscriptions, particularly in the Throne Room and the Bayil Stone Friezes, rescued by the Soviets from the sea and installed in the palace museum. The structure also includes the palace mosque, the mausoleum of the Shirvanshahs and the tomb of Seyyid Yəhya Bakuvi, the court astrologer.

Getting to Shirvanshahs’ Palace

The easiest way of reaching Shirvanshahs’ Palace is using public transport: the Red Line metro stops at Icherisheher, only minutes walk from the palace. Alternately, buses 6, 18, 53, 65 and 205 stop at Icherisheher Street, only 8 minutes away. There is also car parking at Icheri Sheher.

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