Sheki Khans' Palace, Azerbaijan
The most outstanding and valuable monument of the 18th century Azerbaijan is Sheki Khans' palace. It was constructed in 1761-1762 as a summer residence of Hussein-khan Mushtad (grandson of Gadzhi Chelebi). The unique beauty two-storied building of the palace amazes with its magnificent interior and exterior. The facade of the palace is richly painted with anecdotal drawings displaying scenes of hunting and war as well as intricate geometrical and vegetative patterns. In the center is a huge stained-glass window from a multi-colored glass mosaic (It is remarkable up to 5 , 000 glass pieces were used per one square meter). Other smaller windows of the palace are also made of pieces of colored glass and covered with openwork stone lattices.
The basic material for the Palace construction was raw bricks, river stones, plane trees and oaks. The most amazing is that not a single nail or glue drop was used for the construction! Everything is in place due to a special solution the formula of which was lost forever.
There are only 6 rooms, 4 corridors and 2 mirrored balconies in the Palace. All the windows and doors of the palace were skillfully assembled from pieces of wood and colored Venetian glass. So the light getting inside the palace plays with all colors of a rainbow: red, yellow, blue, green…
Each room of the palace differs from one another and is skillfully decorated. All the walls and ceilings are painted with miniatures: mythical birds in paradise garden, unusual flowers and animals. The natural paints used for the pictures are admired by the visitors because of their bright colors. This kind of decoration gives the idea that in the second half of the 18th century Sheki khanate was the center of well-developed wall painting.
It is worth mentioning that the miniatures of each room have special meaning. For example, the rooms of the first floor were intended for ordinary visitors - they show the riches and power of khans. On the walls and ceilings there are trees, flowers, animals and birds - the symbols of fertility a nd noble origin.
The second floor is divided into two parts - female and male. The female half is painted with flowers and oriental ornaments.
The male part was intended for visitors reception. It is the richest room of the palace. The miniatures on the walls show the military power of the khanate, its attitude to friends and enemies. It is possible to track the entire history of Sheki khanate: the weapons of khan 's armies and their enemies ' , the clothes, the banners, military customs and many other things. There are also the scenes of hunting for elephants, rare birds and even a dragon. The ceiling of the room is painted with images of the khan's coat of arms and various symbols.
In front of the palace there used to be a marvelous garden from which only two huge branchy plane trees, the Palace's coevals, have survived. For 200 years like devoted servants they have been protecting this architectural treasure of Azerbaijan .
Sheki Khans' Palace has been repeatedly restored and today it is open for tourists in its magnificence owing to which the well- known travelers compared it to notorious Bakhchserai palace.