Shirvanshah Palace Complex - Main Palace

Main  Palace of Shirvanshah Palace Complex

The Palace, the main building of the complex, is located on the upper hill's terrace, on the very top of it.
This is the oldest of all structures of the complex and the largest in terms of volume and area. The palace was under construction in 1435-1442. The two-storey building of the palace comprises about fifty rooms connected by three narrow spiral staircases. The front entrance is marked by a huge portal made in strict style without decorative excessiveness. From here the staircase leads directly to the second floor of the high-ceilinged dome-crowned octahedral hall. Behind it is the lobby also of octagonal shape. It connects the hall with other rooms of the palace. Out of total 25 rooms on the second floor only 16 have survived. The ground floor of the building consisted of 27 rooms which were intended for servants and warehouses. The ground floor has survived practically in its original condition. All buildings of the complex are made of light "sunny" stone - Absheron limestone. With time, originally milky-white limestone acquires an ochre-golden tint after being dressed. The Palace walls are made from stones of different sizes, but Azerbaijani builders of the 15th century dressed them so carefully and finely, with such exquisite skill and taste that brickwork joints are practically invisible.

Even the patterned windows were made of stone because timber was scarce. Therefore the entire Shirvan Dynasty palace complex is also called the "stone wonder" and the "masterpiece in stone". Classic strict forms, pastel colors of smooth surfaces of the walls, patterned shebeke of the top windows and the 22 slit windows of the ground floor add the unique expressiveness to the building distinguishing it from other oriental palaces.

Recently, a curious fact has been revealed: the frieze of the building had been keeping the secret of the palace architect - Memar-Ali. Between the carved canonical saying about the Judgment Day and the name of the ruler - Shah Khalleluja I, hidden in a teardrop-shaped medallion, was the name of the architect Memar-Ali. Besides, the name can only be read in mirror reflection. Why all this encryption? The answer is that he dared to place his name above the name of the Shah. Had the Shah found out, Memar-Ali would have been decapitated right away. But the secret had been kept until the 20th century.

… As the palace was under construction no one could predict its intricate destiny. In 1501 the palace was looted by Sefevids. The treasures of Shirvan Dynasty - armor, jewelry, carpets, expensive fabrics, rare books, silver and gold utensils were taken away to Tabriz by Sefevids. But after their defeat by Turkish armies the treasures of Shirvan Dynasty got to Turks as trophies. Today some of them decorate museum collections of Turkey , Iran , England , France , Russia , Hungary.

The Palace of Shirvan Dynasty also suffered during the bombardment of Peter I squadron, during the storm of Persian armies as well as Russian armies in 1806. After Baku joined Russia the palace was given to the mercy of the military department for almost a century. The second-floor halls were transformed into barracks, the rooms below into a stable, artillery warehouses. The domes were destroyed, the walls taken to pieces. Some windows were bricked up, the stone lattices broken, and the light-blue glazed mosaic of the canopies and domes was destroyed. Today the palace hosts the history -architectural museum with the richest collection in Baku.