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The palace of the Shirvanshahs is the most significant monument of the Shirvan-Absheron branch of the Azerbaijan architecture in Baku. Shirvanshahs' Palace or Şirvanşahlar sarayı in Azerbaijani are other names of the palace.
Baku's old city is a treasure trove for history hunters. Its heritage will teleport you the time of the Shrivanshahs. Shamakhi is replete with Silk Road heritage and history as the capital of the powerful state ruled by the Shirvanshahs during the medieval period.
The palace lies at the highest point of the city in the densely populated area. The palace comprises nine buildings – palace, the courtroom, the Dervish’s Tomb, the Eastern Gate, the Shah Mosque, the Keygubad Mosque, the palace tomb, the bathhouse, and the reservoir.
The Azerbaijani 10,000 manat banknote of 1994-2006 and 10 new manat banknotes issued since 2006 depict the palace on the obverse. Under state protection, it was declared a museum-reserve in 1964.
UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 2000. It was the first place in Azerbaijan to attain this status.
In the 15th century, Ibrahim I of the Shirvanshah dynasty shifted the capital from Shemakha to Baku after a devastating earthquake. He built a memorial complex around the sacred place of worship(pir) and a tomb of Helwati Sufi saint Seyyid Yahya Bakuvi.
Helwati Sufi order had the patronage of the Shirvanshahs. Shirvanshah Kalilullah I and his kith and kin were buried inside the palace. The and wells inside the grounds of the ‘Palace’ were believed to have healing qualities.
The ‘Palace’ fell into ruin after the Safavid conquest of Baku in 1501.
UNESCO termed the Palace of Shirvanshahs as ‘one of the pearls’ of Azerbaijan architecture. Shirvanshah Sheykh Ibrahim I began the construction of the main building in 1411. Fifty different dimensions and outlines of the structures connected with three narrow winding staircases in the two-story building.
Palace and Throne Room
The two-story building of the palace had 52 rooms rich with ancient remnants. After vandalism during history, now only a few rooms remain. King and his family used the second floor, while servants used to live on the first floor.
The special boards put out historical information. Inside, you can listen to medieval music on the iPad. Most relics belonged to the 18th-20th century because Ottoman and Russian empire pillaged Baku’s treasure.
Carpets, throne models, game board, glazed, and restored wall tiles are a few decorative examples in the Throne room. These reminisce you of the king's chamber during the Middle Ages.
Some say that Divankhana served as a courtroom and official meetings. Others are of the view that king Farrukh Yasar built it as a personal mausoleum. Its construction could not be finished due to frequent battles and historical events.
The palace houses the tombs of the king Khalilullah I(his father) and close relatives.
Bakuvi Mausoleum and Key Gubad Mosque
Sufi teacher and scholar Sayid Yahya Bauvi taught Sufism in Shamakha and Shirvan in the 15th century. He used to live inside the complex, and he had a worship site. After demise, his body was interred in the mausoleum. Adjacent is the Key Gubad Mosque, most parts of it were razed.
Sultan Murad III invaded Baku in the late 16th century and ordered to build Murad's Gate (eastern gate). This newest part of the whole complex pulls tourists for its ornamental work in its outer side. The gate bears Arabic inscription in the names of Sultan Murad III and the city governor.
The palace mosque beside the king’s Khalilullah’s mausoleum has an identical and straightforward style. The water reservoir was used for pre-prayer ablution.
Bath Houses (‘Hamam’)
In the lowest courtyard of the complex, the palace bathhouses were located. Bathhouses were in place to maintain warmth during the winter and coolness in the summer season. King's bathroom had a fancy blue roof.
The palace had an underground water distribution system. Cisterns were constructed in the lower part of the bathhouse to supply water.
Bayil Castle Stone Panels
The castle collapsed and remained under the waters after a major earthquake in the Caspian Sea in 1306. In the 18th century, destroyed castle’s pieces reappeared on the surface after the water level subsided. It again submerged under the water after some decades.
During the Soviet regime, authorities pulled out these stones to the public vision in the Shirvanshahs's museum.
Timings are subject to change. You will be automatically booked into a time slot as part of the check out process. Please visit the official website to confirm the time slot before your visit.
Souvenirs: You can buy souvenirs like a magnet and 'armudu' glasses as a keepsake. Armudu glasses are traditional pear-shaped glasses for tea and postmarks of the city map of Baku and Baku European games.
Photography: You can click pictures inside the palace complex.