In the Middle Ages, Baku was Shirvan’s second largest town next to Shamakhy Region. Palace of the shirvanshahs was built on a hill during Shirvanshah Khalilullah’s time (1417-1462). Palace of the Shirvanshahs was declared a museum preserve in 1964. In 2000, the UNESCO World Heritage List included a unique architectural and cultural ensemble, along with the fortified walls enclosed by the city’s historic part and the Maiden Tower. Palace of the shirvanshahs is one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture. There are medieval buildings in the compound, such as the Shah mosque (1441-1442), the Seyid Yahya Bakuvi tomb (“the anchorite tomb”) and the Shirvanshahs tomb (1435-1436). The last is the family mausoleum of the Shirvanshahs, constructed for his mother and son by Shirvanshah Khaliiullah.


The palace building did not emerge at once. Shirvanshah Sheykh Ibrahim I began constructing the complex in 1411. The palace’s two-story building numbered about 50 dimensions and outlines of the buildings linked to three tight winding staircases. Originally there were 52 rooms in the palace building connected by three narrow spiral staircases: 27 on the first floor and 25 on the second floor (currently 16 rooms on the second floor), and the second-floor layout basically reproduced the first-floor plan. There are thicker walls in the main part of the building (the second-floor octagonal hall, the entrance to which is adorned with a portal). The main entrance to the palace of the shirvanshahs is designed with a high portal, arranged in the western façade. The portal ladder leads to a tall front hall with an octagonal dome. This space is supposed to have been used for receptions.

Main entrance of the palace


The complex is located in the upper courtyard and its northern wall adjoins the residential area. The Divankhana consisted of eight octagonal twelve-sided dome-covered rotundas. It is linked through the open porch to the octagonal hall. The porch’s pointed arcade rests on the nine columns with specific capitals and pedestals. The building has been used as a room for assembly and court. Also, the possibility of Shirvanshah Farrukh Yasar building the Divankhana complex for himself as a mausoleum can not be denied. The construction was not finished. The traces on the columns demonstrate that they used to be decorated with fine bas-relief stone. The roofed place was designed for distinguished feudal meetings

divankhana at-palace-of-the-shirvanshahs


The Hamam is situated in the Palace’s ‘ lower courtyard. Like all Icherisheher hamams, this hamam was also built beneath the ground to maintain the regular temperature condition. The ground layer thickness gradually increased and covered it fully. The hamam was accidentally revealed in 1939, and of its areas was searched by archeologist in 1953, kept in 1961. It can be said that its rooms have been curved, according to the walls that survived until our days. The hamam lightened up in the roof through the slots. For Baku and Absheron, such hammam systems are typical. Water was coming from an ovdan (storage lake) to a boiler room near the wall, then was distributed through specially built ways to the rooms. Also known as “secret” rooms were available for getting undressed or private bathing. There are 1 large and 2 small domed cabins in the right-hand corner. Likely these glazed rooms did belong to the shah personally.

ancient bath house located at the yard of palace of the shirvanshahs


Mausoleum was constructed in Baku in about 1457-1458. The mausoleum is situated in the center of the palace of the shirvanshahs’ middle yard. It is known as the “dervish” shrine among local individuals and was named after the buried philosopher and thinker Seyid Yahya Bakuvi. There’s not a big mausoleum. It has an octagonal prismatic shape and a conic cupola of stone is covered. This form is strange for Baku and Absheron monuments. Beyond Baku and partly in Shamakhi Region, such constructions are encountered. There are two components of the mausoleum: overground and underground. The upper section of the tomb was used for cultic rites, but there was a burial vault. In the southern, eastern and western facets of the tomb there are three tiny windows with stone shebeke-lattices. The burial vault also has a shebeke-lattice window. An ancient mosque known as the Key-Gubad Mosque was attached to the tomb. In this mosque, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi worked, prayed and instructed. The mosque was constructed in the 14th century during the reign of Shirvansah Key Gubad and was named after him. However the mosque was burned during a fire in 1918, and there are currently only the remains of its base.

tomb located at the palace


The mosque of the Palace is situated near to the mausoleum at the lower court of the palace of the shirvanshahs. The peak of the mosque is 22 m. The minaret inscription belting claims: “The Glorious Sultan Khaliullah requested the erection of the minaret. Allah extends his time in power” (1441-42). The mosque’s architecture and design structure are very simple. Its main gate portal is uncharming, but because of its roundness and beauty, the minaret attracts people. Stalactites are made with great skill to support their porch and an inscription belt at the base. A ribbed dome crowns the minaret. During the Russian invasion on the XIX century, Russian army bombed and destroyed the stone balustrade. later it was replaced by iron rail. The mosque is entered from north, east and east through the simple doors. The eastern door was for the shah and his family, the northern door-for men, the western door-for women.

Shah Mosque in old city

Travellers can visit the palace of the shirvanshahs during our old and modern Baku tour

map of palace