An ancient city in the Caucasus – Sheki40Sheki is the administrative center of the eponymous city district and historical region in Azerbaijan. The city lies in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus, 380 km west of Baku, near the Georgian border. Sheki is located in a picturesque mountainous area, cut by narrow gorges and green valleys, with many mineral springs, clear rivers, waterfalls, framed by dense forests and alpine meadows. Next to Sheki, in one of the most beautiful and picturesque places of the country, is the health resort of Marhal.
The city has many historical and architectural attractions, but the pride of ancient Sheki is the majestic Royal Palace of Sheki Khans, built in the XVIII century without a single nail (!) With luxurious wall paintings and openwork windows, in a stone citadel. Also interesting is the fortress Gemsen-Geresen (VIII-IX c.), Near the city, numerous caravanserais, the Shekihanovs’ house, the Juma mosque (XVIII century), the minaret of the Gileilin mosque (XVIII century), medieval baths.
Sheki is a large handicraft center. Here you can buy jewelry and engraved products of local craftsmen. In Sheki you can found theater and historical museums.
Sheki has long been famous as a city of craftsmen, artisans and traders. Merchants and traders from the countries of the Great Silk Road came here from all sides. Therefore, the construction of karavan-sarai was given special attention. So in the XVIII – XIX centuries in Sheki there were 5 large karavan-sarais. Up to now, two of them have reached: the Upper and Lower ones, built in the 18th century. Even then, the masters sought to provide decent service to the guests. And karavan-sarais were built taking into account all conveniences for traders and the safety of their goods. In Sheki karavan-sarais, merchants put their goods in the basement, traded on the first floor, and lived on the second floor.
The upper karavan-sarai is now used for its intended purpose, functions as a hotel complex.
Juma Mosque, Sheki
Juma Mosque (Khan Mosque) – built in 1745-1750, near the market square. Right in front of the mosque is a small cemetery. Here Haji Celebi – ruler of Sheki (XVIII century) and his entourage are buried. These graves are crowned with domes and tombstones, with a carved letter in Arabic. The mosque itself and the ancient cemetery are now protected by the state as important historical monuments.
Minaret of the Gileilinsky Mosque
One of the ancient historical and architectural monuments of Sheki is the Gileil Mosque. Relating to the XVIII century, this mosque was located in the north-eastern part of Sheki, in the Kuelehlin mahal on the bank of the river Gurjana, flowing through the city, at an altitude of 20-25 meters from its level, at a distance of 8-10 meters from the cliff. On four sides the mosque’s minaret is surrounded by a stone fence of two meters high. At present, the minaret is taken under the protection of the state as a historical and architectural monument.
Palace of Sheki khans
The palace of Sheki khans was commissioned in 1761-1762. during the reign of the grandson of the founder of the first Azerbaijani Khanate Haji Chelebi Huseyn Khan. Due to the fact that Hussein Khan wrote poems under the pseudonym “Mushtag”, in some sources this palace is also noted as “Mushtag palace”.
Ornament of palace walls, latitude of stances, patterned stained-glass windows, different patterns, burned with hot iron and and with other materials – captivate the gaze of visitors. Inside the building a large place is given to geometric patterns, images of vegetation, birds and plot images, scenes of struggle and hunting. Exquisitely constructed mirrored fireplaces are examples of art.
Considering the richness of patterns, color shades, carvings, compositions – you admire the skill, taste and work of ancient peoples. The world-famous Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, having examined the palace, wrote: “If there were no other structures in Azerbaijan, only the palace of Sheki Khans would be enough to show it to the world.”
New Sheki fortress (Naryn-gala)
Sheki han Haji Celebi (1743-1755) built his fortress in the north-east for the defense of the city. The total length of the fortress wall is about 1300 meters, the height is about 8 meters in the south and 4 meters in the north. The wall thickness is more than 2 meters. Along it along the entire length of the route, there were 21 defensive towers. From the north and south the fortress was closed by an arched gate. The height of the fortress above sea level is 750 meters – in the north and 710 meters – in the south.
The wall and towers of the fortress were badly damaged. But in 1958-1963 the fortress was restored and restored.