One of the most stunning monuments of architectural art in Azerbaijan is in the city of Sheki. It is an amazing in its beauty Palace of Sheki khans. He seemed to embody all the amazing elegance, restrained luxury and ornate beauty of oriental culture. The palace, in comparison with other residences of the rulers, is rather miniature, but here in a relatively small area of 300 square meters. m. Each tiny heel of any surface (be it a high ceiling, walls or just a floor) is elevated to a high degree of artwork. To see this treasure it is enough to order the flight of Uzbek airlines to Baku, and from there get to Sheki.
The history of the construction of the building itself is full of mysteries – scientists can not even come to a common opinion when the palace was built – in the seventeenth or eighteenth century. It is also not known the purpose of a part of the premises – the researchers are still arguing for what this or that construction could be intended for. The history of the palace is well known, only after the Sheki Khanate was annexed to the Russian Empire (at the request of the rulers themselves). After that, various administrative institutions were located here, and Russian representatives repeatedly carried out the restoration of the palace. However, European travelers, who in large numbers went to inspect the pearl of Sheki (for example, Alexander Dumas), expressed sincere fears that the palace would suffer in the indifferent hands of the empire. And today you do not need to organize the trip yourself, just order an excursion from the tour operators of Azerbaijan.
Their doubts were groundless, but it’s easy to understand the researchers’ concern – the beauty of the palace was striking to the heart, and any change here seemed a real blasphemy. The building itself is charming with very modest dimensions – a kind of casket 32 meters long and 8.5 meters wide. The Sheki khans, evidently, were satisfied with very modest squares – they had only six rooms, four corridors and a couple of balconies, but in their desire to decorate the dwelling their ambitiousness truly knew no bounds. First of all, the beauty of the palace windows, elegantly made up of fragments of colored glass and taken in fanciful patterns with thin frames of stone bindings, are striking. You will not see this on holiday in Uzbekistan.
The facade itself is decorated with beautiful paintings depicting truly male scenes of hunting and war. Inside, each span of space is painted with patterns, mosaic, bent by a whimsical line or blossomed by an exotic flower. The main color, which generously applied to the creation of their masterpieces artists, noble gold, but the space is generously nourished and saturated with blue, and yellow, and purple. The main theme is a floral ornament that frames scenes from the life of khans, depicts images of birds. One of the most famous frescoes is a peacock (revered as a sacred bird) near the «tree of life».
Over the interior of the palace worked more than one generation of artists. The French people (foreign craftsmen) and oriental magicians were invited. Their merit is that carefully and lovingly writing out patterns, they were able to preserve the style unity with an infinite variety of images. The painting of the palace continued in the beginning of the 20th century – the last works were performed by renowned artists Usta Gambar, his brother Safar, and also the beloved son Shukyur. This is a rare exception when the famous names of the authors of these unique paintings. So, the only name of the master who worked in the 18th century and has survived to this day is Abbas-Kuli.
It is a great success that the palace, despite all the vicissitudes, the conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries, the fire, has come down to us in almost completely preserved form. And today it is a part of tours around Azerbaijan.