By Laman Ismayilova
Another cultural sight of Azerbaijan, historic center of Shaki with the Khans’ Palace, has been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.
This became the third object of cultural heritage of Azerbaijan listed on the World Heritage List, after Icherisheher and Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Reserve.
The majestic architectural monument, Shaki Khans’ Palace, takes a special place among the country's historical and architectural attractions. With its magnificent wall paintings and colorful windows’ mosaic, the palace is considered one of the most prominent and unique monuments of medieval architecture. This cultural site is also one of the rare pearls of Azerbaijani painting and folk applied art.
At the 43rd Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, ongoing in Baku, the report of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) recalled that the 41st session held in 2017 in the Polish city of Krakow discussed the nomination "Historic Center of Shaki with the Khans' Palace".
During discussions, Kuwait, Angola, China, Bahrain, Brazil, Indonesia, Tanzania, Tunisia, Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uganda, Norway, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Spain, Guatemala, Australia stressed the importance of including this nomination on the World Heritage List.
After the 41st session, the government of Azerbaijan took serious steps related to this historic place. For this reason, representatives of the member states considered appropriate inscription of this sight on UNESCO World Heritage List.
For six years, the nomination was evaluated by local and international experts. Serious work has been done on issues arising from ICOMOS recommendations. A new management structure was formed and a number of decisions were taken.
After discussions, the historic center of Sheki with the Khans’ Palace was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Later in the day, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva congratulated Azerbaijan with such a historical event.
Khans’ Palace located in Shaki is a historical and architectural monument of world importance. The building of the palace, built in the 18th century, is located in the northeastern part of the city, in an area surrounded by fortress walls. The area of the two-story building, whose length is 30 meters, is 300 square meters.
The palace consists of six rooms, four corridors and two mirror balconies. The building of the palace, reflecting the peculiarities of popular residential buildings, is considered one of the finest examples of palace architecture of the Caucasus of the 18th century, as well as the pearls of the Islamic East. Together with the historic center of the city, the palace covers an area of 120 hectares.
The palace was built in 1797 by Muhammad Hasan Khan. The palace amazes with its magnificent interior and exterior.
Measuring thirty-two meters by eight and a half meters on the exterior, the unique beauty two-storied building is elongated on the north-south axis and covered with a wooden hipped roof with long eaves.
The basic material for the palace construction was raw bricks, river stones, plane trees and oaks.
The palace's mosaic of colored glass (shebeke) set in a wooden latticework was assembled without nails or glue.
All the windows and doors of the palace were skillfully assembled from pieces of wood and colored Venetian glass. So the light getting inside the palace plays with all colors of the rainbow.
The interior walls of the palace are covered entirely with frescoes painted at different times during the 18th century.
Many of them feature flowers in vases, while a series of paintings on the first floor halls depict hunting and battle scenes. Signatures on frescoes list the names of artists Ali Gulu, Gurban Gulu and Mirza Jafar from Shamakhi, Usta Gambar from Shusha, and Abbas Gulu.
The rooms of the first floor were intended for ordinary visitors - they show the riches and power of Shaki khans. On the walls and ceilings there are trees, flowers, animals and birds - the symbols of fertility and noble origin.
The second floor is divided into two parts - female and male. The female half is painted with flowers and oriental ornaments. The male part was intended for visitors reception. It is the richest room of the palace.
The miniatures on the walls show the military power of the Shaki khanate, its attitude to friends and enemies. The room's ceiling is painted with images of the khans' coat of arms and various symbols.
The Shaki Khans' Palace has been previously restored and today it is open for tourists in all its majesty and beauty.
The gem of Azerbaijani history and culture – Icherisheher (Old City) with Maiden Tower and Shirvanshahs' Palace was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000, while since 2007 the Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Reserve has been also listed among these heritages.
The World Heritage Committee includes representatives of 21 states parties to the World Heritage Convention who meet annually. The Committee is in charge of implementing the Convention.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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