By Laman Ismayilova
Another cultural sight of Azerbaijan, the historic center of Sheki with the Khans' Palace, has been awarded with a certificate of inclusion in 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.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of the State Tourism Agency Fuad Nagiyev stressed that Sheki is one of the most unique historical places frequently visited by tourists.
The issues of protection and development of the historical part of the city are always in the center of attention of the state.
In his speech, Nagiyev noted that active and comprehensive work is being carried out on the territory of the reserves subordinated to the State Tourism Agency, aimed at attracting attention of visitors, while preserving the cultural and historical heritage. The cooperation with UNESCO experts is underway as well.
In addition to Sheki, the Khinalig reserve was included in the preliminary list of objects - candidates for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In turn, the head of the Sheki Executive Power Elkhan Usubov said that the decision taken two years ago is of exceptional importance for the city and will make a great contribution to its socio-economic development.
He noted that this event is a logical consequence of purposeful efforts to preserve the cultural and historical heritage, as well as to promote Azerbaijan at the international level. He proposed declaring July 7 as Sheki City Day.
Orkhan Mammadov, Chairman of the Board of the Agency for the Development of Small and Medium Business (SME) emphasized that Sheki's great tourism potential creates additional benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the region, as well as potential entrepreneurs.
He pointed out that the promotion of entrepreneurship in the field of tourism is one of the activities of the agency.
Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Culture Vasif Eyvazzadeh said that Sheki was included in the World Heritage List as a result of long and hard work.
Elnur Sultanov presented Fuad Nagiyev and Elkhan Usubov with a UNESCO certificate on the inclusion of Sheki in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Furthermore, a group of persons were awarded for merits in preserving the historical and cultural heritage of Sheki, active participation in cultural events and the development of folk art.
The majestic architectural monument, Sheki Khans' Palace, takes a special place among the country's historical and architectural attractions.
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 Sheki with the Khans' Palace".
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 Sheki 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 Sheki 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 Sheki 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 Sheki 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.
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