The historian in me is feeling right at home in this city. And, one of the benefits of being here for nine months is that I don’t have to rush to see everything that Baku and greater Azerbaijan have to offer. Hurray for semi-long term expat living!
Last weekend another Fulbrighter graced me with her presence and we did a couple things around town, including a visit to the Şirvanşah’s Palace. This palace is located within İçərişəhər (the Old City, which I discussed a bit in my last post). It is totally worth the time, and it’s a great way to not only learn about medieval Azerbaijani history, but also some modern history. A couple things to know about:
- The admission fee is 2 manat, or about $2.50 USD at the time of this post (September, 2014). Supposedly if you want to take pictures, you need to pay an additional 2 manat….but I didn’t and wasn’t caught. Maybe you’ll have luck too.
- The Şirvanşahs (“sheer-VAHN SHAH”) are to Azerbaijan what the Ottomans are to Turkey. At least that’s my conclusion. No, the Şirvanşahs never claimed the amount of land that the Ottomans or other surrounding Islamic empires did, but they fostered a rich culture of literature and art, and expanded one of the key centers of trade and commerce that linked important branches of the Silk Road.
- Much of the palace was reconstructed about 10 years ago. Therefore, much of the detailed stone work is, unfortunately, not originally from the 13th to 15th centuries. Quickly figured out that there’s a good excuse for that: unlucky history. According to an information sign from the throne room, “The Palace has fallen apart over time as it has been intruded and damaged by invaders several times…[parts of the palace] were removed and carried off by conquerors. The dome of the throne room was destroyed by the bombs of Russian imperial forces in the 18th century.” Basically, we’re lucky that Azerbaijan can even recreate the palace after all it has been through!
Alright that’s enough history with words, it means more with pictures:
And there you have it, another little taste of Baku!
Until next time… (: