Xan Sarayı

Top choice in Azerbaijan

This ornate 1762 palace building features vivid murals and dazzling coloured light streaming through şəbəkə (stained-glass windows), making it Şəki’s foremost sight and one of the South Caucasus’ most iconic buildings. It was originally the Şəki Khan’s administrative building, just one of around 40 now-lost royal structures within the fortress compound.

You don't have to pay the entrance fee to enter the walled rose garden in which the palace is set behind two huge plane trees, planted in 1530. The facade combines silvered stalactite vaulting with strong geometric patterns in dark blue, turquoise and ochre. The petite interior is only one room deep, but lavished with intricate designs. Most are floral but in the central upper chamber you’ll find heroic scenes of Haci Çələbi’s 1743 battle with Persian emperor Nader Shah complete with requisite swords, guns and severed heads. No photos are allowed inside.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Azerbaijan attractions

1. Şəbəkə Workshop

0.07 MILES

The şəbəkə (stained-glass windows) featured at Xan Sarayı are laboriously made by slotting together hundreds of hand-carved wooden pieces to create…

2. 'Albanian' Church

0.07 MILES

A coven of museum ladies beckon unsuspecting tourists into this unusual building, a circular former church. A sign claims it dates from the 7th century or…

3. Karavansaray Hotel


Even if you don’t stay here, do peep inside this historic caravanserai whose twin-level arcade of sturdy arches enclose a sizeable central courtyard…

4. Xanların Evi

0.38 MILES

The Şəki Khans' little-publicised 'other' palace is a slightly smaller, older version of the Xan Sarayı set in its own rose garden. While five of the six…

5. Omar Əfəndiyev Mosque

0.58 MILES

This small, 19th-century mosque is a typical brick structure that fits harmoniously with the architecture of MF Axundzadə pr, looking especially…

6. War Memorial

0.75 MILES

Raised on a hillside high above the city, the WWII memorial is a vertical twist of concrete scroll fronted by a mourning woman with her head between her…

7. Cümə Mosque

0.83 MILES

Şәki's foremost mosque dates from the 18th century and sports a standalone 28m brick minaret with a metal tulip-shaped point.

8. Dili Qala

0.92 MILES

There's nothing historic about this curious castle-like folly, an intriguing landmark on the ridge above town. It was designed to be a hotel but so poorly…