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Sheki history

Sheki is one of the oldest towns of Azerbaijan. There is a suggestion that the name of the town goes back to the ethnonim of the Saks, who reached the territory of Azerbaijan in the 7th century B.C. and peopled it for several centuries. In the medieval sources the name of the town is found in various forms such as: Sheke, Shaki, Shaka, Shakki, Shakne, Shaken, Shakkan, Shekin. For a long time the town was known under the name of Nukha. In the official documents and sources up to the 18th century  the town bore the name of Sheki.

After joining
Russia, the town with adjacent territory, comprising the Sheki khanate, was named the Sheki province. Following the reform of 1846 the territory began to be called Nukhinsky uyezd (district) with Nukha as its centre. This does not mean, however, that the name Nukha is associated only with the 19th century, Nukha was known as far bask as the 10th century. In the middle of the 7th cantry Azerbaijan was attacked by the Arab Caliphate. The Arabs, having seized the countries of the Near East, invaded Azerbaijan. The Arab troops having conquered Armenia, the towns of Bailagan, Shamkhor, kabala "made peace with the ruler of Shakan... under the condition of his paying out the duty".

At the end of the 9th century the local feudalists, taking advantage of weakening of the Arab caliphate, succeeded in restoration of the Albanian kingdom. The town of
Sheki entered into this kingdom, then bearing the name of Aranshakhstvo. The kingdom had but a short life. Following its downfall, an independent unified principality of Sheki was established. The Arab authors of the7th-11th centuries left some interesting evidence on Sheki. Masudi wrote that Sheki was situated at the bottom of the mountain on the way from Tiflis to Derbent. According to the author of "Khududal-Alam", Sheki was a big and rich town.

At the beginning of the `60s of the 10th century the state of Albanian Aranshakhs was restored, which later rose against Shirvanshakhs following the Kesranidians` dynasty coming to power in Shirvan, the former retained its nominal sovereignty. In the first half of the 14th century, after the collapse of the state of Khulaguids, Sheki gained sovereigny along with the state of Shirvanshakhs, the dynasty of the Orlats coming to power. At the end of the 14th century Sheki was invaded by Tamerlan and came to be submitted by him. After Tamerlan`s death Sheki again became independent. It maintained friendly relations with the states of Sirvanshakhs and Georgia.

The wish of Tamerlan`s successor, Omar, to subjugate Shirvan, Sheki and other lands was not realized. The joint troops defeated Omar`s army on the bank of the Kura River. Shirvanshakh Ibrahim I, following the victory over Timurid, together with the rulers of Sheki and Georgia had strengthened the alliance and headed it. This alliance was directed againist the plans of Gara Yusif, the head of the Azerbaijanian state Garagoyunly, established in the south of
Azerbaijan. In the battle which took place on the bank of the Kura river, however, the allies were defeated. Gara Yusif set free Ibragim I and Said Akhmed Orlat, the ruler of Sheki, on the condition of their accepting vassalage and paying out an enormous ransom. Soon the rulers of Shirvanshaks and Sheki succeeded in regaining independence, having taken advantage over the situation of disorders occurring in the state of Garagoyunly.

In the second half of the 15th century the rulers of Sheki were able to preserve and defend their independence during ruling of the dynasty of Aggoyunly in the south of Azerbaijan which came up to take the place of the dynasty of Garagoyunly. At the end of the 15th century  and the beginning of the 16th century  the state of Aggoyunly was weakened. In1523 Shakh Ismail invaded Shirvan and from there he moved to Sheki. He was given solemn reception by the Sheki ruler, Hassan bek. Sheki managed to preserve its independence. In 1551 the son of shakh Ismail, shakh Takhmasib, decided to put an end to Sheki's independence and led a great army there. Sheki became a province of the state of Sefevids. The province was ruled over by a vicegerent appointed by the Sefevids.

 

At the beginning of the 17th century ,as a result of the wars waged by the Persian shakh Abbas I, Azerbaijan including Sheki, came under the Persian rule. Sheki was ruled over by vicegerents-meliks. 30's of the 18th century  the Shakh Nadir, gave force to liberation movement. The people of the Sheki were headed by Hadji Chelebi. At the end of 1743 and the beginning of 1744 an independent khanate headed by Chelebi khan was established. Nadir shakh could not break the stamina of Sheki insurgents who fortified their position in the stronghold "Gelesen-Gerersen". Hadji Chelebi in his further activities fought not only for the liberation of Sheki but of the whole Shirvan. He strove to restore the bygone independence of the state of Shirvanshaks. At this period the Sheki khanate was a powerful feudal state among other khanates of Azerbaijan. Chelebi khan built mosques, a medrese, bath and other public buildings in Sheki, put in order the taxation system. Hadji Chelebi died in 1755 after the 12 years-long ruling.

 

In the Sheki khanate ,as well as in other khanates of Azerbaijan, the khan enjoyed absolute power. The khan was the law-maker, the executor, the judge. In the period of khanates the population of Sheki was engaged in silkworm breeding, craft and trade. As a result of the overflow of the Kish river in 1772 the ancient town was completely ruined. At the end of the 18th century  the population of Sheki was about six thousand people. In the 1765 the town was surrounded by the walls with two-gates. In spite of diminishing population, handicrafts and trade were developing in Sheki. There were five caravanserais(inns) in Sheki, such as: the Tebrizsky, Gyandjinsky, Shemakhinsky, Lezghinsky and Armenian.

 

In the 18th century Sheki was a political and cultural centre of the khanate. Poets who lived in the palaces of the Sheki-khans-Mukhammed Zare, Rafei and Magomed Husein khan Mushtag were loyal to the principles of court poetry, being its ardent advocates. In the 17th century  the poet Nabi was very popular for his historical verses. He personally knew Vagif.

 

The palace of the Sheki khans built in 1797 is an outstanding piece of architecture in Azerbaijan. In 1801 Georgia joined Russia. As far back as in 1800 the ruler of Sheki Mukhammed Hassan sent a letter to Knorring, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army, asking for Russia's protection. Selim khan, who removed his brother Mukhammed Hassan from ruling aiming at consolidating his power in the khanate, moved to Tsitsianov's camp which was disposed on the bank of the Kuryakchai river in the vicinity of the town of Gandja and on May21, 1805,  i.e. a week after Ibragim I - the khan of Karabakh, he signed a treaty on passing over under Russia's protection. In 1908 the khan's ruling in Sheki was abolished.

 

The ruling in the town of Sheki and in the Sheki district was entrusted to the Russian officers-commandants. In 1819 the town law court was established. In 1840 the commandant ruling was abolished. The Sheki uyezd (district) entered into the newly formed Caspian gubernia. The district entered into the Shemakha gubernia in 1848 and began to be called the Nukha district. In the 19th century Sheki was a large centre of handicrafts and trade. The craftsmanship of embroidery-takyalduz-was developed only in Sheki. Silk-worm breeding in Sheki was of great importance. In the second half of the 19th century  Sheki became a large centre of silkworm breeding in Azerbaijan. At the Khanabad silk-mill the number of looms in 1854 reached 42. The looms, which earlier were driven by horses, now were operated by steam. In 1855 another silk-mill with 30looms was in use in Sheki. In the early years of the 20th century, according to some evidence, there were 127 silk-mills in the Sheki district, in which 3505 workers were engaged, the annual productivity of these enterprises being worth 1192000 roubles.

 

In the 1915 it approximately reached 10 million roubles. Apart from silk, they exported tobacco, ornaments, fruit, various agricultural products. In 1856 the population was 18000, while in 1897 it rose to 26000.In 1908 the population was 37000 while on January 1,1916 it reached 52243. In Sheki where almost the whole population was illiterate, a district school was opened in 1831. In 1834 a number of district schools, including that of Sheki, became the three-year ones. In 1898 one more school, a Russian-Tatar-Azerbaijanian one was opened. In 1904 there were six primary schools in Sheki with 772 pupils. In 1914 a primary school of a superior type was opened in Sheki. In 1910 there was a library with a reading-hall, in 1914 there functioned four philanthropic societies, a club and two libraries. In 1812 in Sheki one of the most prominent men of culture of the 19th century  of Azerbaijan, an enlihtener-democrat, the founder of realism in Azerbaijan literature Mirza Fatali Akhundov was born and received his primary education living there at his uncle's. M.F.Akhundov greatly esteemed A.S.Pushkin, M.Y.Lermontov, N.V.Gogol and other Russian poets and writers, he maintained friendly relations with the Dekabrists, who were exiled to the Caucasus by the tsarist government. In the 19th century  in Sheki the historian Fattakh was working, he wrote "The Brief History of the Sheki Khans". Hadji Seid Abdulgamid, who was born in 1795,wrote a historical work entitled "The Sheki Khans and their Posterity". In 1841-1904 poet Ismail bek Nakam lived in Sheki. Ashug Molla Djuma (1854-1920),the Sheki poet, worked at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century .Rashidbek Ismailov born in Sheki, was the author of the "Brief History of the Caucasus?, published in Tiflis in 1904. Hadji Hassan Mollazade Gandjevi signed some of his writings with the name of Shakevi, he was the member of the Transcaucasian ecclesiastical court, sheikh-ul-islam. He was the author of 4-volume work "Zubdad ut-tavarikh",which was published in 1905-1915.In 1891 in Tiflis he published historical calendars of hegira, and milad. Khanende Alesker Abdullayev occupies a prominent place in the history of the development of musical culture in Azerbaijan.


After the overthrow of the musavat goverment,the first Soviet organ in Sheki was the District Rvolutionary Comittee.In Azerbaijan,924,2 thousant roubles in 1931,11,118 thousand roubles in 1932,13678 thousand roubles in 1933,21405 thousand roubles in 1934 were invested into silk-manufacturing industry. early in 1933 a number of artels were opened:"Duluz",making seramics, "Zarya",manufacturing various iron utensils,"Truzhenik",making soap,"Novyi trud",sewing and mending leather and tarpaulic footwear, "Khomut",producing and repairing horse collars,"Zhensky soyuz","Rosa Luksemburg" and "The 2nd Pyatiletka" manufacturing knitted goods. "Sladosti" making confectionary produce,etc.More than 500 workers were engaged in these artels,women making up the majority of the personnel. In 1934 between Sheki and Evlakh an airline was opened and in the vacinity of Sheki an airport was built. In 1933 a two-way telephone communication was set up,connecting the districts. There were orrested and send to Sibirya and Kazakhistan many people in 1937. On
June 22,1941 nazy Germany,having violated the non-aggression pact with USSR,treacherusly attacked the Soviet Union. In the Azerbaijanian national military formations in the 77,223,402 and 416 divisions the sons of Sheki marched on along the route from the Caucasia to Berlin. Mention can be made of Akhmediya Djabrailov;Nuru Abdullayev who participated in the partisan warfare in France, heroically fighting against the enemy; the former of the Sheki silk-weaving works Mamed Sharif Gamidov as a soldier traversed an honourable path from a private to a general; citizen of Sheki,Colonel-General T.Agaguseinov was greatly honoured in the Soviet Army. Lieutenant-general Z.Yusifzade and Major-General M.hamidov also come from Sheki. In 1944 the Sheki silk works began to produce a new kind of fine fabric. After the great Patriotic War the Sheki silkworm breeders scored still greater success in silk industry. In 1958 at the international fair in Brussels crepe de Chine and crepe-su-Zette manufactured at the Sheki mills were demonstrated with great acclaim. In 1963 a cloths factory, in 1965 a meat-packing plant and in 1966 a workshop of elastics were opened in Sheki. In 1956 the electric line from the Mingechaur hydroelectric power station completely provided the town with electric power. A weaving technicum was opened in 1931,it was closed temporarily during the war closed temporarily during the war years. In 1945 the technicum resumed its functions. In 1960 more than 27000 pupils were enrolled at 86 schools of general education. In 1942-1954 in Sheki a Teachers' Training College was successfully working,1100 qualified teachers got their diplomas there. In 1975 all the silk production enterprises were combined into V.I.Lenin Silk Productive Association. If in 1975 total volume of output was equal to 117048 thousand roubles, in 1980 this figure reached 124201 thousand roubles.????n 1980 this figure reached over 8 million roubles. Six thousand workers worked in the workshops of the V.I.Lenin silk Productive Association. Sheki is the first region in the republic where agriculture has been put onto industrial rails. The Sheki productive association did well in the 11th five-year period: instead of planned industrial production worth 57800000 roubles. The town of Sheki is the centre of one of the large economic regions of the republic. The recreation area of the silk productive association "Markhal" is situated on the bank of the Kish river; the restaurants are situated within precincts of the town- "Soyugbulag" and "Leziz"; the M.F.Akhundov Park of Culture and Rest cover-the area of 12 hectares; named after P.Babayev,M.Fizuli,"April 28" town parks, small forms of architecture. The town of Sheki is included in the All-Union list of tourist routes.In May,1980 the branch of the agency "Intourist" was established there. Now there are 75 libraries with the funds over 514 thousand books. Sheki is the birth-place of many talented scientists, scholars and men of letters. Among the prominent workers of culture and science mention should be made of the writer and dramatist Sabit Rakhman, poet-dramatist and scholar Bakhtiyar Vagabzade, sculptor Fuad Abdurakhmanov and Albert Mustafayev, actor Ismail Osmanly, actor A.Sadylov, actor L.Abdullayev,film director Rasim Odzhagov, The oldest teacher L.Tairov, composer Sh.Akhundova, composer Emin Sabitogly, scientist-academicians Jalil Huseynov,Jebrail Huseynov, Medjid Rasulov, corresponding-members A.Damirchizade, G.Efendiyev, Z.Zulfugarov,  M.Ismailov. N.samedov, G.Djabrailov,one of the leading neurologists of the republic L.Bairamova. In 1984 the children?s art school was opened on the base of the children's musical school No.2. In 1980-91 there was a national movement against of Soviet Union in Sheki, like other towns of Azerbaijan. And in 1991 Azerbaijan get his freedom including the Sheki. During the Karabakh war there were many shahids from Sheki too. Now the people Sheki are working and living for their own town Sheki and for the free Azerbaijan Republic.


Sheki was mainly a town of crafts and commerce. A large number of markets and caravanserais were built there. The commercial-market complex was represented by a street stretching from the fortress along the Gurjanachai river. The street "being an elongated town centre", was a characteristic component of the town structure. In some cases such public centres of feudal towns with its buildings are known to have preserved their value to our days (Gyanja, Ordubad and the others). The location of the trade centre along the given street was not casual. As it known, the town was linked by means of the caravan routes with the commercial centres of the
Azerbaijan khanates and other countries, which crossed at the trading street. This street stretching from the fortress was to emphasize the importance of the Sheki khans` Palace as a main dominant of the town. From the fortress the panorama of the town offers an extremely multi-planned and picturesque view. Dividing the town into two parts the commercial centre linked two opposite gates of the town. Besides, the direction of the trading road - from north-east to south-west -was advantageous for some other reasons: it provided an optimal orientation of structures looking out into the road, during the whole day the sun did not blind the pedestrians` eyes, etc. Caravanserais. The main objects placed along the ring bank of the Gurjana-chai river, the town?s business center, were the Upper and Lower caravanserais. The caravanserais are known to be considered as one of the main types of the social structure of the feudal East. Almost all the historians and travellers, who visited Azerbaijan at different time, mentioned the caravanserais, sometimes giving much attention to their description. In the Middle Ages the caravanserais played the main role in the town structure. From literary sources it is known that there were a lot of caravanserais in the large towns of Azerbaijan. For example, according to E.Chelebi writings, there were up to 200 caravanserais in Tebriz. To this end, the caravanserais in towns were provided with special rooms for commercial bargains. Along the trade routes the caravanserais were built at some distance from one another. In 18th-19th centuries there were five big caravanserais in Sheki, i.e. the "Isfagan","Tabriz", "Lezgi",Ermeni" and "Teze caravanserai".At present two monuments caravanserais have been ,preserved -the Upper and Lower caravanserais. The two monuments of the 18th century, built by local masters, according to their planning structure, great dimensions and conveniences for trade are considered to be the largest of this kind observed in the territory of Transcaucasia. The Upper caravanserai has the total area of 6000 m2.The building from the side of the central trade street is 14 m high, while from the yard it is 8 m high. There are over 300 rooms there. The main facade of the caravanserai faces the river bank. A rich decorated arch of the main entrance into the yard is placed at the corner of the building at a level of the second floor due to a great slope of relief along the river bank. The main facade plane is divided by a number of horizontal belts. The lower belt, which is two-storey high, is finished with two-light windows, enclosed into an arched recesses. The brick arches of a semicircular from are supported by massive pilasters. The upper-floors plane with rhythmically located arched recesses for windows emphasize monumentality of the whole arrangement. The inner space of the yard is simply solved. All rooms are of equal size and have the vaulted ceilings. The yard balconies, swimming-pools and the green vegetations surrounding them are in compliance with general composition of the buildings. It is to be noted that there were enough horse-lines and reservoirs for pack-animals. The Lower caravanserai has the total flooring space of 8000 m2.There are 242 rooms in the building. The caravanserai has the entrance gates from four sides. When the gates were locked the caravanserai was turned into an inaccessible stronghold. It is to be noted that the Lower caravanserai has also preserved its features ,which are specific for those of the East. Baths. Besides the sanitary-hygienic functions, the bath-houses of Azerbaijan like those in many countries of the feudal East, served as a gathering place for the inhabitants of quarters, makhelle where they could discuss the news,have a rest and spend their free time. Along with this, the bath-houses were used for the functions settled by the Shariah as it was forbidden to visit the mosques, to perform namaz and praying without ablution. For these purposes people were obliged to perform a ceremony of ablution, called "gusul", as it was stated by Shariah. Gusul was usually performed in a bath-house,where swimming-pools were used for this purpose. It should be noted that in some cases the bath-houses were used for sport trainings. Some authors-travellers mention that for sport trainings, along with bath-houses, some special structures in a variety of the Azerbaijan towns were functioning which were designed for sport competitions and called "zorkhana". The Sheki bath-house follows the traditional bath-houses structure of medieval period. The bath-houses plan mainly includes two rooms divided by four pylons into the smaller premises. One group of rooms is used as a cloak-room and is called "chol" of "bajir" and another is a hall with a variety of auxiliary rooms called "icheri" used for washing. The cloak-room and washing halls are connected by means of the subsidiary rooms. Each hall is covered with a dome with light lanterns in the shape of small domes with cut-out windows. The walls of the cloak-room includes the shallow recesses for keeping clothes ,wash-basins and jugs. The washing room from the side which is opposite the auxiliary premises abuts on the cold and hot water reservoirs called "khazna".The water into bath-houses is supplied through the clay tubes from nearest branch of the ancient waterline. The bath-houses facade has simple forms. The bath-houses building is buried in the ground and only domes covering two large halls rise above it. The bath-house was built in the 19th century number of medieval baths have been preserved ,in Sheki. Among the engineering structure a particular attention is attracted by bridges across the Gurdjanachai and Khanabad rivers, built of burnt bricks in the 19th century.



Sheki is a historical town of
Azerbaijan, in which the ancient monument and a majority of planning structures have been well preserved. Having concentrated crafts and commerce, Sheki represented at the same time one of the significant cultural centres of the country. Being the capital of the Sheki khanate, Sheki played an important role in the development of the Azerbaijan culture. This town is situated in a remote region, far from the central areas, at the spurs of the Caucasian mountains. Natural landscape around the town is extremely picturesque. Here the broken country and wooden mountains rub shoulders with valleys and whimsically winding rivers of Gurjanachai and Daiirman-arkh. The territory of the town stretches along these rivers, the mountain landscape serving as a background for the town construction. The old town was situated at the southern foothills of the Greater Caucasian Range near the ancient trade routes linking the countries of the Near and the Far East with the west. It was located somewhat lower than it is situated now, in the valley of the Kish river. In 1772 Sheki has been destroyed by mud flows and transferred to a new place in the same year. At that time a new Sheki fortress was built. A new town was expanding over a large area at the foothill of the southern slope of the Caucasian Range, at the spurs of the Caucasian mountains, which enclosed it from the three sides. The Khan-Eilag range with steeply slopes approaching the town from the North two large hollows facing the town-Chaggalders and Ottal - from which two deep ravines originate. The town structure of Sheki is of particular interest, as the Gurjanachai river flowing from east to west divides the town into two parts-the northern, elevated one, and the southern part, located in a valley. Due to the formation of a trade centre the town developed over one side of the river. The Gurjanachai and Daiirman-arkh rivers were used for water supply and irrigation. Later on at the place, where the rivers confluence new centre with a square had been set up. A naturally organizing element of the architectural-planning structure of the town was the Gurjanachai river, whereas the Daiirman-arkh river served as a secondary axis of the town. The natural landscape has always been a source of inexhaustible artistic possibilities used for creation of individual architectural outward appearance of the town, thus adding to the original architectural features of Sheki. Almost no evidence is available on the architecture of the old town. Only E. Chelebi provides some information on Sheki. According to his evidence, the beautiful Sheki fortress was built of stone on a hill. The fortress had two gates called the Shirvan and Gyanja ones. There were three thousand houses, seven mosques, among which the Mirza-Ali mosque situated on the market square attracted a particular attention in the town, two mosques and a fortress. The town had some caravanserais-inns, bath-houses and a small market. According to this information, Sheki incorporated at that time a fortress and a rather large construction site outside its walls with many gardens used for "incomparable silk" production. The town has a population of about 20.000,as can be calculated on the basis of 3000 houses mentioned by E.Chelebi. Picturesque location of the present town, the broken relief predetermined the character of planning and exerted a considerable effect on the type of construction. The difference between southern and northern parts of the area is 450m.The town structure formed at the end of the 18th century had not been significantly altered by the middle of the 19th century. Sheki represented a picturesque vastness of green vegetation with houses lost among them. On the whole, Sheki is perceived as a beautiful nook of nature, into which the architectural structures have been impregnated. This is due not only to an original mountain landscape but also to the peculiarities of planning, organically blended with nature. Almost each house was enclosed by a garden and a fence,"...therefore the Sheki streets are not framed by the rows of houses but wind out between walls of "fences? and hedges" The inhabitants settled according to trade-shop function in the districts, a characteristic feature of a feudal town, which found reflection in the Sheki planning. The old names of blocks(makhelle) have been preserved to the present days. The general character of Sheki planning was effected by the conditions of highly broken country. Directions of streets were defined by the spurs of the Greater Caucasian Range. A number of streets was located parallel to the relief of the height located to the north of the town. The formation of the central districts and the main street of the town was effected by the direction of the Gurjanachai and Daiirman-arkh rivers. These and many other features of the town planning can be traced in the plan of Sheki executed in 1862. The given plan showed the division into blocks-makhelle, which had the following names in the transcription given in the drawing:1.Chaggal deresi; 2.Gileli;3.Demirchi bulagy;4.Gyanjaly;5.Sary torpag;6.Otag eshii;7.Agvanlar;8.Duluzlar;9.Dodu; 10.Bagbanlar;11.Serkerlar;12.Dabbakhana;13.Taza kend;14.Kekhna kend. Besides these blocks comprising the town itself there were some suburbs adjoining the town, i.e. Dody, Sheki-kishlak and others. The town territory proper was divided into two parts. In the upper part there were the Sheki fortress, commercial buildings and town markets. The lower part merging into Sheki-kishlak comprised dwelling houses. Due to highly broken relief Sheki locked the developed system of irrigation ditches. Drinking water was taken from the rivers. Drinking water was supplied to Sheki from the Kishchai river and Kinjali-Bakhlinsky reservoirs. Besides there were some wells in the fortress which were to be used in case the enemy might cut off the waterline from the Gurjanachai river. A.Kulassovski wrote: "The Sheki waterlines deserve a great attention, being simply designed, conveniently used and cheap. To this end, high in the ravines water stream is driven into a large diameter tube of clay and buried into the ground, fastened by lime-cement. At places, where the tubes are to be branched off the tiny 1-cubic arshin(28 inches) reservoirs were built. Each tiny reservoir was finished inside with burnt bricks. One of the large-diameter tubes opens up into the reservoir and two or three smaller-diameter tubes go out of it. The latter are branched off in the same way and thus water is supplied for all streets and yards where it flows from tube openings provided with tips into large and deep troughs made of a one-piece walnut and often bound with metal. Such a simple way of water supply allows to have as many fountains before the house and inside it as necessary. To single out the peculiar features of planning decision it is important to study the principles of construction and general architectural solution of the streets of the ancient town. Unlike many other medieval towns of Azerbaijan in which the streets were formed and set up gradually, the Sheki streets were constructed in a short period of time due to simultaneously done construction work. The main longitudinal street, parallel to the Gurjanachai river, connected the most significant architectural complexes of the town. Many of the Sheki streets are of a great historical and architectural-artistic interest. The first place undoubtedly belongs to the main street(the present-day Sheki street).The street construction was limited in height which provided integrity of the ensemble decision. Among such streets mention should be made of the present-day Xoysky street Afganlar street .the Agamali ogly street. Gyanjlar street, the Kirov street, the Gogol street, the Nureddin street, the Nakem street, the Sovietskaya street, the Makhti Gusein street. The main streets were branched off into a network of narrow small streets, lanes and blind alleys developed due to local conditions. The plan enclosed allows to see the direction of the subsidiary streets of the town leading to the river side, the most important component for economic activity of the majority of the population. The handicraft districts were naturally drawn to the main trading street. It should be noted that the medieval town were wide enough. The hilly and broken relief provided division of the town into separate parts, thus enjoying a noted compositional independence. The mountain relief made town composition still more complex. Thus, the main town planning features of Sheki depended on fine natural conditions, successful blending of the construction with natural environment, using greenery as one of the main components of the town constructive outward appearance ,as well as ample water supply provided by waterline consisting of clay tubes. One more feature distinguishing Sheki from other towns is its relative neatness. This feature is emphasized in the description of Sheki given in the middle of the 19th century by A.P.Zisserman: 'The town is picturesquely situated at the source of a small mountain river: the houses are hidden among green gardens consisting mostly of tall walnut and mulberry trees. The main street stretching out to the mountain for about two versts is live with a lot of shops and workshop where the articles are manufactured according to the Oriental customs, in the presence of local idle onlookers... Some of the streets are paved, the rest are studded with small metals and therefore one can never see dirt in the Sheki streets, the rare and invaluable merit so seldom seen in Russian towns. In general, Sheki with its picturesque location, relative neatness, coolness and nightingale songs in the evenings makes a very pleasant impression. The Sheki fortress situated in the upper north-east elevated part of the town is the khan?s citadel, structures of town's usage were within its walls. The fortress is favourably located not only from military-strategically point of view but also due to good microclimate of the town?s territory. Because of the relief character of the fortress area the contours of the fortress are significantly limited. The fortress was built during the time of ruling the first Sheki khan Hadji Chelebi(1743-1755).The total length of the fortress wall is 1300m ,the northern wall is 4m high, the southern wall is 8m high. The wall thickness is 2,2 m. From the southern and northern sides the fortress has two gates and defence towers. The fortress walls and towers have come down to the present time rather destroyed, in 1958-1963 the fortress was restored. According to the plan of the Sheki fortress entitled "The plan showing the existing and newly suggested projects of structures dated February 26,1853",there were a lot of structures(almost forty at the monuments of the plan's make-up) located inside the fortress. It is only natural, that during approximately fifty years,- that had passed since Sheki's joining Russia up to the monument of the plan's execution,-the fortress structure endured the significant alterations, but they could not be so great changes in the general planning structure of the complex. The modification first of all concerned some buildings adjusted for the needs of the garrison as well as some minor premises used for household needs. Consequently, it may be concluded that the plan under consideration has come down to the present time as the Sheki khan citadel without significant modifications of planning.



The Sheki khans' Palace is one of the most significant architectural monuments of medieval architecture of
Azerbaijan. In the words of ardent peace champion Nazim Hikhmet "if there were no other ancient buildings of Azerbaijan,it would be suffice to show the whole world only the Palace of the Sheki Khans". Unique in its archtecture,the Palace of the Sheki khans is famed for the specific and original building techniques of its own .It is suffice to mention,for example,that each sqare metre of the Shebeke consists of five thousand parts,connected without using the nails .Many branches of the popular appiled art,in particular,fine samples of mural painting of the 18th-19th centrues have been collected here. The Sheki khan's Palace is situated in the upper elevated part of the town.The Palace was located inside the fortress-the khan's citadel and was included into the structural complex,which is presented now only with the possibly modified pool.The old plane trees are preserved in front of the main facade. It should be noted that the palace,being inside the fortress,is,in turn,fenced with the old town in the Orient. According to the plan drawn in 1853 the citadel included a lot of structures used by khan's family and servants for different purposes.However, ,the plan doesn't allow to define the the former function of some building as they were identified here according to their new purposes,i.e. the needs of the garrison. Besides,it is to be noted that during the periot between the Sheki khanate's joining Russia and the moment of the plan drawing new buildings and structures had been constructed. Nevertheless,this plan is of a great importance for identification of the nature of constructions surrounding khan's palace in the past.In the process of comparing it with the description of the general architectural ensemble of the Sheki khan's Palace we candefine the purpose of some structures given in the plan. First of allour attention is attracted by regular planning of the whole territory,strict maintenance and linking of the axes of various syructures,the presence of tree compositionally independent gardens and plenty of swimming-pools,the majority of which had fountains ,the fact clearly seen from the above mentioned description.Most of the complex structures were separate dwellings for the members of khan'sdynasty.These structures might have been built in different periods of time.The structures mentioned in the description were naturally identified with the buildings given in the plan ,which were groundedaround the gardens.This part of the Sheki fortress was obviously the main one. The Sheki khan's Palace represents a two-storeyed building with a main facade facing south.The plans of the storeys are indentical.Three rooms placed in one line and separated from each other by entrance halls make up a scheme of the Palace which is characterized with clarness and simplicity.The main rooms of the Palace were the halls in the centre of the ground and first floor with deep recess -one wide and two narrow - at the rear wall. There was no inner connection between the floor of the building.Staircases at the back sides of the side rooms with entrances at the side facades were used for entering the rooms on the first floor.At first sight this seems rather inconvenient but the reason might be that the Palace had been used as a summer one. Forming a complex of structures together with the winter palace the summer Palace was connected with a structure at the north facade of the winter Palace.It is worth mentioning here that the absence of inner connection between ground andfirst floor is due to the fact that the Palace was divided into two parts--a main or guest part and a private one.There is some evidence that the hall on the ground floor of the Palace used to be called a divanchane. The isolation of the main part from the private one is typical of the feudal East and can be observed evenin dwelling houses.Thus,the strangers were admitted only to the ground floor of the Palace.The upper floor was accessible only for the members of the khan's family or servants.For those who wanted to enter the room on the first floor of the summer palace from the winter palace a staircase with entrance at the Palace side was used. The main facade of the Palace is the southern one,facing the town.The archtectural divisions of the main facade clearly reflect the inner planning structureof the Palace are located in a similar manner,the southern facade comprisesfive divisions,e.i. middle halls,side rooms and entrance halls,separating halls from the rooms. The characteristic feature of the main facade compositions is the arragement of the outside walls and rooms -they aresubsituted for stained-glass windows -- shebeke.The geometrical ornamental pattern of shebeke-windows with multicoloured glass is in good compliance with ornamented planes of the spades dividing the facade. Againist this lacy background deep portal recesses of entrance to the ground floor stand out.Above them the balconies of the first floor are respectively located.Thus,the composition of the main facade is characterized by combination of three elements :ornamented wall,lacy shebeke and spacious portals.As a whole ,architectural of the facade represents a high-ratistical expressionof the inner planning structure and constructive decision of the Palace. The paintings preserved in the Palace were made in different periods and differently assssed.The most valuable from the artistical viewpoint are the paintings on the ground floor hall which may be partly attributed to the 18th century ,as well as the painting of the first floor hall. The Palace paintings can be mainly divided into four groups:paintings with geometrical and plant patterns;subject paintings and paintings with plant motives which are interwoven with bird images.These four types of paintings are represented with different compositions depending on the type of plane,which they fill in. The main type of the painting compositions in the Sheki khan's Palace is the panel filling in the recesses and piers.The composition mainly comprises plant motives with pictures of birds in some places.The type of composition depends on a place of its location,that is a wide recess or a narrow pier,being elongated in narrow piers. Hunting and battle scenes should be particularly mentioned.They are in the floor halls in the form of a frieze between the first and second tiers of recesses. The painting of the Sheki khan's Palace are characterized on the whole by rich colouring and frequent usage of golden colour.The colour decision is based on the usage of local tones. They are painted in tempera on gypsumplaster.The lacy-patterned doors vand bukhary in the Palace halls are very attractive. We know the names of five master-painters who painted the Sheki khan's Palace in different periodsof time.The earliest painting is throught tobe that with the name of the master-ustad Abbas Kuli written on the decorated ceiling of the first floor.The painting is notable for its ornamental compositions with double inscriptions of the master's name,directly and in the mirror reflection.This master was probably the architect-builder of the Palace. A varietly of paintings on the ground floor hall were executed in 1895-1896 by the artist-naggash Mirza Jafar from Shemakha. Many preserved paintings on the first floor hall had been made by the artist Usta Gambar from Shusha.The inscription bearing his name and the year 1902 is preserved in the upper part of the paintings in one of the first floor hall recesses. Besides,in the Sheki khan's Palace worked such as Ali Kuli and Kurban Ali from Shemakha who made paintings of the floor end room,judging from the inscriptions bearing their names. The Sheki khan's Palace was erected in the periot of construction decline in Azerbaijan.However,the Sheki khan's Palace demonstrates that masters who followed the traditions of the past were able to create pieces of art even at that period. In 1952 under the supervision of one of the leading architects of the republic ,Niyazi Rzayev,Candidate of Architecture,the Sheki khan's Palace was,for the first time,measured and studied,the restorations project was designed.The restoration work being completed in 1967,the moment was given a second birth. THE SHAKIKHANOV'S HOUSE The Shekikhanovs House is mature from of the people's dwelling-- trasitional link from people's dwelling to the houses of a palace type. A two-storey building of elongated rectangular plan,which demonstrates all features of the Sheki people's dwelling and at the same time comprises rich decorative components mainly in the interior,is nearly identifical to the structures of a palace type.As it was mentioned above,its walls facing the streets have no recesses,in plans and fracades one can clearly see the differentiation of the functional inner rooms into living auxiliary and ceremonial ones. Main facade of the house is notable for its simple and clear forms. A central axis of the facade is emphasized by a large stainedglass panel--shebeke with small shebeke placed rhytghmically.Anothr rhythm is followed on the ground floor,where window and door recesses are finished in a simple and careful manner. A simple decision of the lower part of the Shekikhanov's house facade is in compliance with finishing of the living rooms on the ground floor,where we see no the ornamentation or painting and even bukhary have no decorations. The organization of the first floor hall is focused by a decorative bukhary placed along a cross axis and covered with rich painting,the whole interior being solved symmetrically,using divisions characteristic of people's dwelling.Side walls have two similar recesses on each side with a door leading to a nearby room. Above the recesses along three walls a small protruding shelf is stretched,the overhang of which is supported with a stalactite cornice.The large cornice extended over the hall is made of mirror stalactites of a complex forms.Over the protruding shelf along the axes of the recesses there are small recesses.All other planes of the hall are covered with picturesque ornamental compositions,with the exception of the external wall filled with shebeke.The wealth of hall decorations is enriched with shebeke.The light streaming through coloured glass causes a play of colours and high lights on the walls,ceiling and the floor.








The quadrangular tower in Aidynbulag village is situated at the dista- nce of 20 km to the south-west of Sheki. The tower was used as an observa- tion post in the total chain of fortifications of the Kbalinskiy magal. The northern and eastern walls with destroyed rounded projections have come down to the present. The tower in plan is of a square form, the corn- ers are strengthened with circular projections of 3/4 in circumference. Each side is 8,8 m long. The inner space as can be supposed according to the remaining sockets on the eastern wall was divided into three tiers, none of which being preserved at present. The ceilings between the tiers were flat wooden coverings. It is difficult to attribute the roofing of the tower since no traces of it have been preserved. The destroyed tower is 10.5 m high. The ground floor is 4 m high, the first floor - 2.5 m and the second floor - 2.6 m. The thickness of the wall (at the foundation) is 1.2 m. The door recess is in the eastern wall. On the subsequent storeys there are some narrow window recesses. It it po- ssible to imagine the way people got to the upper floors. But the similar cases show that the ladders were used for ascending. There are some traces of the loopholes. The Apsheron towers are known to use wells for water supply, which were dug out in the territory of a fortification itself. On some tiers the small holes went throught the whole thickness of the walls, while vertical channels were used for draining sewage. In the course of the studies of the tower in Aidynbulag village no such holes for draining off sewage have been observed in the walls. Nor there was a well. These facts once again justify that the tower was inten- ded to serve as an observation post. The tower walls were made of rubblestone and finished with roughly to- oled stone. Here, like in the other Apsheron towers, the finishing is cha- racterized by repeated placing of butt stones of a large size, providing high strenght and monolithiv character of the facing. It is interesting to note that the archa species of wood were used for door lintels, inter- floor ceilings and wall fastenings. It is characteristic that the archa was widely used in the architectu- ral monuments of Middle Asia. The archa logs, beams, planks are notable for a multi-century service life in the sultan Sanjar mausoleum in ancient Merv (the 12th century), in the Ulugbek medrese in
Bukhara (the 15th cen- tury) and many others. The tower bears no inscriptions which makes its exact dating difficult. According to compositional-planning solution and characteristic constructive elements it may be compared with the Aphsheron fortifications of the 13th-14th centries. The fortress "Gelersen-Gerersen"("If you come,you will see").The fortress is situated at about 9 km north of the town,on the left-side bank of the river Kish,on the top of Garatepe--strategically advantageus site.The foundation of the fortress is supposed to have been laid in the 15th century  by Alidjan,the ruler of Sheki. The name of the fortress "Gelersen-Gerersen" is associated with Nadirshakh's invasion to Sheki. In 1743,making use of people's discontent againist the Persian yoke, proclaiming himself the Sheki khan,Hadji Chelebi took shelter in the fortress and rejected Nadir-shakh's proposal of overthroving.The enraged shakh,according to the folk legend,demanded to know the reason of Chelebi's disobedience.Hadji Chelebi,who was sure of tower's inaccessibility, sent to the shakh his reply:"If you come ,you will see". Indeed,in 1774 Nadir-shakh with a great army arrived in Sheki,attacked the fortress,and having failed to seize it,returned to Persia.After this event the name of the fortress "Gelersen-Gerersen"was firmly established in history.









Among numerous quarter mosques only few have come down to the present completely preserved,the rest of them being almost destroyed.Thus,a minaret is preserved in the Gileili mosque situated at the edge of the precipice of the Guejanachai river.Now the minaret has been restored.In Sary torpag block there is a quarter mosque with a minaret which was called by people as the Gedek minaret.And in the upper part of the town in Agamali ogly street another minaret of the nonexistent mosque arises.The Sheki's Jumamosque is of a particular interest being situated near the Shekikhanov's house in the centre of the town.People called it the Khan's mosque.It was built in 1745-1750.There is a graveyard with some preserved tombstones in the form of stone arrows near it.The tombstone planes have stone engravings,covered with ornament and are artistically executed. There is a mosque in
Sheki street,too. The Gileli Mosque.The mosque was built in the 18th century  and has the name of the street in which it was erected.The place for the building was chosen in the north-eastern suburbs of the town over a deep precipice on the river bank. Both planning and interior organization are identical to a Sheki dwelling with many wall recesses and muticoloured painting decoration. The minaret of the Gileli mosque,built of burnt brick,is the highest one in the Sheki-Zagataly region. The main room of the mosque is of restangular form,the inner dimensions being 6x12m.The ceiling is supported by four wooden columns in the middle of the room.The mosque walls are made claystraw-brick and cobblestone which are plastered from outside and inside with subsequent colourful painting.This colourful decoration of the prayer-hall is the most valuable feature of the monument. The hall walls are covered with gypsum-clay plaster, on which flower and geometrical ornaments painted in some colours are carved out. The planes of the inner walls are divided along the height by several belts of decorative finishing:from the floor up to 1,5m of height the mosque walls were plastered with clay-straw-brick plaster,which is smoothed over with a layer of gypsum-mixture.Above the panel there was a belt of painted multistepped recesses filled with geometrical and plant ornaments. Above the recesses there was a narrow strip with plant ornaments above which a band of inscriptions in Arabic type was located. The whole composition was completed with a border belt of geometrical ornament. In the centre of the south-eastern wall there was a mikhrab with a pointed portal richly decorated with stalactites,ornaments and inscriptions.On the sides of the mikhrab there were the lancet recesses.The Gileli mosque is notable for simple and functional architectural-planning structure,a characteristic feature of the monuments of popular architecture. In the villages of the Sheki region there are also some Christian architectural monuments of Caucasian Albania of the past.Two of them,i.e. the church in the village of Kish and the temple in the village of Orta Zeizit,will be given attention in the present work. The church in the village of Kish is one of major Chiristian architectural monuments of Caucasian Albania.The monument is located on the hill,rising over the Kish River. The church is elongated in plan,its form being finished in apsse of the round outline. Inside the elongated premises,in front of the apse,the subdome square with two arch projections are singled out facing the northern and southern walls. The depth of the northern and southern projections being 30cm,their practical significance is of little importance. The dome-drum is round both inside and outside.It is provided with six narrow windows.The church is made up of surface-tooled stone big plates-shirime.The time of the erection of the monument may be defined as the 6th-7th centuries. The temple in the village of Orta Zeizit.The temple in the plan consists of semi-circular apse from the eastern side and three restangular sleeves of the cross. The insignificant depth of the sleeves makes them,in essence,unpractical.The apse has two high recesses. The subdome square is provided with three subsidiary arches and the concha of the apse. The dome-drum is circular both inside and outside.Gracefulness and elegance of the proportions,lucid composition make this edfice an outstanding event in architecture of Caucasian Albania. It should be noted that several other monuments of the past are located in the village of Zeizit,the type being common in the Shemakha region.The monument is built of surface-tooled stone big pklates-shirime, the date of its construction can be attributed as the 6th-7th centuries. The Chiristian monument-the circular temple,situated in the upper part of the town-dates back to the 19th century.







The original and unique character of Sheki connected with its picturesque natural background became especially clear after Sheki's transfer into a new place in the second half of the 18th century  followed by intensive residental construction. Rich green massive and the original Sheki's structures with deeply shaded eivans,framed with white walls or later built structures with walls made of brick and roughly cut river cobbled the town's lovely outward appearance. The peoples dwelling reflected all peculiarities silk production of this rich district.The dwelling comprised as a rule an isolated farmstead hidden in orchards and mulberry tree plantings.A house itself was of a rectangular configuration and was placed on a thick platform finished with stone and brick, protruding into the yard side in the Aphsheron dwellings as a terrace.The side facade blanks walls faced the street.The main facade oriented usually to south of southeast,faced the yard.The house planningis characterized by a singlerow arrangement of residential rooms,in front of which there was usually an eivan. Sometimes--when the building was located at the back of the site,there was another eivan at the rear wall,but the single-row location of the rooms is preserved. Another specific type of the Sheki dwelling is a two-storey one-row dwelling house without eivans. In such houses the planning of the ground and first floors is the same,but the facade walls were treated in different way,i.e. on the first floor as the solid windows-shebeke. A high sloping roof,which protects from precipitations and is used for specific household purposes--drying and storage of fruit at the garrets,keeping and rearing the silk worms,is of particular importance in making up the appearance of a Sheki house. The main compositional centre of the houses of the widely-spread type with protruding walls is a large eivan (verandah),which contrasts with light,smoothly plastered wall or coloured brick walls.Due to mild climate of the Sheki district,people spend the most part of the year on the eivan. This circumstance attracts the attention of architects to the eivan as a major element of the architectural design of the dwelling.the wooden pillars,beams,barrier,ce,iling,brackets of the eivan are carefully finished and profiled.The top of its wooden colonnade is usually decorated with pointed or threespated arches.The similar arches are used for door and window recesses.the walls of the eivan usually represent an interior and are finished accordingly. The houses without the eivan are provided with shebeke on the first floor as a central element of the facade composition.Shebeke are also very popular in Sheki and considered to be of a great artistic value. The interior decoration is also traditional for the
Azerbaijan dwellings--rich decoration of bukhary,with symmetrically placed recesses takhcha and jumakhatan--decorated with stucco mouldings and cut ornament. In the houses of well-to-do people the walls and the ceilings are partly or wholly covered with painting or cut ornament of a plant character with impregnation of large flowers, birds,etc. At the end of the century  and the beginning of the 20th century  in Sheki there emerged the image of the urban dwelling house,wholly facing the street. The construction used in Sheki and Sheki district were almost identical to those in many other Azerbaijan foot-hill regions.A specific feature is a wooden frame inside the walls,which was to ensure seismic protection of the building. One of the monuments of the town construction art is a number of engineering town improvement elements preserved in Sheki.Here we should mention the remnants of the clay water-supply line.The clay waterlines are interrupted with numerous distributing wells-taksimgez-and completed with water distribution outlets in the form of a pouring stream.The taksimgez is a small quadrangular pool used instead of a water measuring device,monitors the water flow in water pressure reservoir of the present-day waterlines. Such waterline consisted of a system of clay tubes with four different diametres-ana-lyulya(mothertube),orta-lyulya(middle-tube),golgiran-lyulya(hand flowing-tube) and tapancha-lyulya(pistol-tube)--which were used for yard branches.The given scheme shows that the main preserved part of the town--Yukhary-bash--used water from the sources of Tajlyg,Gurjan,Alijanbek and Hasanbek.In the most cases water flew along the open bed that led to its contamination by rains and mud. The main waterline was directed from Tajlyg source along the right bank of the Gurjanachai river.At the distance of 50m the tubes branched off supplying water to separate residental areas.The Tajlyg and Alijanbek waterlines supplied water to the north-eastern part of the town.The Hasanbek line was directed along the upper part of Agamaly ogly street,April 28 street,Ali-Bairamov street and supplied water to living quarters including Agamaly ogly street,Vidadi street and Gyanjlar street.Now there is a water reservoir in the upper part of the Gurjanachai river,in Agamali ogly street. It is to be noted now the Tajlyg and Alijanbek lines include about 50-60% of the clat waterlines with diameter of 60-100 mm.The rest of the waterline is substituded for asbestos and cast-iron tubes.Apart from the above-mentioned items,the Sheki region has a number of Architectural-archaeological monuments worth studying.In conclusion note should be made of the following peculiar features of the construction work in Sheki. The town of Sheki newly erected in the second half of the 18th century  ia marked by a stylistic integrity and the ingenious application of the beauty of local landscape to architecture. The picturesque structures with deep eivans,made of brick mixed with cobble-stone,situated on the extremely rugged country,have reflected the peculiarities of the socioeconomic development of this rich silkworm breeding region of Azerbaijan. According the Decree of the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan of March 6,1958,the upper part of the town -Yukharybash-was proclaimed the arcitectural preserve.This area includes the Sheki fortress with the Palace of the Sheki khans inside it,the main trading street,along which the caravanserais and craftsmen's shops are located.Around the trading street,dwelling quarters,closely adjacent to one another,are centred.

 



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