The Shirvan-Shah's Palace ensemble (15-16th century) was built when the Shah's capital was moved from Shemakha to Baku. This was the most prominent architectural complex in the medieval city. Some of the builings in the complex far surpass the palace in splendour. Despite having built in different periods without a single plan the several contruction form an harmonious whole.
The palace is a two story building, with service rooms on the ground floor and state rooms on the uper floor. Built in the 15th century by Halilullah first, the palace remained intact a hundred years. After Baku was taken by Shah Ismail the palace was abandoned.
Adjacent to the palace is the Divankhane rotunda. crowned with a faceted cupola of pointed arches, echoing a similar arcade in the courtyard. The stone carving of the portal - with intricate ornamentation and kufic inscriptions - is striking. Divankhane and Harem at Shirvan Shah's palace is Unesco world heritage site
In the complex you can also see the 14th century the Bei-Kubad Madrassa Mosque, the Shah's family tomb (the turbe) and the tomb of Seid Yahia Bakuvi (a court astronomer) the Turkish built eastern Gate and the baths.
The complex was constructed in the 15th century to serve as court for the ruling dynasty of that time, the Shirvan Shahs. Walking through the pavilions, courtyards, palace rooms, the crypt, the cistern, the Turskih bathhoous, the mosque, etc., you get a real feel for the every day life within the palace walls.
Massive restoration works in 2003, some wings look “brand new”, with their aluminium & plastic window frames, while the palace itself seems to be used for conferences & business meetings as well.
Although officially open until 5pm, the complex can be visited even later, provided that you are polite and do not require a ticket in exchange for the 2 manat entry paid. There is an extra “photo fee”, but this can be easily avoided, as tenants will not follow you beyond the entrance. A guide costs 5 manats, but is not necessary unless you want to exchange thoughts with a nice Azeri girl.
The Palace of the Shirvan Shahs is Baki's main tourist 'must-see'. Unfortunately, it was under restoration when I went, so many of the rooms were locked, and there were no labels in any language, so maybe now is not the best time to visit. Having said that, the buildings not covered in scaffolding are quite beautiful, however I did object to paying an extortionate camera fee before being told by a toothless old crone that there wasn't much to photograph in its present state... once restoration work is completed, the palace should be well worth a visit.