Restoration works in the Sheki Khan mosque complex

In May 2021, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation began comprehensive restoration work on the Sheki Khan Mosque Complex, located within the “Yukhari Bash” National Historical-Architectural Reserve of Sheki.

The project, designed by the Architecture and Construction University at the request of the State Tourism Agency, aimed to preserve this significant historical site. In June 2021, during the restoration, large stone slabs were discovered beneath the mihrab, leading to a temporary halt in the restoration work. An archaeological expedition subsequently uncovered a grave containing 52 beads and a bronze rosary head, indicating the high status of the buried individual. Samples from the skeletal remains were sent to Oxford University for radiocarbon and genetic analysis, supported by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Further research in the UK, Austria, Estonia, and Türkiye, as well as the report of ANAS Institute of Archaeology, Ethnography and Anthropology confirmed the grave belonged to Sheki Khan Muhammad Huseyn Khan.

Throughout 2021, extensive 3D measurements were conducted on the mosque complex, including the main building, minaret, auxiliary structures, and cemetery. Restoration efforts included replacing weather-damaged bricks, re-paving the area with baked bricks, and creating an insulation layer to protect the minaret’s bricks. Original windows and doors, used by Muhammad Huseyn Khan, were restored, and two windows were reconstructed using traditional lattice work. The interior and exterior walls were restored based on 1961 photographs.

In addition to the restored mosque, with support of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, a museum was established within the complex, showcasing artifacts from the Sheki Khanate era. It features copper utensils, national clothing, jewelry, 18th-century household items, Sheki carpets, weaving tools, historical texts, coins, and weapons from the 18th and 19th centuries.

One of the main areas of the museum is Khan’s room on the second floor. The room shows how Shaki Khan Mahammadhuseyn Mushtagh prayed in the building, organized literary gatherings, hosted various receptions and played chess. Displayed in this room is the oud, a musical instrument used in the literary gatherings hosted by Shaki Khan Mahammadhuseyn Mushtagh, the replica of the throne of Shaki Khan Mahammadhuseyn designed based on images from historical sources in 2014-2015, and the clothes the Khan wore based on the miniature images in the Shaki Khan Palace. The Khan’s room is also decorated with a chess board of Khan Mahammadhuseyn, who impressed everyone with his playing skills, and the Holy Quran, which he constantly read. The flag of the Shaki Khanate used in the 18th century, and the battle flag of Shaki Khan Salim Khan are also on display in the room. The Khan’s room also features a desk of Khan Mahammadhuseyn, who wrote poems under the pseudonym of “Mushtagh” and corresponded with famous poets of that time.

On December 2, 2022, President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva visited the Sheki Khan Mosque Complex to review the completed restoration work.