Murad’s Gate, Baku

Murad’s Gate in Baku is a medieval centerpiece in Azerbaijan’s Icheri Sheher which has attracted the attention of historians and tourists due to its enigmatic origins and purpose.

When visiting Icheri Sheher, Baku’s historic center, pay close attention to the Eastern Portal, or "Murad's Gate", of Icheri-Sheher Fortress. Murad’s Gate, embedded within the ancient Baku city walls, is counted among the ensemble known as Palace of the Shirvanshahs, although it was not added to the citadel wall until the capture of Baku by the Seljuk Turks in the 16th century.

The outline of Murad’s Gate mimics elements of earlier structures in the palace ensemble, particularly the palace courtyard (divankhana) and mausoleum (tyurbe). However, its stalactite, semi-domed portal has a wider opening and is significantly inferior to its counterparts in terms of ornamentation and quality of stone.

A clue as to the origins and construction of Murad's Gate is found in an inscription on the gate’s upper reaches: "Ordered to build this noble building, in the days of the reign of the fairest and greatest Sultan Murad Ulu Rajab-Baba Bakuyi in 994 AH (1585-1586)". Based on this engraving it is surmised that the gates owe their appearance to Bakuvian Sultan Murad Ulu Rajab Baba, on whose order it is known that the gates were built by an architect from the suburbs of Tabriz during an important era in the history of Baku.

Murad’s Gate in Baku is the most mysterious object on the territory of the Shirvanshah Palace Complex, for no scholar has yet been able to give a credible explanation for its original purpose. Yet visitors to the city who possess a rich imagination can conjure up their own scenario of the past as they mentally enter through the gates into a significant bygone era of Azerbaijan.