Golestan Palace in Tehran: Land of Flowers
Golestan Palace In Tehran, once the heart of Tehran with all the glories and excess of the Qajar Monarch, is now a grand complex full of charming Persian art. The word Gol (flowers) e (of) Stan (land) translates to 'Land of Flowers.'
It's the oldest of Tehran Iran's historic monuments, not to mention of world heritage status. The Golestan Palace belongs to a group of royal buildings that were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran’s Historic Arg (citadel). While together it's a masterpiece of beautiful gardens and royal buildings full of Iranian craft collections.
Tehran’s Historic Arg was built during the reign of Tahmasp I (r. 1524-1576) of the Safavid dynasty (1502–1736), and was later renovated by Karim Khan of Zand (r. 1750-1779). Agha Mohammad Khan of Qajar (1742–1797) chose Tehran as his capital. The Arg finally became the site of the Qajar monarch between the years 1794–1925, and was the official residence of the royal Qajar family for quite some time.
During the Pahlavi era (1925–1979), Golestan Palace In Tehran was used for formal royal receptions, and the Pahlavi dynasty built their own residential palace at Niavaran (Niavaran Palace Complex). The Story of Tehran evolved during these years when a large portion of the buildings of the palace were destroyed for higher order urban development. In the place of the old buildings, commercial buildings with the modern style of 1950s and 1960s were erected.
This spectacular terrace was built in 1806 by order of Fath Ali Shah of Qajar (r. 1797-1834). The throne is made of sixty-five pieces of marble. The architectural details and the other terrace ornaments were completed during the reigns of Fath Ali Shah and Nasser ol Din Shah (r. 1848-1896). Coronations of Qajar kings, and formal court ceremonies were held on this terrace. The last coronation to be held at the Marble Throne was the coronation of Reza Shah Pahlavi, in 1925.
Karim Khani Nook (Khalvat e Karim Khani)
Dating back to 1759, this building was a part of the interior residence of Karim Khan of Zand. The structure is similar to the Marble Throne and it has much less ornamentation. There was once a small pond with a fountain in the middle of this terrace, and water that flowed from the subterranean stream (the king’s qanat) into the pond was later used to irrigate the palace grounds.
Nasser ol Din Shah was fond of this corner and spent much time here resting and smoking his galyun in quiet reflection. So much so that the valuable gravestone of Nasser ol Din Shah finally found its way to this quiet corner. The marble stone with an engraving of Nasser ol Din Shah's image is a special sight.
Pond House (Howz Khaneh)
Works of European painters presented to the Qajar court are housed in the Pond House. It was used as a summer chamber during the Qajar era, being fitted with a special subterranean cooling system. After cooling the summer chambers, the water would then irrigate the royal gardens.
Picture House/Gallery (Negar Khaneh)
Nasser ol Din Shah was very impressed with Europe's treasures he stumbled upon during his second European tour around 1872. He arrived back in Tehran only to build a museum hall of his own solely to exhibit paintings, royal jewels, and other royal artifacts. While the original collection is now scattered among Tehran’s many museums, the paintings of the royal court are now kept at Tehran's Golestan Palace.
Brilliant Hall (Talar e Brelian)
The Brilliant Hall was named for it's mirror work of Iranian artisans. The hall was built by the order of Nasser ol Din Shah to replace another hall called Talar-e Bolour (Crystal Hall). The original crystal hall had been damaged by the damp due to the humidity of the irrigation and cooling systems. This lays to rest just how tough life was for Persian royalty.
The Brilliant Hall is famous for its mirror work and chandeliers. An oil painting by Yahya Khan (Sani ol Molk Ghafari), showing the decorations of this hall before renovations exists in the Golestan Palace also. However it's lost most of it's character since this time.
Museum of Gifts
Doesn't everybody need a museum for their gifts. This building is located under the Salam Hall. It is a part of the first Iranian museum, and in Nasser ol Din Shah’s period, this building was used as a warehouse for the china and silverware. Well it need to go somewhere.
During the Pahlavi period this warehouse was transformed into another museum to display the rare gifts given to the Qajar kings. In addition to the gifts, some other rare objects are on display including:
- Helmet of king Esmail Safavid
- Bow and arrows of King Nader
- Armband of Fath Ali Shah
- The collection of Qajar Seals
- Agha Mohammad Khan's crown
- A decorated ostrich egg
Containers Hall (Talar e Zoroof)
The chinaware dedicated to Qajar kings from European kings were taken to the Containers Hall and arranged in show cases. Among the chinaware in this hall the most exceptional are:
- The chinaware that shows the Napoleonic Wars, dedicated by Napoleon Bonaparte
- The chinaware dedicated by Nicholas I of Russia
- The chinaware studded with gems and jewels, dedicated by Queen Victoria
- The chinaware dedicated by Wilhelm II to the Iranian crown prince
- A set made by malachite stone, dedicated by Alexander III of Russia
Ivory Hall (Talar e Adj)
The Ivory Hall is a large hall used as a dining room. It was decorated with some gifts presented to Nasser ol Din Shah by European monarchs. Among the Golestan Palace collection there is a watercolor by Mahmoud Khan Saba (Malek ol Shoara), showing the exterior view of this hall during the Qajar period.
Mirror Hall (Talar e Aineh)
The Mirror Hall is the most famous of the palace halls. This relatively small hall is famous for its extraordinary mirror work. It's just worth stopping to gaze in awe at it's beauty for 5 minutes.
Salam Hall (Talar e Salam)
The Salam (Hello / Reception) held special receptions in the presence of the king, hence the name Salam Hall. This hall has exquisite mirrors work. The ceiling and walls are decorated with plaster molding. The floors are covered with mosaic. During the reign of Nasser ol Din Shah, this hall was used to exhibit Iranian and European paintings alongside gifts presented to the Iranian court. Royal jewels were also exhibited inside glass cases, however these are now housed at the Royal Jewels Museum of the Central Bank of Iran.
Edifice of the Sun (Shams ol Emareh)
The Edifice of the Sun has the most stunning architecture of the Golestan Palace. Nasser ol Din Shah wanted to have a tall structure from which he could have panoramic views of the city. The building has two identical towers. The exterior views have multiple arches, intricate tile work and ornate windows. This building's two towers are small versions of the Safavid viewing palace of Ālī Qāpū in Isfahan.
The Building of Windcatchers (Emarat-e Badgir)
The Building of Windcatchers was constructed during the reign of Fath Ali Shah. A watercolor rendering by Mahmoud Khan (Malek ol Shoara) depicts the original structure prior to the renovations that followed. The structure is flanked by two rooms known as "Gooshvar" (corner-like). There is also a central room housing the finest stained glass window in the Golestan Palace.
Diamond Hall (Talar e Almas)
The Diamond Hall is located in the southern wing of the Golestan Palace, next to the building of Windcatchers. It is called "Diamond" Hall because of the exceptional mirror work inside the building. The construction of this hall dates to Fath Ali Shah, however Nasser ol Din Shah changed its appearance by replacing the hall's ogival arches with Roman ones. The wallpaper was also imported from Europe. As the basic structure dates back to the time of Fath Ali Shah it's rather fitting to be devoted to art and handicrafts from that period.
Abyaz Palace (White Palace)
The Ottoman king, Sultan Abd ol Hamid, sent precious gifts to Nasser ol Din Shah. Reportedly, these gifts were plentiful enough to fill a castle. The Qajar monarch decided to build an exhibit hall worthy of these gifts within the confines of the Golestan Palace. Completed in 1883, the palace now houses one of the most interesting ethnological museums in Iran. There is a colorful exhibition of traditional Iranian costumes, as well as a folk art exhibition
The Photographic Archive
There is an excellent early photographic collection in Golestan palace museum. Naser-e-din Shah of the Qajars had been so interested in photography that he created this collection.
Golestan Palace results from layers of roughly 400 years of construction. The Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran submitted the palace to UNESCO and has since been included into the World Heritage List.
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