THE BRIEF HISTORY OF GOLESTAN PALACE
The Golestan palace ensemble is a relic of the historic Arg (governmental seat) of Tehran, where Qajar monarchs resided, and comprises several of the most beautiful ancient buildings erected in the capital during the past 200 years.
The origins of the royal Arg,limited northward by Emam khomeini(ex-sepah) square and Avenue,westward by Khayyam Avenue,eastward by Nasser khosrow Avenue,and southward by 15th khordad Avenue and Arg Square, date back to the safavid period.The safavid monarch shah Tahmasb I (930-984 AH),was the first king who,during a pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Hazrat-e’Abd-ol-’Azim, ordered a one league-long rampart to be erected around Tehran,which was a small town at the time After him.Shah’Abbas had a chahar-baghjquadripartite gardenjand a plane tree grove created north of this rampart around which he later had a tall wall built and the royal residence,which was called Arg,built within this enclosure.
In the closing years of the Safavid period,tehran was occasionally used as a temporary Royal residence and Shah Solayman(1077-1105 A.H) even had a palace built in this city,but today no traces of those safavid buildings remain.
The most ancient extant buildings within the Golestan Palace ensemble are the Takht-e Marmar (Marble Throne) and the Khalvat-e Karim-Khani (Karim-Khan’s Secluded Retreat), built during the reign of the Zand monarch Karim-Khan.ln 1172 in the course of his wars against the Qajar Mohammad-Hassan-Khan.Karim-Khan adopted tehran as the central camp of his military operations and after defeating his opponent,gave a public audience in the ancient Divan-Khaneh of Tehran, built under Shah Solayman,during which he was elected the king of Iran under the title of Vakil-or-Ro’aya.Upon his orders,in the summer of the same year, the rampart of the Arg was restored and a harem,a secluded retreat and a governmental seat were built within its enclosure;and in the summer of the following year (1173 AH), When he transferred his military camp to the Chaman-e Soltaniyeh (Zanjan) he ordered a particular palace and a large administrative complex to be built in the Sasanian style and a garden created beside them.
After Karim-Khan’s death in 1193 AH,the Qajar Aqa-Mohammad-khan adopted Tehran as his capital in 1200 AH,but,being busy with incessant military campaigns, he seldom resided in it or had any time to indulge in building and development activities,Eventually,Fath-Ali shah accessed to the throne in 1211 AH.Thereafter alongside the growing size of the country’s administrative machine and royal formalities,numerous buildings were erected within the Arg of tehran.mainly under Fath-’Ali shah and Nasser-ed-Din Shah.During the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi,large parts of the Arg of Tehran, including its rampart,the Bab-e’Ali portico.the Rehabilitation Building,the Telegraph House,the Tekie-ye Dowlat.the Narenjestan (citrus grove),the Golshan Garden and the Inner Quarters,were demolished,the royal residence was transferred to Sa’d-Abad,and then to Niavaran under Mohammad- Reza shah pahlavi,and the Golestan ensemble was dedicated to the reception of foreign guests.After the Revolution,the Golestan ensemble,as most other royal buildings, was transformed into a museum,so as to enable the public to visit it and enjoy the sight of the beautiful monuments left behind by Iranian artists and artisans.
At present,the various parts of this ensemble are: 1)The Takht-e Marmar aywan; 2)The Khalvat-e Karim-Khani; 3)The museum building (Salam Hall) and its Hose- khaneh; 4)The Mirror Hall (New Golestan Hall); 5)The Ivory Hall, or Dinning Hall; 6)The Brilliant Hall, or Reception Hall; 7)Royal Library 8)The shams-ol-’Emareh Building; 9)The Bad-gir Building and its large hose-khaneh; 10)The Diamond Hall; 11)The white (abyaz) Palace and, 12)The Chador-khaneh.
The Ottoman king, Sultan Abdoul-hamid, send precious gifts to Nasserol-Din Shalt Reportedly, these gifts were copious and enough to fill a castle. The Qajar monarch was delighted with these gifts. He decided to build an exhibit hall worthy of these gifts within the confines of Golestan Palace, It is believed that Nasser-ol-Din Shah, himself, designed the structure, with a central hall large enough to house the carpet that was sent by Sultan Abdoulhamid. Completed in 1883, the Abyaze (White) Palace now houses one of the most interesting ethobgical museums in Iran. There is a colorful exhibition of tradition Iranian costumes, as well as a folk art exhibition.
A short history of the GolestanPalace
The oldest of the historic monuments in Tehran, the Golestan Palace (Palace of Flowers) belongs to a group of royal buildings that were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran’s Historic Arg (citadel). The Arg was built during the reign of Tahmasb I (r. 1524 – 1576) of the Safivid dynasty (1502- 1736), and was later renovated by Karim Kahn Zand (r.1750-1779).
Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar (1742- 1797) chose Tehran as his capital. The Arg became the site of the Qajar (1794-1925) Court and Golestam Palace became the official residence of the royal family. During the Pahlavi era (1925-1979) Golestan Palace was used for formal royal receptions. The most important ceremonies to be held in the Palace during the Pahlavi era were the coronation of Reza Kahan (r. 1925-1941) in Takht-e- Marmar and the coronation of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (r. 1941- deposed 1979) in the Museum Hall. In its present stata, Golestan Palace is the result of roughly 400 years construction and renovar turns. The buildings at the contemporary location each have a unique history.
Ermrat-e Badgir (Building of the Wind Towers) was constructed during the reign of Fath Ali Shah (circa 1806). The building underwent major renovations, including structural changes, during the reign of Nasser-ol-Din Shah. A watercolor rendering by Mahmoud Khan Malek-ol-Shoara depicts the original structure prior to renovation. The building is flanked by two rooms known as Goshvar (earring). There is a central room which boasts the finest stained glass window in Golestan Palace.
Outside, there are four wind towers of blue, yellow and black glazed tiles and a golden cupola. The wind towers are constructed to allow the cooling wind to move through the structure.
Located between the Badgir and Almas Hall, the Chador Khaneh (House of Tents) was used as a warehouse for royal tents. The Qajar tribe loved the great outdoors and made several royal camping trips each year. These trips were grand affairs with multitudes of servants and attendants in addition to all royal necessities. Many tents were needed to accommodate the entourage. Thus, a need for a House of Tents. The Chador Khaneh has undergone major renovations and is now used a meeting and lecture hall.
Talar-e Almas (Hall of Diamonds) is located in the southern wing of Golestan Palace next to the Badgir Building. It is called Hall of Diamonds because of the exceptional mirror work inside the budding. The construction of this hall dates to the time of Fath Ali Shah (circa 1806).
Nasser-ol-Din Shah renovated this hall changing its appearance and replacing the hall’s Ogival arches with Roman ones. He also ordered the walls covered with wallpaper imported from Europe. As the basic structure dates back to the time of Fath Ali Shah. It is only apt that this hall should be devoted to the exhibition of art and handicrafts from that period.
Aks – khaneh
The Aks Khaneli (Phototheque) is a large summer chamber under the Badgir. this room was cooled using a cooling system that pumped water from a subterranean stream (qanat) into a small pond. Due to the harmful effects of humidity, this system is no longer in use. This room has undergone major renovations and is now used as an exhibition space for photographs of the Qajar period. Nasser-ol-Din Shah took an interest in photography not long after the invention of the camera. In fact, he was an avid photographer. The Aks Khaneh houses some photographs taken by Nasser-ol-Din Shah and some photographs captioned by him.
This building replaced the Naretijestan building in the north of Adj Hall or Sofre Khaneh, All the chinaware that were dedicated to Qajar kings by the European kings were taken to this room and was arranged in show cases which were built for this purpose. All the chinaware that exists in this room is rare and beautiful, Among them these are the most exceptional:
1- The chinaware that shows the Napoleonian wars dedicated by Napoleon the first.
2- Tlie chinaware dedicated by King Nicoli the first.
3- Chinaware studded with gems and jewels dedicated by Queen Victoria.
4- The Chinaware which was dedicated by King Vilhelm to the Iranian crown prince.
5- A set made by melacit stone dedicated by Alexandre the third.
Muz-e Makhsus (Special Museum)
This building is located under the Salam Hall or Museum. It is indeed a part of the first Iranian museum, which was built by Mohammad Ebrahim Khan Memar Bashi. In Naser-ol-Din Shah’s period, this building was used as a warehouse for the china and silverware, which was dedicated to Qajar kings. In the Pahlavi period, this warehouse was turned in to a museum to expose the rare gifts, which was given to the Qajar kings. Right now in addition to the gifts, some rare objects are kept in this museum, some of them are as follows:
1- Helmet of king Esmail Safavid.
2- Bow and Arrows of King Nader.
3- Armband of Fath Ali Shah.
4- The collection of Qajar Seals.
5- Aga Mohammad Khan’s crown.
6- A decorated ostrich egg.
The spectacular terrace known as Takht-e-Marmar (Marble Throne) was built in 1806 by order of Fath Ali Shah Qajar (r.1797-1834). Adomed by paintings, marble-carvings, tilework, stucco, mirrors, enamel, woodcarvings, and lattice windows; the throne embodies the finest of Iranian architecture. The Marble Throne is one of the oldest buildings of the historic Arg. The existing throne, which is situated in the middle of the terrace (ivan), is made of the famous yellow marble of Yazd province. The throne is made of sixty-five pieces of marble and was designed by Mirza Baba naghash Bashi (head painter) of the Qajar cort Mohammad Ebrahim, the Royal Mason, oversaw the construction and several celebrated masters of the time worked on the execution of this masterpiece. The architectural details and other ornaments of the terrace (ivan) 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 (ivan).
The last coronation to be held at Takht-e-Marmar was the coronation of, the self-proclaimed King, Reza Khan Pahlavi in 1925.
Dating back to 1759, this building was a part of the interior residence of Karim Khan Zand. The basic structure of the Khalvat-e-Karim Khani is similar to takht-e-Marmar. Like the latter, it is a terrace (ivan). There is a small marble throne inside the terrace. The structure is much smaller than Takht-e-Marmar and it has much less ornamentation. There was once a small pond with a fountain in the middle of this terrace. Water from a subterranean stream (the king’s qanat) flowed form the fountain into the pond and was later used to irrigate the Palace grounds. Believe that it was he, who dubbed the structure Khalvat (a cozy corner). It seems extraordinary, but the valuable gravestone of Nasser-ol-Din Shah finally found its way to this quite corner of the Palace after being misplaced for sometime. This marble stone with a craved image of Nasser-ol-Din Shah is indeed a site to behold.
Talar-e Salam (Reception Hall) was originally designed to be a museum. After the Takt-e-Tavoos (Iranian’s famous Jeweled Peacock Throne) was mooed to the Royal jewels collection at the Central Bank, this hall was designated to hold special receptions in the presence of the king, hence the name Talar Salam. Tourists and envoys from European courts received in the Arg during the reign of Nasser-ol-Din Shah, spoke of this outstanding hall, comparing it to its European counterparts. This hall has exquisite mirrors work. The ceiling and walls are decorated with plaster molding. The floors ate covered whit 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. These jewels are now housed at the Royal Jewels Museum of the Central Bank.
Howz – Khaneh
Works of European Printers Presented to the Qajar court are housed in the Howz Khaneh. The Howz Khaneh was used as a summer chamber during the Qajar ear. A special cooling system pumped water from a subterranean system of streams (qanats) in this case the King’s qanat- into small ponds inside the chambers. Hows means pond, thus the name Howz Khaneh. The system was designed to pass through as many summer rooms as was necessary. The water was then channeled outside to irrigate the royal gardens. Due to the harmful effects of humidity, this system is no longer in use.
Talar-e Aineh (Hall of Mirror) is the most famous of the Palace halls. This relatively small hall is famuse for its extraordinary mirror work. The Hall was designed by Haj Abdoul Hossein Memar bashi (Sanie-ol-Molk). Yahaya Khan Moetamed-ol-Molk, the Minister of Architecture, acted as consultant to the designer.
Tdar-e Adj (Hall of Ivory) is a large hall used as a dinning room. It was decorated with gifts presented to Nasser-ol-Din Shah by European monarchs. Among the Golestan Palace collection, a watercolor by Mahmoud Khan Malek-ol-Shoara, shows the exterior view of this hall during the Qajar period.
Nasser-ol-Din Shah was very impressed by the exhibition of artifacts and valuable objects at European museums during his second European tour around 1872. He arrived back in Tehran intent on building a museum hall to exhibit paintings, royal jewels, and other royal artifacts. The original collection of the museum hall is now scattered among Tehran’s many museums. However, the paintings of the royal court are now kept at the Golestan Palace with the European paints housed in the Hows Khaneh and the works of Iranian Painters housed in the Neggar Khaneh. Meant to show the evolution of pointing in Iran during the Qatar era, the works of Iranian Painters are exhibited in two sections. Housed in the southern part of the Neggar Khaneh are the works of early Qajar masters such as Mirza Baba, Mehr Ali Afshar, Ali Akbar Khan Mozaien-ol-Douleh, Aboul Hassan Sani (Sanie-ol-Molk) who was Kamal-ol-Molk’s uncle. The northern Neggar Khaneh, was the seat of the Royal Guard during the time f Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The northern hall underwent substancial renovations in 1995 and now houses the works of later masters of the Qajar era such as Mahmoud Khan Saba (Malek-ol-Shoara), Mohammad Gafari Kashani (Kamal-ol-Molk), Mehri, Mosa Momayez.
Talar-e Berelian (Hall of Brilliance) was named so for it is adorned by the brilliant mirror work of Iranian antisans. The Hall was build by Nasser-ol-Din Shall to replace another hall called Talar Bolour (Crystal Hall). Built by Fath Ali Shah the Bolour Hall had been laid waste by the damp. The Berelian Hall is famous for its mirror work and chandeliers. An oil painting by Yahya Khan Sanie-ol-Molk Ghafari, showing the decoration of this hall before renovations carried out by Mozafar-ol-Din Shah (r.1896-1907), exists in the Golestan Palace.
Shams-ol-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun) is the most stunning structure of the Golestan Palace. The
idea of building a tall structure came to Nasser-ol-Din Shah before his first European tour and from pictorial images of European buildings. The Monarch wanted a structure from which he could have panoramic views of the city. Designed by Moayer-ol-Mamalek, construction on the Shams-ol-Emareh began in 1865 and was completed two years later. The building has two identical towers. The exterior views have multiple arches, intricate tile work and omate windows. This building is a fusion of Persian and European architecture.
Sa’d Abad Palace
A summer palace in Qajar era, which in Reza Khan times, after enlarging and adding some other buildings, became Reza Khan Pahlavi’s palace.
A glorious tower which is the remainder of history of Iran and a symbol of Islamic revolution. It was erected in 1971 in the west of Tehran. This 50 meters high tower sits on a 400 meters square ground. Its design is a combination of Sasanid and Islamic period. Inside the tower, presently called Azadi cultural complex, there are several exhibitions for artworks, a museum, and a cinema.
The structure is of reinforced concrete covered with thick pieces of stones, as thick as 40 cm. These stones are used as the permanent frames of the concrete.