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 Safaviddynasty (1502-1736), and was later renovated by Karim Khan Zand (r. 1750-1779). Agha Mohamd Khan Qajar (1742-1797) chose Tehran as his capital. The Arg became the site of the Qajar (1794-1925).Court and Golestan 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 Khan (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 state, Golestan Palace is the result of roughly 400 years construction and renovations. The buildings at the contemporary location each have a unique history.
Eyvan Takht-e-Marmar (Marble Throne)
The spectacular terrace known as Takht-e-Marmar (Marble Throne) was built in 1806 by order of Fath Ali Shah Qajar (r. 1797-1834). Adorned by paintings, marble-carvings, tile-work, 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 (iwan), 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 court. 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 (iwan) 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 (iwan). 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 (iwan). 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 from the fountain into the pond and was later used to irrigate the Palace grounds.
Nasser-ol-Din Shah was fond of this corner of Golestan Palace. He is said to have spent much time here in rest and repose– smoking his water pipe in quite reflection. In fact, some 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.
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 painting in Iran during the Qajar 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
This building is located under the Salam Hall or Museum. It is indeed a part of the first Iranian museum, which was built by Mohamad Ebrahim Khan Memar Bashi.
In Nasser-0l-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.
Talar-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.
This building replaced the Narenjestan 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.
Works of European painters 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 form 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 Hows 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 Berelian (Hall of Brilliance) was named so for it is adomed by the brilliant mirror work of Iranian artisans. The Hall was build by Nasser-ol-Din Shah build 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 decorations of this hall before renovations carried out by Mozafar-ol-Din Shah(r.1896-1907).exists in the Golestan Palace.
shams-ol-Emaneh (Edifice of the Sun) is the most stunning structures of the Golestan Palace.The idea of building a tall structure came to Nasser-ol-Din Shah before his first European 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 architect was Master Ali Mohammad Kashi.The building has two identical towers. The exterior views have multiple arches, intricate tile work and ornate windows. This building is a fusion of Persian and European architecture.
Emarat Badgir (Building of the Wind Towers) was constructed during the reign of Fath Ali Shah (circa1806). The building underwent major renovations, including structural changes, during the reign of Nasser-ol-Din Shah. A watercolor rendering by Mahmood Khan Malek-ol-Shoara depicts the original structure prior to renovations.
The building is flanked by two rooms known as goshvar (earrings). 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.
The Aks khaneh (House of Photographs) is a large summer chamber under the Badgir. As with the Hows Khaneh, 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 Qajarperiod. 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.
Talar 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 building.
The construction of this hall dates to the time of Fath Ali Shah(circa1806). 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. It is only apt that this hall should be devoted to the exhibition of art and handicrafts from that period. Golestan palace was inscribed on the world heritage list of UNESCO in 2013.