General

The royal palace of ‘Ali Qapu dominates the south eastern side of the central square in Isfahan, formerly called the Meidan-e-Shah. Its name means “The High Gate” and its impressive entranceway was no doubt intended to symbolize the strength and authority of the Safavid monarchs who ruled the country, and, as the posters on the verandah show, this significance is retained even in present times when the square has been renamed Meidan-e-Imam.

The name Ali Qapu, from Arabic “Ālī” (meaning “imperial” or “great”), and Turkic “Qāpū” (meaning “gate”), was given to this place as it was right at the entrance to the Safavid palaces which stretched from the Naqsh e Jahan Square to the Chahar Baq Boulevard. The building, another wonderful Safavid edifice, was built by decree of Shah Abbas I in the early seventeenth century. It was here that the great monarch used to entertain noble visitors, and foreign ambassadors. Shah Abbas, here for the first time, celebrated the Nowruz of 1006 AH / 1597 C.E.

Ali Qapu is a grand palace in Isfahan, Iran. It is located on the western side of the Naqsh e Jahan Square, opposite to Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and had been originally designed as a vast portal. It is forty-eight meters high and there are seven floors, each accessible by a difficult spiral staircase. In the sixth floor, Music Hall, deep circular niches are found in the walls, having not only aesthetic value, but also acoustic.

The room on the sixth floor is also decorated with plaster-work, representing pots and vessels and one is famous as the music and sound room. It is certainly well worth visiting for the cut out decorations round the room, which represent a considerable artistic feat. These cut out shapes were not placed there to act as cupboards; the stucco-work is most delicate and falls to pieces at the highest touch. So we conclude that it was placed in position in these rooms for ornament and decoration. The rooms were used for private parties and for the king’s musicians, and these hollow places in the walls retained the echoes and produced the sounds of the singing and musical instruments clearly in all parts.

Ali Qapu’s building was founded in several stages, beginning from a building with a single gate, with entrance to the government building complex, and gradually developed, ending in the existing shape. The period of the development, with intervals, lasted approximately seventy years.

First Stage: The initial building acting as entrance to the complex was in cubical shape and in two stories, with dimensions measuring 20 x 19 meter and 13 meter high.

Second Stage: Foundation of the upper hall, built on the entrance vestibule, with cubical shape, over the initial cubic shape structure with the same height in two visible stories.

Third Stage: Foundation of the fifth story, the Music Amphitheater or the Music Hall, built on the lower hall, using the central room for sky light, and thus the vertical extension being emphasized.

Fourth Stage: Foundation of the eastern verandah or pavilion advancing towards the square, supported by the tower shaped building. By foundation of this verandah, the entrance vestibule was extended along the main gate and passage to the market, perpendicular to the eastern flank of the building.

Fifth Stage: Foundation of the wooden ceiling of the balcony, supported by 18 wooden columns, and contemporaneous with erection of the ceiling, an additional stairway of the southern flank was founded and was called the Kingly Stairway.

Sixth Stage: During this stage, a water tower was built in the northern flank for provision of water for the copper pool of the columned balcony. Plaster decorations in reception story and the Music Hall.

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Ali Qapu Palace Of Isfahan

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