Golestan Palace Located on Khordad Square, the Golestan Palace (“Palace of Flowers”) is a collection of buildings set in a walled park veined with canals rushing down from the Tochal mountains. It stands on the site of the historic Arg (citadel) of Tehran which was originally built in the time of Shah Abbas (r. 1588-1629) of the Safavid dynasty.
The splendour of the interiors of many of the buildings evokes a time when foreign dignitaries were invited to the Qajar court and compared its artistry to the royal buildings of Europe. Both the Eyvan-e Takht-e Marmar (“Terrace of the Marble Throne”) and the Talar-e Aineh (“Hall of Mirrors”) are famous for the spectacular mirror work that covers their walls. Elsewhere can be seen fine examples of Iranian stained glass, mosaic tiles and painting. Several buildings house collections of paintings and gifts given to Qajar kings by European dignitaries as well as paintings by Iranian masters. Though not all of the buildings are open to the public, the park itself is an oasis of calm in the heart of the city.

The Golestan Palace in Tehran is on top of the list when it comes to must-sees in Iran. The “Palace of flowers” is a true masterpiece of the Qajar era, one the oldest of all historic monuments in the capitol of the Islamic Republic and since mid 2013 listed as UNESCO world heritage site. Believe me, from all the enchanting places that I visited on my travels through the beautiful country of Iran (and there are tons!), this place is definitely one, that deserves this title.
The Palace is all that remains of Tehran’s Historical Citadel (Arg) which once glittered like a jewel. This historical Arg was built at the time of Shah Tahmasb I in Safavid period. It was reconstructed at the time of Karim Khan Zand and was chosen as the venue of the royal court and residence at the time of Qajar Kings. Nassereddin Shah introduced many modifications in Golestan Palace buildings during his reign.
The Royal Court and Residence occupied more than one third of Arg, like traditional Iranian houses, had two interior and exterior quarters. The exterior quarters consisted of the administrative section of the royal court and a square shaped garden known as Golestan (rose garden). These two parts were separated by several buildings, that were destroyed in Pahlavi period.
The interior quarters were located east of the administrative section to the north of Golestan. It was a large courtyard including the residences of the Shah’s women, with a huge dormitory in the middle that in fact contained “Harem sari “. These buildings were destroyed in the Pahlavi period and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance was built in their place.
During the Pahlavi era (1925-1979) Golestan Palace was used for formal royal receptions and the Pahlavi dynasty built their own palace at Niavaran. The most important ceremonies held in the Palace during the Pahlavi era were the coronation of Reza Khan in Takht-i Marmar and the coronation of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the Museum Hall.
In between 1925 and 1945 a large portion of the buildings of the palace were destroyed on the orders of Reza Shah who believed that the centuries old Qajar palace should not hinder the growth of a modern city. In the place of the old buildings modern 1950s and 1960s style commercial buildings were erected.
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.
On October 11, 2005 the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran submitted the palace to the UNESCO for inclusion into the World Heritage List in 2007.Golestan Palace is currently operated by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran.
The Golestan Palace complex is bordered on the north by the Ministries of Finance and Justice, on the east by Naser Khosrow St, on the west by Davar Street, and along its southern edge, it is one block from Panzdah-e Khordad Ave. The complex is located at the heart of old Tehran, which itself is framed by Shahr Park on its northwest, Pamenar Street on its east side, and the Tehran bazaar to the southwest.
The complex, in its current condition, consists of two connected gardens, a smaller one on the west and a larger one on the east, and the buildings that surround them. The smaller garden on the west, referred to here as the Takht-i Marmar garden, is oriented along a north-south axis, with a small degree of rotation along the northeast-southwest axis. A water channel runs down the garden’s central axis. The larger garden, here called the Golestan garden, is roughly square in plan (it is slightly longer along its east-west axis) and with a small degree of rotation to northwest-southeast. It features a water channel that runs north-south along its western side, near its border with the Takht-i Marmar garden.
The main access to the complex is from Panzdah Khordad Square on the southwest corner. Here, one enters the Takht-i Marmar garden on its south side, and immediately views an elongated pool running on the main axis of the small garden to the north, terminating in a pool in front of the Imarat-i Takht-i Marmar. This building is located along the north side of the small garden and spans the garden from northwest to northeast. On its west side, the Takht-i Marmar garden is separated from Davar Street by a wall. Along its east side, this garden is open to the Golestan garden and on its southeast corner the Kakh-i Ab’yaz is situated.
Moving to the Golestan garden, facing northwest and then turning clockwise (from west to east), one sees the Khalvat-i Karim Khani where the two gardens meet. This palace shares its west wall with the Imarat-i Takht-i Marmar. Facing north and moving east from the Khalvat-i Karim Khani is a series of buildings: the Talar-i Salam, the Mouze-i Makhsous, the Talar-i Ayeneh, the Talar-i Aaj, and the Imarat-i Brelian. An elongated pool runs north-south in front of the Talar-i Ayeneh. Looking east, one sees a wall with arched niches decorated with polychrome tiles. This wall leads to the Shams al-Imarat, located on the southern part of the east wall of the Golestan garden. Facing south, one sees the Imarat-i Badgir at the southeast corner of the Golestan garden. The Chador Khaneh and the Talar-i Almas are located west of the Imarat-i Badgir on the south side of the Golestan garden. The garden wall makes up the remainder of the southern side. Turning further clockwise to face west and southwest, one sees the east elevation of the Kakh-i Ab’yaz, which is oriented along a north-south axis.
The construction and development of the Golestan Palace complex dates back five centuries, concurrent with the growth and expansion of Tehran as Iran’s capital. The building complex has been built and modified during four different dynasties: Safavid, Zand, Qajar and Pahlavi.
Active ImageThe small city of Tehran became, for the first time, one of the residences of the Safavid rulers in the mid-sixteenth century. The first defensive city wall around Tehran was constructed under Shah Tahmasb (reg. 1524-1576) in the 1550s. Known as the “Hisar-i Tahmasebi,” this wall encircled the royal citadel (Arg) situated on its north side. The Arg (measuring 500 by 800 meters) consisted of a small palace and audience chamber. These structures, which are no longer extant, formed the foundation of today’s Golestan palace.
The earliest extant structures in the complex are from the Zand dynasty (1750-1794). Karim Khan-i Zand (reg. 1750-1779) intended to make Tehran his capital. To this end, in 1760 he commissioned the architect Ustad Ghulam Reza Tabrizi to renovate the Hisar-i Tahmasebi and add new buildings: an audience chamber known as the Divan Khana (today’s Imarat-i Takht-i Marmar), and the Khalvat-i Karim Khani.
The Qajar dynasty came into power, in 1779, with Aqa Mohammad Khan (reg. 1794-1797), who chose Tehran as his capital in 1785. He selected the Golestan complex as his palace and administrative center. Aqa Mohammad Khan took over some parts of the estate in the Arg, enlarging the Golestan garden, and built a palace on the east-west axis of today’s Golestan garden. Called Qasr-i Golestan, this palace is no longer in existence. Following his assassination in 1797, most of Aga Mohammed Khan’s construction projects remained incomplete.
After the death of Aqa Mohammad Khan, Fath Ali Shah (reg. 1797-1834) took power, becoming the first king to implement many major development projects in Tehran. At the Golestan Palace, he initiated new building projects in addition to completing some of Aqa Mohammad Khan’s projects; the Qasr-i Golestan was finished in 1801. At the same time, two other buildings were constructed on the north-south axis of the current Golestan garden: the Imarat-i Bolour on the north side of the garden and the Talar-i Almas on the south. Of the two, only the Talar-i Almas remains. The Imarat-i Badgir was Fath Ali Shah’s last addition to the Golestan complex in 1813.
Naser al-Din Shah (reg. 1848-1896), Fath Ali Shah’s grandson, was crowned in the Imarat-i Takht-i Marmar in 1848. During the fifty years of his reign, the Golestan Palace, his winter residence and center of government, underwent major changes.

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Golestan Palace

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The lavish Golestan Palace is a masterpiece of the Qajar era, embodying the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with Western influences. The walled Palace, one of the oldest groups of buildings in Teheran, became the seat of government of the Qajar family, which came into power in 1779 and made Teheran the capital of the country. Built around a garden featuring pools as well as planted areas, the Palace’s most characteristic features and rich ornaments date from the 19th century. It became a centre of Qajari arts and architecture of which it is an outstanding example and has remained a source of inspiration for Iranian artists and architects to this day. It represents a new style incorporating traditional Persian arts and crafts and elements of 18th century architecture and technology.
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