With an area of about 127,000 sq. m, the Afifabad (Golshan) Garden is one of the largest and best-planned historical gardens in Shiraz. Its history dates back to the Safavid period, when it was reserved for the court, and when a strong fort occupied part of the garden's territory. Under the Qajars, Mirza Mohammad Ali Khan, the second Qavam al-Molk, bought the Limak stream for irrigating the garden. He also reorganized the compound, and in 1867 commenced the construction of a beautiful two-story building here. The garden remained the property of the Qavam family until the late Qajar period. One of its last owners, Oavam al-Molk's niece Afifeh Khanom. greatly expanded the garden, which since then has been called Afifabad in her honor. During the Pahlavi period, the Qavam descendants made a gift of the garden to Farah Pahlavi the consort of the last Iranian shah. In 1962, the garden was sold at auction. It was bought by the Army, which made some essential amendments to the area and in 1992, inaugurated the Military Museum there.
The magnificent building which is the focal point of the entire area is decorated on the outside with splendid stone carvings. The carved dados portray military men of different historical epochs in the style of Persepolis bas-reliefs. The building also features a superb gallery, lavishly adorned with colorful plaster panels in relief; these depict scenes in the pseudo-Achaemenid and Sasanid fashion.
The ground floor of the structure accommodates a central hall and an impressive array of smaller side chambers. They are decorated with abundant tilework, stucco moldings, and graceful muqarnas. The handsome doors and stained glass mosaic windows of the building are richly ornamented with marquetry. At present, the ground floor houses the showcases exhibiting armament from the Safavid to Pahlavi periods.
The upper floor of the building recreates the original appearance of the mansion during the Pahlavi rule. The rooms are equipped with the best furniture of the period and feature splendid hand-made carpets, crystal chandeliers, and a number of decorative household objects. Particularly valuable is a 100-year-old piano that belonged to Queen Farah and was bought for her on the occasion of the celebration of 2,500 years of Persian Monarchy in 1971.
The corridors of the building contain interesting glazed niches, which held lamps that were lit in the evenings. One of these niches, with its window overlooking the main entrance, served as a sentry post for the guards. The area around the building exhibits some large weapons. The garden often called "the tiny Versailles", is planted with great taste, and is especially notable for aged cypresses and pine trees. Beautiful stone pools, mirroring the building in their still water, add to the irresistible beauty of the compound. Apart from the central edifice, the garden houses two more structures. One is a traditional teahouse, decorated with tilework that depicts scenes from the Shahnameh. Another is a small bath, adorned with a stucco picture of Farhad, from the poem by Nezami.