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Tehran Golestan Royal Palaces; A royal and glorious experience

Undoubtedly, visiting Tehran Golestan Royal Palaces is a royal and glorious experience that will not get in other places. The oldest of the historical 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 (1524-1576, corresponding to 930-948 in the lunar calendar) of the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736), and was later renovated by Karim Khan Zand (1750-1779).

Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar (1742-1797) was the founder of the Qajar Dynasty. He 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 Qajar period, like other Iranian traditional houses, the royal court and residency consisted of two internal and external sections. The external section included the courtyard and a square garden named Golestan. Also, the large yard, forming the internal section, was the residence of the women of the king's harem. In 1290 AH, in the time of Nasser ul-Din Shah, there was no trace of the present splendid construction and there was a large stunning garden instead of for the king's recreation. Once he decided to establish a museum to keep the royal jewels. Being inaugurated by the king himself, the construction work of the palace was accomplished after 5 years and the royal jewels were transferred into the hall of the museum. Nowadays, there does not exist even a tiny piece of jewelry but there can be found many precious, antique objects on the walls and ceilings of the palace instead.
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 (1925-1941) in Takht-e Marmar and the coronation of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1941-deposed 1979) in the Museum Hall. In its present state, Golestan Palace is the result of roughly 400 years of construction and renovation. The buildings, at the contemporary location, have a unique history.

At present, the complex includes

Takht-e-Marmar (Marble Throne) terrace, Khalvat -e- Karim Khani, Talar-e Salam (Special Museum), Talare Ayeneh (Hall of Mirror), Talar-e Adj (Hall of Ivory), Talar-e Berelian (Hall of Brilliant), Emarat-e Khabgah (Dormitory), Shams-ol-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun), Badgir Building, Chador Khaneh, Talar Almas (Hall of Diamond), and Abyaz (White) Palace.

Takht-e-Marmar (Marble Throne) was built in 1806 by order of Fath Ali Shah Qajar (1797-1834)

Takht-e Marmar (Marble Throne)

The spectacular terrace known as Takht-e-Marmar (Marble Throne) was built in 1806 by the order of Fath Ali Shah Qajar (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 Naqqash 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 were completed during the reigns of Fath Ali Shah and Nassereddin - Din Shah (1848-1896).
Coronations of Qajar kings, and formal court ceremonies were held on this terrace (iwan). The last coronation to be held at Takhte Marmar was the coronation of the self-proclaimed King, Reza Khan Pahlavi in 1925. The terrace is mainly decorated with cut stones, mirrors, inlays, and plaster works along with six large paintings. The oil paintings of portraits of some men and women are also installed on the suspended ceilings.

How to visit Golestan Palaces and around for free

The bigger throne was constructed in the time of Fath Ali Shah

Takht-e Tavoos

There are two stone thrones in the northern part of the palace. The bigger throne was constructed at the time of Fath Ali Shah. It has been said that when Fath Ali Shah decided to marry a woman named Tavoos-literally "peacock"--from Isfahan, ordered his men to make such a throne for the ceremonies of their marriage contract. So, the throne is called Takht-e Tavoos. The throne is decorated with a gold sun on the back seat, as well as 1444 pieces of diamond, 1431 pieces of emerald, 857 pieces of ruby, and 855 pieces of sapphire. The other throne was taken by Nader Shah as ransom from India in his conquest in 1739 decorated with 1034 round pearls, 1194 pieces of ruby, 1114 pieces of sapphire, and 1942 pieces of turquoise.

Talar-e Aineh (Hall of Mirror) is the most famous of the Palace hall

Talar-e Aineh (Hall of Mirror)

Talar-e Aineh (Hall of Mirror) is the most famous of the Palace hall. This relatively small hall is famous for its extraordinary mirror works. The Hall was designed by Haj Abdoul Hossein Memar Bashi (Sanie ul-Molk). Yahaya Khan Moetamed ul-Molk, the Minister of Architecture, acted as a consultant to the designer. The oil painting of Nasseredin Shah looking outside through the window by the great Iranian artist Kamal ul-Mulk is stunning looking so natural. Kamal ul-Mulk has painted his own image on the opposite mirror to make the work more natural.

Shams ul-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun) is the most stunning structures of the Golestan Palace.

Shams ul-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun)

Shams ul-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun) is the most stunning structure of the Golestan Palace. The idea of building a tall structure came to Nassereddin 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 ul-Mamalek, construction on the Shams ul-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 tilework, and ornate windows. This building is a fusion of Persian and European architecture.

Abyaz (White) Palace

The Ottoman king, Sultan Abdul Hamid, send precious gifts to Nassereddin Shah. 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 Nassereddin Shah, himself, designed the structure, with a central hall large enough to house the carpet that was sent by Sultan Abdul Hamid. Completed in 1883, with a white fa├žade, plaster works, and white marble steps, the palace is called Abyaz (White) now housing one of the most interesting ethnological museums in Iran. There is a colorful exhibition of traditional Iranian costumes, as well as folk art and rural life exhibition. In 1965, for the coronation of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the palace changed and a two-floor building was added to its west part. Three years later, the ethnological museum was moved to this palace.

Dating back to 1759, this building was a part of the interior residence of Karim Khan Zand.

Khalvat-e Karim Khani

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. Naseeruddin Shah was fond of this corner of Golestan Palace. He is said to have spent much time here in rest and repose. It seems extraordinary, but the valuable gravestone of Nassereddin Shah finally found its way to this quiet corner of the Palace after being misplaced for some time. This marble stone with a craved image of Nassereddin Shah is indeed a sight to behold.

Talar-e Adj

Talar-e Adj (Hall of Ivory) is a large hall used as a dining room. It was decorated with gifts presented to Nassereddin Shah by European monarchs. Among the Golestan Palace collection, a watercolor by Mahmoud Khan Malek ul-Shoara shows the exterior view of this hall during the Qajar period.

Talar Almas

Talar Almas (Hall of Diamond) is located in the southern wing of Golestan Palace next to the Badgir Building. It is called the 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 (circa 1806). Naseeruddin Shah renovated this hall changing its appearance and replacing the hall's elliptical 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.

Other Objects
There is a 12-people dining set known as the Napoleon set as it is depicted with the scenes of Napoleon's battles. Fath Ali Shah sent some gifts to Napoleon in his time including three dun, sorrel, and white horses. According to historians as well as Napoleon's private diaries, he rode these horses in his great, famous battles. The mummified white horse is now kept at the Lover museum. The image of one of the trays shows

Napoleon's horses are stampeded by exploding a cannonball but the white horse is reluctantly looking at the cannonball. On another dish of the same set, Napoleon is standing near the dead body of his horse. Napoleon sent this set for appreciation to Fath Ali Shah.
There is another set now kept in the palace sent by the Russian Emperor Also, there are some tableaus of European scenes in the mosaic style bought from Italy by Mozafareddin Shah. Another mosaic tableau is also being kept in Brelian (Brilliante) Hall presented by the Italian government to Iran showing the ruins of one of ancient Rome's squares.
Helmet, sword, and shield of King Esmail Safavid, bow and arrows of King Nader, the helmet of Aga Mohammad Khan Qajar, and Iranian made frames, cups, and swords, as well as different dining sets and vases in other parts, are other valuable objects of the palace. The palace is open to the public every day (except Sunday and Thursday) from 8 AM to 6 PM.