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  • 7/14/2008

Historical Palaces,Esfahan

ali ghapu
Andre Malraux, the famous French author and adventurer says: "Who can claim to have seen the most beautiful city of the world without having seen Esfahan?" therefore, do not hesitate to visit The Florence of Iran whose well-proportioned mosques whose turquoise blue dome and minarets rival the color of the sky.
Ali Qapu Palace
ali ghapu



The name Ali Qapu, meaning "Magnificent Gate", was given to this place as it was right at the entrance to the Safavid palaces which stretched from the Maidan Naqsh-e-Jahan to the Chahar Bagh Boulevard. Built at the very end of 16th century, the royal palace was used to entertain noble visitors, and foreign ambassadors.

ali ghapu

Ali Qapu is 48 meters high and has got five floors, fronted with a wide terrace whose ceiling is inlaid and supported by wooden columns. It offers a wonderful perspective over the square and the best view of Imam Mosque. The interior of the building is decorated with naturalistic scenes by Reza Abbassi, the renowned Persian miniaturist and painter. On the upper floor the music room is also decorated with plasterwork, representing pots and vessels.

imam mosque

Imam mosque


Imam mosque, formerly called the Shah mosque is one of the greatest architectural achievements of Shah Abbas I who built it to complete the magnificent central square of Isfahan. Work started on the outstanding entrance portal in 1611 and it was not until 1629, the last year of Shah Abbas' reign when the mosque was completed, although minor decorations were added during the reign of his descendants.

imam mosque

Height of portal minarets is 48 m high, southern minarets 42 m and the central dome is 52 m. due to double-layering the interior ceiling is 36.3 m high, and the hollow space in between is responsible for the loud echoes heard when you stamp your foot under the center of the dome.

The entrance portal is constructed to face the square and as a counterpoint to the Qeysarieh portal but the mosque is angled to point in the direction of Mecca. A short corridor leads into the inner courtyard which has a pool and is surrounded by four iwans. Each iwan leads into a vaulted sanctuary. There are also two madreseh and a marble mihrab and minbar which are beautifully crafted.

imam mosque

The mosque is completely covered, inside and out with dazzling tiles. There are estimated to be 18 million bricks and 472,500 tiles in the building. The richness of its blue-tiled mosaic designs, the unity of the overall structure and its perfectly proportioned Safavid-era architecture form a visually stunning monument.


Chehel Sotun (Pavilion of Forty Columns)


This building, now a veritable museum of Persian painting and ceramics, was a pleasure pavilion used for the king's entertainments and receptions. It stands inside a vast royal park, but relatively near the enclosure, and was built by Shah Abbas II around an earlier building erected by Shah Abbas I.

chehel sotun

An inscription states that the decoration and frescoes were finished in 1647. Only two large historical frescoes date from the later period of the Zand dynasty. Unfortunately, the Chehel Sotun has been badly damaged since then, especially when the Afghans occupied the town and covered the paintings with a thick coat of whitewash. It is now being extensively restored under the aegis of the Institute Italiano Per il Medio Orient.

The pavilion opens onto the gardens by means of an elegant terrace, only a few steps high and supported by slender, delicate wooden pillars. In reality, there were never more than twenty columns, but they were reflected in the pool in the park, and so the Persian liked to call the building the "pavilion with forty columns" (besides, the number 40 had a symbolic meaning in Persia and expressed respect and admiration).

chehel sotun

Two rows of water-spouts and fountains in the shape of stone lions at the four corners carried water to the huge, elegant rectangular basin. The terrace is a marvel of elegance. The slender pillars support a light wooden ceiling with wide fretwork louvers. Here we should note the influence of Eastern Asian architecture. Part of the sumptuous decoration has disappeared.

We must picture the back wall covered with mirrors, the doors of rare carved wood, and the pillars, each cut from a single plane-tree trunk, with their fine veneer, their brightly colored paintings, their mirrors and studs of colored glass. We still have the remarkable ceiling with its beams, its covering, its painted wood louvers, and its carefully lay-work-rosettes and suns, stars, stylized fruit and foliage.

chehel sotun

The great wooden ceilings-a rare luxury in a country so lacking in trees-are among guarded by four lions which support the central columns.


Shahrestan Bridge (Pol-e Shahrestan)


It is the oldest of Esfahan's bridges on Zayandeh Rud. Most of the 11-arched stone and brick structure is believed to date from Sassanid period prior to Islam and have been repaired and completed under the Dailamites and the Seljukids. The name Shahrestan comes from the village locating on the east of Esfahan which now is a part of the city.

shahrestan bridge

other links:

Esfahan or Half the world

Photo Gallery on Bagh-e Eram, Shiraz

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