Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran – photo essay and tourist information
A brief history of the Golestan Palace
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Golestan Palace (the Palace of Flowers) is the oldest historical attraction in Tehran and refers to a collection of buildings that were once held within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran’s historic citadel (Arg).
The citadel was constructed between 1524-1576 during the Safavid era and was further developed from 1750-1779 when the Qajar dynasty elected Tehran as the new capital of the land. The Qajar dynasty presided over the Golestan Palace’s golden age, establishing its court and official residence there (1794 – 1925).
After the ascension of the Pahlavi dynasty (1925 – 1979) the palace was used for official ceremonies, with the most notable being the Napoleon-like self coronation of Reza Kahn in the Takht-e Marmar and the coronation of the final shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the Museum Hall in 1941.
What to visit
Takht-e Marmar (The Marble Throne)
Built in 1806 and adorned with paintings, marble-carvings, tile-work, stucco, mirrors, enamel, wood-carvings and lattice windows, the throne hall is one of the oldest buildings in the Arg and embodies the finest elements of Iranian architecture. The terrace, and the throne at its centre, was the site of the coronations of the Qajar kings and formal ceremonies held by the dynasty. Free to visit.
Khalvat-e Karim Khani (Karim Khani nook)
Dating back to 1759, the Khalvat-e Karim Khani formed part of the interior residence of the Shah Karim Khan Zand and is similar in structure to the marble throne albeit on a smaller scale. Interesting elements include a small fountain that once used water from an underground stream to irrigate the palace grounds and the tomb of Nasser-ol-din Shah covered with a marble carving depicting the former king. Free to visit.
Neggar Khaneh (Picture house)
The royal courts selection of Iranian art are displayed in two sections in order to show the evolution of Iranian art. The southern area contains works by the early Qajar painters whilst the northern part, which incidentally was the seat of the Royal Guard during the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, focuses on later works.
The audience halls were constructed at the end of the 19th century and are named Talar-e Adj (Hall of Ivory), Talar-e Aienh (Hall of Mirrors), Talar-e Salam (Reception Hall) and the Muz-e Makhsus (Special Museum). The main entrance to the complex is a projecting columned portico under the Talar-e Aienh. The building is heavily influence by neoclassical European design and contrasts with the more typical Iranian architecture, seen across the rest of the site, of a large audience hall serviced by smaller chambers.
Talar-e Aineh is perhaps the most striking and famous of the halls, despite its smaller size, due to its fabulous mirror work. Talar-e Salam was originally designed as a museum but after the Jewelled Peacock Throne was moved to the Jewels Museum the room became a reception hall for foreign dignitaries. Notable features of this large space include white floor mosaics, dazzling mirrors and plaster moulding designs on the floor and walls.
Talar-e Adj was once used as a dining room and today is decorated with gifts from European monarchs to the former shahs. The museum Muz-e Makhsus is located underneath the reception hall was part of Iran’s first ever museum and contains many priceless artefacts given to the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties. A must see!
Howz – Khaneh (Pond House)
The European painting gallery contains works presented to the Qajar court and is remarkable for its special cooling system which pumped water from an underground stress through the summer residence and onto the royal gardens.
Talar-e Berelian (Hall of Brilliance)
Talar-e Berelian is named after the brilliant mirrors and chandeliers that produce such a startling effect. The floors are slightly lower than the adjacent buildings due to the fact that it was built upon a former building called the crystal hall which was destroyed by damp.
Shams-ol Emareh (Edifice of the Sun)
The tallest building in the complex, the structure is a lovely blend of European and Iranian styles and was constructed so that Nasser-ol-Din Shah could enjoy panoramic views over the city. The building is marked by two identical towers topped with turrets and the facade is decorated with stained glass windows and elegant arches.
Aks Khaneh (Gallery of Historic Photography)
Built as a summer chamber this large room is now used as an exhibition hall for photography. Be sure to check out the photos of the inside of Zaroastrian tower of silence and the decaying bodies within and some shots of dwarves and ‘freaks’.
Emarat-e Badgir (Building of the Wind Towers)
Flanked by two side chambers known as goshvar (earrings), the central hall boasts some of the finest stained glass windows in the Golestan Palace complex. Outside four glazed tile windcatchers enable cool air to circulate the structure.
Talar-e Almas (Hall of Diamonds)
Another structure famed for its elegant use of mirrors, the façade has been redesigned to incorporate Roman columns and today the hall is dedicated to the exhibition of art and handicrafts from the late Qajar period.
Kakh-e Abyaz (Ethnological Museum)
Completed in 1883, the museum was originally constructed to house the precious gifts send to the Qajar monarchs from the Ottoman king Sultan Abdoulhamid. Today the space is used to exhibit traditional Iranian costumes and folk art.
How to get there
Location: Arg square,Panzdae Khordar street,Tehran,Iran
1- Using the Tehran metro, Panzdae Khordad station
2- Using bus terminal of Emam Khomeini square and Qurkhane
Admission costs and essential information
Opening Times: 9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.
Entrance fee :150000 Rials
Price of admission to each palace: 50000 Rials
written by: Jon