The Golestan Palace is among the most beautiful and highly visited tourist destinations, as well as the oldest historic monuments in Tehran.
The Golestan palace is composed of a series of mansions built around Arg square in Tehran. These mansions were each constructed separately in different times. The Golestan palace is named after the Golestan hallway, which is located within the mansion near the front gate of the palace. As a result of an annual assembly held by the world heritage committee of UNESCO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Golestan palace was recognized as the 16th Iranian historical site to make UNESCO’s world heritage list. In a book titled “The Naseri Era”, it is said that the main reason to name this place the “Golestan“(flower garden) palace is because It was in the middle of a flower garden surrounded by long streets planted with big sky-high cypress and plane trees.
Tahmasp I ordered the construction of a 4-mile fence around Tehran. His successor –Shah Abbas II – had four plane tree gardens planted in the vicinity of the northern section of the fence, which were later enclosed by a great wall. Once the Qajar dynasty came to power, the Golestan palace became the Qajar kings’ place of residence. Mozaffar ad-Din Shah was crowned in the “Badgir Mansion of the Golestan palace. The Golestan palace went through a great deal of political changes after the overthrow of the Qajar dynasty by Reza Shah. Reza Shah’s coronation was held at the “Takht-e-marmar porch” but he never moved his place of residence to Sa’d Abad. During Mohammad Reza Shah’s reign, his place of residence and work was in Niavaran and the Golestan palace was turned into a museum and part of it was put aside to be used to welcome high-ranking foreign guests. Mohammad Reza Shah’s coronation was celebrated at the “Salam hallway” in 1976.
The buildings within the Golestan palace
Shams-al-Emareh is one of the historic mansions in Tehran that dates back to the Qajar era. It is the most distinguished building in the eastern section of the palace. It was constructed between 1865 and 1867. The reason why it’s so special is because of its height, and decorative architectural design. It is said that after seeing photos of some European mansions, Naser al-Din Shah decided to build one just them in his center of government, so that he could stand on top of it and enjoy the view of the palace and the city. 35 meters high with 5 floors, Shams-al-Emareh was the first structure to have metal used as one of its main building components.
The Takht-e-marmar porch is one of the structures that date back to Agha Mohammad Khan and it’s also where his coronation was celebrated. They say some parts of this section are older compared to the rest of the Golestan palace. Fath-Ali Shah used to spend a lot of time in this place and he would make most of his government-related decisions here. About 180 years ago, he had a bed made out of yellow marble and put in the middle of the porch, which would stay permanently. This bed is made up of 65 different big and small pieces of marble stone.
The Ivory hall
The last time this hall’s appearance went through some changes was during Fath-Ali Shah’s rule. After that, it was FIRST turned into a storage place for gifts received from foreign monarchs and LATER to a guest room for foreign royalty. There is a certain watercolor painting in the Golestan palace, which shows the exterior view of The Ivory hall before it was rebuilt.
The Salam hall
This one is to the north of the palace and its construction was directly supervised by Naser al-Din Shah himself. After his first trip to Europe, he decided to establish a European-style museum in his palace, just like the big museums and galleries he had seen in western countries. As a result, he had the exterior mansion of the palace torn down and ordered the construction of some new buildings to the northwest, near the Ivory hall. These buildings were called the new Golestan palace and included “The Hall of Mirrors”, “Sarsara”, and “The Museum room”. During the Pahlavi era, The Salam hall was used for ceremonial purposes. One of these purposes was mohammad Reza Shah’s coronation.
The Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors is a square-shaped vast area whose ceiling and walls are decorated with mirrors and crystals. It owes its reputation not only to its glamorous decorations, but also mainly to the famous painting of this very hall painted by Kamal-al-Molk, which is still available to the public eye in the Golestan palace to this very day. Furthermore, The Bed of Peacocks, which was brought to Iran by Nader Shah Afshar, is also kept in the Hall of Mirrors. The outer surface of this bed was originally covered with gold and it was adorned with lots of precious stones. There also used to be two peacocks and a sun made of brilliants fixed on the upper back of this bed, which were later moved to the jewelry museum.
The Karim Khani Den
This den was built around 270 years ago. Located right next to the Salam Hall in the northwestern corner of the palace, just like the name says, the Karim Khani Den dates back to the reign of Karim Khan Zand. There used to be a small pool of water in the middle of this mansion and a stream of water would flow out of it and into the garden. There once was another marble bed here, much bigger than the main bed. The Karim Khani Den was of great interest to Naser-al-Din, so much so that he’d often times spend some time alone in this place, smoking hookah.
The Diamond Hall
Situated on the northern side of the palace behind the Badgir mansion, the Diamond Hall was built back in Fath-Ali Shah’s days, but some decorative changes were made to its appearance a little while after Naser al-Din Shah came to power. This mansion is called the Diamond Hall due to the mirrors fixed on its interior. Seeing as how this hall is among the structures built at the orders of Fath-Ali Shah, it’s been devoted to the museum of his artifact collection and there is going to be a coffeehouse built in its basement.
This mansion, which sits on the floor above the Ivory Hall, is one of the structures built in the Naseri era. Time was when the water from a spring would flow through this mansion and into the pools out in the yard of the palace. Just like all the other buildings, this one has also gone though some changes throughout its history and is now being used as an exhibition to display the works of 19th century painters.
The Badgir Mansion
The Badgir mansion was built on the southern side of the Golestan garden but it continued to be significantly modified later on until it took on the shape it’s in today. There is a room filled with small pools underneath this mansion, where there are four large air-holes in the corners covered with blue, yellow and black tiles, which do wonders in cooling off the air inside the room and the hall.
Mansions that were once part of the Golestan palace
The Internal Mansion, the Naseri dorm, the Hall of Khaghan Maghfoor, the external mansion, the Box Office mansion, and the royal laundry room.
The kings who lived in the palace
Agha Mohammad Khan Ghajar, Fath-Ali Shah, Mohammad Shah Gajar, Naser al-Din Shah Gajar, Mozaffar al-Din Shah Gajar, Mohammad-Ali Shah Gajar, Ahmad Shah Gajar.