Golestan Palace

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi 

Golestān Palace is the former royal Qajar complex in Iran's capital city.

The oldest of the historic monuments in Tehran, the Golestan Palace (also Gulistan Palace) (The Rose Garden Palace) 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 Tahmasp I (r. 1524-1576) of the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736), and was later renovated by Karim Khan Zand (r. 1750-1779). Agha Mohamd Khan Qajar (1742-1797) chose Tehran as his capital. The Arg became the site of the Qajar (1794-1925). The Court and Golestan Palace became the official residence of the royal Qajar family. Nassereddin Shah introduced many modifications in Golestan Palace buildings during his reign. The palace was rebuilt to its current form in 1865 by Haji Abol-hasan Mimar Navai.

During the Pahlavi era (1925-1979) Golestan Palace was used for formal royal receptions and the Pahlavi dynasty built their own palace at Niavaran. The most important ceremonies held in the Palace during the Pahlavi era were the coronation of Reza Khan (r. 1925-1941) in Takht-e Marmar and the coronation of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (r. 1941-deposed 1979) in the Museum Hall.

In between 1925 and 1945 a large portion of the buildings of the palace were destroyed on the orders of Reza Shah who believed that the centuries old Qajar palace should not hinder the growth of a modern city. In the place of the old buildings modern 1950s and 1960s style commercial buildings were erected.

In its present state, Golestan Palace is the result of roughly 400 years construction and renovations. The buildings at the contemporary location each have a unique history.

The Kushk of Shams-ol-Emareh was built Ustad Muhammad-ali Kashi in 1867CE.

Golestan Museum is divided to seven parts:

1- Anthropology Museum
2- Diamond Building
3- Akskhaneh (house of photography)
4- Howzkhaneh (house of piscine)
5- Negarkhaneh (Picture-Gallery)
6- Shams-ul-Emareh Building.
7- Marble Throne Verdana and Gushvareh rooms

A list of ancient masterpieces, shown in this Museum, are: Guiveh, Pottery, Stone works, Metal works, Felt, Calico, Bride Models, Marriage Papers, Stationary, Music Instruments, Ghaveh-Khaneh Models, Slipper and Stocks, Weapons, Travel Necessities, Ashura Hall, Passion-Play Accessories, Duskami (big glasses for wine), Nakhl and Korsi. A big library completed this Palace and Museums. Ancient Building of this Museum, were the Palace of Kings, in Past.

The Royal Court and Residence occupied more than one third of Arg, like traditional Iranian houses, had two interior and exterior quarters. The exterior quarters consisted of the administrative section of the royal court and a square shaped garden known as Golestan (rose garden). These two parts, were separated by several buildings, that were destroyed in Pahlavi period.

The interior quarters were located east of the administrative section to the north of Golestan. It was a large courtyard including the residences of the Shah's women, with a huge dormitory in the middle that in fact contained "Harem sari". These buildings were destroyed in the Pahlavi period and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance was built in their place.

Marble Throne Court

Marble Throne Court or Dar-ul-Hokumeh was used for Shah's formal receptions, while Golestan Palace was used as the royal court's interior quarters for private meetings and nocturnal feasts.

The square shaped Golestan, surrounded by various buildings and halls, was divided into two parts with the construction of a long bifurcated building known as the exterior building at the time of Fath Ali Shah. This building, constructed on an East-West axis, was destroyed at the time of Nassereddin Shah and the garden regained its integrity.

At first there were two large pools, one in front of Shams-ul-Emareh and Wind Tower Buildings and another in front of the Mirror Hall. Two pools were connected to each other by a long duct, along the exterior building.

Mirror Hall

Mirror Hall is located west of the Reception Hall and over the frontispiece and stone Iwan in front of lobby of the palace. It is one of the most famous hall of Golestan Palace. It was built simultaneously with Reception Hall between 1874 and 1877. This hall was dedicated to the Peacock Throne and the Kianid Crown when the objects in the old museum were taken to the new museum; and owes much of its fame to its ornamentation and even to the portrayal of it in a painting created by Mirza Mohammad Khan Kamalolmolk in 1891. The painting is now on display the Golestan Palace.

Ivory Hall

Ivory hall is located west of Brilliant Hall beyond Mirror Hall. It was built in Nassereddin Shah (Qajar) period. During the reign of Nassereddin Shah it was used for the safekeeping of gifts received from foreign countries. In Pahlavi period it was the venue of official parties and celebrations. Its interior has changed to a great extent and the summer chamber beneath it has been turned into an art gallery.

Dormitory Building

Between Brilliant Hall and the northeastern corner of Golestan Garden there was once a citrus plantation that was demolished early during the reign of Reza Khan. In 1959, a new dormitory and administrative building were constructed on this site, for the visit to Iran by Queen Elizabeth (Two). Thereafter this building was used to accommodate visiting heads of states. The last time it was used as such, was in 1979 during the visit by Chinese Head of State.

Brilliant Building

There are several spectacularly beautiful halls and rooms to the east of Ivory Hall. The floors of these rooms are lower than those of the other halls. At the time of Nassereddin Shah most of the old buildings in Arg were destroyed and replaced. Crystal Building, was replaced by the current “Brilliant Building”. During Pahlavi period, it was used for official meetings with Foreign Heads of States and Major ceremonies.

Wind Tower Building

Wind Tower Building sits on the southern wing of Golestan Garden. Built during the reign of Fath Ali Shah, it was dramatically modified at the time of Nassereddin Shah. Under the hall there is a large summer chamber. Each corner bears a tall wind tower covered with blue, yellow and black glazed tiles and a golden cupola. Wind coming through these towers cools the summer chamber, hall and rooms.


Chador-Khaneh, or tent house, is located between Wind Tower Building and Diamond Hall. It was the place where royal tents, used during the kings' trips were stored. After restoration presently this building is used for holding temporary exhibition or for small gathering.

Reception Hall-Museum

Upon his return from Europe in 1869, after visiting several museum and art galleries, Nassereddin Shah decided to establish similar sites in his Arg. He had the exterior building destroyed and new ones built on the northwestern wing of Golestan Palace next to Ivory Hall. These buildings included Lobby, the Mirror Hall and Museum Room. Construction of Museum Room began in 1870 and ended in 1873. However it was not used until 1878, because of the multitude of ornaments to be completed.

This hall was intended to become a museum from the very beginning. Nevertheless, after the Peacock Throne was moved from the Mirror Hall to the museum, this hall became the venue of official court receptions and was thus named the Reception Hall. The most precious objects and works of art that were presented to the monarch of Persia, particularly the jewels, were kept in this hall.

In 1966, on the occasion of the Mohammad Reza Coronation, The decoration of this hall was modified to give it, its present shape.

Summer Chamber in the basement has been divided in two parts. The eastern part, called Special Hall, is dedicated to Qajar period fine arts. The western part, known as the Art Gallery, is the venue of an exhibition of Qajar period Persian paintings.

Rooms, themselves, with their high arches and ornate cravings and the numerous and large chandeliers are competitors for the eye of the beholder of the beauties that fill their spaces. Ceiling, floors and banisters also catch the eye of the visitor.

Karim Khan Veranda

In the Northeastern corner of the Golestan Palace, next to Reception Hall, there is a building with columns in the form of a veranda. At its center is fountain, where water once flowed from a subterranean steam (Qanat).

Named after Karim Khan Zand, this building dates back to the Zand period. It was part of the interior of Karim Khan's residence. The building, is believed to have been constructed in 1759.

At the time of Nassereddin Shah a major part of this building was destroyed, when the reception hall was being constructed.

Although little of its splendor and beauty remains the artists' legacy can still be observed in the intricate work.

Marble Throne Veranda( Iwan Dar-ul- Hokumeh)

The sensitivity of Iranian artists, aided by the skills of architecture, painting, stone carving, tile working, stucco, mirror work, enameling, wood working, and lattice work have created unforgettable masterpieces in the buildings among the old royal palaces.

Shah received people from various walks of life during official ceremonies on this throne veranda. In 1806, Fath Ali Shah ordered stone cravers from Isfahan to make a throne from the famous marble of Yazd. It was placed in the middle of the Iwan. It appears that Iwan, older than the other parts of Historical Arg, is a Zand period monument, built during the reign of Karim Khan.

The architecture and ornaments of this veranda were further modified during the reigns of Fath Ali Shah and Nassereddin Shah. The coronation of the Qajar kings, as well as various other official ceremonies, was performed from this Iwan. The last of these ceremonies was the Coronation of Reza Khan in 1925.

Diamond Hall

Diamond Hall is located on the southern wing of Golestan Palace, past the Wind Tower Building. It was constructed during the reign of Fath Ali Shah but its appearance and ornaments were modified at the time of Nassereddin Shah. It is called "Diamond Hall", because of its glittering mirror works.

White Palace

Towards the end of the reign of Nassereddin Shah, the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid sent some precious gifts for the Shah of Iran. Whereas at that time almost all the royal palaces were decorated with various paintings and furniture, Shah decided to have a new palace constructed on the south-western wing of the Golestan area on the former site of the pavilion or Agha Mohammad Khan Tower to serve as a depository for the gifts.

The White building, with its 18th century European style stucco, was named the White Palace for the color of the stucco and the white marble stones that covered its hall and staircase.

From the very beginning White Palace became the Prime Minister's Office. Until 1954 Cabinet Meeting were held in Sultan Abulhamid Hall of this Palace. In 1965, the western wing and the ground floor of this building were modified, to make it suitable for Coronation of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. This building became "Anthropology Museum" in 1968 and displays some of the most ancient artifacts to be found in Iran.


This building is the most outstanding one in Golestan Palace and the finest on its eastern wing. Before his trip to Europe, Nassereddin Shah (that inspired by the pictures, he had seen of European Buildings) decided to construct a European Style Building in his Capital, so he could watch city's panoramic view from its balcony.

Construction started in 1865 and was completed in two years. Building was designed by Moayer-ul-Mamalek and its architect was Ostad Mohammad Ali of Kashan. Its balanced design, set off by two towers, is typical of Persian Architecture as is the multiple display of arches, tile work and Ornate windows. Thus blending east and west to Shah's delight. 

On October 11, 2005 the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran submitted the palace to the UNESCO for inclusion into the World Heritage List in 2007.

Golestan Palace is currently operated by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran.

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