Golestan Palace is the only Iranian UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located in Tehran, Iran’s capital city. Although it was established 440 years ago and in the time of Safavid, it is regarded as a masterpiece of Qajar (1789 – 1925 CE) era. When Nasser al-din Shah Qajar (1831 – 1896 CE) traveled to Europe, he was impressed by what he had seen there. The glorious palace of Golestan is a testimony to the influences and combination of Western art and architecture with the Iranian style. It was an introduction to the modern art movement in Iran and a significant transitional period in Persian art. Golestan Palace encompasses various segments including palaces, halls, and museums.
Golestan Palace was registered in UNESCO World Heritage list in 2013.
1. Takht-e Marmar (Marble Throne)
This iwan is one of the oldest sections of the Golestan Palace. It is famous for a magnificent marble throne ordered by Fath Ali Shah in 1806 CE. The throne is made of fine yellow marble of Yazd and carved by Isfahani artists. Six angels and three demons hold the marble terrace one meter above the ground on their shoulders. The iwan is adorned by beautiful paintings, stuccos, tile-works, vitreous enamel, mirrors, lattice windows, and wood carvings. This throne was a place for the coronation and formal court ceremonies of Qajar kings. Reza Shah Pahlavi was the last king who used this throne for his coronation and established the Pahlavi dynasty in 1925.
2. Khalvat-e Karim Khani (Karim Khani Nook)
Initially founded by Karim Khan Zand (1705 – 1779 CE), this columned iwan once had a pool in the middle that led water all around the garden through streams. After Aqha Mohammad Khan Qajar overthrew the Zand dynasty, he disentombed the corpse of Karim Khan, the founder of Zand Dynasty, and reburied him under the iwan’s main staircase to flaunt his power and superiority over the previous dynasty. Nonetheless, when Reza Shah Pahlavi ended the Qajar dynasty, the remains of Karim Khan’s corpse were relocated in Qom. This hall with its beautiful tile-works, the central pool, and streams was once the favorite place for Nasser al-din Shah to rest and smoke qalyan (Persian hookah). The gravestone of Nasser al-din Shah with a real-size of his sculptured relief is the central highlight of this hall. Further, a marble throne was situated in this hall by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last king of Iran.
3. Negar Khaneh (Qajar art museum)
After his return from a trip to Europe in 1874 and impressed by the European art, Nasser al-din Shah assigned a hall to display dazzling Iranian paintings in a hall named Qajar art gallery. Most of the exhibited paintings focused on portraits of Qajar kings, their precious crowns and royal pieces of jewelry. As of now, many of those paintings are distributed in other palace halls as well as in different museums in Iran.
4. Royal Museum of Gifts
This museum is another outcome of Nasser al-din shah’s travel to Europe. This treasury consists of rare or precious objects gifted to Qajar shahs or collected by them. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi added the stunning stucco to this previously pond house.
5. Talar-e Salam (Reception Hall)
This hall is the biggest of its kind in the Golestan Palace that nowadays is called Museum of Royal jewelry. It is said that Nasser al-din Shah used to design and organize this museum while also sorting the pieces of jewelry in his spare time. The jewels and precious objects of this hall including the Sun Throne and the Kiani Crown (P) were transferred to the Royal Jewels Museum of the Central Bank of Iran. Moreover, the coronation ceremonies of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and Farah Pahlavi, the last Iranian king and queen were all held in this hall.
6. Howz Khaneh Museum (Pond House)
This space was once used as a summer chamber in the time of Qajar. Currently, historical documents, handwriting, and photos of the palace and Tehran are all displayed in this museum.
7. Talar-e Berelian (Brilliant Hall)
Nasser al-din Shah replaced the Crystal hall with the Brilliant superior hall. The most attractive characteristics of this hall are its radiant mirror works, chandeliers, and mantels.
8. Shams al-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun)
The five-story Shams al-Emareh was the Qajars’ skyscraper and the tallest building of Tehran when its construction was finished in 1867. Qajar kings and their wives had a panoramic view of Tehran from the windows of this mansion. This mansion is a semblance of the combination of European architecture and Persian artistic details. This mansion consisting of two identical towers have the famous clock of Shams al-Emareh in between them. The clock was a present from the Queen Victoria of England to Nasser al-din Shah.
9. Emarat-e Badgir (The Building of Wind-catchers)
Four badgirs (Wind-catcher) cool down the interior space by funneling breezes into the building. The main hall of this edifice entails a stunning ceiling adorned with paintings, mirror works, stucco, wood carvings, and marble works. Nine colorful sash windows, two columns adorned with twisted paintings, and the paisley-patterned floor are other notable features of the Emarat.
10. Photographic archive
In the basement of the Emarat-e Badgir, there is a pond house which cools by the above operational wind-catchers. This basement was a suitable place for ceremonies holding in the summer such as the coronation ceremony of Mozaffar al-din Shah. This was mainly due to its effect in increasing the tolerance towards hot outside weather. This pond house is converted to a gallery for the historic photograph collection of Qajar era.
11. Talar-e Almas (Diamond Hall)
Built in the time of Fath-Ali Shah, the diamond hall is one of the oldest parts of the palace. The exceptional mirror-works of the hall was the reason for its name as Diamond Hall. Similar to many other halls of the palace, this hall includes a pond house in its basement.
12. Abyaz Palace (Ethnological Museum)
At the lasting days of Nasser al-din Shah’s monarchy, Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid gifted him precious objects such as a set of furniture belonged to Louis XVI of France, curtains of velvet, a pair of mirror, golden and bronze statues, and Turkish carpets. After that, Nasser al-din Shah ordered to build a new mansion at the southwest corner of Golestan palace to lodge those copious gifts, i.e., Abyaz palace (white palace). Imitating the 18th-century European buildings, Nasser al-din Shah ordered to use the white marble on its façade. Then the palace was converted to an ethnographical museum in the reign of Pahlavi dynasty.