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14 June 2014 / leggypeggy

Golestan Palace—Tehran’s crown even has a royal tent building

Golestan Palace, wind breaker side room

A very impressive side room in the palace’s Wind Breaker Building

Tehran is overrun with palaces, but the showpiece has to be the Golestan complex of palaces, museums and halls near the centre of town.

Surrounded by an ancient wall, this combination of buildings, mirrors, stained glass, tiles, mosaics, marbles, woodcarvings, enamels, gardens, fountains and more is the city’s oldest monument.

Poor John and I spent almost half a day exploring Golestan’s lush gardens and lavish buildings.

Golestan Palace housekeeping

Housekeeping

Golestan Palace mismatched tiles

Mismatched tiles

They have a cunning, money-making admission system. We paid 150,000 rials (better known as 15 tomans) or about $5 to get in. Then we paid an extra 50,000 rials per individual building we wanted to visit. There’s a big map to choose from, but the lack of explanation makes it hard to pick. Luckily, we only had to specify a number of buildings and not give exact names.

In the end, a local guide standing near the ticket counter suggested which buildings to skip, so we bought tickets to visit five of the nine on offer.

Golestan Palace is one of the buildings that made up the city’s historic citadel (Arg), which was built in the 1500s. In the late 1770s, the palace became the official residence and seat of government for the royal Qājār family. In 1865, Haji Abol-hasan Mimar Navai had it rebuilt in its present form.

The palace’s most characteristics features and rich ornamentation date from the 19th century. They incorporate traditional Persian arts and crafts as well as elements of 18th century European motifs and styles.

In addition to being used as the governing base of the Qājāri kings, the palace also functioned as a recreational and residential compound and a centre of artistic production during the 19th century.

During the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty (1925–79), the palace was used for coronations and formal royal receptions. The family built their own formal residence at Niavaran. In fact, Reza Khan (Pahlavi senior who reigned from 1925–41) had much of Golestan demolished because he thought the old structures might stand in the way of modernisation.

Marble Throne

Such a pity he felt that way. After all, his coronation was in the famed Takht-e-Marmar, or Marble Throne.

Built more than 200 years ago, the Takht-e-Marmar and its surrounding terrace are adorned by paintings, marble carvings, tile work, stucco, woodcarvings, enamels and lattices.

Golestan Palace

Golestan Palace with the Marble Throne in the far center

The actual throne sits in the middle of the terrace and is made from yellow marble from the Yazd province. It was designed and created by the Qājār court’s main painter and several master artists. It is said to include 65 pieces of marble.

Shamsolemārah, Building of Sun

The Shamsolemārah, or the Building of Sun, is considered the complex’s most significant and beautiful structure. The ruler Nassereddinshāh had seen pictures of multi-storey buildings in Europe and decided he had to have his own. The Shamsolemārah’s two tall towers made it Central Asia’s first ‘skyscraper’.

Golestan Palace, Shamsolemārah verandah

Shamsolemārah verandah

Karimkhān’s Sanctum

Then there’s the Karimkhān’s Sanctum, a verandah with three arches and a small marble throne. This was supposedly a favourite spot for Nassereddinshāh, and where he spent private time smoking his hookah. His tombstone is here.

Chādorkhāneh, tent warehouse

Given that we are camping most of the way from Tehran to Beijing, I was rather taken by the Chādorkhāneh, or warehouse for royal tents during the Qājār period. Apparently, Qājār clan members loved the great outdoors and living in tents. I bet they loved having their servants trot along to put up the tents and cook and serve meals.

Golestan Palace, tent building

Tent warehouse

Emarat-e Bagdir, Wind Breaker

But the Wind Breaker (wind catcher) Building is certainly one of my favourites. Also known as Emarat-e Bagdir, this was the second structure in the Golestan Palace complex.

The four wind catchers that rise overhead capture the breeze, making the building cool during the hottest months of the year. But I like it because it’s just so darn beautiful. I could have wandered in the darkened rooms for the rest of the day.

Golestan Palace, wind breaker stained glass

Wind breaker stained glass

Mirror Hall

A final stop was in the Mirror Hall. Photos aren’t allowed, but an iPhone on silent works wonders. I reckon the guard knew what I was up to, so I limited my bad behaviour to a couple of snaps.

P.S. Many thanks to the webmaven for telling people our news until we could get online again.

19 Comments

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  1. lmo58 / Jun 14 2014 2:39 pm

    Peggy,
    These are magnificent! I think that, like you, I could stay in the Wind Breaker all day but what a privilege to see five of nine. Thank you, as always, for letting me live vicariously through you and for sharing your wonderful photos. Oh, and I’m still waiting for John’s before haircut shot. I guess that, now that you have Internet access, you’ll be able to send it soon. Private email coming while you have access.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 14 2014 6:37 pm

      I love the Wind Breaker too. And it was so cool inside. As for the before shot, I’ll have to see if I took one.

      Like

  2. Joanne T Ferguson / Jun 14 2014 3:20 pm

    G’day how AWE INSPIRING and magnificent Peggy! Thanks for sharing!! I would be lost in the architecture and history for days!
    Cheers! Joanne

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 14 2014 6:38 pm

      It really is amazing to see in person. And like you, I felt lost in the architecture and history.

      Like

  3. janandrussroundoz / Jun 14 2014 3:31 pm

    It’s stunning Peggy!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 14 2014 6:38 pm

      Thanks Jan. Next time, you’ll have to travel with us. 🙂

      Like

  4. suchled / Jun 14 2014 6:47 pm

    Dear Mrs Leggy Peggy, All these wonderful places and things you see! How come the world is in such a mess. The Sunnis v the Shiites. The Catholics v the Protestants. If there was some way that everyone could read your blog we would all be better off.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 14 2014 6:59 pm

      Thank you suchled. Only pockets of the world are such a mess. I wish the media wouldn’t paint such a dark picture of so many places, and that people could see for themselves how peaceful much of the world really is.

      Like

  5. Chris Gee / Jun 14 2014 6:56 pm

    One day I am going to see all these places as well..next?

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 14 2014 7:00 pm

      To facilitate next, how about a satellite dish on the roof of the truck? 🙂

      Like

  6. Araloth / Jun 14 2014 10:53 pm

    These are beautiful pictures, and writing to match! I have seen the “pay-per-room” scheme in other countries, although it looks like here, it was worth the annoyance. Good luck on your next adventure, where ever it takes you!

    Like

  7. Debbwl / Jun 15 2014 2:11 am

    How stunning! !
    Peggy your travels are so inspiring and make me want to go to each and every spot.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 15 2014 11:14 pm

      There’s almost always a spare seat on our travels. I’ll keep you posted.

      Like

  8. artandkitchen / Jun 15 2014 5:38 am

    Thanks for shring Peggy! The buildings look like huge jewels! We are following you and waiting for read and see more…

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 15 2014 11:15 pm

      That’s a perfect description. The buildings really do look like huge jewels.

      Like

  9. wineandhistory / Jun 15 2014 12:32 pm

    Wow they all look so dazzling! I wouldn’t know where to look first, or after that. Thank you for sharing this gem!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 15 2014 11:16 pm

      You’re right, we hardly knew where to look next.

      Like

  10. gallivance.net / Jun 15 2014 10:18 pm

    This looks like a fascinating place Peggy, and one that would be hard to take in on one visit. The details and ornamentation are so lavish, that I wonder if the Royals got to the point where they didn’t notice them? I’m not too sure that I’d like having that many mirrors around. ~James

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 15 2014 11:18 pm

      Almost impossible to take in on one visit, but we did our best. I rather suspect the royals never tired of the lavishness because they certainly kept it going for decade after decade. Maybe they just wanted it, but never really looked at it, but I reckon they doted on it and on themselves.

      Like

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