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Visiting the Golestan Palace in Tehran

Visiting the Golestan Palace in Tehran

The UNESCO listed Golestan Palace of Tehran is one of the most spectacular attractions of Tehran and is a complex of palaces and gardens related to Qajar Era.

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January 28, 2021

Golestan Palace

Golestan palace, is a historic royal complex located in the heart of Tehran, the capital of Iran. This complex was inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site on 2013. It consists of royal palaces, gardens, museums and art galleries. Today, Golestan palace is one of the most visited historic places on Tehran tours, attracting visitors from all over the world.

Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

History of Golestan palace

During the kingdom of Safavids (16th – 18th century), a citadel was built at the location of Golestan palace and that became the origin of later constructions and expansions. Karim Khan, the king of Zand dynasty (18th century) did some renovations but the main buildings and changes were made during the kingdom of Qajars in Iran (18th – 20th century). The Qajar family took control of Iran after defeating Zand dynasty. After Agha Mohammad Khan, the founder of Qajar dynasty, chose Tehran as his capital (1794), Golestan palace became the official residence for him and the next six kings. It was during the reign of the Naser al-Din Shah (1848 – 1896), the 4th king of Qajars that most of the buildings were built. He destroyed most of the palaces built by the former kings, and started new constructions. So, what we see today looks a lot like the time of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar. He was the first Persian king who travelled to Europe, so some of the buildings he made, were inspired by European architecture. During the kingdom of the two Pahlavi Kings (1925 – 1979), they built their own palaces north of Tehran and used Golestan palace for reception ceremonies. Both Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Shah held their coronation ceremonies in Golestan palace. After the Islamic republic revolution in 1979, the management of the Golestan complex was given to the cultural heritage and tourism organization.

Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

Sites in Golestan Palace

The complex of Golestan palace consists of different palaces, museums, garden, halls and galleries as listed below. The garden and the tile works There is a garden in the middle of the complex with beautiful pools and ponds. What makes this section more beautiful is the exterior decoration of the palaces, mainly tile works. Golestan palace is a stunning museum of tile works.

Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

The Salam Hall

Salam Hall or the greeting hall was originally built by the order of Naser al-Din Shah to be used as a museum and became the first museum of Iran. He made this decision after his first travel to Europe. He ordered to collect and exhibit Persian and European paintings, gifts presented to him by other countries and also a valuable collection of jewels. Most of the jewels are now kept in the Royal Jewels Museum at the Central Bank of Iran but most of the but the paintings and gifts collection are still kept and exhibited in Golestan palace. The “Sun throne” which was the royal throne of the Qajar kings and was used by kings in reception ceremonies and special celebrations like Nowruz (Persian new year), was kept in Salam hall till 1980. People and the court members were going to the king sitting on the Sun Throne to say Salam (Hello), that’s the reason this hall is called “Salam”. Both Pahlavi kings had their coronation ceremonies in Salam hall and for that they changed the decoration of the hall. Today you can visit this hall and see a collection of the gifts presented to the Qajar kings from all over the world alongside painting from famous Iranian painters like Kamal-ol-molk. The Sun throne was moved to Royal Jewels Museum at the Central Bank of Iran where it is now on display.

Salam Hall - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

Salam Hall - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

The Mirror Hall

The mirror hall is an extraordinary hall next to the Salam hall. It’s a relatively small yet very beautiful hall decorated by thousands of pieces of mirror (an Iranian decoration art called the Mirror work) and that’s the reason for it’s name. Kamal-ol-molk, a famous Iranian painter (1848 – 1940) spent 5 years to complete a painting, depicting Naser al-Din Shah in the Mirror hall. This important piece of art is now exhibited in the Salam hall.

The Mirror Hall - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

The Mirror Hall - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

The Ivory Hall

The Ivory hall is a big hall next to the Mirror hall which was used as dining room. There are 2 big ivories kept in this hall which are believed to be gifts from India and the reason for the name of the hall. Today, big portrait paintings of Qajar kings are now exhibited on the walls of the Ivory hall. The Containers Hall Next to the Ivory hall, this big hall exhibits a magnificent collection of Chinaware arranged in showcases. This is a collection of the chinaware presented to Qajar kings as gifts, mainly from European countries like the ones dedicated by Napoleon Bonaparte or Queen Victoria.

The Brilliant Hall

This amazing hall is named Brilliant because of its magnificent mirror work decoration done by Iranian artists. This hall was used for special dining ceremonies.

The Windcatchers Palace

Windcatcher or as called in Farsi “Badgir” is a genius architectural element in Iran used as a ventilation and cooling system for hot days of the year. The old city of Yazd would be the best place to see these windcatchers in Iran. Why is this palace called Windcatchers palace? Simply because this beautiful building has 4 windcatchers decorated with colorful mosaic tiles. To boost the ventilation, a small pool is built in the underground section of the palace. This building was mainly used during the hot days of summer as a resting and relaxing place for the Qajar kings. The decoration of this palace is among the most beautiful ones in the complex.

The Windcatchers Palace - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

The Windcatchers Palace - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

Edifice of the Sun or Shams ol Emareh

Shams ol Emareh is one of the most delightful buildings in the Golestan palace. Naser al-Din Shah ordered the construction of the building after he saw some photos of the tall buildings in Europe although the architect was inspired a lot by the Safavid Aali Qapu palace in Esfahan. When the building was finished, it became the tallest building in Iran for many years. The king liked to stand in the balcony and watch the palace, the soldiers marching and of course his capital, Tehran. After the construction was finished, queen Victoria send a clock as a gift for the Persian king. It was set on the building and people of the capital could hear the bell from far away. After a while the royal family started complaining about the noisy clock. After the attempts to make the clock less noisy, the clock stopped working, but they did not remove it from the building.

Shams ol Emareh - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

Shams ol Emareh - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

The Museum of Gifts

This interesting section is located under the Salam Hall and exhibits a magnificent collection of paintings and gifts for the Qajar kings.

Salam Hall - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

Salam Hall - Golestan Palace - Tehran, Iran

The Abyaz Hall

Abyaz means white and the reason for that is the main white color of the building inspired by European architecture. The main reason Naser al-Din Shah decided to build this palace was the gifts he was receiving from others specially from Ottoman Sultan “Abdul Hamid”. Today this building is the Museum of Anthropology of Tehran.

The Marble Throne Terrace

This terrace is among the oldest sections of the complex, decorated by paintings, marble carvings, tiles, mirrors and enamel. The famous marble throne is in this terrace. This throne was built by the order of Fath Ali Shah, the second king of Qajars, to be used for coronation and reception ceremonies. Its built by Iranian artists using the charming yellow marble from Yazd. The throne was last used for the coronation of Reza Shah (1926).

The Karim Khani Nook

This terrace is smaller in comparison to the Marble Throne terrace and is believed to be the oldest section of the complex built and used by the order of Karim Khan, the founder of Zand dynasty (1750 – 1779). After Agha Mohammad Khan founded the Qajar dynasty, he ordered to bring out the body of the Karim Khan, the former king who was buried in Shiraz, to be buried again this time under the staircase of this terrace so that the new king would walk over him. There is another marble throne on this terrace, yet smaller than the one in the Marble throne terrace. Also, the beautiful tomb stone of Naser al Din shah is placed on this terrace. This marble tomb stone took 5 years to be made.

The Karim Khani Nook - Golestan palace - Tehran, Iran

The Karim Khani Nook - Golestan palace - Tehran, Iran

Tips for visiting the Golestan Palace

  • The complex is open for visit at 9.00. You can buy the entrance ticket for each section separately, so make your decision before entering the complex. It takes at least 2 hours to do some visits. There is a restaurant, a café, giftshops and bookstores inside the complex too. Visiting all of the museums and halls take at least 6 hours, so our suggestion for you is to buy these tickets

  • The entrance ticket which is mandatory. With this ticket you can visit the garden, the Karim Khan Nook, the marble throne terrace, the giftshops, restaurants and the palaces from outside. Make sure to visit the exterior tile work decoration of the palaces, it is an endless world of colorful tiles.

  • The main hall (including 1. The Salam hall 2. The museum of gifts 3. The painting hall 4. The mirror hall 5. The Ivory hall 6. The containers hall 7. The Brilliant Hall. So, make sure to get this ticket. It takes around 1 hour to visit all.

  • The windcatchers hall. This is a small yet very beautiful palace in the complex. It takes about 10 minutes to visit

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