Chehel Sotun

Chehel Sotun

The Chehel Sotun garden with an area of ​​over 67000 square meters is a small part of the large park "Jahan Nema" whose origins date back to before the period Safavid. The primitive nucleus of the Chehel Sotun palace was a pavilion that Shah Abbas I had built in the middle of this garden. This pavilion included the central hall and the small rooms at the four corners of the present building. During the reign of Shah Abbas II the colonnaded loggia, the loggia decorated with mirrors, the salons attached to the northern and southern sides of the colonnaded loggia, the loggias on the two sides of the central hall, two pools in the eastern and western sectors were added to the building. and the mural paintings of the central hall.

In the 1647, under the reign of Shah Abbas II, this palace was officially destined to the ceremonial and to the reception of the sovereigns and of the foreign dignitaries. The palace at the time of Shah Soltan Hossein (1706) suffered a fire. Later the burnt parts of the building were rebuilt and restored. Damage to the building was inflicted at the time of King Qajar Nasseroddin. Initially the columns of the palace had been decorated according to the technique ofAyne-kari (NdT: ornamentation made of hundreds of mirror pieces that make up geometric or natural figures like flowers, etc.): this decoration was destroyed in the qajar period and also the paintings depicting the Safavid rulers were made to cover with stucco.

Subsequently these paintings, thanks to Iranian and Italian restorers, were brought to light and restored. From the 1932 the Chehel Sotun palace is inscribed in the register of Iran's national monuments. The Chehel Sotun palace has 20 columns: the reflection of their image in the water of the pool in front of the building makes 40 columns appear and it is for this reason that this palace was called "Chehel Sotun" in Persian means precisely "40 columns"). In addition, the 40 figure in Persian culture indicates the multitude and therefore the name "Palace of the 40 columns" would mean a palace with many columns. The pool in front of the building is 110 × 16 meters. The bottom of the pool has a dark color, so that the water seems deeper than what it actually is and the reflection of the image of the building is more fascinating.

At the four corners of the garden pool, sculptures depicting Anahita (water goddess) have been installed. Inside the palace there is a tank that in the past had four stone lions at the four corners from whose mouths the water poured into the tub. There were also some stone fountains in the small rivulets of water around the palace. The loggia of the building is composed of two parts. One of these parts has 18 tall wooden columns and is called "hall of the 18 columns". The four central columns of this part are placed on a stone base in which four lions are carved. In the past, from the mouth of these four lions gushed the water that was poured into the marble basin of the room. The second part of the loggia is a little lower and constitutes the portal that leads to the great hall. This part, which is called "mirror room", rests on two columns. In every part of this room were used full-length mirrors and brick-shaped mirrors wrapped in mosaics made of small pieces of mirror and beautiful shape. The ceiling of the hall has been decorated with wooden frames of different geometric shapes. In the decoration of the ceiling we can see the symmetrical image of the marble basin in the middle of the loggia. This symmetrical construction bears a great resemblance to the loggia of the Ali Qapu Palace. The great central hall of the palace was the place for ceremonial and reception of high-ranking foreign guests. This room has a painted dome-shaped ceiling that has been decorated with colorful triangles and golden and translucent designs. Among the decorations of gilding and painting of the palace, some of which were created in the qajar era, stand out the images of the receptions of Shah Abbas I and Shah Abbas II with the sovereigns of Turkestan and Shah Tahmasb with the king of India; the depictions of Shah Esmail in the battle of Chaldiran and in the battle against the Uzbeks and Nader Shah in the battle of Karnal.

On the two sides of the central hall were painted, by two Dutch painters called Anjel and Lokar, the images of the European ambassadors and personalities who were in Esfahan in the Safavid era. Among the other decorations of this palace we can mention the portal of the Ghotbye mosque, some works of the Jubare and Aghasi mosques that were placed in the palace and the vaults of the corner doors of the pavilion. Among the decorations in the treasure room are an image of Shah Abbas and some miniatures

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