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. Since 1932 the Chehel Sotun Palace has been registered in the register of national monuments of Iran. The Chehel Sotun palace has 20 columns: the reflection of their image in the water of the swimming pool in front of the palace makes 40 columns appear and it is for this reason that this palace was called "Chehel Sotun" (NdT: "Chehel Sotun" in Persian precisely means "40 columns"). Furthermore, the number 40 in Persian culture indicates the multitude and therefore the name "Palace of the 40 columns" would mean a palace with many columns. The swimming pool in front of the building measures 110 × 16 meters. The bottom of the pool has a dark color, so that the water looks deeper than it actually is and the reflection of the palace image is more fascinating.

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