Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Safavid Garden Complex

The Safavid Garden Complex

When Shah Tahmasp of Safavid dynasty decided to move the capital from Tabriz to Qazvin, the small city witnessed a period of rapid flourishment. Shah Tahmasp was a man of literature and art, he had spent his entire childhood in Herat and started to build his new capital based on what he had seen there. Therefore, the first street of Iran was made in Qazvin in imitation of Herat’s streets. The complex that today is referred to as Safavid Garden Complex, was initiated by the order of Shah Tahmasp, but undergo many changes and destructions as time passed. The 6-hectare land of this complex was divided and sold to private owners which led to its further destruction. The complex is made of many different construct that some are destroyed and some survived the passing of time:

•    Ali – Ghapu

•    Naderi Mansion

•    Qajar Mansion

•    Pahlavi Mansion

•    Grand Hotel

•    Chehel Sotoun (40-Columns)

•    Museum

•    Rectors’ Monument

Most of what we know from the Safavid version of the garden complex is from the poem collection of Ubaid Beik Shirazi, a poet in the court of Shah Tahmasp. His poem collection describing the garden, the buildings and the city gives us good knowledge of the place in Safavid Time. this place and its surrounding area was used by Shah Abbas to create the Naghsh-e Jahan of Isfahan.

Ali – Ghapu

One of the seven, and the only remaining monumental portal of the complex made from brick on a stone based foundation. It was made by the order of Shah Tahmasp and repaired by Shah Abbas. The portal opens to Sepah street, the first street of Iran. the portal is made of a domed vestibule that used to be covered with painting; unfortunately, none of the paintings have survived. The only remained decoration of the portal is the inlayed mosaic work of the façade, written by the famous calligrapher Alireza Abbasi, one of Shah Abbas’s favorite calligraphers. There are two staircases that lead to the second floor, where the town criers stood and played Naghare (a king of wind instrument) to announce different things. There used to be two buildings on either side of the portal, the western one was used as stable in Safavid era and later as printing shop; and the eastern building used to be a laundry house that turned into a school by Pahlavies.

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