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Chehel Sotun Palace, Isfahan, Iran

One of the valued historical monuments of Iran is the Chehel Sotun palace in Isfahan (Palace of Forty Columns). The palace is situated in a wide garden, which is believed to be planted during the reign of Shah Abbas I (ruled from 1588 to 1629). According to legend the author of architectural design of the palace was Shah Abbas I, but historic studies proved, that only some parts of the palace were built during his reign, while the main buildings of Chehel Sotun were built under the rule of Shah Abbas II (ruled from 1642 to 1666). It was Abbas II, who built the eastern porch of the palace, which is based on 20 columns. Probably during the reign of the same Abbas II near the porch was constructed a wide pond. Thanks to the reflection of the porch in this pond the columns look more numerous than they are. Because of this optical illusion the building was named Palace of Forty Columns. The columned porch is a vivid example of the influence of pre-Islamic Iranian architecture on the architecture of 17th century’s Iran. Columned halls were one of the main characteristics of Achaemenid (Iranian dynasty, ruled 558-330 BC) architecture.

The Chehel Sotun palace was used mainly for official receptions of visiting ambassadors and foreign officials. In the center of the building a large reception hall is situated, which is roofed by three shallow cupolas. The roof of this hall is constructed in a style, very similar to the Sasanian (Iranian dynasty, ruled from 224 to 651) architecture.

The roof and the walls of the palace inside the building are covered with paintings, representing different heroic episodes of Iranian history during the reign of two dynasties – Safavid (from 1501 to 1786) and Qajars (from 1794 to 1925) and were sound to impress foreign visitors with the grace of Iranian monarchy. The paintings are made mainly in red, blue and golden tones.

In the beginning of 18th century the palace was damaged by fire, but was reconstructed in 1870. Today this amazing building which bears the imprint of several historical periods of Iran is a museum of ceramics and Persian carpets.

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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