Everything about Chehel Sotoun palace

Today’s destination of Chiyakotravel is one of the famous royal palaces and gardens of Iran, Isfahan , Chehel Sotoun Palace. The palace that once hosted the Safavid kings and was famous for its beautiful and unique decorations and paintings. Today, we are going to look around this big palace and its beautiful garden and visit its museum which is also known as Chehel Sotoun Museum in Isfahan. Join us to find out why this Palace is called Chehel Sotoun and why its garden is one of the 9 Iranian gardens in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Chehel Sotoun
Chehel Sotoun

Of course, as you know, this palace is just one of the dozens of attractions that you can visit in Isfahan. If you are planning to travel to the city that is called half the world, and you want to do a complete planning for this, you can enter the travel guide page to our Isfahan tours  and get the information you need from our support team. In this article, we take a comprehensive look to most aspects of this amazing garden.

Everything about Chehel Sotoun
Everything about Chehel Sotoun

Why visiting Isfahan Chehel Sotoun palace?

  • It is one of the most famous sites of Isfahan.
  • The opportunity of visiting Isfahan’s Chehel Sotoun palace where various kings once walked and took care of the state, is something that rarely happens.
  • The palace displays pure and unique examples of precious Iranian art at its highest level.
  • Its garden is an excellent example of a famous Iranian garden and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • If you are interested in painting, miniature, and mirror work, the palace is a great place for you.
  • You can visit Chehel Sotoun museum which has a treasure trove of manuscripts related to the fourth century AH, paintings, works related to Safavid period, etc.

Chehel Sotoun Introduction
Chehel Sotoun Introduction

Introduction to Chehel Sotoun Palace | A masterpiece of art and architecture of Safavid period

Isfahan is a city of engravings and presents a feast of design, color, art, architecture and history for its travelers. Among all this beauties and splendors, there is Chehel Sotoun palace in Isfahan which is famous for its unique paintings and mirrors and once hosted great people from all over the world. The building dates back to Safavid period and the time of Shah Abbas I and Shah Abbas II and is located in the middle of a large and lush garden. The garden which is an excellent example of Safavid royal gardens and is one of the nine gardens of Iran registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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It is also good to know that today Chehel Sotoun palace activities continue as a Chehel Sotoun museum and houses a collection of art works from old Isfahan.

National and World Register of Palace and Garden

Isfahan Chehel Sotoun collection was included in the list of national heritage of our country in 1310 SH with the number 108 as a treasure of history, art and culture of Iranو and was recognized as part of the UNESCO World Heritage in 2011 with the number 1372 .

UNESCO heritage
UNESCO heritage

History of the palace and garden

The palace that called as the most blessed building of the word is one of the most beautiful memorials on the Safavid eras in Isfahan. Its palace is one of the examples of the Safavid royal gardens that are also known as the forty pillars garden or the 40th sultan museum. It is located in the heart of a garden that shah Abbas II has built for receptions and amusement. In fact, this garden is an small part of the vast and spectacular gardens of the world. This historical heritage is considered to be one of the most famous and popular palaces in Isfahan, which, despite injuries, still has stunning beauty to offer to tourists and visitors.

History in the period of Shah Abbas I

After the selection of Isfahan as the capital of Iran during the Safavid period, this city grew and developed rapidly, and many buildings were built in the city. One of the most important buildings among them was Chehel Soton garden and palace complex, the foundation stone of which was laid during the reign of Shah Abbas I (Shah Abbas the Great). According to various narrations, Shah Abbas I during his reign needed to have a small pavilion next to his official palace. The palace of Aali Qapo, where he performed his court work, so that he could stay away from the hustle and bustle of the monarchy and statehood, taking a break. So in the middle of Jahannama garden (later known as Chehel Soton garden), he ordered the construction of a small mansion in the shape of a pergola with rooms up to 12 meters high. Of course, over time, this mansion was used to host ambassadors, dignitaries, Iranian and foreign politicians and to hold small celebrations. Some historians have even written in their works that Shah Abbas I celebrated Nowruz in the 23rd year of his reign in this mansion.

It is good to know about the garden that this garden had access to all the gardens around it at that time including the gardens in the area of ​​Chaharbagh street and Naghsh-e Jahan Square. Its middle mansion, It was connected through a tunnel to all the palaces of that period in Isfahan such as Hasht Behesht and Aali Qapo.

History of Chehel Sotoun
History of Chehel Sotoun

Chehelston Palace during the reign of Shah Abbas II

After the death of Shah Abbas I and during the coronation of Shah Abbas II, it was decided to increase the size of the mansion and change its usage to a palace functionality. Artists and architects of the period took advantage of this opportunity to showcase their pure art and taste in beautifying the palace and garden.

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By the order of Shah Abbas II, the inner and outer walls of the mansion were adorned with lavish paintings and stunning mirrors, and the number of halls, rooms, and various parts were increased. These sections include the Hall of Mirrors, the Hall of Eighteen Columns, the two large rooms north and south of the Hall of Mirrors, the porches on either side of the royal foyer and the large pool in front of the hall with all the decorations, mirrors, tiling of walls and ceilings. Thus, it became one of the first buildings in Iran that was decorated in this way with magnificent mirrors, large murals and wooden columns. Finally, the magnificent palace was inaugurated in 1056 AH (1024 SH), three years after the beginning of the reign of Shah Abbas II with his presence and foreign ambassadors.

After the completion of the construction and decoration of the vast halls of the palace, this place was used as a place for the king to meet  people and kings to host official guests.

 

Chehel Sotoun in Safid era
Chehel Sotoun in Safid era

 Garden and Palace in the time of other Safavid kings

The garden and palace after the reign of Shah Abbas II continued its function of entertaining guests and people and remained one of the main administrative and government buildings of Isfahan. Of course, in the twelfth year of the reign of Shah Sultan Hussein, an unfortunate event took place in the palace and this masterpiece of architecture and art became the prey of fire.

The Palace in Qajar period

According to the writings of tourists such as Eugene Flandin and Pascal Coste – who traveled to Iran during the reign of Mohammad Shah Qajar – as well as Madame Diolafoa in 1298 AH (1259 SH), the building of its palace and garden is still old. It remained the same and had not changed. However, unfortunately in 1300 AH (1261 SH), during the reign of Zell-e Sultan (ruler of Isfahan and son of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar), the building of the palace and garden was severely damaged and many ruins were caused; For example, in his time, the marble pond and the stone ditches of the garden were filled, and its water channels were blocked.

Madame Diolafoa has described the arrangement of the trees and plants of garden in her travelogues as follows, and gives an accurate picture of the garden during the Qajar period:

The tall sycamore trees with branches cut to the top, along the main axis and on both sides of the pool, were decorated with lights at the festivities. At their feet, the flowers appeared in the plots (garden), regardless of color or material. Inside the plots, fruit trees could also be seen.

As the last days of Qajar dynasty approached, the intensity of Safavid buildings destruction and neglect had been increased. By the end of this period, the magnificent palaces of Aali Qapu and Chehel Sotoun had become garbage dumps. For example, at this time they used oil paint to repaint the walls of the palace. That caused the paintings under the palace to become separate from the wall, and become fragmented. Other decorations of this building and its inlaid doors were not safe from this devastating attack, and many damages were inflicted on them. According to Sheikh Jaber Ansari, the mirrors that showed each person up to a distance of 180 meters from the palace were removed and taken to Masoudiyeh Mansion in Tehran along with Khatam doors and paintings. According to him, the double-sided carpet that was present in this palace was torn to pieces and destroyed between 1298 and 1305 AH (1260 to 1267 SH). Another ruin that plagued the palace was the re-painting of the paintings, this time with plaster.

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Pahlavi period

The condition of the palace improved during Pahlavi regime, and the restoration work was entrusted to an Italian archaeological institute. Using old photographs of the palace, the institute installed new doors and windows in the old-fashioned way and revived the paintings and drawings hidden under the plaster. After these renovations, the palace was turned into a museum where important works from different historical periods were displayed.

Chehel Sotoun in Pahlavi
Chehel Sotoun in Pahlavi

Location of the palace

The garden is located in the city of Isfahan and east of Chaharbagh street, south of Sepah street and west of Naghsh-e Jahan square. The garden was designed in the city and among other gardens so that it was possible to access it from other gardens. A set of these gardens formed along the Chaharbagh. The garden has three entrances located in the east, facing east. After entering the garden from its main entrance, after a short distance, there will be a large pool in front of the mansion. The main axis of the garden shows the direction of movement with the help of trees on both sides towards the main palace. It has a very small slop that helps the water to flow into the small rivers.

Chehel Sotoun location
Chehel Sotoun location

Architecture of the palace

The architecture of this palace is a combination of Chines, Iranian, and Chinese architecture, with a large 38 m long, 17 m high elevation east. The pillars of this porch are octagonal planks and pine wood. The main Ivan based on 20 pillars. Many researchers consider the naming cause of the palace to reflect twenty pillars on the large mansion pool. Of course, the role of the 40th in the Persian literature may well be another reason for calling the mansion of Chehel Sotoun to be forty pillars.

Chehel Sotoun palace
Chehel Sotoun palace