Chehel Sotun Palace (Qazvin, Iran) | Chehel Sotoun
Qazvin, one of Iran’s capitals in the 16th century, is home to an architectural gem: the Chehel Sotoun of Qazvin. This precious royal palace enjoys the harmony of taste and artistry in its interior decorations. The beauty of the greenery of its garden, the rainbow of colors in its windows, its gorgeous paintings and stunning vaults, is topped with the invaluable collection of Persian calligraphy kept there. Here’s your window to all the charms of the Chehel sotoun Palace of Qazvin…
The Story of the Chehel Sotoun of Qazvin
After several Ottoman attacks to Iran in the 16th century, Shah Tahmasp I of Safavid era moved his capital Tabriz away from the Ottoman border, to the more central Qazvin. Then he gathered master architects from around the country to build a royal pavilion and garden in his new capital. The result was Saadat Abad Garden. This huge royal complex included an elegant pavilion, 23 mansions, a refreshing garden, and seven gates. Several Persian poets have described the beauty of this original garden. Based on these descriptions, the pavilion was in the center of the garden, with pools and streams surrounding it.
After moving the capital to Isfahan and then the fall of Safavid dynasty, Saadat Abad Garden was mainly abandoned. It was not until early 20th century that the Qajar governor of Qazvin decided to renovate the complex. He made alteration to the interior and exterior decorations and gave it its present name: Chehel Sotoun Palace of Qazvin. Today, Chehel Sotoun pavilion and Ali Qapu Gate are what has remained from the whole complex. Ali Qapu Gate is now in the headquarters of the police of Qazvin.
Chehel Sotoun Palace of Qazvin as a Museum of Calligraphy
As the center of Persian calligraphy, Qazvin showcases its finest works of calligraphy in the Chehel Sotoun Pavilion. This charming collection include works by the masters of Persian calligraphy. The majority of the artworks are in Nastaliq style. This style is one of the main branches of Islamic calligraphy. The museum is also home to ‘the carpet instrument’, a uniquely-shaped musical instrument designed by an Iranian artist. The instrument looks like a carpet loom.
The Architecture of the Chehel Sotoun of Qazvin
The smart interior and exterior architecture of the Chehel Sotoun of Qazvin makes it a top attraction of the city. The major surviving part of the site, the octagonal pavilion building, has 2 floors. The central hall on the ground floor is surrounded by Iwans (traditional Persian porch) on four sides. Plus, on the four corners between the Iwans, you can find four rooms with different designs. The rooms feature gorgeous stained glass windows. Outside, around the central room, eight huge columns support the gallery that encircles the upper floor. The ceiling of the Iwans and the rooms feature beautiful vaulting. Upstairs, thin wooden columns support the roof of the gallery. Again, four corner rooms surround the large cross-shaped hall upstairs. This hall receives a lot of light through its colorful windows. Through these windows, you can get a view of the surrounding garden.
The Adorable Paintings and Decorations
Fine paintings, elegant muqarnas, unique tiling, and inlaid doors are of the interior decorations that make the Chehel Sotoun Palace of Qazvin a piece of art. On the walls and ceiling of the ground floor of the pavilion, well-preserved paintings manifest the artistry of Qazvin’s miniature painters. The different layers of these paintings speak of the different historical periods Chehel Sotoun has seen. Upstairs, you can find the portrait of a harem girl in 16th-17th century European dress. The tiling of the place is so significant that pieces of it are kept in museums around the world. The Muqarnas (Islamic Stalactite vaulting) design of the ceiling is also an admirable work of art.