Palace of Aliqhapu
the Safavid period, this Sublime Gate (the literal translation of
its name) made by the order of Shah Abbas I, led from the west side
of the present Maidan-e Imam to the park the Shah called Naqsh-e
Jahan, the Image of the World. The Palace, of the early 17th
century AD and the center of government, was made into the first
skyscraper of Iran with a marvelous view over the public Maidan
and city to the front and the Shah's pleasure gardens at the
back. It was located right at the entrance to the Safavid palaces
that stretched from the Maidan to the Chahar Bagh Avenue.
Forty eight meters high from the ground level, with an imposing
portal, it is six floors tall, each decorated in its own way,
accessible by two difficult spiral staircases, and square in plan.
All the little rooms have points of interest, but it is on the ta/ar
of the second floor that you will saunter and gaze around you at
the wonders of Sheikh Lutfollah's Mosque opposite, the Imam Mosque
to the right, the northern perspective of the square. and the
children playing in the green area to the back.
The lofty ivan of the third story has 18 wooden columns, a carved
panel ceiling with gilded decorations and mirrors, and a large
marble and copper basin, belonging to the reign of Shah Abbas II.
The play of water from fountains round the basin formed a nice-Iooking
frame for those in the square. The Safavid kings and their foreign
guests used to watch the polo games, fireworks, and the military
shows going on in the square below.
On the sixth floor, niches shaped like bowls or high-stemmed flasks
are dug into the wall. Their purpose is not only decorative but also
acoustical, since here was a music ,room. Actually, this is the
largest hall of the palace and was allocated for the Shah's official
reception or pleasure hours when usicians played and singers of high
repute assembled there to entertain the sovereign and his guests or
Many of the beautiful murals and mosaics which once decorated the
many small rooms, corridors and stairways have been destroyed,
partly in the Qajar period and as a result of natural causes in
recent years. The paintings and sculptures are still being used as
models by the miniaturists and engravers now working in the bazaar.
Many small rooms for private entertainment have fireplaces and are
open on one side, evidencing the Persian technique of bringing the
out-of-doors into their houses, regardless of their social status.
The building has been repaired under the Safavid Shah Sultan Hossein,
and a number of its frescoes belong to his reign. An inscription on
the portal is indicative of repairs made there in 1&54 An