Palace of  (Isfahan)


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Palace of Ali Qapu
In 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 favorites.
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




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