My Visit to Golestan Palace: part 2

Morten Hjertholm – In the Palace complex there are many different buildings and museums. When I was there it was not possible to go inside of any of them, except for the open-air parts. In Iran, buildings of historical and cultural value are well preserved in general, but also very accessible for the public and tourists.Since 2009 to 2010 there was a massive change in protection and reconstruction all over the country. Considering how common it is to see other countries not taking care of monuments of former rulers, its refreshing to see how in Iran these places are well taken care of. The construction was initiated by Nasser al-Din Shah (16.7.1831 – 1.5.1896) who was assassinated and his tomb is now on display in Golestan Palace. Last ruler to be crowned here was the self-proclaimed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who had his coronation in 1941. The most spectacular building in the palace complex is for me of course Shams-ol-Emareh.

Shams-ol-Emareh : The edifice of the sun

In a mix between Persian and European architecture, this high-rise was finished in 1867 after 2 years construction time by the great architect Ali Mohammad Kashi. The building was constructed because the ruler Nasser al-Din Shah wanted a building with a panoramic view over the city.


Shams-ol-Emaneh in June 2010

The name makes perfect sense when you see the sun reflect in the mirrors. Just the small taste we got right before they covered them, made it easy to understand what a magnificent view this must have been; Walking directly into a huge, glimmering, bright light would have a great effect on any crowd watching. As all of these buildings and walls, the detail level is enormous and the style feels very Iranian. The building consist of 2 towers with a small clock-tower in the middle. The entrance area is covered with white cloth because of the blinding reflections of the mirrors when the sun shines directly on it.


Shams-ol-Emaneh picture taken from

On older pictures we can see there where originally stairs leading up to the entrance in the middle, they might have been removable or stationary, but what we can see now is what we see below. The top of the entrance has also been changed together with the pond in front. I only noticed this when I looked at these older pictures; why the top of the entrance has been changed is hard to say; it seems to have been a hole there so that the reflected light could shine through it. 22 musicians are painted in on the tiles underneath the terrace in the same style as the rest of the palace complex.


Shams-ol-Emaneh wall underneath the entrance showing musicians

Khalvat-e-Karim Khani

Iranians visiting the grave

Naser al-Din Shah is said to have been very fond of this terrace and spent a lot of time here smoking his water-pipe. Inside the iwan on the left side is a marble throne and on the right side is the tomb of Naser al-Din Shah, at his favorite part in the palace. His tomb is itself famous for being a masterpiece of Qajar era sculpturing. It is encased in a glass box for preservation and seemed to be a favorite among domestic tourists.

The amazing tile work is for me always astounding but the atmosphere of the entire Palace complex is breathtaking. It is impossible to compare Golestan to Persepolis or other places in Iran; they all have their own charm and soul, but in very different ways.

The tomb of Naser al-Din Shah through a glass casing

The tomb is very amazing and I was really happy to see it encased in glass. A modern-style sarcophagus representing the body with regal gear made in yellow marble from Yazd. Marble is weak against acids and with 100 of years of people touching it, it would surely have made it weaker. Too bad its hard to see it through the glass casing of my picture; Im sure others can take much better pictures then me.

If you visit Golestan Palace when the museums are open you would be very lucky! Next time I visit Iran I really want to see the inside of the buildings.

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