Chehel Sotoun, Qazvin

May 12, 2018

Chehel Sotoun, Persian for “forty columns,” might remind everyone of the famous mansion in the lovely Isfahan. Surprisingly, this one is located in Qazvin, formerly the capital of the Safavids. The pavilion set in a beautiful garden is the only surviving building of a series of palaces from the time of Shah Tahmasp. The original complex involved 23 palaces and 7 entrance doors.

In 1544, the Safavid king decided to move the capital from Tabriz to Qazvin to get rid of intruding Ottomans’ threats. In that year he purchased some lands from Mirza Ashraf, one of the noblemen of the city, and employed skilled architects to build a square-shaped garden along with superior mansions and ponds.

The architecture of the mansion is notable; stained-glass windows adorned with intricate, delicate wooden frames are most striking. The inner architecture is so eye-catching that some even believe Hasht Behesht in Isfahan was influenced by this remarkable Safavid structure.

The octagonal building, with an area of 500 square meters, holds halls and rooms on two floors.  The porch contains brick arched pillars, and its iwan holds wooden columns.

If you ever managed to visit Chehel Sotun, you would enjoy your journey through history. The walls are decorated by Safavid paintings. The murals on the first floor showcase the miniature works of artisan Qazvinis. The pictures mainly depict the political developments of the country.

Transformed during the Qajar era, the mansion now functions as a calligraphy museum.  So a visit to the site is a great opportunity to wander around one of the great Persian kings’ royal house while enjoying an arts exhibit. The best view might be captured at night when the whole area is beautifully floodlit.

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