Farahabad, the Palace of Happiness and remains of a city of the same name is close to Sari the provincial capital of Mazandaran in the North of Iran. The palace was built by Shah Abbas I as his winter capital, in the early 17th century on a hill overlooking the Elburz Mountains. The interior is decorated with art work by Reza Abbasi, the Persian miniaturist. The city that grew around the palace was very cosmopolitan but the summer climate was unforgiving and after several outbreak of malaria the royal family abandoned the palace and with them many of the citizens. A reminder perhaps that before travelling you need to take out Iran travel insurance.
Golestan Palace also known as the Roseland Palace is one of Iran’s 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The palace, situated in Tehran, is the former home of the Qajar royal family and the site of royal coronations. It dates from the mid 16th century, although much of it was rebuilt in the 1860s a good deal of that was demolished in the 1920s and 1930s. Remaining buildings include the famous Marble Throne, sited on a terrace surrounded by paintings, mirrors and lattice windows. Pond House is a Summer room, cooled by water from underground watercourses flowing into small pools. The Container Hall houses chinaware dating back to the Napoleonic Wars with pieces dedicated to the Qajar Kings by 19th century European monarchs.
The Marble Palace
The Marble Palace can also be found in Tehran. This two storey domed building has architectural features from both Eastern and Western architectural transitions. It is guarded by statues of two Achaemenid Soldiers. The dome, clad in arabesque tiling, is copied from the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan. The palace houses the Hall of Mirrors, a large reception room furnished with fine textiles and Persian carpets.
The Grand Palace of Ali Qapu
Ali Qapu is in Isfahan. It was built in the early 1600s, is 158ft high over seven levels linked by a spiral staircase. As with other palaces it comprises large banqueting halls and state rooms where foreign dignitaries can be received. The work of Reza Abbasi is much in evidence in Ali Qapu. On the third level is a large music hall with small alcoves built into the walls to improve the acoustics.
Chehel Sotoun means forty columns and the palace which is a World Heritage Site is in Isfahan. It was completed in 1646 by Shah Abbas. This pavilion style building is situated in a park at the head of a large pool. The portico is supported by twenty wooden columns which when reflected into the pool appear to double in number. Whilst a small charge is levied for entry to the palace visitors can look around the environs for free. The palace was used for entertaining and receiving foreign guests. The interior is lavishly decorated with scenes from Iran’s history, some of which have been removed to museums all over the world.