As a UNESCO World Heritage Monument, Golestan Palace is one of the oldest buildings in Tehran where you can observe stunning and eye-catching Iranian architecture delicately mixed with a few western elements. Located in Downtown of Tehran, this palace belongs to a group of royal buildings that were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran’s arg (“citadel”). It consists of gardens, royal buildings, and collections of Iranian crafts and European presents from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Once Agha Mohammad Khan of the Qajar dynasty (1742–1797) chose Tehran as the capital of Iran, the arg (citadel) became the seat of the Qajars (1794–1925). The court and palace of Golestan became the official residence of the Qajar dynasty. And it was rebuilt to its current form in 1865.
The complex of Golestan Palace consists of 17 structures, including palaces, museums, and halls. Almost this entire complex was built during the 200-year ruling of the Qajar kings to be used for many different occasions. It also consists of three main archives, including the photographic archive, the library of manuscripts, and the archive of documents; however, the most important parts to visit are as follows:
Takht-e Marmar (The Marble Throne)
The Takht-e Marmar or the ‘Marble Throne’ is truly spectacular. Fath Ali Shah, the second king of the Qajar dynasty, commissioned the carving of this ornate seat. The royal sculptors worked for four years on this sculpture, using 65 pieces of marble that were brought in from a mine hundreds of kilometers south of the city.
Shams-ol Emareh (Edifice of the Sun)
Once the tallest building in Tehran, the structure is a lovely blend of European and Iranian styles and was constructed so that Nasser-ol-Din Shah could enjoy panoramic views over the city. The building is marked by two identical towers topped.
Khalvat e Karim Khani (Karim Khani Nook)
Dating back to 1759, this building was a part of the interior residence of Karim Khan of the Zand dynasty. The basic structure of the Karim Khani Nook is similar to the Marble Throne. Like the latter, it is a terrace. There is a small marble throne inside the terrace. The structure is much smaller than the Marble Throne and it has much less ornamentation. There was once a small pond with a fountain in the middle of this terrace. Water from a subterranean stream (the king’s qanat) flowed from the fountain into the pond and was later used to irrigate the palace grounds.
Talar e Salam (Reception Hall)
The Salam (“Reception”) Hall was originally designed to be a museum. After the Sun Throne (Takht e Khorshid) was moved to the Royal Jewels Museum at the Central Bank of Iran, this hall was designated to hold special receptions in the presence of the king; hence the name Salam Hall. This hall has exquisite mirror works. The ceiling and walls are decorated with plaster molding, and the floors are covered with mosaic.
During the reign of Nasser ed Din Shah, this hall was used to exhibit Iranian and European paintings alongside gifts presented to the Iranian court. Royal jewels were also exhibited inside glass cases. These jewels are now housed at the Royal Jewels Museum of the Central Bank of Iran.
Visiting all parts of the Golestan Palace takes around two hours, so you can manage your visit by considering its working hours which vary from season to season. In the first two seasons of the Persian calendar, you can go to the Goletan Palace from 9 am until 6 pm, while the palace closes at 5 pm in falls and winters. It is necessary to mention that the museum is open every day except six specific national holidays such as Ashura.
Like any other palace in the world, the Golestan Palace has some rules and regulations of photography to protect this world heritage monument. Ask your tour leader or the staff where you can and where you cannot.