Persian gardens are built on the basis of architecture and certain elements. These elements are such as geometrical structure, water, trees, and the central pavilion. Visitors can mostly find Persian gardens in Plateaus across Iran.
Persian garden in Persian literature is known as “Baq-sara”, Paradise, Ferdows, Boostan, or Bostan.
This kind of Iranian garden has three unique structures and designs. Firstly, these gardens are located on the path of the water stream. Secondly, they are surrounded by long walls, and thirdly, there is a summer house within it in addition to a pool. In conclusion, these three characteristics clearly distinguish the Persian garden.
Who found them first?
European tourists observed these gardens for the first time and described them as “Persian gardens”. Iranian garden is linked with the history of Qanat, as the first Persian gardens were formed on the water outlet of Qanats. Such gardens are found in Tabas, Yazd, Gonabad, Birjand, and most of the desert areas.
The oldest visual document that depicts the order of Persian gardens dates back to the Sassanid era. In Taq-eBostan rock relief, the hunting scene of Khosrow Parviz demonstrates his presence in his ‘hunting garden’ in “Taq-e Bostan”.
It contributes to a great extent in recognizing the garden geometry and its function. Above all, Persian gardens reveal a close relationship between cultural and natural backgrounds. Besides, Archaeologist recognize them as a sign of adapting and aligning of both people and nature’s needs. In other words, they are the manifestation of the environment’s inner strength and the perception of its complexity. The creator of these gardens, relying on his empirical knowledge, had created a space that brought about the survival and dynamic city of the natural background.
Looking at the organization of Persian gardens
The beginning of the organization of the Persian gardens can be traced back to the Achaemenid period. The beautiful and regular geometry in the king’s garden and other gardens around the palace in the royal gardens of Pasargadae is a model. In fact, this model has developed and evolved later in the Sassanid and post Islamic eras.
Xenophon has mentioned in his writings that wherever the Achaemenid king went or resided, he had always considered that there should be gardens full of flowers. At that time, ancient people know these gardens as Pardi in Persian and paradise in English. Anyway, the king used to spend most of his time in such gardens when the weather was appropriate.
During the Sassanid era (224-633AD), gardening had been considerably developed. The high position of nature in Zoroastrian thinking, especially water worship, brought about other characteristics to these gardens. So in addition to the landscape and natural background, they added the human order in Persian gardens. The garden-castles of this era, such as Takht-e Soleymān and the Palace of Ardashir in Behistun, were located in natural backgrounds such as lakes and springs. In short, geometric diversity is the most prominent characteristic of the gardens of this era.
What happened After emergence of Islam?
After emergence of Islam, during the Umayyad Caliphate, people built gardens on the pattern of Sassanid gardens in Samarra and Andalusia. Many scholars believe that the Safavid period was the golden age of garden-building. In this period, gardens were built in the city as an art forming the physical structure of the city. Also, gardens had been affecting the city structure as a green system. Garden-building began from Qazvin in the Safavid period. Of course, what are left of then gardens are right now a few buildings. Instead, after changing the capital from Qazvin to Isfahan, urban engineers employed the geometrical structure of these gardens to build this city.
In the Qajar period, due to extensive cultural relations with Europe, symbols of the European pattern of garden-building culture influenced in the Persian gardens. Finally, in the Pahlavi period, due to the ease of movement between Iran and other European countries, the construction of European gardens and parks flourished in Iran.
Here are the most interesting and beautiful Persian gardens across Iran:
Ancient Garden of Pasargadae
Cyrus the Great’s palace garden at Pasargadae, dating back to 550 BC, is oldest Persian Garden. Located in the then capital of Persia, at Pasargadae in today’s province of Fars, the garden had a geometrical plan and stone watercourses.
Water channels separated two palaces at the garden and It’s likely to have been planted with cypress, pomegranate and cherry trees.
Eram Garden, Shiraz
Eram Garden, famously known as the Garden of Paradise, was built in the 19th century. Persian and western features join together to put any visitors at awe. Eram Garden has groves of orange trees, cypresses which owes its constant popularity to them.
Chehel Sotoun Garden, Isfahan
Chehel Sotoun (literally translated “Forty Columns”) is a palace at the center of garden of Jahan-Nama in Isfahan. The palace was built at the end of the sixteenth century and extended by Shah Abbas II and was specially used to receive high ranking guests like Iranian and foreign politicians.
Technically, Chehel Sotoun palace has 20 beautiful slender columns, is gloriously known as the Forty Columns because a reflecting pool doubles their number. The garden of Jahan-Nama opens to an elegant terrace with the spectacular view of the fountain and garden.
Fin Garden, Kashan
A garden designed near the village of Fin for Shah Abbas I in the 16th century, Fin Garden is enclosed by a high curtain wall with circular towers. The most beautiful garden of Kashan is famous for its symmetrical proportions, old cedars, spring-fed pools and fountains. Warm water is channeled from a natural spring through a series of turquoise-tiled pools. Furthermore, Fin has fountains to make every visitor wish they lived in this garden forever.
Abbas Abad Garden, Behshahr
Abbas Abad Garden is located in the southeast of the city of Behshahr in Mazandaran Province. Geographically, the garden is in south of Caspian Sea and north of Damavand Mountains. Since it was built by the command of Shah Abbas Safavid, his name is still the title of the garden.
Every corner of the garden has something to offer to visitors, from a resting area to ancient relics. Sweet water and pleasant weather make the garden a tourists destination.
Shazdeh Garden, Kerman
The Shazdeh Mahan Garden (literally translated Mahan Prince’s Garden) is a historical garden located in Kerman Province. The Shazdeh Garden is a remarkable garden constructed in the 1890s by the order of then Governor of Kerman.
The 5.5 hectare-garden has a rectangular plan. Besides, it homes a two-floor residential structure at the upper end of it. The Mahan garden is ornamented with water fountains which run by natural incline of the land.
Dolat Abad Garden, Yazd
Construction of Dolat Abad Garden dates back to 1747 AD, during the Zand dynasty. Stretching across some eight hectares, stained glass doors and windows, a lush garden, cedar, cypress and pomegranate trees and the jewel of the garden, the huge wind catcher, Dolat Abad Garden is one of the desert city’s must-see spots.
Pahlavanpour Garden, Mehriz
Pahlavanpour historical Garden is another Persian Garden which loyally preserved the foundation and plan of the original Persian Garden to bond nature and architecture. The five-hectare garden dates back to the Qajar era with hint of Zandieh era architecture style.
This one has taken its name from it’s owner, a businessman from Yazd called Ali Pahlavanpour.
Akbariyeh Garden, Birjand
Akbariyeh Garden, in Birjand, Khorasan, is home to two ancient mansions. They were built in late Zand dynasty and early Qajar period (1882- 1945).
Geometrical designs, straight lines and calculated steep placed the buildings on the highest part of the garden surrounded with pomegranate, berry and palm trees.