Gallery Virtual Tour Movie Description

Ali Ghapu Palace

The palace is located one third of the way down the western side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square. One of its unique peculiarities is the fresco decoration of its internal walls with beautiful and delicate paintings that are unique to the Safavids. Each of the six floors has a large central room which served as reception halls, banqueting rooms of great splendour, a royal chamber and a music room. The monarch would receive foreign kings, ambassadors and other high-ranking authorities in these rooms. Rugs of the highest quality and price decorated each of the 52 rooms of the palace. The palace was built between 1592 and 1598, with the addition of the columned balcony and music hall in 1648 during the reign of Shah Abbas II. The king would come to this balcony to watch activities in the square. Silk and gold woven fabrics were used as curtains to cover the columned balcony. The balcony has 18 wooden columns each made from the trunk of a single plane tree 10 meters high and now over 400 years old. The columns support the double layered ceiling decorated with inlaid work and fresco. In the middle of the balcony sat a marble pool covered in copper. It must have been a majestic place. After climbing four floors and arriving at the balcony, the visitor has a breathtaking view of the splendour and beauty of the square. It is easy to imagine the life of the Safavids on this balcony, listening to the sound of water running in the pond whilst feasting and being entertained by the marches, celebrations, local plays and even games of polo in the square below. What a glorious dulcet atmosphere they must have enjoyed.

In contrast, the king did not rely on the sophistication of his court to impress his foreign visitors. He ordered 40 cannons captured from the Portuguese in the Persian Gulf, to be set up in front of the palace and visible from the balcony. Behind the balcony is the throne hall, which is full of delicate and unique paintings. One can find a harmonious high relief floral design on stucco along with beautiful patterns of birds. At the back of this hall there are two spiral staircases of 94 steep stairs leading to the other late addition, the music hall. This is the most beautiful part of the palace, it is impossible to describe adequately its varied and attractive patterns and the fretwork stalactites, which are hollow pendentives with 20 different patterns. The reason for naming this part the music hall is these pendentives, which were made intentionally for their acoustic properties rather than as decoration. The central part of the music hall is cross-shaped and above the centre, the ceiling is a beautiful pattern of stalactites squares transforming into circles providing great harmony with the other parts of the hall. The music hall has been built with such delicacy and precision that the artists involved have been highly praised.



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