Chehelsotoon

Chehelsotoon historical structure

Chehelsotoon, built by Shah Abbas II to be used for his entertainment and receptions, is a pavilion in the middle of a garden at the far end of a long pool, in Isfahan. The name, meaning “Forty Columns” in Persian, was inspired by the twenty slender wooden columns supporting the entrance pavilion, which, when reflected in the waters of the fountain, are said to appear to be forty. The hall and porches of this palace were constructed during the fifth year of the reign of Shah Abbas II. Like the palaces of Persepolis, the Chehel Sotoun Pavilion stands on a platform above the ground. This pavilion is a combination of Persian, Chinese and Western architecture and is one of the first monuments in which extensive mirrorwork, wall paintings, wooden columns with moqarnas column heads were used. All walls in this pavilion were once covered in full-length mirrors and doors and windows had monabbat (wood carving and inlaid work) and khatam (marquetry) decorations. Once used as a reception hall for foreign emissaries, the pavilion has a main terrace that opens to the garden. In this palace, Shah Abbas II and his successors would receive dignitaries and ambassadors, either on the terrace or in one of the stately reception halls. Interesting aspects of the Chehelsotoon Palace are the stone lions at the four corners of the central pool, the hall and marble and vaulted cornices around it, the gilded adornments, paintings and the portrait of the sovereign in the royal hall, along with that of the chambers surrounding the hall of mirrors, the portrait of Shah Abbas I with the special crown and the miniatures of the treasury room. Several facades such as the “Qotbiyeh Mosque”, “Zaviyeh in Kushk”, and the imprints of the “Dar-e-Joubareh” and “Aqasi Mosque” are affixed in the western and southern walls of the garden. The works of Dutch painters such as Philips Angel van Leiden (1618-1664) can be seen in parts of the palace. There was once a precious Quran above the main entrance of the pavilion, which ensured anyone passing from under the entrance would be blessed by the Holy Book and travel safely. The Quran has since been moved to the museum inside the palace.

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