Chehel Sotun

Chehel Sotun

Chehel Sotun is a pavilion in the middle of a park at the far end of a long pool, in Isfahan, Iran, built by Shah Abbas II to be used for his entertainment and receptions. Several palaces were built in Isfahan, during Safavid era few of them have survived. Even those which have survived were severely damaged.
Chehel Sotun, meaning “40 columns”, is another surviving Safavid-era palace which now functions as a museum. The twenty slender wooden columns at the front of the palace double in number when reflected in the long fountain (hence the name), and are surrounded by well-maintained gardens.
The Great Hall (Throne Hall) is a gem, richly decorated with frescoes, miniatures and ceramics. On the wall opposite the door, also from right to left, Shah Abbas I presides over an ostentatious banquet; Shah Ismail battles the janissaries (infantrymen) of Sultan Selim; and Shah Tahmasp receives Humayun, the Indian prince who fled to Persia in 1543. These extraordinary works survived the 18th-century invasion by the Afghans, who whitewashed the paintings to show their disapproval of such extravagance. Other items, including Safavid forebear Safi od-Din’s hat, are kept in a small museum.
The palace’s garden, Bagh-e Chehel Sotun, is an excellent example of the classic Persian garden form and was recently added to Unesco’s World Heritage list. An ancient fallen pine resting on a plinth gives a sense of the great age of the garden. The polished noses of the lions on the standing water spouts at the head of the decorative pool hint at this being a favourite spot for a photograph of the garden’s perfect symmetry. Art students have set up a calico shop at the garden’s entrance selling Iran’s popular printed fabric.
The Chehel Sotoun Palace is among another Iranian Gardens which are collectively registered as one of the Iran’s registered World Heritage Sites under the name of the Persian Garden.

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