Introduction to Ali Qapu Palace
Persian architecture has formed a significant part of Persian identity. Isfahan is a city full of glory with the most well-known spots tied to the original architecture, full of Persian colours and stories. Ali Qapu Palace is one of these attractions; The palace, in addition to its historical importance, is one of the most exquisite buildings left from the Safavid era. The magnificent gate of Isfahan or Ali Qapu, the Safavid state’s entrance, is the glory of Naqsh-e Jahan Square. To see the stunning Ali Qapu Palace in Isfahan, you have to go to Naqsh-e Jahan or Imam Square; there is a building with magnificent architecture in front of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. The palace, the old and extensive bazaar of Esfahan on the other side of the square, along with the glorious Naqsh-e Jahan has created three elements of the economy, culture, and politics together.
History of Ali Qapu Palace
Ali Qapu Palace is one of the unique examples of Safavid palaces built in the 16th century during the reign of Shah Abbas I. The idea of constructing a lavish mansion in the city centre occurred when Isfahan, half the world, was selected as the country’s capital. When Shah Abbas ascended the throne, he decided to move his ruling capital from Qazvin to Isfahan, but the relocation required urban changes and constructions to ensure the court’s welfare. Naqsh-e Jahan Square was built to provide the demands; the Aali Qapu mansion was the favourite house of the Safavid king, having great importance and authority due to its location between the two mosques.
Of course, today’s mansion was built on a semi-finished structure and started its function. Aali Qapu consists of two separate words, Aali and Qapu, which means “tall portico.” In the past, the Ali Qapu Palace was also known as the “Naghsh-e Jahan’s government house” and the “Government’s palace.” Prosperity and liveliness left the mansion after the Safavids. The building has been revived many times until today; the mansion’s foundations were fortified, and the collapsed parts were repaired in two years on the last restoration. The palace’s height of 36 meters, even until recent decades, had made it one of the tallest monuments in Esfahan.
Architecture of Royal Palace
The initial reason for Ali Qapu’s great popularity is the mansion’s architecture and structural engineering, which is full of details and glory. The majestic Ali Qapu Palace, with its wood-based architecture, is one of the largest and most splendid constructions of its time. Such a heritage was architectured in 5 stages, and there was a separate scheme and plan for each part. The architectural plan of the Aali Qapu Palace disrupts the visitor’s mental calculations; The facade difference when changing the viewing angle is one of these wonders. If you look at the mansion from the front and the main view, you will see an old two-storey building with several columns in front of it. But the sight from the building’s backside is different, showing six floors. From the sides, the building looks like a three-story one.
Artistic details are always an exemplifying part of Persian art. Ali Qapu Palace in Esfahan also follows such a principle as artists have used stunning details in its decoration. Plastering is one of the prominent arts of Iranians that many historical monuments are famous for their special and unique plastering. The plasterwork of the Aali Qapu mansion is different from the usual Persian styles, therefore, it has been distinctive. The mystery of the difference is the cut shapes delicacy is so high that the viewer catches them as paintings at first glance.
You can see traces of painting in almost all parts of the palace. The play of colours and designs in the several hundred-year-old Safavid mansion begins when entering the first Ali Qapu’s hall with a large painting on the entrance in front of you. Most of the artworks and the artistic miniatures were painted by Master Reza Abbasi, an artist in the Safavid era, most of which are paintings of flowers, plants, and drawings of birds; The guest room has the most designs, considered the most exquisite room of the mansion. Three different staircases connect the floors. Two staircases are spiral and perfectly symmetrical to the west of the building, and the other is a regular staircase for royal passage. One of the staircase’ features is turquoise tiles with authentic Persian designs.
The Porch of Ali Qapu
The great attraction of Ali Qapu is the water pond in front of the large porch, which provided the summer’s coolness for the Safavid kings. In the past, Safavids spent part of their leisure time on the porch located on the royal steps. From Ali Qapu’s top floor and the Ali hall, Safavid kings and their guests sit to watch polo, lighting, fireworks, and performances in Naqsh-e Jahan Square. There is a large hall behind the porch with walls that used to be full of mirrors. Today, only scattered parts of these mirrors remain.
The Music Reverberates the Majestic Ali Qapu Palace
The most impressive section of Ali Qapu is the music room, which Shah Abbas invited his special guests to because of its extraordinary and unforgettable atmosphere. The music hall walls are covered with paintings and creative details. Ali Qapu Music Hall contains a remarkable musical acoustic property as the plasters reflect the musicians’ voices.