Tourist Attractions

Aali Qapu Palace, The Pinnacle of Iranian Architecture

General view of Aali Qapu Palace
General view of Aali Qapu Palace

The city of Esfahan, a metropolis in Iran, holds a plethora of historical monuments. In the past, this city was the capital of the Safavid Dynasty. This was why many historical structures and palaces were constructed there. Aali Qapu Palace is one of Esfahan’s most remarkable historical monuments.

If we were to inspect the namesake of Aali Qapu, at first glance, we see that “Aali Qapu” is a Turkish name. Although it is pronounced “Aala Qapi” in the Azeri dialect meaning “colorful door” or “high court”, according to some. Furthermore, the founder of the Safavid dynasty was a Turkish-speaking individual originally from Ardabil. These explanations shed light on its namesake to some degree.

Short History of Aali Qapu Palace in Esfahan

This magnificent palace, built under orders from Shah Abbas I, initially had a simple structure. Later during his reign and Shah Abbas II, new segments were added to it. New building stories were part of this addition. The addition of new stories happened during the reign of Shah Abbas I. Shah Abbas II added a columned eyvan to the palace.

Shah Abbas I changed his capital from Qazvin to Esfahan from 1594 to 1598. Therefore, he founded Dolatkhaneh, or the governing compound in Esfahan. As such, he inaugurated the Aali Qapu Palace as part of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square at the center of Esfahan.

Aali Qapu Palace is located on the west wing of Naqsh-e Jahan Square, facing Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. In the past, the purpose of this palace was to welcome the king’s noble guests. It is said that the construction and practical completion of the Palace took about 70 to 100 years.

Architecture and Construction Phases of Aali Qapu Palace

Decorations of the music room of Aali Qapu Palace
Wall and ceiling decorations in the palace music room

This palace, a 6-story building, is 48 meters high. This historic monument contains a stunning spiraling staircase. The last story of the palace, also called the music hall, is one of the reasons for the prominence of this beautiful palace. We can mention the miniature paintings and exceptional plaster works in different stories.

The construction of this palace was completed in 5 phases by adding different segments. A simple structure was built in the first phase and used as the entrance to other buildings.

In the second phase, the first story of the palace was constructed and developed. As the population grew, it was necessary to expand the government headquarters. Thus third, fourth, and fifth stories were added. The last level of the palace, which houses the music hall, was added during the third phase. If we don’t consider the ground floor one of the stories, then Aali Qapu Palace has five stories.

The pillared porch of Aali Qapu Palace
A pillared porch in Aali Qapu Palace

An Eyvan was placed overlooking Naqsh-e Jahan square in the following construction phase. There is a beautiful copper pool in the middle of this Eyvan. In the fifth phase of construction, 18 columns were added to the Eyvan. Then a spiraling staircase was added to reach the higher levels of the palace. Also, at this stage, the palace water supply was established and added to its different stories.

Since the palace construction was completed step by step and through various stages, the number of perceived building stories changes based on the viewer’s perspectives. For example, looking at the palace from the northern entrance, we see two stories, while behind the palace and the south, we can see five. Meanwhile from each side, three stories of the palace are visible.

The building exterior is covered with polychrome tiles. These tiles are decorated with gorgeous adornments and Arabesque patterns.

Interior decorations of Aali Qapu Palace
Interior decorations of Aali Qapu Palace, Isfahan

In addition, we can see artistic renderings of the hunting ground and bloom patterns in the palace interior. Moreover, astonishing miniature paintings stand out on the palace walls. The miniature works of Aali Qapu Palace are in the form of wall paintings. Some of them mirror Iranian art styles, while others imitate European techniques.

Do not Miss Visiting This Attraction

The city of Esfahan, which is also famous as “Half the world”, is a great place to visit on holidays. UNESCO has listed this breathtaking city on its Creative Cities Network. If you come to this city on an international tour package of Iran, don’t miss visiting Aali Qapu Palace.

This spectacular palace is a monument of our ancestors and has enhanced Naqsh-e Jahan square with its unique architecture. Destination Iran recommends studying the tourist attractions of Esfahan before traveling to the city. You can learn more about the historical monuments and natural attractions of Esfahan.

Editorial Staff

Destination Iran's editorial staff are a team of researchers, writers, translators, and proofreaders who create content for you. They're well-trained and proficient in providing you with the information you need to know Iran better.

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