In the northern part of the city of Tehran there is a complex that used to be the Royal Residence of Qajar and Pahlavi Kings. The complex is about 110 Hectares, and has four historical periods: Qajar, Pahlavi I, Pahlavi II, and Islamic Republic. The Qajar kings used it as a summer residence, in Pahlavi time the function remained, but the King’s desire to Modernizing the country lead to the construction of series of building. The oldest section of the complex among the 18 palaces and pavilions is the Ahmad Shah Pavilion and the newest one is Leila Pahlavi’s Palace, who was the youngest daughter of Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, the second Pahlavi King.
One of the main palaces of this complex is known as Green Palace that sometimes is referred to as Stone Palace or Shahvand. When Reza Khan was a General of Army, this palace was constructed on the North-West section of the garden. On general, for the construction of the palace the most well-known artists and architects of Iran were summoned which lead to the masterpiece we currently see. The whole façade of the building is filled with green stones that were retrieved from a mine in Zanjan. The mine was destroyed after enough stones were taken to make the building so that no other construct with same stone is built. The highlight of the building is the mirror hall with a 70 m carpet and furniture from Qajar Era belonging to the 18th century France. After the 1979 Revolution, the palace was turned to a museum.
The complex is about 110 Hectares, and has four historical periods: Qajar, Pahlavi I, Pahlavi II, and Islamic Republic. The Qajar kings used it as a summer residence, in Pahlavi time the function remained, but the King’s desire to Modernizing the country lead to the construction of series of building, and after the Revolution it was turned to Palace-Museum.
The Mellat Palace is the biggest section of the whole complex and for its white façade is now known as White Palace. The construction of this palace took 5 years to complete. It was to be used as the Office of Royal Ministry, but when the King saw the palace, he decided to use it as an Audience Hall for receiving important guests. When the second Pahlavi King came to throne, the palace was used for formal parties, official gatherings of representative from around the world and for a summer residence. The architecture is similar to the royal palaces of Germany following a byzantine architecture with elements of Iranian style. The palace has two stories, a separate basement and a total of 10 halls all suitable for ceremonial occasions. It is known for the beautiful paintings surrounding the windows narrating tales from Shah Nameh. The place underwent a period of restoration from 1966 to 1970 that is around 40 years after its construction. In this restoration, French Interior Decorators were employed by Queen Farah to design the interior of the palace. The first floor includes Antechambers, Meeting Chamber, King’s Office, Waiting Chamber, and Billiard Room. The second floor includes, another Antechamber, Dining Room, Audience Chamber for ambassadors and Queen’s Office. The palace is filled with antiques mostly bought from French Auctions that among them the desk that belonged to Marie Antoinette is the most notable one.
The basement of the White Palace has been turned to a museum in the first anniversary of Islamic Revolution. Previously, it was a private museum managed by Queen Farah to be displayed to guests and family. Today, objects from first to fourth millennium BC, retrieved from historical mounds around Iran are put to display.
Museum of Fine Arts was built in a building that was used by Royal Ministry. Reza Shah ordered its construction, a building that was called Black Palace for the Black Marble Stone that was used in it. The construction however, was left unfinished for unknown reason and was completed years later by Reza Shah’s Successor, Muhammad Reza. The building is in three floors; the first floor is used for displaying Iran’s Modern Art. The second floor exhibits works of art belonging to European Artists of 17th to 19th century like Salvador Dali. The last floor is used for works from Afshar, Zand, Qajar and Safavid dynasties.
The palace that was made for Leila, the youngest daughter of Muhammad Reza, was later turned to Aabkar Museum. The palace is located between two other Qajar Palaces that belonged to Reza and Farahnaz, Leila’s brother and sister. Farahnaz’s Palace is one of the oldest brick construct of Sa’d Abbad Complex and dates back to Qajar Time. Reza Shah chose this palace for one of his wives, later it was restored and used by Farahnaz and Alireza, Muhammad Reza’s children. After the revolution, the place was turned to Calligraphy museum and was named after the famous 17th century calligrapher Mir Emad Seify Qazviny; although, works of other calligraphers are presented here as well.
There are other palaces in this complex that all were turned into museum, some were damaged by the passing of the time and are closed down for repair and restoration. The most famous of these places are:
- Karbasi Palace or King Reza Palace that was turned to Behzad Museum.
- Andarouni Palace that was turned to Farshchian Museum.
- Kaleskeh Khane that was turned to Omidvar Brothers Museum.
- Taj Ol Moluk Palace that was turned to Military Museum.
- Birouni Palace that was turned to the Museum of Influential Figures.
- Asharaf Palace that was turned to Handicraft Museum.
- Shams Palace that was turned to Anthropology Museum.
- Farideh Diba Palace that was turned to Negarestan Museum.