Built at the very end of the 16th century as a residence for Shah Abbas I, this six-storey palace also served as a monumental gateway to the royal palaces that lay in the park lands beyond (Ali Qapu means the ‘Gate of Ali’). Named for Abbas’ hero, the Imam Ali, it was built to make an impression, and at six storeys and 38m tall it certainly does this.
The highlight of the palace is its elevated terrace, which features 18 slender columns. The terrace affords a wonderful perspective over the square and one of the best views of the Masjed-e Shah. The attractive wooden ceiling with intricate inlay work and exposed beams is currently undergoing a heavy restoration.
Many of the valuable paintings and mosaics that once decorated the 52 small rooms, corridors and stairways were destroyed during the Qajar period and after the 1979 revolution. Fortunately, a few remain in the throne room off the terrace. On the upper floor, the music room is definitely worth the climb.
The stucco ceiling is riddled with the shapes of vases and other household utensils cut to enhance the acoustics. This distinctive craftsmanship, considered by some to be one of the finest examples of secular Persian art, extends to the walls.
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