Dawlatkhanah of Isfahan (MEGT)
Isfahan, Iran
When Shah ‘Abbas decided to transfer his capital from Qazvin to Isfahan, he established his dawlatkhānah on the grounds of a Timurid garden known as Bagh-i Naqsh-i Jahan. An area was first leveled for the maydān, and to the east a continuous fabric of gardens and courtyards of the palace precincts were created. It contained the palaces for public and private audiences (divān khānah and khalvat khānah), stables (ṭavīlah), kitchens (matbakh), workshops (kār khānah), a library (kitāb khānah), Sufi gatherings (tawhid khānah) offices (daftar khānah), baths (hammām), and buildings for his family (haram). The layout of the Timurid garden is not known but it contained at least the buildings known as Talar-i Taymuri and Jahan Nama, which once stood at the end of the Khiyaban-i Chaharbagh.
Natanzi writes in the year 996 AH/1578 that when Shah ‘Abbas visited Isfahan he stayed at the houses of the Husayniyya, as the Bagh-i Naqsh-i Jahan was damaged by Farhad Beg, the governor of Isfahan, who had the trees in the royal garden felled in order to build his mansion. Sources do not indicate when the gardens were restored, but in 1590, Natanzi relates that Shah ‘Abbas visited Isfahan and stayed at the dawlatkhānah of Bagh-i Naqsh-i Jahan, implying that the rehabilitation of the royal gardens took place during the intervening three years.
Natanzi provides the first description of a new building in the palace precincts when he reports that Shah ‘Abbas dispatched Alpan Beg to Isfahan in 1002 AH/1593 to build a suitable residence beside the dawlatkhānah for the stay of Hajim Khan. Several buildings were added by Shah ‘Abbas, according to the chronicler Iskandar Beg Munshi, who writes that, by spring of 1598, architects and engineers had completed the sublime buildings for the Naqsh-i Jahan. He refers specifically to a five-story gate (dargāh-i ‘Ālī Qāpū), gilded private apartments (khalvat khāna) called Sarvistan, Nigaristan, and Guldasta, and to other pavilions containing water basins (hawz̤khāna). We are also informed that Shah Safi and Shah ‘Abbas II added columned porches (tālār) and other buildings to the complex.
A plan of the dawlatkhānah drawn by Kaempfer in 1684 shows an area delimited between the maydān and the khiyābān divided by an oblique alley that ran along the old walls of the city. Within these two main public spaces the areas of the courtyards and different gardens are distinguished. These are daftār khānah, smaller courts of the workshops, Talari-i Tavila, Mehtar, Chihil Sotun, Khargah, Hasht Bihisht, and Guldasta gardens. The plan shows also a number of gates: ‘Ali Qapu (1) and Haram (2), leading from the maydān to the audience palaces and to the buildings for the king's family; Daftarkhana (3) and Porta Magnifica (4), leading from the alley north of the complex to the offices and Chihil Sutun palace; to the south Regis Cucinae/Matbakh (5), leading to the kitchens; Porta (. . .) (6); Porta Via Regia Vetita (7), the gate to the old royal alley; Porta Andarun (8), a passage along the same alley connecting the audience palaces to the haram; and Porta Navvab (9), for the princes. The 1840 plan of Coste shows a changes to the courtyards and palaces, and the 1924 plan of the city shows further modifications. Today only the Chihil Sutun, Hasht Bihisht, ‘Ali Qapu, and Talar-i Taymuri survive amidst new streets and buildings.
Sources: Travel Account, 1684 | Travel Account, 1840

-Mahvash Alemi


Four Sources on Shah ‘Abbas’s Buildings of Isfahan (Open in Zotero)

Safavid Royal Gardens and Their Urban Relationships (Open in Zotero)

Giardini reali e disegno del paesaggio ad Esfahan e nel territorio iraniano alla luce dei documenti inediti di Pascal Coste (Open in Zotero)

Originally published at: Alemi, Mahvash. “Dawlatkhanah of Isfahan.” Middle East Garden Traditions. Dumbarton Oaks, November 18, 2014. https://www.doaks.org/resources/middle-east-garden-traditions/catalogue#b_start=0&c6=Safavid+Gardens. Archived at:https://perma.cc/H4VG-8VF7

Isfahan, Iran
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Dates of attested life: 1590-1924
Date of entry of information: September 2007
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Dawlatkhanah of Isfahan
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