Bagh-i Takht
Shiraz, Iran
Located on a rocky hillside north of Shiraz, the Bagh-i Takht is a garden that existed as early as the eleventh century. A formal garden with a central water channel, it was laid out on multiple terraces with a palace at the uppermost terrace. Historical references reveal that by the eleventh century a local ruler by the name of Atabek Qaracheh had established a garden on the site of the Bagh-i Takht. Seventeenth-century historians mentioned a garden by the names of "Khaneh Shah" and "Bagh-i Firdaus," both believed to be the present day Bagh-i Takht. Eighteenth-century historians referred to the same garden as the "palace of Ferodus," and later, in the nineteenth century, it was referred to as "Takht-i Qajar." It was only after 1850 that the garden became known as the Bagh-i Takht. In the early nineteenth century it was revealed that the foundation of the palace was dated 1789 and was attributed to the Qajar ruler Muhammad Shah (1796-1797). The construction of the Bagh-i Takht has also been attributed to Fat'h Ali Shah (1797-1834), the nephew and successor of Muhammad Shah.

Although laid out on eight terraces, the Bagh-i Takht is composed as a formal garden. Typical of Persian gardens, a water channel runs down the center of the garden, flowing down from terrace to terrace in cascades until it reaches a large rectangular pool at the lowest terrace. Historical descriptions reveal that the owners navigated with small boats inside the pool, also called the daryacha (little sea). The water flows from a spring located in the rocks at the top of the garden.

Except for the uppermost terrace, where the palace is located, each terrace is symmetrical in size and layout, with the water channel acting as the mirroring axis. The terraces' width and length decreases with each ascending terrace. Fruit trees were planted on each of the terraces, excepting the two upper terraces that precede the palace; these were presumably planted with flowers.

Just as the terraces are bisected by the water channel, the palace is also bisected and is bilaterally symmetrical, mirrored around the channel. In this sense there are actually two pavilions, each a mirrored copy of the other. Between the two pavilions is a courtyard. Flanking this courtyard, each pavilion is composed of two elements, a two-storied structure and a longer, narrower one-storied structure. The plan of the taller structures is divided into four spaces, while the single-story structures flanking these are divided into three separate units of two rooms, one behind the other, facing onto the garden below.

In addition to the two pavilions on the topmost terrace that make up the palace, the plan reveals that there is also a structure on axis with the water channel at the furthest edge of the terrace, as if marking the location of the spring. On the terrace preceding the large pool are two additional structures. Again, each is a mirror of the other, located at the edges of the terrace, adjacent to the garden walls. The plan shows that these had each four chambers and a vestibule to a doorway out from the garden walls.

Each terrace is supported by arcaded walls. Except for the two terraces preceding the pavilion, where the stairs leading to subsequent terraces are organized perpendicular to the water channel, all other stairs run parallel to the channel on either side

Sources:

Brookes, John. Gardens of Paradise; The History and Design of the Great Islamic Gardens, 92-93. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd., 1987.

Hobhouse, Penelope. Gardens of Persia, 124, 125, 177. Hong Kong: Kale Press, 2004.

Khansari, Mehdi, and M. Reza Moghtader, Minouch Yavari. The Persian Garden: Echoes of Paradise,128-129.. Washington, DC: Mage Publishers, 1998.

Wilber, Donald N. Persian Gardens and Garden Pavilions. Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 175-212. 1962.

"Qajar." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T070219pg1?q=fath+ali+shah&search=quick&pos=2&_start=1#firsthit [accessed July 10, 2014].

Location
Shiraz, Iran
Events
11th-19th century; 1789/1203-1204 AH (palace)
Style Periods
1779-1924
Variant Names
Bagh-i Takht
Bagh-e Takht
Alternate transliteration
Baghe Takht
Alternate transliteration
Garden of the Throne
Translated
Building Usages
garden
landscape
garden pavilion
palatial