The blessed capital of the Safavid kings, Isfahan, with a wide range of historical monuments in different parts of the city, is a great destination for domestic and foreign tourists; therefore Isfahan tours have always been one of the busiest. In every corner of the historical context of Isfahan, you can find traces of the constructions of Safavid kings. Meanwhile, the palaces, gardens and mansions of Chaharbagh were the center of gravity of Isfahan in the Safavid era. One of these Safavid buildings is Hasht Behesht Palace; which is a gorgeous monument that if we say if as beautiful as heaven we haven’t over optimized! Keep reading the article because we are going to introduce this great beauty to you.
The historical palace of Hasht Behesht is an example of the palaces of the residence of the last kings of the Safavid period; which was built in the period of Shah Suleiman (1080 AH). This palace was the first school in Isfahan. And also most people considered it as the most beautiful palace in the world! Although we might be able to say this saying could be true; the decorations of the palace during the Safavid period were so magnificent that no tourist has refused to admire them!
The large garden in which the mansion is located was part of the Naghsh-e Jahan square garden, which was built by Shah Ismail I. And during the time of his successors, especially Shah Abbas I, they divided it into several parts. The Garden of Hasht Behesht existed during the reign of Shah Safi and the next two kings, Shah Abbas II and Shah Suleiman, added to the trees of this beautiful garden. But unfortunately there is almost no traces of the original garden of Hasht Behesht palace in Isfahan; but the mansion still remains after all this time and is a very popular place to tourists.
The construction of Hasht Behesht Palace in Isfahan was completed on the third year of the reign of Shah Suleiman Safavid in 1080 AH; and is an example of one of the highest living palaces of the Safavid era. Hasht Behesht mansion became Homayouni school during the reign of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar and the rule of Zal-o-Sultan over Isfahan. Mir Seyyed Ali, the author of history of Isfahan, describes in his book:
1300 – Zal-ol-Sultan establishes the Homayouni school in Hasht Behesht, under the leadership of Ali Khan Nazim al-Ulum. The school did not last more than two years, but it had good effects.
The garden and palace of Hasht Behesht were handed over to the great lady Iftikhar al-Dawlah by Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar; provided that she does not change it’s status and board and maintains it’s privacy on Chaharbagh Street in full cleanliness. After the death of her, the garden and the palace of Hasht Behesht remained in the possession of her heirs; and during this period, they made general changes in the condition of the garden and the palace. Like Ali Qapu and Chehelston, the painted and gilded decorations and mirrors of Hasht Behesht were hidden under a layer of plaster with plaster ornaments.
From the 15th of September 1964, the rest of the Garden and the palace of Hasht Behesht were officially handed over to the Ministry of Culture and Arts. Today, Hasht Behesht, like other monuments and historical monuments in Iran, continues to exist under the supervision of the Cultural Heritage Organization.
The word “Hasht” translation is “Eight”; and “Behesht” translation is “Heaven”. As we read in historical documents, Hasht Behesht’s garden was so spectacular and alluring. The mansion itself is also very beautiful and gorgeous; and because of this they called it the most beautiful palace in the whole world during it’s time. So because of the alluring garden that reminds of heaven to many, and also the great mansion of Hasht behesht, it is very normal to analogize it to heaven. And about the name 8, there are two theories: 1. The importance of this number in Persian architecture; and 2. The fact that some numbers such as “40“ and “8“ represent the meaning of multiplicity in Persian culture.
This mansion is 30 meters long and 26.35 meters wide. It is two meters higher than the level adjacent to the garden; and two 10-step stairs separate it from the ground. Then there is a porch with two tall wooden pillars that connect to the entrance to the central foyer. The arch of this foyer ends in a dome-shaped skylight with eight wooden windows. In the middle of the foyer is an octagonal pond with a diameter of 3.30 meters and a fountain. The doors around the foyer lead to octagonal rooms specifically dedicated to women.
The main porch, with an octagonal shape, is to the north of the palace. And you can see two tall columns of cypress wood alongside it. In the middle of the main porch, there’s a pond with a fountain in the middle.
The roof of this porch and the inner walls of the palace has many decorations. The decorations are mostly paintings and gilding with shapes of different birds and colorful flowers and also, glasswork and mirror work. In this foyer, you can see two large paintings that show Fath Ali Shah on the throne and around him are some of his children.
On the first floor, you can see rooms in the four corners of the mansion decorated with plaster and paintings. On the second floor of the mansion, a collection of porches, rooms, arches and windows adds to it’s beauty. This floor is divided into several corridors and rooms; each of them has it’s own special decorations. You can even see some water basins and wall heaters installed in some of these rooms. All the ceilings of the palace have excellent mosaic covers and beautiful corridors and roundabouts surrounds them. Mirror work is an important element in the architecture of this place; and of course you can see many walls covered with mirrors.
The important point in this mansion is the connection that has arisen between the spaces and it’s different parts. This connection makes the Hasht Behesht mansion in Isfahan have a remarkable unity in addition to diversity and multiplicity of space.
The perimeter of the mansion has hard stone coverage on the outside. And in you can see a small prestige pavement in the middle of this part installed, in which the excess water of the basins inside and outside the mansion flows. From this channel, water flows into two large fountains with 8 meters wide and 50 meters long, located in front of the west and east porches of the mansion. Tall sycamore trees and flowers (mostly roses and jasmine) surround Hasht Behesht palace gardens. Although as we mentioned before the garden is not like it’s original but still has it’s beauties and can satisfy you!