Ali Qapu Palace
Address: west side of the Naqsh e Jahan Square, opposite the Sheikh Lotfullah Mosque
Timings: 8am to sunset
Tickets: IRR 4000
This majestic palatial edifice was initially built as a grand portal that marked entry into the royal gardens that lie to the west of the Naqsh e Jahan Square. Quite simple in its forms, a cubical arrangement of walls and columns, with large blind arches that rhythmically puncture the smooth wall surfaces, and a series of arched openings that accentuate the interesting play between solid and void, the Ali Qapu soon gained popularity as the epitome of architectural grandeur expressed in the most simplistic vocabulary.
The portal was appended to, and over a period of sixty years, became Shah Abbas I’s personal abode, with private rooms, guest accommodations, and a variety of courtroom functions. A double height talar was added to the top of the two-storey entrance portal – a tall, columnar porch supported on 20 massive wooden piers, which served as an evening terrace where the royals would spend hours entertaining guests or watching ceremonies carried out in the Square.
Of special interest is the music room located on the fifth floor within the palace – its arches, ceiling and walls contains strange niches carved out in stucco, figures that resemble objects between musical instruments, wine glasses, and humans. Believed to enhance the acoustical quality of the rooms during the era, but yet with unclear function about what the room served as exactly, these carvings create an intense light-and-shadow play while giving a mystifying effect to the room’s interior.