Address: Ostandari Street, city center, Isfahan.
Timings: 8am to 12noon, 2pm to sunset.
Tickets: IRR 5000.
Constructed in 1647 under the orders of Shah Abbas II, the Chihil Sutun was conceived primarily as a space to accommodate and entertain foreign embassies – and with its impressive arches, its domed central hall, its large scale miniature paintings, its use of mirrors on the entrance, and its rooms filled with frescoes depicting the lavish royal life at the Safavid palace, it was able to capture the attention and inspire awe within many a visiting emissary.
With a name that translates literally to “40 columns”, the Chihil Sutun was, at the time of construction, a marvel to travelers and visitors to the site. The name derives from the 20 tall, slender wooden columns that mark the front entrance porch. Seen from a distance, across from a water body in the garden, these columns appear to be 40 when reflected in the water. The architecture, the arrangement of spaces, and the overall treatment of interior space versus exterior landscape make this complex a splendid site to visit during any trip to Isfahan.
The palace was restored after it was subjected to considerable damage by a fire in 1706. It underwent more recent restoration in 1977 as part of a national campaign, and the complex received an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1980.