Chehel Sotoun (Kolah Farangi Edifice)
The pavilion is located in the city center, opposite the Meydan-e Azadi (Azadi Square). It was built in 1510 A.D. Since the pavilion once had a pointed roof, with whom he is said to have reminded of a hat, he is popularly called today “Kolah Farangi” (hat of the Franks).
The pavilion itself is generally attributed to ‘Shah Tahmasb’, but the attribution remains uncertain in the absence of a building inscription. The interior was radically altered in the Qajar period (13th/19th century), but in the 1970s it was largely restored to its original appearance.
The building is surrounded by an arcade. The arcade is accessible from all sides through portals. It consists of two stories. On the ground floor a quadrangular central room (8.40 × 5.10 m) communicates with the surrounding gardens through four ayvans, one on each side. Each ayvan was originally connected to the central room by three short passages. the four corners between the ayvans contain four rooms, each on a different plan. On the exterior instead of corners there are oblique walls, so that the olan is that of an unequal octagon. Around the exterior of the structure eight massive colomns and eight corner piers with engaged columns support a gallery encircling the upper story, which is reached via a bent staircase leading from the southeastern corner room. Upstairs thirty two slender wooden supports carry the roof of the gallery. The main portion of the upper story consists of a large cruciform hall, with four corner rooms, each with a small adjacent chamber. Whereas the rooms on the ground floor and the ayvans are vaulted, all the rooms on the upper story have flat wooden ceilings.
Restoration work in the 1970s revealed the remains of wall painting on both levels. Upstairs, on the south wall of the western arm of the cruciform hall, there is a very lively representation of a harem girl wearing European dress in the style of the 16-17th centuries.
The pavilion in Qazvin in its present form is a unique survival from the Safavid period. Its safavid and Qajar decorations are clearly distinguishable: tiles, mostly of the Qajar period, on the exterior and both tiles and wall paintings from the original Safavid structure on the interior. The high quality of the surviving wall paintings suggests a date in the period when Qazvin was the capital. In the development of Persian palace architecture the pavilion thus foreshadows the fully developed style of Safavid pavilion exemplified by the Hasht Behesht at Isfahan.
Shah Abbas the Great is said to have been crowned in 1588 in the pavilion before it ten years later his capital from Qazvin to Isfahan moved. South of the pavilion Chehel Sotoun closed the “Ali-qapu Gate” from the government site, east of the harem, with its gardens. In the west the “Meydan Square” was.
Today, the pavilion houses a museum of calligraphy works.
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