Chehel Sotoun is one of the best examples of the majestic UNESCO World Heritage Persian gardens in Iran. The Persian gardens carried the idea of resembling the paradise on earth. Water has always played an important role in building the Persian gardens and different methods of controlling the water resources (like Qanat) have been used in these heavenly gardens. Tall trees with long and leafy shades helped the temperature to cool down in hot summer days. These gardens benefit from natural elements as well as manmade masterpieces to materialize the concept of Eden and Paradise on the Earth. All these elements can be perfectly observed in Chehel Sotoun.
The construction of the imperial Chehel Sotoun palace was finished during the rule of Shah Abbas II of the Safavid Empire (1501 – 1722). As a major plan to transform Isfahan into the great capital city of the Safavid Empire, awe-inspiring gardens, pavilions and royal paths were built in the central part of Isfahan. These structures were all interconnected and created a great sense of harmony which today, after more than four centuries, can still be observed in Isfahan.
Chehel Sotun is located in the middle of the city and is easily accessible through other connected Safavid masterpieces. When inside the complex, any visitor can admire the splendid pavilion standing right in front of a long pool. The pavilion has twenty slender wooden pillars that reflect beautifully in the pool to create ‘forty pillars’, which is the translation of Chehel Sotoun in Persian. The interior of the Chehel Sotoun pavilion is filled with wall and ceiling decorations as well as numerous paintings, which mostly depict the triumphs of the kings.
The palace was still in use years after the collapse of Safavid dynasty. Kings of Qajar dynasty (1794 – 1925) made a number of changes to the palace and its decorations, most of which resulted in heavy damages to the palace. Some of the paintings were whitewashed and replaced by new paintings of Qajar kings and unfortunately, in the last years of Qajar dynasty, many other damages were done to the palace. Despite all the dangers threatening Chehel Sotoun, the palace and its surrounding garden has still preserved its sheer beauty.