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Bagh-i Shah-i Farahabad

 
Catalogue
Safavid Gardens
City
Farahabad
Country
Iran
Dates
1611 1850
Author
Mahvash Alemi

Description

Mazandaran gained importance during the reign of the Safavid Shah ‘Abbas, who had a predilection for hunting and wintering (qishlāq) in this region, where he created gardens in Miyan Kala, Astarabad, Farahabad, Ashraf, Sari, Amol, Baghat, and Barforush. These varied from porches and pavilions, located in natural sites, to garden complexes placed near existing urban centers or new settlements that were populated with people who had been deported from Georgia. Among the works in Mazandaran, Iskandar Munshi notes that the shah created the paradisiacal Farahabad, through which the river Tijna passes, with a fine bridge and a promenade (khiyābān) paved in stone leading to Sari. In 1021 AH/1612, Shah ‘Abbas created on the bank of Tijna lofty and splendid mansions, and every year he improved and augmented its gardens and buildings and built marketplaces, baths, mosques, and caravanserais. Munshi recounts that people desired to reside there and thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims seeking justice under his reign came to Farahabad, which became a magnificent city.

In 1618, Pietro della Valle says that Shah ‘Abbas had begun a few years before to build the city of Farahabad, which was two miles from the sea. It had a straight and long street, larger than Strada Giulia in Rome, and flanked with houses. These were only one floor and were covered with roofs made of reed. Only the royal house, the caravanserai, and baths were made of bricks. The palace, which he could only see from the outside, lay on the west bank of the river Tijna. In 1845, when William Richard Holmes traveled there and sketched one of the buildings, the palace was already in ruin.

In 1864, Haentzsche describes the royal garden as composed of two enclosures. A private (andarūn) square garden of 120 by 120 paces was enclosed by walls and contained the service buildings and the Jahan Nama on its eastern wall, while a second enclosure was for audiences (divān khānah). A view of the Jahan Nama palace overlooking the river is depicted by Jules Laurens in 1850. The royal complex faced, as was custom, a maydān, in which stood a gate building flanked by two apartments, used by the king as a lookout. According to Hommaire de Hell, the maydān measured 274 by 132 paces and was surrounded by arcades of the bazaar, one shop of which he surveyed. According to Ouseley, the public buildings in the maydān comprised a caravanserai, a religious school (madrasah) a hospital (dār al-shifā’) and a mosque. The mosque is partially ruined but is still extant. A few piers of the bridge still remained in 1994 when the author photographed them and produced a restored plan of the site. The garden is partially extant today.

 

Sources

  • Travel Account, 1860
  • Travel Account, 1819-23