The Niavaran Historical and Cultural Palace complex is situated at the foot of Tochal heights of Alborz Mountain in the Shemiran area (northern Tehran), Iran. Niavaran Palace Complex, dating back to the Qajar and Pahlavi era, has for years become one of Tehran’s most popular sights. The complex includes several luxurious royal palaces and amazing museums, a fantastic library of philosophy, a beautifully designed garden, and a royal private school.
It is interesting to know that in the distant past, the Niavaran area was full of canebrakes which people collected and brought from, so the original name of the area was “Ney Avaran” which in Farsi means bringing canebrakes. A name that is incompatible with the current image of the region.
The construction of the complex originates in a garden with the nicest and most pleasant climates in the Niavaran area. The garden was used as a summer residence by Fath-Ali Shah (1772–1834) of the Qajar Dynasty. A palace named Saheb al-Qaranieh was built in the garden by the order of Naser ed-Din Shah (1831–1896). The last building constructed in the late Qajar period in the garden was the Koshak (pavilion) of Ahmad Shahi.
Construction of the Niavaran Palace Complex began on the order of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1958 and ended in 1968. At the time of Fath Ali Shah Qajar, a smaller palace existed at the site, which was demolished to build the new Niavaran Palace. The two-and-a-half-story building, with an area of about 9,000 square meters, was initially intended to accommodate foreign guests, but after the construction was completed it was used as the royal family residence.
The main Palace, Private library, Koshak-e Ahmad Shahi (Pavilion), Saheb al-Qaranieh Palace, Jahan Nama Museum (Orrery museum), Bagh-e Katibe (Garden of Inscriptions), Houz Khaneh museum (Pool House Museum), the Shah exclusive classic car museum, and Pahlavi private School are among fascinating places to visit in the Niavaran Complex.
The main palace is designed, constructed, and decorated by the finest Iranian designers, architects, and craftsmen. The palace comprises many exquisitely decorated rooms and halls which include a private cinema, dining room, lounge, waiting rooms, offices, conference room. Magnificent collections of paintings by Iranian and foreign artists, porcelains made by the French Seurre and the German Rosenthal; and decorative objects, as well as exquisite Iranian carpets, have adorned these spaces.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s last wife, Farah Diba, ordered the construction of a detailed library, which was carried out by Abdulaziz Farmanfarmayian, a prominent architect and co-founder of Iran’s Architectural system. The library was built with the most modern structures and the most up-to-date designs of the time. The Library is unique in terms of cultural richness with 23,000 volumes of books and architectural masterpiece with its exquisite interior design and decorations.
Popular people such as Parvin Etesami (Poet), Walt Disney (Oscar winner) and Javaher Lael Nehru have each donated works to the Niavaran Palace Library. In addition, great sculptors and artists such as Bahman Mohasses and Professor Parviz Tanavoli adorned the library with their brilliant works.
This beautiful Palace with its wooden roof, impressive stuccoes, and magnificent sashes was originally built in 1850 by the order of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar. Underneath this exquisite mansion which is the largest monument was the entrance to the Nasser al-Din Shah’s 40-room harem building called the Pool House (Houz Khaneh) which was demolished by Reza Shah Pahlavi.
During the reign of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, every 30 years was considered a century (a Qarn in Farsi), and since he had ruled for over 30 years called himself “Saheb Qaran” (the Master of the century) and the palace was named after its owner “Saheb al-Qaranieh”.
In Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s reign, Saheb al-Qaranieh Palace went under radical changes. The lower floor (the Houz Khaneh) was considered for informal parties and receptions. The upper floor was the Shah’s office, residence, and resting place.
The Jahan Nama museum is located next to the, Saheb al-Qaranieh Palace which primarily was used to house the private art collection of Farah Pahlavi, the Shah’s wife. Assembled during the 1970s, the building, just like the old mirror mounted in the hall of Sahebgharani Palace, is named Jahan Nama (world view). This fine museum is comprised of five galleries in pleasantly decorated rooms exhibiting splendid masterpieces of artworks and artifacts collected from five continents. The lacquer painted on the wood ceiling of Jahan Nama which has been brought from an old house in Shiraz demonstrates illustrations of the Qajar dynasty.
The museum exhibits amazing works from prehistoric era to contemporary artworks by some of the greatest Iranian and foreign artists which turns this place to one of the most worth-visiting places of Tehran. In the prehistoric section of the museum artifacts from Egypt, Mexico, Africa, and America dating back to 1st and 2nd millennia BC, as well as Iranian prehistoric artifacts such as bronze works found in Lorrestan, animal figurines, human statues, and pottery vessels from Gilan and items from Tappeh Sialk in Kashan are well displayed.
In the vast land of Iran, inscriptions and petroglyphs remain on the cliff walls from ancient times. Often these historically rich and valuable monuments are in remote, inaccessible places. Visiting these monuments one should travel far distances and cross mountains and go through impassible paths.
Since 2008, authorities in charge of the Niavaran Historical and Cultural Complex, in collaboration with the Institute for Language and Dialogue of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, have devised a plan for visitors to get to know the fascinating world of inscriptions closely and easily.
Bagh-e Katibeh or the Inscription Garden is a permanent exhibition of identical copies of carefully selected among the most prominent ancient Persia rock inscriptions in the form of 43 moulages on the eastern side of Niavaran Garden. These replicates represent inscriptions of Prehistoric, Assyrian, Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanid, Islamic, and Qajar periods.