Located in the mild-weathered northern district of Tehran, and surrounded by bulky trees raising their heads upward in the sky, the Cultural-Historical Complex of Niavaran was once the residential area of Qajarid and Pahlavi kings and now holds in itself various museums. Among the marvelous monuments of this Complex, the residential area exclusive to the last king of Iran, that is, Niavaran Palace, whose magnitude, architecture, decoration, and ornaments will certainly leave you amazed and in awe and admiration, is the most noticeable. Nasser'al din Shah's, the king of Qajar, residence, that is, Sahib'Qaraniyeh Palace, Koushk-eh Ahmad'Shahi (lit. the Chateau of King Ahmed) which was used as his summerhouse, the Royal Pahlavi library, the exclusive Museum of Pahlavi's Vehicles, Jahan'Nama Museum, and the Museum of Garden of Inscriptions are all among the singular places of this Complex which are worth visiting. The construction of the oldest palace of this Complex dates back to 1840.
The Cultural-Historical Complex of Niavaran is located on the northern front of Niavaran Park, within a gigantic garden with an area of around 11 hectares in the north of Tehran. Having a mild and agreeable weather, this district was inviting enough to the Qajarid kings to choose it as their estivation spot. For the first time, Fath'Ali Shah, the king of Qajar, ordered the construction of a gracefully palatable garden in this district. Earlier, there was a reed bed in Niavaran and owing to the fact that this garden was developed on it, they called it "Nay-Avaran" (because the Farsi equivalent of "reed" is "nay" or "ney" and "avaran" in this combination means "bringers", hence "Nay-Avaran" or "the bringers of the reed" which is now pronounced as "Niavaran".)
After Fath'Ali Shah, however, Muhammad Shah, another king of Qajar, built a rather small and modest palace there and following him, Nasser'al din Shah developed Saheb'Qaraniyeh Palace and, then came along Ahmed Shah who raised a summerhouse which was named after him. At the time of the reign of the last king of Iran, a number of these palaces were demolished and the modern-styled Niavaran Palace was developed there with the purpose of royal family's residence.
The Saheb'Qaraniyeh Palace
Sahib'Qeran Palace In the past, it was a tradition to call each thirty-year period a "qeran" (which literally means "symmetry" and is rooted in the ancient astronomical belief that Mercury and Saturn were posited at that time in a symmetrical stance to one another), hence a king who had managed to reign for over thirty years was called Sultan'eh Sahib'Qeran (lit. “the king who possesses thirty years of reign”). Since this magnificent palace was fully developed after Nasser'al din Shah had reigned for 30 years (he actually reigned for half a century), it was called Saheb'Qaraniyeh Palace which was the summerhouse of the king. One of the most beautiful parts of this palace is the Mirror Hall which can be said to be the largest and most beautiful mirrorworked hall in the entire country and will surely attract your attention for quite a while.
The underground floor of the palace is called Howz'Khahen (lit. springhouse) which, at the time of Nasser'al din Shah, was the entryway to his harem. Next to the palace, there was a forty-roomed building which was used as the king's harem. The Springhouse, in the middle of which there is a dock and around which are some furniture, is highly worth visiting in terms of its architecture and decorative art. At the time of Muhammad Reza Shah, the second Pahlavi king, major renovations and reconstructions were introduced to this palace and its first floor, that is the Springhouse, was used for receiving guests, and its second floor as the king's personal office.
Niavaran's Exclusive Palace
The construction of this palace began in 1958 and, after a short halt, was finished in 1968. It occupies an area of 9000 square meters and was initially planned to be used for royal reception and high-ranking guests' residence, yet, in the course of its construction, with certain modifications made to its mode of application, it turned into the exclusive residential place of Muhammad Reza Pahlavi and his family. It is made of two and a half floors and has a vast terrace on its southern front with voluminous columns holding the ceiling above its head. It is worth mentioning that the ceiling of the palace is made of Aluminum and is convertible in a way that it can be opened for letting more light in.
In the hallway of the first floor, there is a collection of Iranian hand-woven carpets among which a pictorial one will immediately catch your glance. The visage of the kings and prominent figures of the history of Iran, from the Achaemenes to that of the Qajarid, is beautifully portrayed throughout the interwoven texture of this work. Exclusive movie hall, guest reception hall, dining hall, and a fine collection of porcelains are among the other spectacular items of this area. The second mezzanine consists of priceless artworks including a statue of Buddha, pages that give account of his ways and days, and works made of Indian tusk.
In this section, you can also find Queen Farah Diba's personal office, the military uniforms, personal outfits, and the emblems of the king. In the second floor, children's study and recreational rooms, king and queen's bedroom, and the chamber of queen's dress collection can be found. In the interior decoration of the palace, in addition to plasterwork, mirrorwork, and the works of Iranian and foreign artists, there are massive goblins hung too. Such decorations, which are also common in European palaces, practically function as nonconductors against heat, frost, and noise.
Ahmed Shah's Summerhouse
This building has an area of about 800 meters and is constructed in two floors with an attic-shaped roof. It is quite unique among the monuments of Qajarid Dynasty in terms of its architecture and decorations. Yet, unfortunately, there is no documented authentic record neither of its construction nor application and simply due to the fact that it is named after Ahmed Shah, it is commonly ascribed to his brief reign. The first floor of this building, however, is made of a hallway in the middle of which lies a marble dock and there are also six rooms in both sides of its passage.
In the rooms of the first floor, above all, one can find collections gathered by Reza Pahlavi's crown prince, the gifts offered by the high-ranking officials of various countries, and medals and emblems are put on display as well. Among the items of the mineral stone collection, the most significant one is a piece of comet descended from the moon which was given to him by Richard Nixon, the former president of the US. The second floor of the summerhouse consist of a central hall and four vast terraces in its four corners. It is used as the music hall.
In the 1970's, an exclusive area was developed in the western side of Sahib'Qeraniyeh Palace which was used exclusively for exhibiting the contributories or works purchased by the royal family and is called Jahan'Nama Museum (lit. The World-Revealing Museum). In addition to artworks and unique historical items, the exemplar mid-hall can be mentioned in which the traditional Bird-and-Flower Persian artistic motifs are painted on its wooden ceiling and are, with no doubt, a must-see. Generally, in this museum, there are two categories of artworks: those that belong to the pre-historical period and those that belong to the contemporary visual arts of Iran and the rest of the world.
Among such historical works, one can mention certain works portraying the ancient civilizations, such as pre-Colombian, Luristani bronzes, Amlash terracotta, North Indian art belonging to the first and second millennia BC, and that of Silak, Mochica and the Nile bank’s civilization. Along with such historical works, one can also find the artworks of many an artists such as Amado Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Paul Gaugin, Camille Pissarro, Louis Volta, Edgar Degas, Juan Miro, August Renoir, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, Alberto Giacometti, Andy Warhol, and the pioneers of Iranian modern art including Parviz Tanavoli, Bahman Mohasses, Parviz Kalantari, Mas'oud Arab'Shahi, Sohrab Sepehri, Zhazeh Tabatabayi, Nassir Oveisi, Manouchehr Yektai, and Parvaneh E'temadi whose works have enriched this treasury further. Briefly speaking, Jahan'Nama Museum is concise but very rich. In this rather small area, one can find works as old as 3000 years right next to contemporary painting.
The Museum of Royal Library
In the northeast of Niavaran Complex, in a cozy atmosphere close to the residential area of Iran's last king, there is the exclusive library of Niavaran Palace divided in two floors plus an underground, with a foundation of about 770 square meters. The interior decoration of this library created by the American artist, Charles Sevigny, reveals the subtle combination of mirror and glass. One of the noteworthy ornaments used in the construction of this section is the installation of 4000 glass cylinders in the ceiling that provide the necessary light for the entire space of the library. The Museum of Exclusice Vehicles of Niavaran Palace In this Complex, there is a building 200-square-meter wide which was formerly used as a garage.
Nevertheless, presently, the exclusive vehicles of Pahlavi royal family, including cars and small motorcycles that used to belong to royal family's children along with the models of these vehicles are kept and put on display for public visitors. One should notice, however, that it is not a specialized vehicle museum, but rather an exhibition held with the aim of preserving the historically significant works, objects, and narratives of the complex. The Museum of the Garden of Inscriptions In the eastside of the campus of Niavaran Complex, there is a place where the minutely and identically molded samples of many of the reliefs and inscriptions of Iran are kept. This museum contains 43 moulages of inscriptions belonging to various periods of Iran's history written in varying scripts.
Gaining access to the Cultural-Historical Complex of Niavaran is possible via the following ways: From Dar'AAbad through Pour'Ebtehaj St. From Tajrish Sq. through Shahid Bahonar St. From Now'Bonyad Sq. through Pasdaran St. Also, there are subway stations located in the two squares mentioned above.
9 am - 7 pm
Please only take the already demarcated visiting paths and keep a safe distance from the glass barriers and bases in order not to crash into them and cause them fall. While visiting, never release your children's hand in order to keep them away from going astray and from the visiting paths demarcated, since, in the absence of proper control, there is the possibility of your children colliding into the works on display, hence causing damage to them. Please refrain from touching the objects as you take photos, and also please refrain from using the flashlight. Due to security reasons, do not stop on the way for taking selfies that results in blockages and density of the visiting population. Pease refrain from bringing food into the interior space of the museums.