Tavoos Quarterly,Nos.5&6,Autumn2000-Winter 2001
The ensemble is a relic of the historic Arg (governmental seat) of , where Qajar monarchs resided, and comprises several of the most beautiful ancient buildings erected in the capital during the past 200 years1.
The origins of the royal Arg, limited northward by Emam Khomeini (ex-Sepah) Square and Avenue, westward by Khayyam Avenue, eastward by , and southward by 15th and , date back to the Safavid period. The Safavid monarch Shah Tahmasb I (930-984), was the first king who, during a pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Hazrat-e ‘Abd-ol-‘Azim, ordered a one league-long rampart to be erected around Tehran, which was a small town at the time.
After him, Shah ‘Abbas had a chahar-bagh (quadripartite garden) and a plane tree grove created north of this rampart, around which he later had a tall wall built and the royal residence, which was called Arg, built within this enclosure. In the closing years of the Safavid period, was occasionally used as a temporary royal residence and Shah Solayman (1077-1105) even had a palace built in this city, but today no traces of those Safavid buildings remain.
The most ancient extant buildings within the ensemble are the Takht-e Marmar (Marble Throne) and the Khalvat-e Karim-Khani (Karim-Khan’s Secluded Retreat), built during the reign of the Zand monarch Karim-Khan. In 1172, in the course of his wars against the Qajar Mohammad-Hassan-Khan, Karim-Khan adopted as the central camp of his military operations and, after defeating his opponent, gave a public audience in the ancient Divan-khaneh of , built under Shah Solayman, during which he was elected the king of under the title of Vakil-or-Ro’aya. Upon his orders, in the summer of the same year, the rampart of the Arg was restored and a harem, a secluded retreat and a governmental seat were built within its enclosure; and in the summer of the following year (1173 AH), when he transferred his military camp to the Chaman-e Soltaniyeh (Zanjan), he ordered a particular palace and a large administrative complex to be built in the Sasanian style and a garden created beside them.
After Karim-Khan’s death in 1193 AH, the Qajar Aqa-Mohammad-Khan adopted as his capital in 1200 AH, but, being busy with incessant military campaigns, he seldom resided in it or had any time to indulge in building and development activities. Eventually, Fath-‘Ali Shah accessed to the throne in 1211 AH. Thereafter, alongside the growing size of the country’s administrative machine and royal formalities, numerous buildings were erected within the Arg of Tehran, mainly under Fath-‘Ali Shah and Nasser-ed-Din Shah. During the reign of Reza Shah, large parts of the Arg of Tehran, including its rampart, the Bab-e ‘Ali portico, the Rehabilitation Building, the Telegraph House, the Tekie-ye Dowlat, the Narenjestan (citrus grove), the Golshan Garden and the Inner Quarters, were demolished, the royal residence was transferred to Sa’d-Abad, and then to Niavaran under Mohammad-Reza Shah, and the Golestan ensemble was dedicated to the reception of foreign guests.