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Exploring Shahrdari Square of Rasht

Discover the Heart of Rasht: The Municipal Square

Rasht‘s Mayor’s Square, a significant landmark from the Pahlavi period, stands as a testament to the rich cultural and historical tapestry of the region. This iconic site was officially recognized as a national heritage of Iran on December 17, 1977. Join us with SURFIRAN to explore the captivating history and architectural wonders of Rasht’s Mayor’s Square and its surrounding historical complex.

The Formation of Shahrdari Square of Rasht

Constructed during the early reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi (1926-1942), the Mayor’s Square in Rasht encompasses a collection of notable structures including the Mayor’s Palace, the Post Museum, and the historic building of the Iran Hotel. The Mayor’s building, along with its clock tower, serves as a symbol of Rasht city. This structure experienced damage during the devastating Manjil earthquake in 1990 but was later restored to its former glory by Robert Vahanyan.


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A Unique Feature

One of the square’s most distinctive features is the daily live music performances by the Rasht Municipality Orchestra. These performances take place in the mornings and during special occasions in front of the Mayor’s office, within the square’s grounds, and in a dedicated area for the orchestra. Additionally, the clock tower chimes every hour, corresponding to the number of the hour, and rings once every half-hour, adding a rhythmic charm to the ambiance of the square.

Shahrdari Square of Rasht
Rasht’s Mayor’s Square at Night

Where is Rasht’s Shahrdari Square Located?

Rasht’s Shahrdari Square is one of the most famous attractions in Gilan, located in the heart of Rasht city. The streets leading to the square are paved with cobblestones for several hundred meters, making vehicle traffic in this area impossible. This pedestrian-friendly setup enhances the square’s appeal and accessibility to visitors.

The Shahrdari Palace

Shahrdari Square of Rasht
Shahrdari Palace, Rasht, Iran

The white and beautiful Shahrdari Palace in Rasht is among the city’s most eye-catching attractions and stands out as one of the most picturesque buildings in the Mayor’s Square. Now over 90 years old, this edifice has maintained its beauty and continues to draw the attention of tourists. For the residents of Rasht who pass by this magnificent structure daily, it might seem ordinary, but for newcomers and visitors, the palace and the entire square offer a breathtaking and dreamlike vista.

The Site’s Transformation

Originally, the palace’s site was a hill that contained a tomb of a Sayyid. Following the construction, the Sayyid’s tomb was demolished, along with some buildings that were in the path of the palace’s blueprint. This action, driven by the dominance of religion over modernity, was not easily accepted by Rasht’s residents, leading to protests. The situation calmed down with the replacement of Rasht’s governor, the installation of Fazlollah Zahedi, and the relocation of the tomb to the building’s premises.

Shahrdari Square of Rasht
Shahrdari Palace in Rasht (photo by Wikipedia)

Establishment of the Municipality

Haji Mirza Khalil, a well-known advocate of the Constitutional Revolution, was appointed to establish the municipality. He was supported by the “Municipality Association,” led by Haji Mirza Yousuf Khan and comprising notable members like Sayyid Mehdi, Naser Al-Tujjar, and others. The construction of the palace took years to begin. Before the palace was built in Municipality Square, the Rasht Municipality office was located in the Khoshtaria building and later moved to its current location.

The Palace within a Public Complex

Rasht Municipality Palace is situated within a complex of public buildings, including a post museum and the Iran Hotel, known for their unique architecture. This complex, referred to as the Rasht Municipality Square Complex, serves as a symbol of the city. Construction of the palace began in 1923 and concluded by 1926, early in Reza Shah’s reign, when it started operating as the Rasht Municipality building.

The Architecture of Rasht’s City Hall

Municipality Square of Rasht
Municipality Square of Rasht

The architectural style of the building follows the Russian architectural method. A detailed examination of the palace’s architectural style and comparing it with buildings constructed in Russia clearly demonstrates this. The architect of the building is a Russian named Sardaroff, who chose the design based on inspiration from the modern architecture of Saint Petersburg and started construction with the help of Iranian architects residing in Rasht. The engineers of the palace were selected from among German-Armenian engineers.
The palace has a height of about 24 meters, and its tower, which was typically used for observation in the past, dominates over the city of Rasht and overlooks more than half of the city. Robert Vahanyan considers this architectural style in Rasht’s city hall building as a flourish of Renaissance culture, derived from the period of military rule. This is because, at that time, the city of Rasht was under military control for two years after the defeat of the Jungle Movement by Cossack forces, before the city hall building was constructed. That is, from 1924 to 1926, the governance of Rasht city was in the hands of the military.
The emblem of Rasht’s city hall on the building is designed as two keys placed on top of each other in a cross shape, symbolizing the unlocking of urban challenges. This emblem is also used on city flags over the bridges of the city’s rivers.

Clock Tower of Rasht’s City Hall

Clock Tower of Rasht's City Hall
Clock Tower of Rasht’s City Hall

Three years after the construction of the city hall building, a special clock, which at the time was a symbol of modernity and punctuality, was installed. At that time, clock towers were also built in some other cities of Iran, including Tabriz and Sari. Currently, the bell of this clock rings every hour, corresponding to the hour, informing the city’s inhabitants of the time of day.

Attractions Around Rasht Municipality Square

Around the Municipality Square of Rasht, several attractions of Rasht are located, which we will introduce some of them below.

Iran Hotel

Shahrdari Square of Rasht
Iran Hotel, Rasht

Iran Hotel dates back to the Pahlavi era and is located in Rasht, on the north side of the Municipality Square. This building was registered as one of Iran’s national monuments in 2001. Today, this hotel is considered one of Rasht’s attractions and hosts the city’s cultural events. With a foundation of 1800 square meters, along with other surrounding administrative buildings like the municipality and post and telegraph offices, it forms the historical complex of Rasht’s central square.

Rasht National Library

Shahrdari Square of Rasht
Rasht National Library (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

Rasht National Library is the first national library in Iran, located at the entrance of Alamolhoda Street, next to the Rasht Municipality building. This complex started its work in 1935 and now has 150,000 printed books and 1,750 manuscripts.

Post Office of Municipality Square Rasht

Shahrdari Square of Rasht
Post Office of Municipality Square, Rasht (photo by Wikipedia)

The Post Office of Municipality Square is one of the historical attractions and places to visit in Rasht, being part of the Municipality Square complex. The Post and Telegraph building in Rasht is located on the north side of the Municipality Square in the city center, dating back to the first Pahlavi era. The total area is 1930 square meters, built in an L shape, consisting of 4 floors. The ground and first floors are in an L shape. The second floor is above the entrance and part of the east of the building, and the third floor is a mansard roof.


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Visiting Rasht Municipality Square

Rasht Municipality Square is one of the most important tourist attractions in Rasht; thus, it is busier on holidays. It depends on your preference at what time you visit; during the day, the details of the surrounding buildings are more visible, and at night, the nightlife and lighting give the square a different atmosphere. In any case, every day and at any hour, you can visit Rasht Municipality Square without paying any fee.

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SURFIRAN Editorial Team

SURFIRAN is an Iranian tour operator and travel agency offering tour packages to those interested in Iran. It provides the tourists with services needed to travel to Iran, offers tours across the country, and assists the tourists in obtaining Iranian visas.

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