When you travel to Iran, you will notice that Iranians love outing and spending some time in the nature. Regardless of the climate, they will find a place to picnic under the shade of large trees. This love for nature could be one of the reasons Persian Garden emerged and became such an important element in Iranian urbanism.
A sum of nine gardens have been inscribed as serial nomination of The Persian Garden in 2011.
Except Abbasabad in Mazandaran province, the rest are all located in the arid and semi arid areas of central plateau of Iran, and that makes the creation of the garden, a “masterpiece of human creative genius” as UNESCO describes it. These nine gardens are a small selection to represent design, engineering and meaning of a Persian Garden.
Persian Gardens – A paradise on earth
You can experience the paradise-like feeling of the garden when being under the scorching sun for some time. As soon as you cross the gate and pass the garden walls, you will notice the freshness of air, cool temperature under the shade, loving touch of the green and pleasant and gentle sound of water. No wonder Persian Garden represents Paradise.
The term pairidaēza which comes from Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrian people, means garden. The same word has traveled through time and place to become the word Paradise in English, Paradies in German and paradis in French.
In fact this word is tied to the meaning of Garden of Eden and also the highest level of heaven in muslim belief, Firdause; both are gardens irrigated with 4 rivers or one river divided to four. Same description applies to definition of Persian Garden, a surrounded land divided to four sections (Char-bagh) by four aqueducts.
History of Persian Garden goes back to the epoch of Achaemenid king, Cyrus the Great, and first designed royal garden is believed to be in Pasargadae near today’s Shiraz. The archaeological site of Pasargadae Garden is among the inscribed gardens, although there are no trees remaining.
Water plays very important roles in the Persian Garden. Not only it is for irrigation, but it giving the aesthetic beauty by flowing in the well designed aqueducts, jetting into fountains and pouring small ponds. Water is always moving, it should not be still, it ought to give life to plants, freshen the air and create the burbling sound that soothes the soul.
It then flows out of the garden to be used elsewhere. It is interesting that usually the source of irrigation of the garden is usually different from the source that is used for ornamentation.
Fin Garden in Kashan is the oldest existing royal garden which was completed in 1590. The ingenious design of ceramic pipes creates many rows of small fountains which do not need any machines to run.
Shazdeh Garden in Mahan, Kerman
Shazdeh Garden in Mahan near Kerman is built on a slope, so that water can flow easily. Fountains outburst naturally by force of gravity. Shazdeh Garden is also known as one of the most beautiful of Persian gardens.
Garden planners, had special knowledge of architecture, hydrology, and gardening. Trees, flowers and shrubs were chosen based on their beauty, produce and shade. Many of the trees hold a symbolic meaning, such as Cypress which represents unrestrained and pride or Plane tree which represents eternal blessing of gods and spirits. Also every garden ought to have fruit trees, to please the guests with abundance of Persian hospitality.
Chehel Sotun Garden, famous for its name (forty columns), is located in Isfahan. The pavilion in fact has 20 wooden columns but the reflection of the building on the surface of water makes the name legitimate.
Almost all Persian Gardens have an elaborate pavilion built on the main axis, creating the symmetrical image of the garden. The pavilion itself represents the skillfulness of the architect and the builders. The fabulous design of interconnected rooms decorated with astonishing tilework and Orsi (stained glass windows) can blow your mind. You can picture the feasts and banquets took place in such beautiful, pleasant and relaxing heaven.
Eram Garden in Shiraz
For almost 70 years, Eram Garden in Shiraz was the house of Khans of Qashqai tribe. The pavilion was built in the time of Qajar dynasty but it followed the style of Zand era.
Akbarieh Garden in Birjand
Akbarieh Garden in Birjand has tall and glorious pine trees, and its pavilion shows Iranian architecture with Russian influence which makes it unique and different.
Pahlavanpour Garden in Mehriz
Pahlavanpour Garden in Mehriz is the only inscribed garden which belonged to a businessman and was not structured for governmental purposes. Also, the water used for aesthetic and irrigation come from different sources.
Dolatabad Garden in Yazd
Dolatabad Garden in Yazd is known for its gorgeous pavilion which has the tallest badgir (windcatcher) in Iran with a height of 33.8 meters. Karim Khan Zand, founder of Zand dinasty resided in this garden for a while.
Abbasabad Garden in Behshahr
Abbasabad Garden in Behshahr. More than the garden itself, Abbasabad is famous for its artificial lake and the chahartaq building in the middle of the lake which in fact works as a spillway. The lake and its buildings were built by the order of Shah Abbas I, the founder of Safavid dynasty.
Other World Heritage Gardens that are influenced by Persian Garden design are Alhambra in Spain, Shalimar in Pakistan and the most famous of all, Taj Mahal in India. Finally, Persian garden has been source of inspiration for many artists and craftsmen, as well as writers and poets. Not only you can observe its beauty on the Persian carpets, but also can follow its trace in poetries that depict paradise on the earth.