A Tour Through Iran's Most Renowned Museums
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At the top of the list of best museums is the Golestan Palace! A UNESCO-registered site, this palace was once the seat of the Qajar dynasty’s government. Its royal buildings require separate entrance fees, though the entire grand palace is worth seeing. The Marble Throne in an open hall adorned with mirrors, the Karim Khani Nook, and the Shams-ol-Emaneh are mesmerizing. Not to be missed is the clock gifted by Queen Victoria to Naser al-Din Shah. The tiled walls enclosing the palace also make for great photography.
A war museum might not sound very appealing, but rest assured, the Sacred Defense Museum is a visually captivating experience you wouldn’t want to miss. One of Iran’s best museums, it spans a 21-hectare green space, providing a heart-wrenching narrative of Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq. Inside, the museum recreates air raids, sounds, horrors of war, and the besieged city of Khorramshahr. The surrounding grounds showcase tanks and other artillery. It offers valuable insight into modern Iranian history and people’s perceptions.
This luxurious summer residence of Iran’s former monarchs is situated in a tranquil 100-hectare area at the foothills of Darband in northern Tehran. The 18 buildings in this complex require separate entrance tickets. The 54-room White Palace, from Mohammad Reza Shah’s era, is a must-visit. The spiral staircase leading to the National Art Museum is a collection curated by Farah Diba and worth stopping. The Green Palace, named for its exterior marble facade, is notable, as is the Royal Costume Museum, showcasing a mix of traditional tribal wear and European fashion. The Sa’adabad Palace Museum is among the best museums in Iran for visitors, so don’t miss it.
This museum, one of the best in Iran, is located within the mausoleum complex of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili, in a hall named China House. Porcelains are displayed in the China House. The room, originally designed to house porcelain vessels, was endowed by one of the Chinese emperors to Shah Abbas in appreciation of his efforts to make the Silk Road safer. The historic building itself is worth a visit. This museum was opened in 1990.
The site dates back to the Safavid era. However, during the Qajar period, Sa’ad al-Saltaneh, the Qajar ruler at the time, took charge of its repairs and named it “Chehel Sotoun.” This two-story building is made of bricks and has stone cornices. The mentioned structure currently hosts the city museum. It, being one of the best museums in Iran, houses various sections, including archeology, ethnography, and history.
This mansion is located in Khomein. Architecturally, besides being a valuable historical monument, it’s significant. Its construction’s architectural style and materials make it a unique architectural phenomenon. Its elevated entrances are magnificent and worth seeing. The design, decorations, layout, and orientation in the vicinity indicate that this relic belongs to the late Qajar period. The main building consists of several intertwined rooms. In front of these rooms, there’s a large balcony connected to the courtyard via stairs. The main building’s facade has several columns adorned with plasterwork. This historical monument was registered as a national historical artifact in 2002.
The Pars Museum of Shiraz is another one of the best museums in Iran. Pars Mansion, located in the middle of Nazar Garden in Shiraz, was converted into a museum in 1852 and was renovated in 1901. Eleven paintings by Agha Sadeq, a renowned artist of that time, are displayed in this museum. The building consists of a central hall with a dome and four niches. Initially, on the eastern side, Karim Khan Zand was buried. Valuable artifacts can also be seen in this museum. Influenced by European arts in Iran, this building was named “Foreign Hat” (Foreign Helmet), a name that was also used for similar structures. The octagonal shape of the building, adorned with lovely decorations, adds to its beauty. This attraction, especially its tiles with floral and bird designs on their surfaces, plays a significant role.
The Gonbad Kavus Carpet Museum, also known as the Turkmen Specialized Museum, is another of the best museums in Iran. This museum is the third carpet museum in Iran, following the Tehran Carpet Museum and the Mashhad Carpet Museum. It was established near the tallest brick tower in the world, located in the center of Gonbad Kavus city. As you explore the Gonbad Kavus Carpet Museum, you’ll see 25 hand-woven Turkmen carpets that have yet to be valued. Visiting this museum, you’ll encounter Turkmen hand-woven carpets with more than 811 designs and symbols, some dating back six thousand years. Furthermore, the Turkmens’ patterns in their rug weaving are primarily abstract and geometric, similar to Bukhara designs, colloquially referred to as “Akhal.”
Iran is home to many museums. However, in this article, we tried to introduce you to some of the country’s best and most famous ones. If you’re interested in the history of Iran, the museums can provide you with a wealth of information.