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Chaharbagh-i Shah Ismail

Safavid Gardens
1507 1840
Mahvash Alemi


Shah Ismail, who founded the Safavid dynasty in 1501, created a palace in Khoy, where he preferred to pass the winter hunting. The first description of this dawlatkhānah is in an account by Francesco Romano, a Venetian merchant who traveled through Persian in 1507. He describes it as having two gates and two magnificent courts that were similar to cloisters of convents. In front of the western gate, there were three towers made of the horns of animals that the king and his men had hunted. Astarabadi (Tārīkh-i Sulṭānī, 40) reports that Shah Ismail, in the seventh year of his reign, spent the winter in Khoy and Urumi, where he built a splendid dome and building at the tomb of Imamzada Sahl Ali. At a source of water, he created a building, basin, chahārbāgh, and gardens.

The first graphical source that shows Safavid Khoy is depicted by Matrakçi in his manuscript of 940 AH, during the reign of Shah Tahmasp, when the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman attacked the cities of Azerbaijan. Despite the symbolic representation of the elements, one can recognize a garden to the north (at the right side of the image) of the walled city, which could be the dawlatkhānah with the turrets mentioned in the accounts of the Venetian merchant. The bazaars running from north to south are also depicted. Another drawing by Coste in 1840 shows the dawlatkhānah as it appeared when the embassy of the Comte de Sercey stayed there. Despite the fact that the palace could have been transformed during the Safavid and Qajar (1785–1924) periods, it still reflects closely the description given by the Venetian merchant, and includes courts dedicated to men and women, stables, and, on the western side of the garden, a maydān, probably where the turrets were located.



  • Court Chronicle, 1533
  • Travel Account, 1840