The city and its surrounding area was under constant attack of aggressive tribes, Shapur builds a castle with strong fortification and use it as his army base to protect the city from the said tribes specially Daylamites that kept attacking the city and the caravans that pass through them. As time passes the fort grows and becomes the core of the Qazvin and a reason of its popularity. The security that Shapur gave the town, turned it into an important business and economic spot, the city became so popular that Safavid kings chose it as their capitals and later it became a model for Isfahan.
The Safavid Garden Complex
When Shah Tahmasp of Safavid dynasty decided to move the capital from Tabriz to Qazvin, the small city witnessed a period of rapid flourishment. Shah Tahmasp was a man of literature and art, he had spent his entire childhood in Herat and started to build his new capital based on what he had seen there. Therefore, the first street of Iran was made in Qazvin in imitation of Herat’s streets. The complex that today is referred to as Safavid Garden Complex, was initiated by the order of Shah Tahmasp, but undergo many changes and destructions as time passed. The 6-hectare land of this complex was divided and sold to private owners which led to its further destruction. The complex is made of many different construct that some are destroyed and some survived the passing of time:
• Ali – Ghapu
• Naderi Mansion
• Qajar Mansion
• Pahlavi Mansion
• Grand Hotel
• Chehel Sotoun (40-Columns)
• Rectors’ Monument
Most of what we know from the Safavid version of the garden complex is from the poem collection of Ubaid Beik Shirazi, a poet in the court of Shah Tahmasp. His poem collection describing the garden, the buildings and the city gives us good knowledge of the place in Safavid Time. this place and its surrounding area was used by Shah Abbas to create the Naghsh-e Jahan of Isfahan.
Ali – Ghapu
One of the seven, and the only remaining monumental portal of the complex made from brick on a stone based foundation. It was made by the order of Shah Tahmasp and repaired by Shah Abbas. The portal opens to Sepah street, the first street of Iran. the portal is made of a domed vestibule that used to be covered with painting; unfortunately, none of the paintings have survived. The only remained decoration of the portal is the inlayed mosaic work of the façade, written by the famous calligrapher Alireza Abbasi, one of Shah Abbas’s favorite calligraphers. There are two staircases that lead to the second floor, where the town criers stood and played Naghare (a king of wind instrument) to announce different things. There used to be two buildings on either side of the portal, the western one was used as stable in Safavid era and later as printing shop; and the eastern building used to be a laundry house that turned into a school by Pahlavies.
Sa’d Al Saltaneh Caravanserai
Caravanserais of Iran are divided into three categories.
1) Those that were built outside cities
2) Those that were built near the entrance gates of the cities.
3) Those that were built inside cities
If the caravanserais were built inside cities their construction in parts were similar to that of traditional bazaar, with the exception that it was a separate and independent section. In some caravanserais, just the tradesmen were accepted with people who carried their cargo; in some other, special places were made for big caravans to unload their cargo and the last form were those caravanserais where carts and carriages could enter to unload. Sa’d Al Saltaneh is a mixture of all these caravanserais, it has shopping cells were animals and carriages were not allowed, and also sections were carriages and livestock could enter.
Sa’d Al Saltaneh, the governor of Qazvin ordered a caravanserai to be built inside the city and named it after himself (1894). By the time of its construction, Qazvin was a center of Iran’s trade connecting the north-south roads and east-west roads. Europe’s trading with central and far Asia and also Russia, have turned the city to an important trading spot, both for locals and international traders. After the World Wars and with the economic depressions the caravanserai was almost destroyed, in the years that followed only a small part of the construct was still active and later some parts were sold to factories. The whole place was purchased and reconstructed beautifully it now functions as a bazaar and the residential areas are no longer active.
we can say that most of bathhouses of Iran are made of these basic sections:
• Hashti – the first room after the entrance doors
• Sarbineh – the changing room and a place of social events
• Garmkhaneh – the place where the bathing and massaging takes place
• Khazineh – part of the Garmkhaneh, where the water is boiled
• Toon – the fire place beneath or next to Khazineh
The Qajar Bathhouse in Qazvin is the oldest bathhouse of the city that was built in Safavid era, by the order of Amir Khan Qajar, a general of Shah Abbas Army (1647). After the entrance and narrow stairs, there is the simple, not adorned space known as Hashti; beside being a sign of Persian architecture that focuses on separation of private and public, the room functions as temperature balancing space. All traditional bathhouses in Iran are made in a way that passing through different sections wont expose people to sudden change of temperature and probable sicknesses. With a narrow corridor, the Hashti is connected to an octagonal Sarbineh which is a changing room with six stands, in Farsi these stands are called Shahneshin (literary King’s Place, but it actually means a person with high social position). Sarbineh is followed by Miandar which again is warmer than the Sarbineh but cooler than the Garmkhaneh, the water closets were located in this area. Garmkhaneh is the place where the cleaning is taking place, some bathhouses have separate spaces in Garmkhaneh specified to nobles and wealthy tradesmen. Attached to the Garmkhaneh is the Khazineh that is the source of warm water in the bath. The whole construct is kept warm by the small tunnels that pass through the floor. A fascinating thing about this bath is that it is constructed in a way that if you whisper in the corner of the Garmkhaneh, your voice is clearly heard on the opposite corner. The echo of the people’s voice in the place is both confusing and interesting.
One of the traditional and historic houses of Qazvin, and the most famous one, that parts of it was donated to be used as Hosseinieh a place of religious rites. The common features of traditional architecture of Iran specially in warmer cities divide the house into two parts. The outer part of the house is the place of business and is considered a rather public place where many strangers that had business with the men of the house were received here. The inner part, was more private, intimate section of the house that was used by the family and close friends. The inner part of the house is where kitchens, cellars, service rooms, baths and private rooms are located. The plan of these houses is made of two or more yards surrounded by buildings with entrances usually on northern and southern part of the yard that was used as winter and summer residence.
This house in particular has 4 yards and 2 levels, the first floor and the basement. The basement of the house, unlike other houses in other cities, was not just a place of storage and service, it was used as residential area and a place of receiving dear guests, the fountain inside is an evidence of that. The first floor has three parallel halls that are connected via inlayed wooden door/windows that were lifted when the number of guests increased, especially during religious rites. The roof of one of the halls are covered with paintings from late Qajar era and the carpets are all custom-made and are consider antique. A part of the basement now functions as Ashura Museum and equipment of Ashura are held there, if you are not visiting Iran during Ashura, you can visit the museum and get to know one of the most important rites of Shiites.