Royal Gardens in Republican Iran: a case study of the Golestan Palace Garden, Tehran

Sara Mahdizadeh, Stephen Walker, Zahra Karimian, Lakshmi Priya Rajendran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1925, the rise of Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime led to the deliberate destruction of Qajar gardens (1785 to 1925), most of which were converted into military bases. A limited number, such as the Golestan Palace Garden, were partly preserved. However, there had been mass destruction of ‘unsolicited’ and ‘outdated’ buildings by the Qajars and the denigration of religious rituals. Following the fall of the monarchy and establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the Golestan Palace Garden’s meaning and function changed, and all traditions associated with the monarchy were abandoned to enforce the ideologies of post-revolutionary garden management. Through an in-depth case study, this paper narrates the transformations which have occurred in the physical and material fabric along with symbolic and social dimensions of royal gardens. Although the garden exists its rich symbolism has been rendered impotent to respond to different needs of various states. The renovation of the Golestan Palace Garden has not been appropriately completed even after it was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2013. Hence, this paper intends to question the museum-like conservation approach, which negates the social facts and meanings and is limited to the restoration of materials. The paper concludes that the revival of intangible heritage is fundamental to invigorate the garden in question.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-137
Number of pages19
JournalLandscape History
Issue number2
Early online date5 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

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