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Residence of the Italian Ambassador

Residence of the Italian Ambassador in Farmaniyeh in Tehran

The Italian ambassador's residence in Farmaniyeh was built in the second half of the 19th century, during the reign of Naser-ed Din Shah Qajar.
At the time, appearing from afar as a mass of lush gardens and orchards populated with squat houses veiled in their shade, Tehran owed its existence to the snow-capped mountains on its north, which supplied it with water through underground channels. Shemiran was an agglomeration on its northern foothills, whose fresh atmosphere provided the inhabitants of the capital with a refuge away from the heat as soon as summer set in. A remnant of tribal practices, this summer time migration to cooler areas prompted many gar- dens to be built in Shemiran, mostly by Qajar rulers and dignitaries. A few of these, including the Sahebqaraniyeh, Ferdows, Malek and Saltanatabad gardens and the British, History and Geographical Location.

Residence of the Italian Ambassador

At the time, appearing from afar as a mass of lush gardens and orchards populated with squat houses veiled in their shade, Tehran owed its existence to the snow-capped mountains on its north, which suppled it with water through underground channels. Shemiran was an agglomeration on its northern foothills, whose fresh atmosphere provided the inhabitants of the capital with a refuge away from the heat as soon as summer set in. A remnant of tribal practices, this summertime migration to cooler areas prompted many gardens to be built in Shemiran, mostly by Qajar rulers and dignitaries. A few of these, including the Sahebqaraniyeh, Ferdows, Malek and Saltanatabad gardens and the British, century, the Italian ambassador's in Farmaniyeh is a rare example of still inhabited estates of this kind. The Farmaniyeh garden was located to the north of the village of Rostamabad and south of the Kamraniyeh garden. Its first owner was Mohammad-Vali Khan Asef-os Saltaneh, Prince Kamran Mirza's son-in-law, who later relin-quished the ownership of the entire garden, including his share of its underground channels and other assets, to Prince Abd-olHosain Mirza, titled Nosrat-od Dowleh, Army Commander and the first owner of Farmaniyeh Palace (1857-1939), grandson of Abbas Mirza Nayeb-os Saltaneh, son-in-law of Mozafar-od Din Shah Qajar and the maternal uncle of Dr. Mohammad Mosadeq is among the well-reputed, prominent and wealthy figures of Qajar period.
The title, Nosrat-od Dowleh, was passed on to him through his father, Firouz Mirza, and was later passed on to his elder son who was also called Firouz Mirza who was the last owner of the Farmaniyeh Palace. In 1916, the prince gave all his gardens, mansions and property to his son, Firouz Mirza, who resided in this Palace for a long while. According to Engineer Manuchehr Sanei, his father; Ali Mohammad Khan Memar Bashi had built a stately mansion in this Garden.
In 1888, after Abd-ol Hosain Khan married Ezat-ol Saltaneh, the daughter of Mozafer-od Din Mirza who was the crown prince at the Mo'ment, he was given the position of Prince's Treasurer in Tabriz. He held numerous other high positions in Qajar period such as Commander of the Azerbaijan Army, Governor of Kurdistan, Lorestan, Kerman, Minister of Justice, Minister of Interior Affairs, and amidst the First World War, he was appointed Prime Minister. Abdol Hossein Mirza was favored by the British and was one of the few Iranians who received the GCMG decoration from the King of England.

Residence of the Italian Ambassador

He married seven times and at the time of his death at age 82, had 32 children. Amongst his most famous children are Nosrat-od Dowleh Firouz (owner of Farmaniyeh Palace), Abbas Mirza Farman-Farmayan, Mohammad Vali Khan Farman-Farmayan, General Mohammad Firouz and Maryam Firouz (wife of Nour-od Din Kiyanouri). Firouz Mirza Nosrat-od Dowleh(1889-1937), the last owner of Farmaniyeh Palace, was the elder son of Abd-olHosain Mirza and Ezat-od Dowleh,daughter of Mozafar-od Din Mirza, the crown Prince. When his father was in exile in Kazemeyn, Firouz Mirza completed his secondary school education in Beirut, and continued his studies for a while in Paris. Upon his return to Iran, his grandfather Mozafar-od Din Shah ap-pointed him to the position of Army Commander of Kerman and Ardebil. At age 21, he left Iran for Paris to complete his studies, two months after the beginning of the First World War; he got his PhD in Law from Sorbonne University and returned to Iran. He was immediately appointed to the position of Minister of Justice in Mostoufi -ol Mamalek's cabinet. He also served a number of terms as an MR.
With the advent of the Pahlavi Kingdom, and during the reign of Reza Shah, he continued his services as Minister of Finance. Later he was appointed Prime Minister and was one of the three signatories of the 1919 pact with the British, a pact that infuriated the Freedom fighters and was later repealed. After the repeal of the 1919 pact, the British government decided to help establish a strong government in Iran, it is believed that Firouz Mirza must was a candidate from the party favored by the British. On a long arduous journey from England to Iran, he traversed a snowy rutted itinerary through Basrah & Bagdad, and was stranded in a blizzard on the Hamedan-Qazvin road. He made it to Tehran late, only to find himself, his father and older brother to face jail and imprisonment in a post-coup Tehran.
Upon his release from jail, he was given the position of Min-ister of Justice and later Minister of Finance in Reza Shah's reign. In 1928, some of the meetings of the government were held in Farmaniyeh Palace, this infuriated Reza Shah and led to bribery accusations which in the end left him in jail for some time. Nosrat-od Dowleh was released upon the plea of the Prime Minister and was once again released from jail.
In fall 1936, he was imprisoned again and exiled to Semnan. It is said that the reason he was arrested and imprisoned was that he had ties with a French Embassy Official to whom he had rented his Palace at a time when Iran's relations with France was tarnished due to strong criticisms on the French side of Iran's government. Rumor goes that Nosrat-od Dowleh had a hand in publishing those critical articles. In the end, in Winter 1937, gendarmerie officers were sent to his place of exile to kill him in a horrendous way. In the same year, the Farmaniyeh Palace was sold by his heir to the Italian Embassy for a sum of a hundred thousand To-mans.
This is how the Farman-Farma dynasty declined and lost its influence after the coup in Reza Shah's time, which led to the fall of the 130-year-old kingdom of the Qajars. After 50 years of constant presence in Iran's political arena and the kingdom of five kings, the legendary life of Farman-Farma withered upon losing his socio-political status and experiencing the sad death of all his children. He died at age 82 and his body rests in the Shrine of Abd-ol Azim.
Characteristics of the Building Covering some 61750 square meters, the Farmaniyeh garden has a north-south axis of approximately 325 meters and an east-west axis of around 190 meters. It is laid out following the classical model of Iranian gardens and a water stream runs across its center. This central axis, which is aligned with that of the biruni building, is flanked by tree-planted areas. The garden's dimensions appear to have been different when the building was first erected. Indeed, the eastern part of the garden appears to have been added at a later date, increasing its width and upsetting its symmetry. The garden may also have been shortened on its western side before its architecture took shape; that is when it was in Kamran Mirza's possession.
A large pool lies at the end of the garden's main axis, which served as a cistern by which its planted areas were irrigated.
Several buildings are scattered in the garden. The main building, or biruni, which houses an octagonal Howzkhaneh with all its traditional ancillaries, is located in its northernmost part. A little to the south, in the western part of the garden, stands the andaruni building, with northern and southern courtyards of its own. In the past this area was encircled by a wall that separated it entirely from the rest of the garden. A single-storied elongated building stretches along the northern side of the andaruni’s northern courtyard, which was used by secretaries and clerks. The main entrance to this building was inside the garden and it had another entrance that opened into the andaruni's courtyard, exactly opposite the andaruni's entrance. Therefore, in order to prevent direct view into the andaruni, a crescent-shaped brick partition stood in front of its entrance which directed callers to-wards the edges of the courtyard. Formerly laid out and equipped in the traditional manner, the bathhouse stands in the southern part of the andaruni's court-yard. However, its architecture has now been radically altered. Several single buildings are also scattered in the southern part of the garden, including a kitchen, a stable, lodgings for gardeners and horse-keepers, and a carriage house. These have now been given new functions. Particularities of the andaruni and biruni buildings The andaruni and biruni buildings of this garden bear all the original characteristics of early Iranian Qatar architecture.

The biruni

At the center of the biruni's exterior facade stands the traditional octagonal Howzkhaneh, built following the architectural model involving four platforms and a dome-shaped ceiling. The biruni's shahneshin is flanked by a pair of panjdari rooms facing the garden and its Howzkhaneh is flanked by two sehdari rooms.
Auxiliary areas exist on the four shorter sides of the Howzkhaneh, whose entrance is also flanked by recessed spaces. The decorative stucco carvings of the Hotszkhaneh's ceiling draw the visitor's eves towards the apex of the dome, where a light aperture allows sunlight to shine on the round pool under it, illuminating the colorful tiles and sash windows on three it its sides, which lead to the lateral shahneshin rooms.
The main building's entrance hall undoubtedly constitutes a masterpiece of Qajar architecture. The exquisite proportions and dimensions of this room, each of whose eight sides includes a stage-like door, the harmony of its every detail in themselves and in relation to the ensemble, and the herringbone pattern repeating itself as a musical leitmotiv from the stucco carvings of its ceiling to the wooden tops of its windows, have transformed this hall into an undeniable masterpiece. Under this dome, a small effervescent central pool gives freshness to this area. Here, one can at once admire the combination of different tile-work patterns and the turquoise-colored geometric designs inside the pool and the floral patterns around it, which display another characteristic of Persian art. The geometric patterns of the pool's floor repeat the herringbone pattern of carpets and tiles represented in most paintings executed notably by Kamal-ol Molk in Naser-ed Din Shah's time. In this part of the building, all the Qajar traditional decorative elements, some of which are as old as the building itself, have been utilized in perfect balance and harmony. These include stained glass, stucco carvings exceptionally executed in the shape of floral bouquets in relief, and tile panels of different shapes representing various scenes. The refinement and coziness that pervades this room is characteristic of Qajar art. The merger of Iranian architectural elements and European neoclassical architecture, which characterizes Qajar architecture, has reached perfection in this building. Tiles from Naser-ed Din Shah's time, probably brought here from another building, are visible in the main hall's Howzkhaneh area. The northern facade of this building combines simple flat columns to plaster surfaces. Its entrance to the Howzkhaneh is in the shape of a distinctive iwan topped by a slanting roof. The southern, main, facade of the biruni building opens on the courtyard through a full-width iwan. Patterns executed in the iwan's plinth and roof edge adorn this symmetrical facade. A three-pane window ked by a pair of two-pane ones connect this room to the garden.

The Andaruni

Another important structure in the Farmaniyeh garden, the andaruni building formerly served as the residence of the house-hold's ladies and, together with its private courtyard, formed the harem ensemble This structure stands one meter above the ground and has a relatively large central hall. A haftdari room facing the courtyard exists on its southern side. Six doors connected the central hall to other rooms and service areas. Today, after some alterations, the number of these doors has been reduced to two. This is a tall structure, which appears two-storied from the outside; however, the upper floor windows only have a visual function and serve to light the tall and large rooms. A galvanized iron roof covers the building and its facades display Corinthian capitals and wrought iron railings.
The columns of this building's iwan were originally made of brick and reinforced at regular intervals by broader pillars that were later given a plaster revetment and capitals. The northern entrance colonnade is also a later addition created in the European style. The rooms have painted wooden ceilings. The building is a brick structure covered by galvanized iron sheets installed on trusses. As in the biruni, excellent tile-work can he admired re. A handsome crescent-shaped brick partition at the end of e garden, beyond which stands a building formerly used by Farman-Farma’s employees, hides the andaruni from strangers.


The most important decorative elements in the biruni and andaruni buildings are the glazed tiles, which are rare in terms of diversity and quality among the historic build ings of Tehran. In addition, a profusion of stucco carvings adorns the ceiling arcs and light aperture, and tile-work panels set in brick frames cover the plinths all around the Howzkhaneh. Above the sash window adjoining the shahneshin of the ‘Howzkhaneh'! panj-dari, the intersection of the semi-circular window with the ceiling arcs has left void curved surface that has been filled with mirror-work. In the biruni building, beautiful polychrome glazed tiles appear on the entire edge of the Howzkhaneh's entrance and the surface of its vault, as well as the surfaces of its flanking secondary entrances, the walls of the pool, and here and there on the walls. In the andaruni building, similar tiles adorn the eastern and western walls of the central reception hall, the walls of the hexagonal pool, and the area above the panpdari's fire-place. The pictorial tile panels installed on the walls of the Farmaniyeh Palace are exquisite examples of Qajar art and date back to some 120 years ago. Inspired mostly by Iranian mythology, history, epics and literature, the scenes depicted on these panels clearly show the close link between Iranian art and literature. Some of these valuable tile panels are: Shah Abbas Enthroned, 21 square tiles, 108 x 220 cm; Bahram-e Cur and Golandam Hunting, 15 polychrome tiles in relief, 106 x 1 60 cm; Khosrow and Shirin, 42 x 42 cm, installed in the sitting room of the palace; Shirin and her Ladies in Attendance, beautiful large tile measuring 52 x 42 cm; a rare collection of 48 star-shaped and twelve- and eight-sided tiles measuring 36 x 36 cm adorning the corridor and the vestibule of the palace. Original Persian paintings from the Safavid, Zand and Qajar periods, a large portrait of Naser-ed Din Shah painted in reverse on glass, Gobelins tapestries, ancient pieces of furniture and old Italian paintings are other decorative items to be found in the palace.

General situation

Fair weather, fresh air and the beautiful view of the Alborz mountain range distinguish the Italian Ambassador's residence from its surrounding area. Looking from the end me garden towards its main building, one's sight of its rows the Alborz range, which provides a beautiful background for trees and vast areas, the view of the towering mountains and beauty to this ensemble. Hundreds of different birds, especial several stone-lined water streams running across the garden, old bushes of white rose, further add to its enchantment.
of venerable trees is prolonged by that of its majestic entrance arc. The garden's tall the quality of the light gives an impressive beauty to this ensemble. Hundreds of different birds, especially parrots who have made their nests here, and a slim cascade pouring down amidst
The Farmaniyeh Palace is undoubtedly one of a few extant valuable Qajar buildings in which all the characteristics of Qajar art and architecture are embodied to perfection. A glance upon the Italian Embassy in downtown Tehran The earliest known owner of this estate was Hal Abd-ollah Qaragozlou, entitled Amir-e Nezam, who held such important posts as commander of the army of Fars, Member of Parliament_in the 3"' assembly and minister in Ain-od Dowleh's cabinet during Mozaiar-od Din Shah's reign. Upon his death, his sons inherited three gardens, one of which was the present site of the embassy, which became the property of Hosain-Qoli Khan, who in turn relinquished his ownership of the garden, the pool and the biruni building, as well as his rights to the water of its Banat [underground channel], to the Italian Embassy in 1925. By this date, the garden was located in a busy neighborhood of Tehran and numerous buildings, including several embassies, surrounded it. The plans of the land and the building of the embassy were prepared by the Russian Eng. Markov, who had been living in Iran since 1919. The biruni building was later renovated in the neo-Palladian style -developed by the famous Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580)- by this Russian engineer, who also created many buildings in Tehran under Pahlavi I. This building housed numerous magnificent large paintings by Italian and Iranian masters which were transferred to the summer residence at Farmaniveh; later the ambassador's permanent residence. The main building of the Italian embassy on France Avenue ranks among the valuable buildings erected in Tehran in the past hundred years and displays an interesting architectural and decoration style.

Clock pic

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