The cultural and historical complex of Niavaran is situated in a great garden in an 11 hectare area, with historical and natural attractions in the northern part of Tehran. The monuments of this complex belong to the Qajar and the Pahlavi eras.
At the beginning the Qajar rulers used this place for their summer resort. Fath Ali Shah Qajar instructed building of a garden in the Tehran outskirts. This garden was built near the “Gordevey” or “Gordebeh” village which was situated in today’s Niavaran. This garden was built on the reed-bed (neyzar) place. This garden was called “Neyavaran” which later became famous as Niavaran. Mohammad Shah as well erected a small building in this garden. Following him Naser al-Din Shah erected the Sahebqaranieh Palace in this garden. The last building which was built in this garden is famous as Kooshk Ahmad Shahi.
During the reign of Pahlavi II, some of the small monuments of this garden were ruined and Niavaran Palace was built with a modern style for the residence of Shah and his family members. Presently, the palace area consists of Niavaran Palace, Sahebqaraniyeh Palace, Kooshk Ahmad Shahi, small gardens and special Pahlavi school.
In 1978, the palace was captured by the Revolutionary forces and three years later it was delivered to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. In 1986, the Cultural Heritage Higher Education Center started its activities in the Special School. After one year the lateral areas were allocated to dormitory for boys. In the next years Jahan Nama Museum (1997), Sahebqaranieh Palace (1998), and Kooshk Ahmad Shahi (2000) were opened to public visits.
Located in the north-eastern corner of Niavaran garden and completed in 1968, the main Niavaran Palace, was the primary residence of the last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the Imperial family until the Iranian Revolution. The main palace was designed in 1958 by the Iranian architect Mohsen Foroughi, and following a short delay in its construction, it was completed in 1967 and used in 1968.
Niavaran palace covers an area of 9000 square meters and is designed in two and a half stories. At first this palace was designed to host high level guests but during the construction it was changed into a residence for Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his family. The rectangular design and the interior architecture were built based on a modern technology and also by mixing pre-Islamic and post-Islamic art.
There are many rooms located in ground floor; a cinema, a dining room, a guest room, a waiting room and also the “blue hall”. In the half story there is a work room, a conference hall, Farah’s secretary room, Leila’s Bedroom and the maid’s room. In the third floor there is Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s resting place, Farah’s Wardrobe and also rooms for their children and their maids
There is also a room which contains Mohammad Reza’s official and military clothes and also his medals and signs. The palace is decorated by a beautiful mixture of paintings from Iranian and foreign artists and also by valuable Iranian carpets. The palace was re-opened for visitors in 2009.
In 1888, Naser al-Din Shah Qajar ordered to have Niavaran Palace erected in two floors including Shah-Neshin (formal reception area), korsi-khaneh (winter sitting room), bathroom, and forty to fifty buildings each consisting of four rooms and a terrace housed by his consorts.
During the 31 years of his reign, he called himself as the Saheb Qaran and hence called this palace as Sahebqaraniyeh. After him Mozaffar ad-Din Shah made some changes in the building and ruined a part of the Harem. The Constitution was also signed by him in the yard of this palace.
Under Pahlavi I, this palace was renovated for the marriage of Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi with Princess Fawzia for receiving the guests but due to severe winter the ceremonies were not held there.
Under Pahlavi II, Farah Diba made basic changes in its internal decorations and building, and the first floor -i.e. hose-khaneh (pool room)- was used for receiving the guests and the second floor was used as the office of Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi.
Other rooms of this palace include: sofreh-khaneh (dining room), tea-house, bar, game rooms in the first floor, and meeting room, waiting room for the foreign missions, secretary, dentist room and resting place of Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi.
All the doors and windows of this building are decorated with colorful glasses. It was repaired in 1995 and in 1998 re-opened as museum.
Kooshk Ahmad Shahi (Ahmad Shahi Pavilion)
Covering an area of 800 square meters north of Sahebqaraniyeh Palace, this two-storied pavilion was built in the closing days of the Qajar period, as a private resting retreat for Ahmad Shah. This pavilion after a restoration and interior additions was utilized as the residence and office of Reza Pahlavi by completely changing its furniture during the Pahlavi II.
Ahmad Shahi pavilion was decorated with the brick facades and has various designs in buff color. The entrance of the pavilion is situated in the southern side of the building, which is joined to the pavilion by various stairs which pass aside a pond covered with tiles.
The ground floor of this building consists of a hall with a pond made of marble stone in its center with six rooms and two corridors around. Decorative items made of silver, bronze, ivory, wood and souvenirs from different countries such as India, paintings, medals, etc. have been exhibited in this place. Also other items including decorative mineral stones, a stone from Moon, various plant and animal fossils are kept in this building.
The second floor of this building consists of a central hall and a four sided veranda. All around the main hall which was used as the music room, wooden shelves have been installed. All around the veranda is covered by six square brick columns and 26 round gypsum columns. The gypsum work pattern of lion and sun can be seen on the northern wall of the veranda.
Following the Islamic Revolution during the restoration and renovation stages the lower parts of its walls were also renovated and concurrent with the Cultural Heritage Week (2000). Today this place was also opened to public visit.
Jahan Nama Museum
In 1976, a section in the western part of the Sahebqaraniyeh Palace was allocated to the souvenirs received and items purchased by Farah Diba. This museum was opened to public in 1997. Jahan Nama Museum has four halls in the ground floor and one hall in the underground floor.
On the ceiling of the main hall of this museum, exquisite paintings on wood featuring flower and bird pattern of Shiraz can be seen. The works of this museum have been exhibited in two parts; pre-historic art and the contemporary art works of Iran and the world.
Some of the works include, pre-Columbian works, the metal works of Lorestan, the ceramic works of Amlash, and works by contemporary Iranian artists including Sohrab Sepehri, Naser Owesi, Faramarz Pilaram, Ja’afar Roohbakhsh, Parviz Kalantari, Bahman Mohassess, Sirak Melkonian, Jazeh Tabatabai, Mash Esmail, Parviz Tanavoli, and non-Iranian artists George Brack, Paul Gogen, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Pierre August Renoir, Diego Giacometti, Fernand Leger and Marc Chagall.