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Sunday, 15 December 2013 14:55

Iranian architecture

With a history of thousands of years, Iranian architecture has evolved from peasant huts, teahouses and garden pavilions to some of the most beautiful and majestic structures the world has ever seen.

The available materials also helped shape the forms of Iranian architecture. Since antiquity, Iranians compressed mud as solidly as possible and used tenacious gypsum mortar, bricks and stones.
In addition to the influence of climate, available material, religious purpose and cultural factors, patrons also played a decisive role in the development of architecture, DestinationIran reported.

Origins of Iranian architecture

Farming hamlets dating from 8000-6000 BCE are the predecessors of Iranian architecture.
From the fifth millennium, huts appeared at Sialk historical mounds. In the next stage, bricks and mud mortars appeared. Cone mosaics and colored and glazed bricks were later used in the huge ziggurats.
Elamite architecture was generally of unfired brick, with red bricks used for revetment.
Centuries before Medes, in the northwest, cities had double and triple stonewalls. Very thick and very high buildings seem to have been wooden, square, tower-like structures, with columns that may have been tree trunks.
Achaemenian architecture

Achaemenian architecture was a combination of Median, Assyrian, Elamite, Egyptian, Ionian and Urartian styles.
What differentiated Achaemenian architecture from each of its constituent styles was the peculiar mode of incorporating local preferences.
There were three major elements in Achaemenian architecture that were purely Iranian, namely columns, rock tombs and stairways.
Columns, reliefs, inscriptions, ziggurats, terraces, stone towers, stone pedestals, staircases and pediments were the main features of the early Achaemenian architecture.

Post-Islam architecture

It was in the post-Islam era that Sassanian architecture was refined and developed.
In fact, the potential of Iranian architecture was developed into an art of exceeding beauty. The result was to be higher, more sensitive, more varied and more expressive than its antecedents.
The post-Islam era’s architecture prioritized mosque building. Mosques were intended to stand strongly for ages. That is why they have always been the most reinforced and strengthened buildings in Islamic architecture.
Iranians focused their efforts on stamping their own architectural signatures like barrel vaulting, crenellated roofs, conical squinches, big bricks and oval arches.
Brickworks in the form of different motifs and sometimes plasterworks over bricks were characteristics of the early post-Islam architecture.
Various kinds of mausoleums, tomb towers and minarets started to be built.

Seljuk architecture

Later, tomb towers and minarets outnumbered mosques in Seljuk period. However, construction of mosques was still the main focus of architecture.
Domed chamber of mosques became the dominant model. Later, four-iwan plan gained official acceptance in mosque building.
The iwan is a rectangular hall or space, usually vaulted, walled on three sides, with one end entirely open.
Implementing different tastes in various forms of vaulting was the distinguishing feature of Seljuk architecture. Double-shell domes began to be constructed.
Glazed brick and clay in bright and dark blue started to make architectural elements more clear or brick inscriptions more legible. Mosaic works with monochrome tiles became commonly used toward the end of this era.
The Seljuk Era marks the revival of Islamic art and civilization in Iran.

Safavid architecture

During the Safavid rule, networks of caravansaries were constructed throughout the country to facilitate transportation and promote trade. The Safavid architecture effectively influenced construction activities in other countries.
Safavid architecture was actually the climax of skill and experience of Iranian architects where traditional forms were easily used in awesome scales. Plenty of functional structures were also built like bridges, bazaars, bathhouses, water reservoirs, dams, pigeon towers and caravansaries.

Qajar architecture

Many mosques were built during Qajar Dynasty over a vast area with four-iwan plan and having a network of cupolas and windows for allowing light into the building.
A lot of Safavid works underwent renovations during the Qajar rule. Some new forms were introduced in Iranian architecture by the period’s architects like a completely deep courtyard, huge domes and decorated entrances in major cities.
Qajar buildings were different palaces, mansions, pavilions, summer resorts, hunting resorts as well as functional structures.
During the Qajar rule, military architecture received plenty of attention.
Decorations remained harmonious and infallible. They also tried to imitate the Sassanian architecture.

Source: Iran Daily

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