Palace of Ardashir

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The Palace of Ardashir Pāpakan, called the Kākh-e Ardashir-e Pāpakān (کاخ اردشير پاپکان) in Persian, also known as the Atash-kadeh (آتشکده), is a Sassanid palace-castle located in Firuzabad (Peroz), Fars, Iran. It is located some 5 kilometers south of the Qal'eh Dokhtar (literally meaning the "Castle of the Maiden"), also built by Ardashir I.

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Overview

Ibn Istakhri, a Muslim Iranian historian, mentions this site as a fire temple of great importance built during the Sassanian dynasty. Other scholars, historians, and archeologists report this site to be the palace built by Ardeshir during late Parthian or early Sassanian times

circa 220 CE

Architecture

circa 220 CE

Palace-Complex
The palace-complex is 104 meters (340 feet) by 55 meters (180 feet). The structure contains three domes, among other features, making it slightly larger and more magnificent than its predecessor, the nearby castle of Dezh Dokhtar. However, it seems that the compound was designed to display the royalty image of Ardashir I, rather than being a fortified structure for defense purposes. That is why perhaps it would be best to refer to the structure as a "palace" rather than a "castle", even though it has huge walls on the perimeters (twice as thick as Ghal'eh Dokhtar), and is a contained structure.

From the architectural design, it seems the palace was more of a place of social gathering where guests would be introduced to the imperial throne. The structure was built of local rocks and mortar with plasterwork on the insides. The style of the interior design is comparable to that of Tachara palace at Persepolis.

circa 220 CE

Throne Chamber
The throne chamber measures 14x14 meters and connects to all four external walls of the complex, via barrel-vaulted bays. The square hall is domed, using innovative construction technique of squinches. Remaining plaster works on the walls depict use of Achaemenian patterns. The form of the squinches transform a quadrangular structure in to a circular one. Then the upper section of the quadrangular space is turned in to a well-rounded octagon.

It seems that the central domed chamber was used as a reception/audience hall, and in other words served as the focal point of the palace complex. This domed part iss combined with two lateral domes. A staircase located on the back of the north dome, leads to the top floor of the palace, where some longitudinal rooms were built. It has been been suggested that these rooms were the section of the palace where the royal family resided.

circa 220 CE

Central Ayvan
The central magnificient ayvan (also spelled as iwan) measures 14 meters in width and 22 meters in height and 41 meters in length. Constructed out of stone masonry and mortar, it was built using the barrel-vault method. The iwan or arched entry was a building innovation of the later Parthian era which is found predominately in Sassanain palaces and buildings of importance.

This iwan directs external facade of the palace opposite the lake in to its main domed hall. On either sides of the ayvan, symmetrical rectangular antechambers were built, also roofed with barrel vaults. Similar construction styles were previously used in the Qal'ae Dokhtar of Ardashir, later on this design became a constant feature of the Sassanid palace architecture. The largest and most glorious example of these ayvans was constructed in the Ctesiphon during the late Sassanid period which generally is called "Taq Kasra" or the Ayvan Madaen.

The iwan has partially collapsed, and does not survive for the most part.

circa 220 CE

Lake
The palace of Ardeshir overlooks a small lake fed by a rich spring; water flowing from this lake feeds the ancient city of Ardeshir-Khurra "Gur". The main entrance iwan of the palace enjoys the view of the lake and its vicinity. It is believed that a Persian style garden enclosed the palace and its lake.

The palace was built next to a picturesque pond that was fed by a natural spring, perhaps in connection with the Persian goddess of water and growth, Anahita. The spring is thought to have fed a royal garden, in the same way that Cyrus had his garden (bustan) built at Pasargadae. The pond was tiled on its sides, surrounded by pavement for guests of the royal court to enjoy the evenings by.

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