Located in the center of the Garden of Nightingales (the Bagh-e Bulbul), the Hasht Behesht is one of Isfahan's two surviving Safavid pavilions. Built under Shah Sulaiman some twenty years after the Chihil Sutun, it is quite different in style from the earlier pavilion, although it exhibits the same concern for the interplay of interior and exterior spaces.
'Hasht Behesht' translates as 'Eight Paradises' and refers to a Timurid palace building type consisting of two stories of four corner rooms around a central domed space. In Isfahan, the corner rooms are octagonal, forming massive pillars that define four large openings leading to large porches in the south, east and west, and an iwan in the north.
The vault of the central space is detailed with polychrome muqarnas and is capped with a lantern. Nineteenth century engravings reveal that the interior was once covered in tiles and wall paintings that have since been removed. Some of the original mirror mosaic remains on the vault.
The openness of the pavilion to the exterior, with large open archways and the top-lit domed space, is enhanced with a fountain positioned under the dome.
Along with the Ali Qapu and Chihil Sutun, the Hasht Behesht was restored by IsMEO - Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente for NOCHMI - National Organization for Conservation of Historic Monuments of Iran. The project, completed in 1977, received an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1980.
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