Originally much smaller in scale, designed as a portal between the palace gardens and the maydan, the Ali Qapu grew with a series of additions over a sixty year period to accommodate court functions.
The additions include a double height talar (a columnar porch form usually located at ground level) which sits upon a two-story base. The talar provided a post from which royalty and courtiers could view any spectacle in the maydan below. Three more stories rise behind the talar, each with a different floor plan composed of reception halls and rooms of varying sizes and uncertain function.
Of note are the stucco muqarnas niches in the fifth floor 'music room'. Cutouts in the shape of ceramics and glassware create a delicate surface and intense chiarascuro effect.
Along with the Chihil Sutun and Hasht Behesht, the Ali Qapu 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.
Babaie, Sussan. Isfahan and its Palaces: Statecraft and Shi’ism and the Architecture of Conviviality in Early Modern Iran. Edinburgh Studies in Islamic Art, edited by Robert Hillenbrand. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008. 84-86, 115-16f.
Blair, Sheila S. and Jonathan M. Bloom. The Art and Architecture of Islam. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994. 190.
Galdieri, Eugenio. Esfahan, Ali Qapu: An Architectural Survey. Rome: IsMEO, 1979.
Hillenbrand, Robert. Islamic Architecture: Form, Function, and Meaning Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000. 428-433.
Michell, George. Architecture of the Islamic World. London: Thames and Hudson, 1978. 73, 254.