Persian garden truly resembles the paradise on Earth. The general pattern of Persian gardens (Iranian gardens) has a rectangular form consisting of four quarters abundant in trees and flowers, streams and pathways, ponds and fountains, usually a central pavilion, and the walls that surround the garden. The Persian gardens are so remarkable that nine gardens out of a wide variety are inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gardens located at different climatic parts of Iran have their unique features but are still similar in overall structure.
According to Persian literature, the word garden means “paradise “which is derived from the word”paridaiza”. Paridaiza means a garden surrounded by walls. This walled garden makes a harmony between nature and humans’ art of creation. The evergreen trees harness the sharp sunlight, the water flows make the environment cool, and the pavilion blocks the sunlight while providing picturesque view from the terrace.
Dowlatabad garden located in Yazd is a beautiful sample of Persian garden
Persian garden holds roots in the 6th BC when Cyrus The Great who ruled over a vast territory, determined the plan of the ancient garden of Pasargadae and ordered it to be constructed at Pasargadae (close to Shiraz province). In fact, the unique plan of Persian garden, its elaborate architecture, and the presence of natural elements originated from Cyrus’ notions. The purpose of Persian garden was to provide physical and spiritual relaxation. So, it is true to say that it was during the Achaemenid Empire that the idea of an earthly paradise came into reality.
Later, the Sassanid created Persian gardens inspired by Zoroastrianism. According to their religious belief, the four quarters of the garden resembled four seasons of the year, and the importance of water running through the garden was more emphasized. The oldest documented illustration of Persian garden also dates back to Sassanid era. In the bas-relief of Taq Bostan, the hunt-garden of Khosrow Parviz (the king of Sassanid dynasty), is the oldest engraved work that depicts the geometry of the Persian garden.
The Ancient Pasargadae Persian Garden
In the Islamic period, the aesthetic aspect of the gardens was more enhanced. According to the Islamic notion, Persian garden resembled heaven described in Quran. Being inspired by the image of heaven, Iranians put more emphasis on four heavenly streams running through the garden.
The uniqueness of Persian Garden is not limited to its geometry, design, and architecture. Symbolism has a profound role in adding value to Persian garden. In the Persian garden, natural elements are elaborately combined with man-made components to make an ideal reflection of symbolic and physical beliefs. There are different opinions toward the meaning of each element in Persian garden; however, the majorities declare that the garden materializes the concept of an earthly paradise. Moreover, four quarters called Chahar Bagh ( four gardens) are the symbol of the universe whose architect is God, the water is the symbol of men’s and women’s purification, and the evergreen trees especially cypresses are the symbol of immortality. Beyond their symbolism, their usefulness is also important. For instance, the irrigation system makes a cool environment in the heart of hot deserts of Iran, or the fruitful trees such as peach and apricot reveal the pattern of productivity.
Since Iranians appreciate art in different forms, the idea of Persian garden has influenced the design, decoration, and description of other arts such as Persian carpet, pottery, calligraphy, music, and poetry. Among all, Persian carpet is one of the best illustrations of Persian garden. Many carpet designs are inspired by Persian garden and it is better to say that Persian carpet is a flat Persian garden with many trees, flowers, and birds.
A view of Fin Garden located in Kashan
Though a very long time has passed from the construction of Persian garden of Pasargadae in 6th BC, the Persian garden has kept its architectural and geometrical principles during history. It has also found the way to other countries especially Agra in India and Andalusia in Spain. Moreover, Pasargadae Garden , Chehel Sotoun, Fin Garden, Eram Garden, Shazdeh Garden, Dowlatabad Garden, Abbasabad Garden, Akbarieh Garden, and Pahlevanpour Garden are the Persian gardens inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage Site, and they attract tours to Iran either by their survived plans or their scenic sceneries.