Rasht Tourist Attractions 16 Jun 2024 BY Batul Iddi

Shahrdari Square of Rasht

In the heart of Rasht, the capital of Gilan province, lies Shahrdari Square, one of Iran's most beautiful and historic squares. A major attraction for tourists, the history of Shahrdari Square and its surrounding buildings dates back to the early Pahlavi dynasty.

This remarkable site was registered as a national monument of Iran on December 17, 1977. Stay with us to explore more about Shahrdari Square and its historical complex.


History of Shahrdari Square of Rasht

History of Shahrdari Square of Rasht

The construction of Shahrdari Square in Rasht marks a significant chapter in the city’s journey towards modernization, which began during the Constitutional Revolution.

Following the approval of the Municipal Law in 1907, Rasht was among the first cities to establish a municipality. The decision to construct the Shahrdari building in the western part of the square was made by Mirza Khalil and the Rasht municipality in the same year, but construction did not commence immediately.

Before the construction, the site was a hill housing the grave of a revered figure, known as Abu Ja'far. The site evolved into a cemetery around his tomb. The construction led to the removal of the grave and several buildings in the planned path, sparking protests among the locals.

The opposition subsided with the replacement of Rasht’s governor by Fazlollah Zahedi and the relocation of the grave to the building's vicinity.

Haji Mirza Khalil, a well-known constitutionalist, was tasked with establishing the municipality. He received intellectual support from the "Municipal Association," including prominent members like Haji Mirza Yusef Khan, Seyed Mehdi Rais al-Va'izin, Naser al-Tojar, Mir Ahmad Imam, Haji Mirza Abutaleb, and Mir Mansour Huda.

The construction of the palace took several years to begin. Before the palace's construction, the Rasht municipality operated from the Khoshtaria building before moving to its current location.

The Shahrdari Palace in Rasht is part of a complex of public buildings, including the The Clock Tower, Post and Telegraph Museum, and the Iran Hotel, known for their distinctive architecture and collectively referred to as Shahrdari Square. Construction of the palace began in 1923 and was completed by 1926, early in Reza Shah’s reign, becoming the city’s municipal building.

During its early days, the Shahrdari building hosted daily live music and orchestral performances in front of its main entrance, a tradition marked by a special area still visible to visitors today.

Shahrdari Square also played a pivotal role during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, serving as a mobilization point for sending soldiers to the frontlines.

Today, Shahrdari Square stands as a symbol of Rasht, reflecting the city’s historical and cultural evolution while serving as a central point for social and cultural activities.

The public buildings around the square feature beautiful lighting decorations, creating a stunning night time atmosphere. The square comes alive with street art and music groups, making it a lively and attractive place to visit, especially in the evenings with its charming views and delightful food offerings.

| Related: Masuleh Village - A Picturesque Gem in Gilan


Things to See in Rasht Shahrdari Square

Shahrdari Square in Rasht is surrounded by several notable attractions. Here are some highlights you can explore:


Shahrdari Square Palace

Shahrdari Square Palace

The main building that gives the square its name is the Shahrdari (Municipality) palace, notable for its beautiful clock tower. It is one of the city’s most attractive landmarks, standing out as one of the most eye-catching buildings in Shahrdari Square. Despite being over 90 years old, the palace has managed to retain its charm and elegance.

For the residents of Rasht, who pass by this beautiful building daily, it may seem quite ordinary. However, for visitors and passersby, the palace, along with all the buildings surrounding Shahrdari Square, offers a picturesque and almost dreamlike view. The Shahrdari Palace was registered as a national heritage site on December 17, 1977.

The building sustained damage during the 1990 Rudbar and Manjil earthquake, which caused several cracks. It has since been restored and continues to serve as a symbol of Rasht.

The palace remains a major attraction in the city, and visitors can still enjoy performances by the municipal orchestra and music group, a tradition that has endured over the years.


Architecture of Shahrdari Square Palace

The architecture of Shahrdari Square Palace in Rasht is distinctly influenced by Russian design. A closer look at the palace reveals striking similarities with buildings constructed in Russia.

The building’s architect, Sardaraf, was Russian and drew inspiration from the contemporary architecture of St. Petersburg. He collaborated with local Iranian architects in Rasht to bring his vision to life. The engineers for the palace were selected from German-Armenian professionals.

The palace stands approximately 24 meters tall, with its tower historically used as a lookout point, offering a commanding view of Rasht. The architectural style, as noted by Robert Vahanyan, reflects the cultural renaissance of the period and is influenced by the military regime that controlled Rasht following the defeat of the Jungle Movement by Cossack forces. From 1924 to 1926, the city's administration was under military rule before the construction of the Shahrdari Palace.

The emblem of Rasht Municipality, designed as two crossed keys, symbolizes the resolution of urban challenges. This emblem is prominently displayed on the building and also features on city flags and bridges across Rasht.

| Read more: Elements of Persian Architecture


The Clock Tower

Three years after the construction of the Shahrdari Palace, a clock was installed in the tower, symbolizing modernity and timekeeping. Similar clock towers were erected in other Iranian cities, including Tabriz and Sari. The clock's bell chimes every hour, corresponding to the hour of the day, keeping the city’s residents informed of the time.


Abu Jafar Mausoleum

Before the construction of the Shahrdari Palace, the site was a hill that housed the mausoleum of Agha Seyyed Abou Jafar. After the palace was built, the mausoleum was moved to the courtyard of the Shahrdari Palace.


Iran Hotel

Iran Hotel

Iran Hotel, dating back to the Pahlavi era, is located on the northern side of Shahrdari Square. Recognized as a national heritage site since March 15, 2001, it is a significant cultural landmark and venue for cultural events in Rasht.

The hotel, with a floor area of 1800 square meters, forms part of the historical complex of Rasht’s central square, along with other administrative buildings such as the post and telegraph office and the Shahrdari building.


Rasht National Library

The Rasht National Library, Iran’s first national library, is located at the entrance of Alem-ol-Hoda Street, adjacent to the Shahrdari building. Established in 1934, the library houses approximately 150,000 printed books and 1,750 manuscripts.


Post and Telegraph Museum

Post and Telegraph Museum

The post office in Shahrdari Square is a historic site from the first Pahlavi period, situated on the northern side of the square. Covering an area of 1,930 square meters, the L-shaped building consists of four floors and was constructed between 1931 and 1933. It has been listed as a national heritage site since 2001.


Sepidrud Cinema

Another old building in Shahrdari Square is Sepidrud Cinema. Originally used as a meeting hall, it was later converted into a cinema. Named after one of Gilan's main rivers, Sepidrud cinema is a significant cultural spot in Rasht.


Statues and Public Art

While strolling around Shahrdari Square, you will encounter various statues that symbolize the culture of Rasht and Gilan. The square, having been pedestrianized, is a lively meeting and recreational spot for both locals and tourists, adding to the vibrancy and charm of the area.


Rasht Shahrdari Square Location

Shahrdari Square is one of the most famous attractions in Gilan, located in the center of Rasht. The streets leading to this square are cobblestoned for a distance of about a few hundred meters, making it inaccessible to cars. You can reach the square via Alameh Helli, Imam, and Shariati streets.


How to Get to Rasht Shahrdari Square

How to Get to Rasht Shahrdari Square

By Car

Although Shahrdari Square itself is paved and inaccessible to cars, you can easily park your car on one of the nearby streets or in designated parking lots. From there, it’s just a short walk to the square.


On Foot

Public transportation is a convenient option for reaching Rasht Shahrdari Square. Simply get off at the nearest stop, and then enjoy a pleasant walk to the square. The streets leading to Shahrdari Square are pedestrian-friendly, allowing for a comfortable and scenic approach.


What to Do in Shahrdari Square Rasht

What to Do in Shahrdari Square Rasht

Apart from walking and enjoying the beautiful scenery, there are several activities to indulge in while visiting Rasht Shahrdari Square. Modern shops abound around the square, but the real gem is the traditional Bazaar of Rasht in the surrounding alleys.

This authentic bazaar is the heart of the square, offering a variety of local products like fish, olives, handicrafts, and agricultural goods. It's the perfect place to experience the local culture and shop for unique souvenirs.

In the evenings, Shahrdari Square comes alive with street bands playing music, adding to the vibrant atmosphere. The neon lights make the square look even more beautiful and lively at night, creating a magical ambiance for visitors.

Rasht is renowned for its delicious foods and snacks, and Shahrdari Square is no exception. Retail shops selling local sweets and snacks are scattered around the area. Be sure to try these tasty treats—you won't be disappointed!

As night falls, people flock back to the city center to enjoy the cool evening air, take leisurely strolls, and indulge in the variety of street food available at the stalls and carts around the square. The area is often filled with families and young people, especially on weekends, making it a delightful spot to visit after dark.


Where to Eat near Shahrdari Square of Rasht

Where to Eat near Shahrdari Square of Rasht

Hungry visitors to Rasht Shahrdari Square need not fret about finding a place to eat. The area boasts a wide array of dining options, catering to all tastes and budgets.

Whether you're in the mood for a fine dining experience or craving some delicious street food, you'll find it all nearby. Some notable options include Gilak Restaurant, Khan Baba Restaurant, and Napoli Italian Restaurant.

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Where to Stay near Shahrdari Square of Rasht

When it comes to accommodations near Shahrdari Square in Rasht, you're spoiled for choice. For a budget-friendly stay right in the city center, consider Ardebil Hotel Rasht.

If luxury is what you seek, Grand Kadus Hotel and Shebestan Hotel Rasht offer exquisite options. Prefer a tranquil retreat? Saabouri Apartment Hotel Rasht is an excellent choice.

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Best Time to Visit Shahrdari Square

Best Time to Visit Shahrdari Square

Visiting Rasht Shahrdari Square is one of the highlights of exploring Rasht. Consequently, it tends to be busier on weekends and holidays.

The best time to visit depends on your preference; during the day, you can admire the architectural details of the surrounding buildings, while at night, the square comes alive with dazzling lights and a different atmosphere. Regardless of the time, you can explore Shahrdari Square any day, any time, without any cost.


Bottom Line

Rasht Shahrdari Square is a perfect spot for photography, so don't forget to capture your beautiful memories with your camera. Moreover, around the square, you'll find delicious street foods such as Fuman cookies and handmade traditional bread. Additionally, Rasht is one of UNESCO's Creative Cities for its culinary delights, so be sure to experience the local cuisine, which is exceptionally tasty.

Located next to Rasht's Grand Bazaar, Shahrdari Square is part of a vibrant area brimming with diverse flavors. Exploring both the square and the bazaar allows you to immerse yourself in the culture, cuisine, and lifestyle of the Gilaki people. So, make sure to visit both attractions to fully experience the richness of Rasht. If you've had the chance to visit Rasht Shahrdari Square, share your experiences with us.

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