Some Views from the Past and Present of Azadi Courtyard
Azadi courtyard
Thursday , 08/14/2014 - 18:27
صحن-آزادي
When you attend the holy shrine from this courtyard, coming from any balcony, you will see the golden dome before yourself that prospects freedom from all your attachments and dependences.
You may sit at a corner and read pilgrimage prayer, or take a sip of the drink from the small water reservoirs of the courtyard, or just sit down and look at the golden dome and shed tears.
You surely can feel freedom with all your heart and soul…

The holy shrine was formerly restricted only to one courtyard that later during sacred premises expansion operation was known as the old courtyard taking the name of ‘Inqilab’ (revolution) after the Islamic revolution. In 1233, Fath Ali Shah Qajar, then ruler, thought of expanding the courtyards of the holy shrine. Thus, he ordered that a courtyard be constructed at the west of the Inqilab courtyard and down the feet of Imam Reza (A.S.).
An architecture named Haj Aqajan was appointed to start constructing the courtyard by cooperation of Ali Naqi Mirza, son of Fath Ali Ahah Qajar.
But Fath Ali Ahah never saw the end of the project and it was Naser al-Din Shah who as the Iran’s ruler witnessed the completion of the newly constructed courtyard known as ‘new’ courtyard.
The picture below taken by Aqa Reza the photographer, the special photographer of Naser al-Din Shah’s court, displays a view of inside the courtyard.
The water reservoir seen in the picture was removed long before as it blocked the full observation of the golden balcony by the pilgrims and now it is replaced with water pool, waterscape, and several beautiful water drinking reservoirs.

Although the Azadi courtyard was completed in the Naser al-Din Shah’s reign, tile working of the courtyard was carried out in the reign of Muhammad Shah Qajar.
The architectural and constructional style of this courtyard is much similar to the Atiq or old (Inqilab) courtyard rather imitating it. This structure with an area of 4156 sq.m. was constructed in Islamic architectural style having four magnificent symmetrical balconies.
In the following picture taken in 1309 A.H/1279 H.Sh. by Abdullah Qajar both balconies of the Azadi courtyards are clearly visible.

Balconies are among the main elements of the Azadi courtyard. Azadi courtyard has totally four balconies that serve as connecting ways to the surrounding places.
Azadi courtyard is leading to the Dar al-Ziyafah, Dar al-Saadah, and Dar al-Surur porticos from the west, to the Sheik Hurr-e Ameli sanctuary from the north, to the Imam Khomeini (R.A.) portico from the south, and to the Nawwab Safavi Street (down street) from the east.

Northern balcony
This balcony known as ‘Bab al-Hikmah’ is located at the north of the Azadi courtyard next to the Dar al-Hikmah portico. This balcony leads to the Nawwab Safavi Street (down street).
The balcony is 7.19 meters wide, 17.20 meters long, and 20 meters high. The floor and plinths of the balcony are covered with Khalaj stone that is very solid and beautiful. The plinth is 1.92 meters high.

Southern balcony
This elevated and splendid balcony is located at the southern side of the new courtyard symmetric to the other balconies. The inscription at the forehead of the balcony indicates the founders of the Azadi courtyard. This balcony is 7.30 meters wide, 7.30 meters long, and 20 meters high.
The floor of the balcony is made of Khalaj stone, the plinth is made of black stone, and from the plinth up to the ceiling, tile work and Muqarnas have been applied. Around the balcony four small platforms and at the top four booths have been constructed. At the balcony forehead, it is written in white Nastaliq script: ‘as a sign of gratitude for victory of the Islamic revolution, Iranian nation led by Imam Khomeini (R.A.) and in the hope of happiness in the shade of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran 1399 A.H.’

Eastern balcony
The eastern balcony known as ‘Bab al-Salam’ is located at the middle of the eastern side symmetric to the golden balcony. With two pass ways at the two sides, this balcony serves as one of the main ways of entry to the courtyard. It is located at the eastern side of the sacred courtyard connected to the Nawwab Safavi Street (down street) and the square leading to it.
The balcony is 7.10 meters wide, 15.8 meters long, and 20.10 meters high. The plinth is covered with Khalaj stone and the wall is decorated with tiles from the plinth up to the Muqarnas ceiling. The Muqarnas ceiling has been decorated with painting and colorful designs. There is also a booth above the entrance door.

Western or golden balcony
This balcony is located at the west of the courtyard known as Bab al-Saadah and leads to the Dar al-Saadah portico. It is 15.30 meters long, 7.25 meters wide, and over 20.10 meters high. It was renovated and decorated with golden bricks in 1282 A.H. at the time of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar and at the reign of Hesam al-Salataneh and Azed al-Mulk Qazvini’s custodianship. It is therefore known also as ‘Naseri balcony’.

The balcony floor is covered with marble stone and it is fenced with marble stones from three directions. The plinth of the balcony is made of marble stone up to two meters. From the top of the plinth up to the ceiling, gold work has been applied and the ceiling is Muqarnas. The balcony has four booths with bodies made of gilded bricks.
The Azadi courtyard has more elements besides the balconies including the large and old clock, Thamen al-Aemah (A.S.) cemetery located at the lower floor of the courtyard, and Sheik Bahaei mausoleum located in one of the western chambers of the courtyard between the Azadi and Imam Khomeini (R.A.) courtyards.
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