BĀB-E HOMĀYŪN (august [royal] gate), name of a gate and its connecting street in the Qajar citadel (Arg) of Tehran (Figure 4). The southern half of the Arg housing the royal quarter was separated from the ministerial area in the north by a lane called Kūča Darb(-e) Andarūn, while a south-northerly street, Ḵīābān Almāsīya (Diamond avenue, later [Ḵīābān] Bāb-e Homāyūn), divided the ministerial area itself into two quarters. A gate, Sardar(-e) Almāsīya, at the southern end of Ḵīābān Almāsīya, opened up in the center of Kūča Darb Andarūn; another, Darvāza Arg, a simple gate built during the Afghan occupation, connected it to the northern wall of the Arg. (V. Minorsky in EI1 V, pp. 718 refers to an historically “important plan” of quarters in the Arg and Tehran prepared by Brezin in 1842.) In 1869-1874, Tehran saw radical development based on a plan prepared by the Austrian August Křziž (J. E. Polak, “Topographische Bemerkungen zur Karte der Umgebung und zu dem Plane von Teheran,” in Mitteilungen der K. K. geographischen Gesellschaft in Wien 20, 1877, p. 218 and pl. III); it resulted in the extension of the town on all sides (P. G. Ahrens, Die Entwicklung der Stadt Tehran, Opladen, 1966, pp. 46f.). Meydān(-e) Tūpḵāna (Artillery square) was created to the north of the Arg; the Arg’s eastern ditch was filled to make room for a street (Nāṣerīya, later Nāṣer Ḵosrow) intended to divert public access from Almāsīya Avenue (Moḥammad-Ḥasan Khan Sanīʿ-al-Dawla, Merʾāt al-boldān III, Tehran, 1296/1879, p. 44), and Almāsīya Avenue and its gates were renovated. This latter task was supervised by Moḥammad-Raḥīm Khan Qājār ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla Amīr Neẓām, and in it older Iranian architectural traditions were combined with some European features (cf. G. N. Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, London, 1892, pp. 306f.). Sardar Almāsīya was renamed Bāb-e Homāyūn (in obvious imitation of the Ottoman usage which applied the term, in the sense of “imperial gate,” to the principal entrance in the outer wall of the sultan’s new serail, Top-kapı Sarayı at Istanbul, see U. Heyd in EI2 I, p. 836; the term saray is of Persian origin) and rebuilt as a two-storied structure. The lower level was partly dressed with ashlar masonry and partly faced with glazed tiles of brilliant colors. Access was gained through a large gateway crowned by a round arch and flanked by arcades, porticoes and guardrooms. The half circular upper façade of the gateway was faced with glazed tiles representing floral designs surrounding the state and royal emblem, the Lion-and-Sun. The upper story contained a hall with two columns ornamented in plaster with spiral bands, and crowned with a semicircular arch bearing various floral designs. Flanking this hall were two corner rooms or balconies with stained-glass openings and mirror-works. The Lion-and-Sun flag floated upon this gate whenever the shah was in Tehran (Curzon, op. cit., pp. 307-08; Y. Ḏokāʾ, Tārīḵča-ye sāḵtemānhā-ye arg-e salṭanatī-e Tehrān wa rāhnamā-ye kāḵ-e Golestān, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, pp. 336ff., with the reproduction of a contemporary picture in fig. 149). The Almāsīya Avenue itself was renamed Ḵīābān Bāb-e Homāyūn (later also called Dālān(-e) Behešt [Paradise alley], or Ḵīābān Dawlat) and developed into a cobbled street, broad and straight, with footpaths, rows of trees, lamp-posts (containing oil-lamps) and metal fences. Two rows of uniformed shop units flanked the street, all with façades ornamented with circular arches and latticed arcades. The street gave access to major official buildings such as Madrasa-ye Neẓām (military college), The Qūrḵāna (arsenal), Anbār-e Ḡalla-ye Ḵāleṣa (royal granary), and the Majmaʿ-e Ṣanāyeʿ (artisans’ quarter) where various skilled workers and professional artists worked in their own workshops (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Rūz-nāma-ye Īrān 478, 1299/1882), as well as to Mahd ʿOlyāʾ Mosque and, indirectly, to Dār al-Fonūn (Ḏokāʾ, op. cit., pp. 338ff., with references and fig. 147 reproducing a water color by Maḥmūd Khan Malek-al-Šoʿarāʾ). Darvāza Arg was now renamed Darvāza Dawlat, and rebuilt as a two-storied gatehouse, with a large gateway flanked by two smaller ones in the lower level and a columned portico crowned by a semicircular pinnacle and flanked by corner rooms. The main doors were of cast iron, and the whole structure was faced with glazed tiles in glittering patterns (Ḏokāʾ, op. cit., pp. 339f.; Curzon, op. cit., pp. 306-07 and the figure opposite p. 306). A new development plan, carried out under Reżā Shah in 1934, wiped out the Arg’s walls and gates (M. T. Moṣṭafawī, “Arg-e Tehran,” Eṭṭelāʿāt-e māhāna 6, no. 69, 1332 Š./1953, p. 26; H. Bobek, “Tehran,” in Geographische Forschungen = Schlern-Schriften 190: Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag von Hans Kinzl, Innsbruck, 1958, p. 18), leaving the Bāb-e Homāyūn Avenue fairly intact.
Bibliography: Given in the text.
(A. Sh. Shahbazi)
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: August 18, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 3, pp. 284-285
A. Sh. Shahbazi, “BĀB-E HOMĀYŪN,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, III/3, pp. 284-285, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/bab-e-homayun-august-royal-gate (accessed on 30 December 2012).