Ali Qapu is one of the four main buildings of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, each positioned in one of the borders surrounding the square. It differs from the other three constructions. Ali Qapu is neither a mosque nor the gateway of a bazaar, instead it is a large Iwan (porch) with columns, from which the Safavid king would observe and enjoy the polo games taking place in the Naqsh-e Jahan Square.
This building was made during the Shah Abbas Safavid era, to host the meetings that Shah held with the high ranking guests and foreign ambassadors.
Today one has to go to the south after entering the square, but in the Safavid era the Ali Qapu served as the Grand Gate to the square.
Today the image of Ali Qapu represents the beauty and grace of the eastern aesthetics on one hand and the westerns emblems and elements on the other. At the beginning Ali Qapu was not built in its current form, the initial building was only the entrance gate to the Safavid governmental offices, and it was a simple building. Throughout different eras and especially during Shah Abbas period different stories were added. The columned Iwan of the Ali Qapu building is the legacy of the Shah Abbas the Second.
This forty-eight meter building is composed of six stories that a narrow and tiled staircase connects them to one another. The ground floor is composed of two halls that were dedicated to the official and court affairs of the Safavid government.
One of the most awe-inspiring parts of the Ali Qapu building is the Music Hall or the Sound Hall. The walls of this room are adorned by unique niches in forms of urns that in addition to their visual beauty had the function of beautifully echoing the sound of the instruments that were played in the room.
The large terrace of the Ali Qapu is built on the third floor. It is a large terrace with eighteen columns that hold a ceiling covered with paintings on wood. There is a water pool in the middle of the terrace that its mirror form is visible on the ceiling, reflecting the image of the entire square.
The stairways of the building are covered with tiles and going through the staircases one has the sensation of walking upon and through an elegant carpet.
One of the most well-known artworks of the Ali Qapu is a wooden door that is said to has been brought in from Najaf, Imam Ali holy shrine. The relief at the top of the door reads “I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gateway” and reiterates the probability of this premise.