The Palace of Ardashir and its Setting

 The second important Sassanian structure of Firuzabad Plain (after Ardashir-Khurreh) is the Palace of Ardashir (also called Atashkadeh by the local people) located on the north edge of the Plain. The palace is located 2 km north of the city of Ardashir-Khurreh. Lack of fortifications and its considerably more monumental layout indicates that it was built when Ardashir had established his supremacy therefore military considerations were no longer necessary. Due to the similarity of its architectural style with Qaleh Dokhtar palace, it undoubtedly belongs to the time of Ardashir. The palace evidently followed the construction style of Qaleh Dokhtar palace but improved it. As an official residence of the king, the palace was constructed outside the city of Ardashir-Khurreh. It seems that this custom continued throughout the Sassanian period.

 Today the area around the palace is occupied by a new cemetery and also agricultural fields. The modern village of Atashkadeh, which has taken its name from the palace, is situated on the northeastern side of the monument.

The Pond of Ardashir Palace

 The establishment of buildings next to a pond and a water spring is a tradition through the Sassanian period. The palace of Ardashir also overlooks a small pond fed by a rich spring; water flowing from this pond irrigates nearby lands. The main entrance ayvan of the palace benefits from the view of the pond and its vicinity. Evidently usage of the reflection of images on water surface was very popular in Sassanian architecture.

The Palace of Ardashir; General Description

 The palace of Ardashir has been built on a flat terrain. The entire area including the frontal pond is 8500 m2 and the palace measures 108m by 55m.The plan of the building in general is similar to that of Qaleh Dokhtar Palace. It is characterized by a regular and symmetrical layout around an entrance ayvan. It also has a public reception area, a deep ayvan with lateral rooms, followed by a central dome and domed or barrel-vaulted subsidiary halls. A courtyard with ayvans and large, uniform halls behind the reception area is generally regarded to be the official area of the palace.The main building materials are the rubble stone masonry with gypsum mortar. The surface of at least some of the internal walls was covered by a layer of plain plaster.

 The vaulting techniques of Ardashir Palace depend largely on the special qualities of gypsum mortar which allows vaulting without centering because of its short setting time. Barrel vaults with pitched courses are the most frequently-used system in the palace. Doorways at Ardashir Palace were surmounted by arches set slightly backward on their imposts. Below some of the wide vaults, square piers are added to support the weight of the structures built above the vault. The narrow moldings of triangular teeth that marked transitions between walls and vaults comprised one of the building's decorations. All exterior façades of the palace were designed with engaged columns, projected surfaces and vertical arched niches and in the interior side of the ayvan and rooms, decorative and functional niches boasting the special form of Sassanian blind barrel vaults were used.

The Central Domed Hall

The central domed hall measures 14m by 14m and via the barrel-vaulted bays is linked to all four sides of the square. The square halls are domed, by the innovated technique of squniches. The form of squinches transforming a quadrangular space into a circle one, in the domed hall of the palace is crude. However, eventually the upper section of the quadrangular spaces, are turned into a well-rounded octagon. The arrangement of the three domed halls in the Ardashir Palace consists of three horizontal zones;

  1. The square halls with bays or arches at the four axial intercepts;
  2. A transitional zone including the corner squinches and windows or decorative niches at the main axes;
  3. The cupola proper.

 It seems that the central domed chamber has been the reception/audience hall, and in other words served as the focal space of the palace. This domed part is combined with two lateral domes.A staircase located on the back of the north dome, leads to the top floor of the palace which consists of some longitudinal rooms built between the narrow spaces of the domes. It is suggested that these rooms were the section of the palace in which the royal family resided.  

The Back Courtyard of the Palace

 In the back space of the domed halls, there is an open courtyard, which is square-shaped, measuring 20m by 20m, with two ayvans situated along one main axis. There are rooms on each one of the four sides of the courtyard in which random podiums exist along the walls without any clear function.