27 June 2001
They may have survived wars and changes in
dynasties but some of Iran's historic monuments
are now falling prey to new landlords determined
to use the lucrative properties for their own
One such victim is the Palace of Ahmad Shah - now
a training centre for the "Sister's"
paramilitary unit of the Revolutionary Guards.
Many facades of the building, the oldest of a
dozen palaces at the 200 year-old Royal Niavaran
Grounds, have been damaged, according to Tehran's
The mirrored walls and plaster moulding have been
removed, the grounds are being sealed behind
barbed wire and several thousand fruit trees are
left without watering, the paper said.
The current manager of the palace, Mr Jamali,
accepts that some rebuilding has taken place but
says it the National Heritage Organisation should
have supervised the work. He also denies the area
is being used for military training.
National Heritage head Abdolali Pour says the
changes are illegal.
The unauthorised changes have taken place
despite a court order banning the work until full
The paramilitary forces which control the building
do not answer to the authorities under the
moderate and reformist President, Mohammad Khatami.
The judge investigating the case and several
members of parliament are to meet on the building
site in a show of protest, the paper reported.
A member of the parliamentary cultural committee,
Asghar Sherdust, has said the body is also looking
into the case.
The two-storey palace is named after Soltan Ahmad
Shah - the last ruler of the Qajar dynasty. He was
declared monarch at the age of 12 in 1909 but was
forced into exile only 14 years later.
In Paris he resided at the Hotel Majestic and died
at the age of 33. He was buried in Kerbela, Iraq.
The newspaper also reported that
"night-raiders" had completely destroyed
a 500-year old tower in the town of Bastam, in
northern Iran. The destruction took place over a
The head of the local Heritage Organisation said
one tower and parts of the town's four-meter-thick
wall were destroyed in the raids.
He told the Aftab Yazd newspaper the owner of the
land is probably the culprit. The landowner has
said he has rights over the historic artefacts on