The Qazvin plain, which attracted attention ever since the first inhabitants arrived on the Iranian plateau, has among its earliest settlers the Kassites who are believed to have made their homes there as early as the 24th century B.C. But more recently it was the capital of the Safavids in early 16th century before they moved to Isfahan.

Among Qazvin’s many historic relics are the Jame Mosque, dating back to the Saljuq period and boasting the largest ‘mihrab’ of any mosque in Iran, the Shrine of Shahzadeh Hussein, a Moslem saint, and the Heydarieh Theological School. As the capital of the early Safavid kings, Qazvin was the site of government buildings which inspired their more famous counterparts in Isfahan. Names such as Ali Qapu and Chehel-Sotun are universally associated with Isfahan, yet they originated long before the town became the heart of the empire. Unfortunately Qazvin’s Ali Qapu palace has not withstood the test of time.

All that remains is the gateway and part of the guardroom. But due to extensive restoration the Chehel-Sotun is in far better condition and has been converted into the Qazvin museum.