Paradise Extended; Re-examining the Cultural Anchors of Historic Pleasure Avenues

  • Niloofar RazaviEmail author
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


The public pleasure walks in historic urban landscapes, often in form of ceremonial avenues, have had many examples in historic cities throughout the world. Some of the most famous examples of these pleasure avenues have survived in the cities of the Middle East and Central Asia, and have been studied extensively. However, the studies often focus on the corporeal characteristics of these avenues. Notwithstanding the value of such morphological inquiries, they often neglect the properties related to the social dynamics and their impact on the cultural character and mode of survival in these urban features. Therefore, it seems only logical to both deepen and broaden the enquiries to examine the social aspects of historic examples in this region. In hope of revealing the attributes that maintained the cultural character of these urban elements, this article concentrates on social dynamics and spatiotemporal sensitivity of their context. Accordingly, the study proceeds by reviewing the behaviour episodes, modes of interaction, and patterns of visibility for the elite as well as ordinary citizens. The main data is collected from historic documents. The results of the analysis on the historic records and narratives reveals how the changes in social dynamics may alter the use and effect the survival of pleasure walks. Because of the abundance of documents on Chahar-bagh of Isfahan, the study does not focus on this example. Instead, drawing on the successful attributes of Safavid examples, the inquiry tries to find historic predecessors in a Timurid urban heritage in Delhi, India and proceeds to search for the lasting properties in the Qajar examples in Tehran. The chapter suggests that the persistence of this configuration in historic examples may have been the result of specific attributes including but not limited to the planned visibility of a sovereign presence, the deliberate creation of a socially picturesque setting, the aura of eventfulness, etc. It then proceeds to pose the important question that among the many attributes of these urban elements, which ones may be relevant today; which ones are possible to maintain or revive; and most importantly, which ones are considered the ‘cultural anchors’ and are indispensable in conservation of what was once considered an elongated Persian garden; an extension of paradise.


Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) Pleasure avenues Cultural anchors Mughal Delhi India Qajar Tehran 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shahid Beheshti University, Faculty of Architecture and Urban PlanningTehranIran

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