A large beautiful edifice, called Emarat-Masoudieh or Masoudieh Palace complex stands on Jomhuri street, near Baharestan Square, south Tehran. It has been there since the Qajar era.
The main building is a palace, situated in the middle of a garden. It belonged to Masoud Mirza, son of Nasseroudin Shah. He was dubbed Zel-o-Sultan ‘ruler’s shadow’ and assigned the governorship of Isfahan. But the palace here was his capital residence, according to aftabir.com.
In an area of 4,000 sq meters, the complex is divided into public and private quarters, surrounding houses, and administrative offices. It was built in 1879 by a mason named Shabar Me’marbashi.
The building lends itself well as a place of culture. In 1926, the first official library was established in one of its halls. The library was the cornerstone of the later National Library.
A few years later, a collection of antiques, gathered from across the country, were transferred to another hall of the complex, and the place became Iran’s first functional museum. In 1940, the artifacts were transferred to the newly established National Museum. But many ancient inscriptions and documents remain at the palace.
In 1967, the ministry of education became independent from the ministry of culture and art, and was housed in Masoudieh Palace.
The palace embodies the modern history of Tehran, from the time when Mohammad-Ali Shah’s coach was bombed in front of the building, providing him with an excuse to deploy cannons and shell the parliament. The palace was then fusilladed, for it was one of the main gathering places for the constitutional revolutionaries.
Today the palace houses a beautiful and cozy cafe where one can sip coffee and smell history and culture. The menu specializes in traditional Iranian food and drinks.
The cafe has occupied one of the large halls, although it can become crammed sometimes. So, to enjoy the environment, one should reserve a table in advance, especially over the weekend.
The cafe’s decoration and furniture follow the Qajar style of the palace. Wooden chairs are set at the tables covered with floral cloths. Fresh flowers of the season are smiling. It is largely staffed by artists, who add to the warmth and hospitality of the place.
The cafe is open from 11 am to 7 pm during the week and from 9 on Fridays. The omelet is tasty and filling, as is the aromatic Ash-e-reshteh (traditional Persian noodle soup). There are options available for ‘veggies’. Exotic teas are certainly worth a try as are the numerous traditional infusions and cordials. The cost is above the average.