Gachsar Palace to Retain Function as Hotel

Cultural heritage officials have reached an agreement with the site's owner to oversee its restoration while allowing the site to continue functioning as a hotel
Gachsar Palace to Retain Function as Hotel
Gachsar Palace to Retain Function as Hotel

Hardly a day goes by lately without news of Mostazafan Foundation and their carefree attitude toward cultural heritage. 

The early 20th-century palace in Gachsar, a village near Karaj in Alborz Province, will retain its function as a hotel despite it being sold illegally by the foundation to a private investor years ago, the Persian daily Shahrvand reported.

Gachsar Palace has been on the National Heritage List since January 2003, meaning it cannot be sold and must be protected.

"We've reached an agreement with the investor to oversee the restoration of the site and its protection," Nasser Mirchi, the head of the provincial office of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, said.

"The site will remain a hotel." The official said work has already begun on restoring the site, adding that owners did not know the basics of protecting cultural heritage. "We have to ensure that the site is protected from further damage," Mirchi said. Built in 1938, the pre-WWII palace served as Reza Pahlavi's (the first Pahlavi king) residence as he oversaw the construction of the famous Kandovan Tunnel on Karaj-Chalous road.  

Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, all assets owned by the royal family were seized by Mostazafan Foundation, including Gachsar Palace. The foundation sold the structure for 150 billion rials ($4 million) a few years ago without informing ICHHTO, the only entity in charge of protecting cultural heritage.

By the time the officials found out about the sale of the site and its change of function, it was already too late.

A report by ICHHTO earlier this week said the palace had suffered severe damage due to "inattention to its art and architecture".

Citing Article 575 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code–Book Five, Farhad Nazari, in charge of inscription and protection of historical sites, told Shahrvand that "despite knowing that a site is inscribed on the heritage list, if any entity sells it, it will be imprisoned for three to 12 months".

The foundation has come under fire lately for flouting cultural heritage regulations. Last month, it was criticized by officials and experts alike for its successful efforts to win the ownership of Niavaran and Sa'dabad palace complexes in Tehran.  

Critics argue that since the palaces were never owned by the Pahlavi dynasty, the foundation has no legal right over them.

Later, Mostazafan Foundation was criticized for tearing down the walls and ceilings of the iconic Dafineh historical building in uptown Tehran. The foundation claims that it is only restoring the interior of the building, something they are "under no obligation to apprise the ICHHTO of beforehand".

Accounting for 1.5% of Iran's gross domestic product, Mostazafan Foundation is the second-largest commercial enterprise in Iran and the biggest holding company in the Middle East.


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