The royal palace of 'Ali Qapu dominates the south eastern side of the central square in Isfahan, formerly called the Meidan-e-Shah. Its name means "The High Gate" and its impressive entranceway was no doubt intended to symbolize the strength and authority of the Safavid monarchs who ruled the country, and, as the posters on the verandah show, this significance is retained even in present times when the square has been renamed Meidan-e-Imam.
The talar or verandah formed an ideal place from which to watch the games of polo which took place in the square and is richly decorated with designs painted on the external plaster at the rear and elaborate tracery in the ceiling. The columns, like those of Chehel Sotoon, were originally encased in mirrored glass to give the impression of a roof floating in the air, and like them are cut from single chenar trees (Platanus orientalis). The lower floors are uninteresting and were clearly used as quarters for guards, and the security of the upper apartments was further enhanced by the uncomfortably steep and narrow stairways which lead up and down within the building.
The interior of the building is compulsively decorated with naturalistic scenes, charmingly painted birds and some figures, many of which have sadly been defaced or damaged over time. These are now being repaired. The famous "Musicians Room" contains elaborate cut-out plaster work depicting all manner and shapes of vases, although it is doubtful whether any could ever actually have been stored there.