Persian Gardens
Persian gardens may originate as early as 4000 BCE. Decorated pottery of that time displays the typical cross plan of the Persian garden. The outline of the Pasargad Garden, built around 500 BCE, is viewable today.

During the reign of the Sassanids (third to seventh century CE), and under the influence of Zoroastrianism, water in art grew increasingly important. This trend manifested itself in garden design, with greater emphasis on fountains and ponds in gardens.

During the islamic occupation, the aesthetic aspect of the garden increased in importance, overtaking utility. During this time, aesthetic rules that govern the garden grew in importance. An example of this is the chahār bāgh (چهارباغ), a form of garden that attempts to emulate Eden, with four rivers and four quadrants that represent the world. The design sometimes extends one axis longer than the cross-axis, and may feature water channels that run through each of the four gardens and connect to a central pool.

The invasion of Persia by the Mongols in the thirteenth century led to a new emphasis on highly ornate structure in the garden. Examples of this include tree peonies and chrysanthemums.[clarification needed] The Mongol empire then carried a Persian garden tradition to other parts of their empire (notably India).

Babur introduced the Persian garden to India. The now unkempt Aram Bāgh garden in Agra was the first of many Persian gardens he created. The Taj Mahal embodies the Persian concept of an ideal, paradise-like garden.

The Safavid Dynasty (seventeenth to eighteenth century) built and developed grand and epic layouts that went beyond a simple extension to a palace and became an integral aesthetic and functional part of it. In the following centuries, European garden design began to influence Persia, particularly the designs of France, and secondarily that of Russia and the United Kingdom. Western influences led to changes in the use of water and the species used in bedding.

Traditional forms and style are still applied in modern Iranian gardens. They also appear in historic sites, museums and affixed to the houses of the rich.

 

Descriptions
An early description (from the first half of the fourth century BCE) of a Persian garden is found in Xenephon's Oeconomicus in which he has Socrates relate the story of the Spartan general Lysander's visit to the Persian prince Cyrus the Younger, who shows the Greek his "paradise at Sardis". In this story Lysander is "astonished at the beauty of the trees within, all planted at equal intervals, the long straight rows of waving branches, the perfect regularity, the rectangular symmetry of the whole, and the many sweet scents which hung about them as they paced the park"

The oldest representational descriptions and illustrations of Persian gardens come from travelers who reached Iran from the west. These accounts include Ibn Battuta in the fourteenth century, Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo in the fifteenth century and Engelbert Kaempfer in the seventeenth century. Battuta and Clavijo made only passing references to gardens and did not describe their design, but Kaempfer made careful drawings and converted them into detailed engravings after his return to Europe. They show chahar bāgh type gardens that featured an enclosing wall, rectangular pools, an internal network of canals, garden pavilions and lush planting. There are surviving examples of this garden type at Yazd (Dowlatabad) and at Kashan (Bāgh-e Fin). The location of the gardens Kaempfer illustrated in Isfahan can be identified.