The tradition and style in the design of Persian gardens, known as Iranian gardens in Iran have influenced the design of gardens from Andalusia to India and beyond. The gardens of the Alhambra show the influence of Persian garden philosophy and style in a Moorish palace scale, from the era of Al-Andalus in Spain. The Humayun’s Tomb and Taj Mahal have some of the largest Persian gardens in the world, from the era of the Mughal Empire in India.
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, a form of the 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. The Mongol empire then carried a Persian garden tradition to other parts of their empire.
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 the 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.