Friday, February 4, 2011

El Goli


El Goli (in local dialect meaning the people’s pool), formerly Shah Goli (meaning the Shah’s pool), is a pleasant hillside garden and park around an artificial lake with an area of 54,675 square meters in East Azerbaijan. It is located southeast of Tabriz and is a popular weekend resort for the locals. A hill in the eastern side of the park leads down to the pool via a set of steps, and a fountain from the top of the hill flows down to the pool. In the center of the pool there is a grand two-storied hexagonal building, resembling a small peninsula.


El Goli is a water garden, an artificial lake seven hundred feet square, built not by excavating but by raising artificial terraces that are concealed beneath plantings of poplars and willows, so that the lake appears to float above its landscape. Due to humidity and aging, in 1967 El Goli’s hexagonal building was severely damaged, however, by 1970 an identical structure, following its original design, was built in its place.


Its origins are not quite clear. It was constructed at least as early as the late eighteenth century and added to by local governors over the years. The pool itself is said to have been built during the reign of Aq Qoyunlu kings. However, it was expanded upon by the Safavids. By the era of the Qajars, the pool was practically filled with sand and gravel until it was ultimately taken under their care and renovated.


El Goli originally was originally a village on the outskirts of Tabriz, however, with the advancement and urbanization of Tabriz, and subsequently El Goli, it was gradually absorbed by the city. The purpose of El Goli’s pool seemed to provide the villagers with a source of water irrigate their fields. By constructing El Goli Boulevard (Shahid Bakeri) which separates El Goli Park from the old El Goli Village, the Village gradually became less attended to and today is considered simply a small neighborhood within the bigger city. On a positive note though, such lack of attentiveness towards the former El Goli Village has enabled it to maintain much of its simple and traditional fabric and structure.


Following the Iranian Revolution, El Goli was shut down for a few years as a result of its history of being a spot for immoral activities although it was ultimately reopened. El Goli has always been a popular spot for the locals, especially during the warmer months, and as of late has also attracted tourists due to construction of a 20-story hotel in its vicinity.

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