ASHREF, a town of Persia in the province of Mazandaran, about 50 m. W. of Astarabad and 5 m. inland from the Caspian Sea, in 36° 42' N. and 53° 32' E. The population is about 6000, comprising descendants of some Georgians introduced by Shah Abbas I. (1587-1629) and a number of Gudars, a peculiar pariah race, probably of Indian origin. The place was without importance until 1612, when Shah Abbas began building and laying out the palaces and gardens in the neighbourhood now collectively known as Bagh i Shah (the garden of the shah). The palaces, completed in 1627, are now in ruins, but the gardens with their luxuriant vegetation and gigantic cypress and orange trees ate well worth a visit. There were originally six separate gardens, all contained within one large wall but separated one from another by high walls. The principal palace was the Chehel Situn (forty pillars), destroyed by the Afghans in 1723, and, although rebuilt by Nadir Shah in 1731, already in ruins in 1743. About m. north of the town is the Safi-abad garden, with a palace built by Shah Safi (1629-1642) for his daughter. It is situated on a lovely wooded hill, and was repaired and in part renovated about 1870 by Náṣiru'd-Din Shah.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)