Exploring Tourism in Iran
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Iran Popular Places to Visit

Chogha Zanbil

Choga Zanbil consists of the ruins of three concentric walls , within which are palaces , temples and a central Ziggurat (temple tower) , measuring 105 X 105 meters. The first wall has seven gates , which reflects the religious ideologies of that time. Between the inner and middle walls , several temples dedicated to different Elamites divinities were built. ChoghaZanbil Iran.

Susa, Shush, Chogha zanbil, Ziggurat Iran
Important places :The second wall (460 X 420 m) enclosed seven temples and four chapels.
The outer city wall was about 4 km long and enclosed an area of approximately 100 hectares. The royal quarter was situated adjacent to a major city gate some 450 m east of the Ziggurat. In this area , an extensive water tank and a group of three major buildings with large courts surrounded by lengthy halls and rooms were excavated. Beneath one of these buildings , five underground tombs of monumental dimensions were unearthed.

Chgha zanbil iran

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Finally , the interior wall (190 X 170 m) encloses the Ziggurat , which originally was 53 m and five stories high , is the largest surviving monument of its kind , beyond Babylonia and Assyria. It was constructed according to the mode

ls of the Mesopotamian culture. The monument was built in two stages and in the second phase took its multilayered form. The outer facade of the Ziggurat is of baked bricks and the rest of the building is of unbaked mud adobe.

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The complex is built mainly of mud-bricks. The monuments were well built and beautifully decorated with glazed baked bricks , gypsum , ornaments of faience and glass. Thousands of baked bricks bearing inscriptions with Elamites cuneiform characters were all inscribed by hand , ornamenting the most important buildings. Glazed terracotta statues such as bulls and winged griffins guarded the entrances to the Ziggurat Iran.

Khozestan, Iran

Historical Village Of Kandovan

Troglodytic Village in the Shadow of Kuh-e Sahand

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Iran is the quaint and mysterious thirteenth century village of Kandovan. Located in Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province, Kandovan is 60 km south of the provincial capital Tabriz in Osku county. The 60 km drive to Kandovan south from Tabriz passes through Khosrowshahr and ascends the slopes of the hills at the base of Kuh-e (Mount) Sahand through the Osku Chai valley. Chai or Chay is a Turkic word for river.

The village of Kandovan is also part of the Lake Urmia region (also spelt Urmiyeh or Urmiya), the region where the predecessors of the Persians and the Medes first entered recorded history in a 844 BCE Assyrian inscription, and the region that is central to the start of the second phase of Zoroastrian history.

What makes Kandovan village so unique is that many of its homes have been made in caves located in cone-shaped, naturally formed compressed volcanic ash formations that make the landscape look like a gigantic termite colony. This method of dwelling makes the residents modern-age cave dwellers or troglodytes.

(Troglodyte means cave dweller: somebody living in a cave, especially somebody who belonged to a prehistoric cave-dwelling community. Troglodyte also means somebody living in seclusion.)

It is our understanding that the unusual cone formations were formed from volcanic ash and debris spewed during an eruption of Mount Sahand being hardened and shaped by the elements over thousands of years. The formation of volcanic ash cones is local to Kandovan. Elsewhere, the ash blanketed the land.

The existence of a high volume of ash and pumice far from Sahand’s crater indicates that Mount Sahand erupted with a gigantic explosion in the distant past. Sahand’s rock is about a million years old and the last eruption of Mount Sahand is thought to have occurred within the Holocene epoch, that is within the last 11,000 years. Today, Mount Sahand is an dormant volcano consisting of a crater lake encircled by twelve peaks, the tallest of which rises to a height of 3707 m. or 12,162 feet.

Natural Beauty in the Sahand Region
While Mount Sahand itself is somewhat stark, the surrounding country abounds in a natural beauty that is today but a shadow of a legendary past. Some believe that legendary past beauty is preserved in the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. Ancient Persian gardens, also called baghs, where renowned for their spectacular beauty. Their name pairidaeza became the English word paradise. The baghs were a paradise on earth.

Nature’s gifts in Kandovan extend to the healing properties of its natural spring water. In particular, the waters have traditionally been used to help dissolve kidney and bladder stones. Some of the area’s wild plants as also reputed to have healing and vitality-giving properties.

The combination of Kandovan’s unique natural landscape, beauty, and the manner in which its inhabitants have adapted to the environment, has made Kandovan a popular destination for visitors. About 300,000 people visit the village each year (the resident population is only 670) and a cave hotel with ten rooms (see photographs at the bottom of this page) was opened in 2007 to accommodate visitors who wish to stay over a night or more. Before the opening of the hotel, visitors to Kandovan were obliged to make a day trip from Tabriz 60 km to the north.

It is only a matter of time before the local population begins to rely on tourism as a major source of income, thereby supplanting their traditional pastoral and agricultural way of life.
Use of Caves as Human Dwellings
As we have noted previously, in the area of Kandovan, Sahand’s volcanic ash and debris was compressed and shaped by natural forces into cone-shaped pillars containing pockets that became caves. The hardened material of the pillars is strong enough to function as walls and floors of a house while permitting a further shaping of the caves.

The material is also an efficient insulator and the troglodyte’s homes have the reputation of being very energy efficient, remaining cool in summer and warm in winter. The cave homes require minimal supplemental heat during the long cold season, making for comfortable year round habitation.

Most of the cave houses are two to four storeys in height. In a typical four storey house, the ground or first floor is used as an animal shelter, the next two floors are used as living areas, and the top floor is used for storage. There are reports of tunnels connecting towers owned by a person or family.

East Azarbayjan, Iran

Masuleh Village

Masouleh village is perched high on a densely forested mountainside about 60 kilometers inland from the Caspian Sea. Due to its location, the climate of Masouleh village is different from much of Iran. Warm, moist air blowing southwest from the Caspian is blocked by the Alborz Mountains, creating heavy precipitation and fog on the seaward side of the mountains (this ecoregion is known as the Caspian and Hyrcanian Mixed Forests). Further inland, the landward side of the Alborz receives very little rainfall and rapidly becomes arid.

Masouleh is located about 1,050 meters above sea level, but the range of elevation varies by over a hundred meters in the village. The roofs of houses on lower tiers are used as courtyards for houses on the tiers above them. In some cases, public streets are laid out along interconnected roofs. The organic layout and steep stairs have made motor vehicles impractical, so they are banned in the village. About 800 people currently live in the village.

The native language of Masouleh’s inhabitants is Talysh, a language spoken by fewer than a million people around the western and southern shores of the Caspian Sea.

Masouleh is a small village in north of Iran. It’s near Fuman. It’s a village in the foot of mountain and therefore it has an amazing structure and architecture. Homes are above each other and roof of each house is the yard or walk area for the people in upstairs. This feature has made it a favorite place for tourists to visit.

The climate Is bitterly cold in winter, with snow sometimes reaching three meters deep, but the climate in summer is extremely pleasant and bracing.

Fog is the predominate weather feature of Masouleh.

Gilan, Iran


The Kheir Abad complex is one of the most important historical sites in Gachsaran

This complex consists of a school, fire temple, castles, and water reservoirs.

In addition to this, a small castle made of stone exists on a mountain, close to which is one of the ancient temples of Anahita. The Kheir Abad ancient vicinity is related to the Sassanid period and reveals the ancient civilization of people of that age.

The Kheir Abad comprises of a complex of villages surrounding the Shirin River. On both sides of this river, traces of buildings of the Sassanide period can be observed.

Kohkiloye, Iran


Tochal Ski slope and the longest Gondola ride in the Asia

Out of the three main Iranian ski resorts of Tochal, Dizin and Shemshak, Tochal ski resort is the least developed, offering fewer runs than the others. In its favour, Tochal is the closest ski resort to Tehran and it is possible to catch a cable car to Tochal from the northern suburbs of Tehran, making it popular with daytrip skiers based in Tehran. Four ski lifts are waiting to take to up the slopes from where you disembark from the cable car. At over fourmiles long, the cable car from Tehran to Tochal is one of the longest and highest in the world.

It has a huge vertical climb of 6,036 feet and reaches a height of 12,270 feet. There are seven stations on the cable cars route; Tochal ski resort is at the seventh station.

The longest ski run at Tochal ski resort is a long U-shaped slope that goes from the last station to the fifth station. To the north of the seventh station there are two ski slopes served by chairlifts that reach to just below the summit at 12,795feet high. Behind the Tochal Hotel there are another couple of slopes served by T-bars.

Due to the altitude, the ski season at Tochal is longer than at most resorts and thanks to the dry atmosphere, the quality of the snow here is good. It is often clear and sunny here, allowing visitors to enjoy spectacular views of the 18,605-foot high extinct volcano, Mount Damavand and the Alborz mountain range.

There is no snowboard park at Tochal, but snowboarders are welcome and make up 30 per cent of skiers on the slopes. Facilities at Tochal are limited to one hotel and two restaurants. Many people decide to stay in Tehran, where there is a wider range of accommodation and restaurants. In Tehran there are plenty of alternatives to skiing, including art galleries, museums and places of historical interest.

Skiing in Tochal lasts from early December until April and sometimes until June. The easiest way to get here is to fly to Tehran Mehrabad International Airport, from where you can catch a taxi to the cable car.  town.

Transportation to Tochal Tochal ski resort is the closest resort to Tehran. It is situated near the summit of Mount Tochal, the 13,005-foot high mountain that dominates Tehrans skyline and rises up from the northern suburbs of the town. The easiest way to get to Tochal ski resort is to catch the cable car that leaves from Velenjak avenue.

At over fourmiles long with seven stations and reaching 3,740feet high with a vertical height of 6,036 feet, this is one of the worlds longest and highest cable cars; it is also one of the cheapest. The easiest way to get to Tochal ski resort is to catch a plane, train or bus to Tehran and then take a taxi to the first cable car station. It is also possible to catch a local bus.

The resort is only six miles from the city and it is easy to drive to the resort or catch a taxi. The train service in Iran is fairly basic, though most major towns are served by a single track railway. Trains are relatively comfortable and some have sleeping cars.

A faster option for travelling around Iran is by coach. Most coaches between main destinations have either heating or air-conditioning. Tehrans international airport receives many flights from major European cities, India, China, Japan and neighbouring Persian Gulf countries among others. The easiest way to get into Tehran from the airport is to catch a taxi, while it is also possible to catch a shuttle bus into.

Tehran, Iran

Meymand Historical Village

Meymand Village is a 12,000 year old village located in Shahr’e Babak, Kerman, 35 kilometers from the town of Babak on the Tehran-Bandar Abbas Road.

Unlike other ancient villages, Meymand has retained its culture. Living conditions in Meymand are harsh due to the aridity of the land and to high temperatures in summers and very cold winters.

The Village consists of a number of amazing natural and manmade caves that are still used today for housing and shelter. Currently a scarce population of 150 people continue to live there.

The origins of Meymand date back to the time when the inhabitants of the Persian plateau had not yet started to bury their dead in traditional graves but rather placed them inside crypts carved in the mountain. This belief has been attributed to followers the goddess Mithra.

The old houses of Meymand Village are carved like caverns inside the mountain. The internal spaces have corridors and pillars showing a rural architecture.

The houses are situated in four or five stories, one on top of the other. There is a stove inside each house used for heating and cooking. The inward spaces are black because of smoke and soot.

There is also an area of around 400 square meters in the Village containing 15 circular stone rooms. Bones and other belongings were discovered there, giving the impression that it was used to lay the bodies of the deceased.

The discovery of stone engravings, some as old as 10,000 years, around the Village in addition to 6,000 year old pottery reveal the long lived history of the Village. According to the locals, the ancients did not use a hammer and chisel, but rather a type of local, pointed stone which is hard enough to carve images onto the rocks. This method of carving is still practiced in the region today.

Meymand Village is one of the oldest continually inhabited places in Iran. The inhabitants are semi-nomadic shepherds, some of whom own Village land that is occupied in winter, whereas in summer the population moves to higher pastures.

The local language contains many words from the ancient Sassanid and Pahlavi languages, the language barely changing due to the isolation of the Village. The economy of the villagers is based on agriculture, animal husbandry and carpet weaving; but carpet weaving is more important to the extent that Meymand carpets enjoy international fame. Since carpet weaving is prevalent in the area, other related jobs such as dyeing, felt making, weaving of gilims and crochet working are common too.

Rock art from the Eshkaft grotto 8 km. north of Meymand / Maymand.

Kerman, Iran

Bam Citadel

Located in southeastern Iran, 200 kilometers south of Kerman, the ruined city of Arg-e-Bam is made entirely of mud bricks, clay, straw and the trunks of palm trees.

The city was originally founded during the Sassanian period (224-637 AD) and while some of the surviving structures date from before the 12th century, most of what remains was built during the Safavid period (1502-1722). During Safavid times, the city occupied six square kilometers, was surrounded by a rampart with 38 towers, and had between 9000 and 13,000 inhabitants.

Bam prospered because of pilgrims visiting its Zoroastrian fire temple (dating to early Sassanian times) and as a commercial and trading center on the famous Silk Road. Upon the site of the Zoroastrian temple the Jame Mosque was built during the Saffarian period (866-903 AD) and adjacent to this mosque is the tomb of Mirza Naiim, a mystic and astronomer who lived three hundred years ago.

Bam declined in importance following an invasion by Afghans in 1722 and another by invaders from the region of Shiraz in 1810. The city was used as a barracks for the army until 1932 and then completely abandoned.

Intensive restoration work began in 1953 and continued until December 26, 2003 when the city of Bam was devastated by a massive earthquake. Estimated to have a magnitude of 6.6, the earthquake resulted in the deaths of more than 26,000 people and the almost total destruction of the ruins of Arg-e-Bam.

Kerman, Iran

Babak Castle

Babak Castle in Persian or Bəzz in Azeri), also known as the Immortal Castle or Republic Castle, is an impressive and huge building citadel on the top of a mountain, which is located 16 km southwest of Kaleibar Kaleibar City in northwestern Iran. It was the stronghold of the Iranian hero, Bābak Khorramdin who fought the Arab invaders.
Every July 10th, Iranian pilgrims attend at the castle to honour and celebrate the life of their national hero, Babak and his companions, for sacrificing their lives to defending Iran and Iranian way of life.
Babak Castle Iran.

The castle, built on 2300-2600 meter heights, surrounded by gorges as deep as 400 to 600 meters, is believed to belong to the Parthian dynasty and modified under the Sasanid dynasty. To reach the castle, one has to trek a tortuous and narrow passageway and then cross a corridor-shaped temple, 200 meters in lengths.

East Azarbayjan, Iran

Soltanie Dom

Soltaniyeh situated in the Province of Zanjan, Iran, some 240 km to the north-west from Tehran, used to be the capital of Ilkhanid rulers of Persia in the 14th century. Its name translates as “the Imperial”. In 2005, UNESCO listed Soltaniyeh as one of the World Heritage Sites.

The principal among Soltaniyeh’s several ruins is the Mausoleum of Il-khan ljeit , traditionally known as the Dome of Soltaniyeh. The structure, erected from 1302 until 1312, boasts the oldest double-shell dome in the world. Its importance in the Muslim world may be compared to that of Brunelleschi’s cupola for the Christian architecture.

The Dome of Soltaniyeh paved the way for more daring Muslim cupola constructions, such as the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasavi and Taj Mahal. Much of exterior decoration has been lost, but the interior retains superb mosaics, faience, and murals.

The estimated 200 ton dome stands 49 meters (161 ft) tall from its base, and is currently undergoing extensive renovation.

Soltaniyeh On the way to Zanjan, Tabriz, Ardabil and Rasht by road, you will have the opportunity to visit some of Irans historic sites in towns along the highway from Tehran to the north and northwest Iran.

Your probable stay in Zanjan will give you the chance to see the Mausoleum of Oljaitu at Sultanieh, and prepare your imagination to visualize the metropolis that was once Tabriz. Sultanieh the town of Sultans 285 km to the northwest of Tehran in Zanjan province, in an altitude of 1,900 m above sea level, is six km along a road which turns south off the main road which turns south of the main road from Qazvin to Zanjan, 37 km southeast of Zanjan.

The y-junction (the Serah-e Sultanieh) can be reached by bus from Qazvin or Zanjan, and from there you hitch. Like the latter, Sultanieh was built by the Mongols as belated expiation for the wholesale destruction they wrought during the conquest of Iran.

Arghun Khan founded Sultanieh in the last decade of the 13th century, and it was enhanced during the reign of his sons Ghazan and Oljaitu during the early 14th century. By the command of Oljaitu, Ghazans younger brother and successor (1304-16), there arose on the beautiful open meadows of Sultanieh a wonder city planned to be the imperial capital. Begun in 1305 and dedicated in 1313, it was built magnificently and rapidly. The result was a complex almost the size of Tabriz, dominated by Qlijatus Mausoleum, one of Irans supreme architectural achievements. The building was the climax of a congeries of subordinate buildings no longer extant.

Founders is one of the most curious stories in Central Asian religious history. He was baptized Nicholas as an infant and had been converted to Buddhism before he became a Sunni Muslim of the Hanafi sect. But after visiting Najaf in the winter of 1309-10 this most impressionable Mongol was persuaded to Shiite Islam and decided to dedicate the great mausoleum at Sultanieh not to himself (as its popular name indicates) but as the final glorious resting-place of the remains of Ali (the Prophets son-in-law) and Hossein, the first and third Imams revered by Iranian Shiites. Faced with the Najafis refusal to part with the remains of their Imams, Oljaitu found himself in rather an awkward position; but he himself was the only one to be buried there upon his death in 1316. It is difficult to recall a mausoleum equaling the grandeur of this one anywhere else in Iran. Visible from far across the surrounding plain, the mausoleums very striking egg-shaped dome is said to be the largest Islamic version ever built. The mausoleum is 53 meters high and 25 meters in diameter. Octagonal in shape, it is dominated by a superb dome that soars almost as impressively without the eight elegant minarets or superb portals, which no longer survive.

The second-story galleries open outward, anticipating monuments such as Taj Mahal. Its impressive scale provides for an interior of great power. Here space is ample and majestic not mere emptiness but space more intensely realized than an open landscape.

The walls are made less conspicuous by the stately rhythm of eight huge and soaring arches. Mediated by shallow stalactites, the angles between these arches seem to melt quietly into the circular base of the enormous dome.

The walls were originally faced with light gold-toned brick, punctuated with small, dark blue faience tiles strung out to form large inscriptions of rectangular Kuffic, but in 1313 the interior was redecorated with plaster.

Designs were varied; huge lacy medallions or painted mosaic and floral patterns, sacred inscriptions proclaimed the divine message, their undulating scripts kept alive a gentle flowing movement.

Zanjan, Iran

Maranjab Desert

Maranjab region, central Iran desert, sand hills
Great sand dunes and the beautiful landscapes are among the attracting phenomenon of Maranjab Desert. It is in one of the outstanding unique regions of Iran.

It is fantastic to walk on moving sand hills with bare feet and explore the sand pattern and their form under early morning light, before sun goes up.

Isfahan, Iran