Iran has been a member of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO since 1978, with 17 sites has been already registered and 57 sites are tentative candidates.
Many great monuments in Iran are inscribed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Among these are the architecturally unique Ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil, the jewel in the crown of the 2nd millennium BC Elamite history; the spectacular ruins of Persepolis that testify to the grandeur that was Persia; Pasargadae, the first capital of Ancient Persia and the resting place of Cyrus the Great; the massive complex of palaces and temples of Takht-e Soleyman; the world-famous 6th century BC rock-relief of Bisotun portraying the Achaemenid king Darius I commemorating his victory over his rivals; the architectural masterpiece and handsomely embellished 14th century Gonbad-e Soltaniyeh; Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the climax of Islamic art and architecture of 17th-century Persia.
Being at the crossroads of important trade routes and known for the production of silk and cotton garments, Bam is situated in a desert environment on the southern edge of the Iranian high plateau. The origins of Bam can be traced back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th centuries BC).
But its heydays were from the 7th to 11th centuries. The existence of life in the oasis was based on the underground irrigation canals, the qanāts, of which Bam has preserved some of the earliest evidence in Iran. Arg-e Bam is the most representative example of a fortified medieval town built in vernacular technique using mud layers. The Arg-e Bam (Citadel of Bam), established in the Sassanian period, is situated atop an artificial hill in the northwest quadrant of the old city of Bam. This artificial hill elevates the citadel approximately 5 meters above the surrounding urban fabric. The citadel complex occupies an area 315 meters wide along the east-west axis by 270 meters long along the north-south axis. Bounded on the north by the river, by steep cliffs to the east, and by gardens and residential neighborhoods to the north, northwest and south, the Arg-e Bam was optimized for both self-sufficiency and protection.
This is one of the most splendid historical sites in the whole world; while most of the best known historical sites in the world signify a limited period in history, Arg-e-Bam displays the imprints of 2000 continuous years of a dramatic, eventful history .This peculiarity has made estimation of the precise age of most parts of this historical complex rather difficult, sometimes even impossible.
Security was a major concern in the Arg-e Bam; the citadel complex was surrounded by deep trenches and four encircling and dividing defensive walls. The citadel subdivided into two major sections, residential and military, separated by a wall tentatively dated to the Seljuk period. The citadel also contains three wells, located along a single north-south axis. The residential complex contains the governor’s residence, baths, a detached watchtower, the chahar fasl (four seasons) palace, the prison, the dungeons, and one of the citadel wells. The military section comprises the commander’s quarters, barracks, stables for 200 horses, and two wells. The governor’s mansion was constructed at the highest point within the Arg-e Bam, next to the complex watchtower. Heavily renovated during the Safavid (1501 – 1722) period, the mansion consists of a two-story main iwan with summer and winter wings. The prison and dungeon were located beneath the governor’s residence, rather than in the military section. This dungeon and the chahar fasl, (a specifically Iranian building type, the “four-seasons building”) are considered to be the oldest buildings within the Arg-e Bam. The detached watchtower is four-sided and decorated with shallow rectangular insets and three levels of windows. Below the watchtower platform is a chamber with an elevated entrance accessible via a staircase. The existence of other rooms within the watchtower suggests that the tower had other functions beyond that of security.
Natural disaster has recently struck Bam: shortly after the devastating earthquake of 26 December 2003, which leveled the city, the Arg-e Bam was inscribed on the 2004 World Heritage List, and added directly to the World Heritage in Danger List. Prior to the earthquake, the fortress had possessed the distinction of being the largest adobe building in the world, recognized for its unbaked mud brick and poured mud wall construction.
An ancient Elamite complex in the Khuzestan province of Iran. It is one of the few extant ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia. It lays approximately 25 kilometeres west of Dezfoul, 45 kilometres south of Susa and 230 kilometres north of Abadan by way of Ahvaz, which is 120 kilometres away.It was built about 1250 BCE by the king Untash-Napirisha, king of Elam, mainly to honor the great God Inshushinak. Its original name was Dur Untash, which means ‘town of Untash’, but it is unlikely that many people, besides priests and servants, ever lived there. The complex is protected by three concentric walls which define the main areas of the ‘town’. The inner area is wholly taken up with a great ziggurat dedicated to the main God, which was built over an earlier square temple with storage rooms also built by Untash-Napirisha. The middle area holds eleven temples for lesser Gods. It is believed that twenty-two temples were originally planned, but the king died before they could be finished, and his successors discontinued the building work. In the outer area are royal palaces, a funerary palace containing five subterranean royal tombs with monumental dimensions.
Although construction in the city abruptly ended after Untash-Napirisha’s death, the site was not abandoned, but continued to be occupied until it was destroyed by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal in 640 BCE. Some scholars speculate, based on the large number of temples and sanctuaries at Chogha Zanbil, that Untash-Napirisha attempted to create a new religious center (possibly intended to replace Susa) which would unite the gods of both highland and lowland Elam at one site.
The whole site are 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. 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. An extensive water tank and a group of three major buildings with large courts surrounded by lengthy halls and rooms were excavated in the nearby.
Mud-bricks are the general materials used in the complex. The well built monuments beautifully decorated with glazed baked bricks, gypsum, ornaments of faience and glass. Thousands of baked bricks bearing inscriptions with Elamite cuneiform characters were all inscribed by hand, ornamenting the most important buildings while Glazed terracotta statues such as bulls and winged griffins guarded the entrances to the Ziggurat.
Archaeological excavations undertaken between 1951 and 1962 revealed the site again, and the ziggurat is considered to be the best preserved example in the world. In 1979, Chogha Zanbil became the first Iranian site to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
Masuleh, 56 km. southwest of Rasht and 1050 meters above sea level, actually is the most beautiful ,the most breathtaking village in the northern regions of Iran. Masuleh is a village in the Gilan Province. Historical names for the village include Māsalar and Khortāb.
It was founded in the 10th century AD, and its current population is estimated to be around 800 persons. The first village of Masouleh is approximately established around 1006 AD, 6 km northwest of the current village, and it is called Old-Masouleh. People moved from Old-Masouleh to the current village because of Pestilence and neighbor attacks. Fog is predominant weather feature of Masouleh and it is surrounded by forest from valley to mount.
Although it is written that the community was established around 10 AD but the province of Gilan has a longer history.
Masouleh architecture is unique. So steep is the slope that the familiar Iranian network of narrow alleys is entirely absent and instead the buildings have been built into the mountain and are interconnected. Courtyards and roofs both serve as pedestrian areas similar to streets. Masouleh does not allow any motor vehicles to enter, due to its unique layout. It is the only village in Iran with such a prohibition. However, the small streets and many stairs simply wouldn’t make it possible for vehicles to enter. The spectacular architecture of Masouleh is well-known as “The yard of the above building is the roof of the below building”. Yellow clay coats the exterior of most buildings and this allows for better visibility in the fog.
Buildings are mostly 2 stories (1st floor and below floor) made of adobe, rods and bole. Small living room, big Guest room, winter room, Hall, WC and Balcony are usually found in 1st floor. Cold closet, barn and stable are located at ground floor which has access to the upper floor by several narrow steps inside the building.
The archaeological site of Takht-e Soleyman (Throne of Solomon), in north-western Iran (Azarbaijan Province), is situated in a valley set in a volcanic mountain region. It lies midway between Urumieh and Hamadan, very near the present-day town of Takab, and 400 km (250 miles)
west of Tehran.The site includes the principal Zoroastrian sanctuary partly rebuilt in the Ilkhanid (Mongol) period (13th century) as well as a temple of the Sasanian period (6th and 7th centuries) dedicated to Anahita. The originally fortified site, which is located on a crater rim, was recognized as a World Heritage Site in July 2003. The citadel includes the remains of a Zoroastrian sanctuary consists of a collection of swimming pool and lake, a place of worship, entrance gates, tall columns, hall, place of swearing, fire temples, mineral hot spring, and watch towers. With its purple and blue color, the pool, known as Takht-e Soleiman Lake, is one of the wonders of this historical site. It is about 80 meters wide and 120 meters long. With a depth of 110 meters it flows like a hot spring, pumping out about 100 liters of water every second. From the southern part, the castle looks like a gate with ruined walls – the 3-roofless rooms that used to be a place of worship for ancient Iranians.
The whole area built during the Sassanid period, and partially rebuilt during the Ilkhanid period. According to legend, the temple housed one the three “Great Fires” or “Royal Fires”. Sassanid rulers are said to have journeyed there to humble themselves at the fire altar before ascending the throne.
Folk legend relates that King Solomon used to imprison monsters inside the 100 m deep crater of the nearby Zendan-e Soleyman “Prison of Solomon”. Another crater inside the fortification itself is filled with spring water; Solomon is said to have created a flowing pond that still exists today. Nevertheless, Solomon belongs to Semitic legends and therefore, the lore and namesake (Solomon’s Throne) should have been formed following Islamic conquest of Persia. After the Conquest, the Arabs sought to destroy anything Zoroastrian or Persian, as these things were deemed to be contrary to Islam.
In order to avoid this, the Persians changed the names of many sites and monuments to save them from destruction. Another example is in the city of Pasargadae, where they began referring to the tomb of Cyrus the Great as “Solomon’s mother’s tomb.” A 4th century Armenian manuscript relating to Jesus and Zarathustra, and various historians of the Islamic period, mention this pond. The foundation of the fire temple around the pond is attributed to that legend. Archaeological excavations have revealed traces of a 5th century BC occupation during the Achaemenid period, as well as later Parthian settlements in the citadel. Coins belonging to the reign of Sassanid kings, and that of the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II (AD 408-450), have also been discovered there.
The site has important symbolic significance. The designs of the fire temple, the palace and the general layout have strongly influenced the development of Islamic architecture.
Soltaniyeh situated in the Zanjan Province of 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”. The central magnet of Soltaniyeh’s several ruins is
the Mausoleum of Il-khan Öljeitü, traditionally known as the Dome of Soltaniyeh.The structure, erected from 1302 until 1312, boasts the oldest double-shell dome in the world. Soltaniyeh is one of the outstanding examples of the achievements of Persian architecture and a key monument in the development of its Islamic architecture. The dome is the biggest in the world which is made of brick. From the elevation point of view it is the third highest of the kind 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 with 25m diameter, the dome covered in turquoise-blue faience and surrounded by eight slender minarets .The whole building was completed in 10 years, but the 200 ton dome building takes only 40 days, while whole of this huge structure is founded on 50cm foundation.
Pope has described the building as “anticipating the Taj Mahal.”