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Iran Tourist Attraction

Iran Tourist Attraction

HAMEDAN

Radiating with six straight avenues from a central square (Imam Khomeini), Hamadan is one of the oldest continually inhabited towns, centers of civilization, and numerous capitals of different dynasties that have ruled Iran through the ages. Capital of the province of Hamadan, at the foot of Mount Alvand, and located at an altitude of 1,829 m above sea level, it is 400 km to the southwest of Tehran by road via Qazvin, and can be reached by air as well. It is a trade center for a fertile farm region where fruit and grain are grown.


In the modern Hamadan which is built on the plans prepared by the German architect Karl Fritsch, nothing is left to be seen of ancient Ecbatana or the Medes capital before they formed a union with the Persians. It was the residence of Achaemenian Kings, and the summer resort of the Parthian and Sassanian dynasties due to its strategic vicinity to Ctesiphon. In the 7th century AD Hamadan was passed to the Arabs, and it was later held by the Seljuk Turks (12th-13th centuries) and the Mongols (13th-14th centuries).


Hamadans climate is mild and delightful in summers, and cold in winters. Early spring and late autumn are the rainy seasons for the region. To this Day Hamadan is a very popular retreat with Iranians during the warmer months when the climate in autumn and spring is one of the most pleasant in the country, but winters are long and sever.

Annual Temperature average:

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

-0.6

-0.8

7.1

9.3

15.1

20.0

23.3

24.2

18.2

11.9

8.6

0.4

 

Hagmatana


Before going into a description of the historical monuments of Hamadan, and regarding the towns rather prolonged history, the reader is reminded of two hills on which some of the most ancient remains can be seen even toDay, however not that much interesting: 1) Hagmatana Hill, with ruins of the walls and ramparts of the Median and Achaemenian periods. Located in Ekbatan Street (north of Ekbatan Square), which is presently under archaeological excavations and 2) Mosalla Hill (now a park), situated in the east of Ayatollah Mofatteh Avenue, which is said to be the ancient site of Anahita Temple. According to some archaeologists, the site had been a Parthian stronghold, the remains of which could be seen until a few years ago, with parts of its ramparts visible even toDay.


The ruins of ancient Hagmatana, on the site of which the present Hamadan stands, date from the period of Median monarchs (7th and early 6th centuries BC) who had made the city their capital. Hagmatana was further developed under the Achaemenian and Parthian rulers and was known as the first capital of the ancient Persian Empire. Scientific excavations and accidental diggings for construction works have resulted in the discovery of numerous objects, including some gold and silver tablets, in the region. This indicates that the treasury of the Achaemenian monarchs was kept in Hagmatana and that the present Hamadan has been constructed upon a part of the site of the ancient city. In the old Sar Qaleh, Qaleh Shah, and Darab quarters, one could see the remains of a thick wall that once enclosed the Achaemenian Darius palace (521-486 BC). Some traces of the Haft Hissar Palace and the historic ancient rampart, sparsely found in the old citadel of Hamatana bear witness to the grandeur of this capital of the Median and the Achaemenian periods. However, an adequate appreciation of this grandeur will only be possible when systematic scientific excavations are carried out in this area. So far, the discovery of the heads of a stone statue in the hillock Mosalla has proved the earlier existence of an Ashkanian fort on that hill. At all events, Hagmatana has been one of the important military centers of the Sassanian period and has retained the same position in the Islamic era. There exists ample evidence in the history of Islamic period concerning its prosperity.




 

Avicenna Mausoleum and Museum


Hamadan has been the land of great heroes and scientists; Cyrus the Great grew up here, Pharaortes was executed here, and after thousands of years the vestiges of the mythological walls surrounding the beautiful town of Daiakku (Deioces), the Medes King, still can be seen there. The world-famous Iranian scientist, philosopher, and physician Abu Ali Sina known to the West of Avicenna, a prodigy who knew Koran by heart, lived in Hamadan for several years. He died in 1307. A large mausoleum built over his tomb in 1952, together with a library (which contains approximately 8,000 volumes of books) and a small museum devoted to his works are visited by most local and foreign tourists. A magnificent view of the city and the Mount Alvand can be seen from the roof of this museum.


Avicenna was above all a mathematician whose theories were taught in Europe until the 19th century. ToDay he would have been called a "pluridisciplinary" scientist. His works as a poet and philosopher are still studied by Iranians and Orientalists.


On the left side gallery of the mausoleum there is a grave which is attributed to Abu Said Dakhdukh. The grave of Aref-e Qazvini, a famous early-twentieth century Iranian poet is also situated in an open yard close to the entrance of the building.


Actually, mausoleums are the best historical monuments of Hamadan for a tourist to visit. Like the whole city, the exterior of historic sites and mausoleums have been renewed in most cases by constructions inspired by spindle-shaped structure of Mongol towers, to the exclusion of all other features of these towers.




 

Mausoleum of Baba Taher


The 20th century Mausoleum of Baba Taher (another modernist atrocity), situated near the northern entrance of the city from Tehran Highway and at the end of Baba Taher Street in a square named after him, is a rocket-like monument to a mystic poet contemporary of Avicenna, Baba Taher, who died in 1019 AD. The mausoleum was reconstructed in 1970. Baba Taher, living in the first half of the 11th century AD, was one of the great gnostics of Ahl-e Haq (Dervish or Follower of Truth) sect to which the gnostic order of mountainous Iran belonged. Baba Tahers songs and maxims were originally read in Fahlavi, Lurish, Kurdish and Hamadani dialects, taking their present form in the course of time.


At least more interesting than the monument are the magnificent flowers and winding paths that surround it at the center of a rather large hilltop square.




Gonbad-e Alavian


Gonbad-e Alavian (or Masjid-e Alavian) is a four-sided interesting 12th century mausoleum belonging to the late Seljuk period. On the exterior, it resembles the Gonbad-e Sorkh of Maragheh. Inside this Dervish Monastery, taken over by the powerful Alavi Family ruling Hamadan for two centuries, is decorated by the same type of gypsum moldings of Heydarieh Mosque of Qazvin. The Alavi Family tombs (two in all) are in the crypt and can be reached by a spiral staircase inside the tower. As regards its architectural merits, the stucco ornamentation of its mirhab with intricate geometric designs and whirling floral motifs on the exterior walls and several inscriptions in Kuffic and Thulth styles, this monument ranks among the most beautiful in its kind in Iran.


The most noteworthy monument in Hamadan, the dome may at one time have been intended as a mosque. It is notable for the outstanding quality of its stucco ornamentation, with whirling floral motifs on the exterior walls and intricate geometric designs on its mirhab. The shrine stands in the vicinity of Eyn ol-Qazat Square



 

GANJ NAMEH


Hamadans oldest Achaemenian rock carvings consisting of two huge inscribed panels (twenty lines) carved on two rock faces of some two meters in height are located 5 km west of the city on the slopes of Mount Alvand. The site is known as Ganj Nameh (Treasure Book, or Treasure Inventory), because for a long time it was believed that the lengthy cuneiform inscriptions contained a clue to the whereabouts of the fabulous treasures accumulated by the Medes and Achaemenians. In fact the Old Persian, Neo-Elamite, and Neo-Babylonian texts of the inscriptions belonging to Darius I and Xerxes I, consist of a genealogical account of the Achaemenian monarchs and the adoration of Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian God, as well as their conquests. Almost at eye-level, they are reached via a bridge over a river lined with tea-houses. The texts are translated into Persian and English and posted on two billboards. The English translation reads as follows:


The Great God Ahura Mazda, greatest of all the gods, who created this earth and the sky and the people; who gave happiness to the people; who made Xerxes king; an outstanding king among many kings, an outstanding ruler among many rulers; I (am) the great king Xerxes, king of kings, king of lands with numerous inhabitants, king of this vast kingdom with far away territories, son of the Achaemenian monarch Darius."



 

Shrine of Esther and Mardocai


Mausoleum of Esther and Mardocai in a small walled garden on Shariati Street 200 m west of Imam Khomeini Square, is traditionally believed to be the place where Esther, the Jewish Queen of Susa and Xerxes wife, and Mardocai, her uncle, have been buried. It is considered as the most important Jewish pilgrimage site in Iran, and used to be visited by Jewish pilgrims from all over the world. Inside the brick dome and upon the plaster work of the walls there are some Hebrew inscription. The experts now say Esther was in fact buried in Susa, and this tomb probably belongs to another Jewish Queen, the wife of Sassanian king Yazdgird I (339-420 AD), Shushan Dokht.


There has been a Jewish colony at Hamadan according to Herfeld since the latters time. The simple brick building, constructed in the 13th century on the site of an earlier (probably a 5th-century tomb), is entered through a rough stone door, which swings open into a large assembly room, a vestibule, an elevation, and a Shah Neshin. Actually, it has nothing to speak about from the architectural point of view. The exterior form of this mausoleum, built of brick and stone, resembles Islamic constructions. Another smaller chamber facing the twin tombs is used for prayers aided by an ancient Torah on vellum. The two ebony tombs are covered with a striking collection of colorful clothes.


Kermanshah

The capital of Kermanshahan Province, in an altitude of 1, 630 m above sea level, Kermanshah is 525 km to the southwest of Tehran. It can be reached either by air or via Hamadan (190 km), partly on a highway and partly on a first class national asphalt road.

Being a populous city of 631,199 inhabitants, mainly Kurds, Kermanshah stands, like Hamadan, on the great highway that connected Baghdad and the West with Iranian Plateau. The towns situation is highly picturesque, and it is one of the liveliest market centers of the province, where you will meet a large number of Kurds and mountain peasants once famous as warriors. These Kurds still speak their own language among themselves and remain faithful to their testamentary traditions: the men wear large turbans on their heads and black dungarees tight at the waist and at the ankles. The women wear trousers and bright-coloured scarves and sometimes brocade bodices, but they are mostly changing into urban type of dress, particularly in towns.First built on a site a few km from the present town, it probably dates from the 4th century AD. Its vulnerable position has always rendered it liable to incursions, and it was in turn captured by the Arabs in 649 AD, the Buyids in the 10th century, soon after by the Seljuks, and then sacked by Mongols in the early 13th century. After several centuries of relative peace and prosperity, its strategic position on the road to Baghdad brought trouble in the form of very heavy Iraqi missile and bomb attacks during the Iraqi war against Iran.

Modern Kermanshah is an important agricultural and a burgeoning industrial center. In the surrounding country fruit of many kinds is grown; another local product is sugar-beet. Carpet-weaving and manufacture of givehs (canvas covered shoes like the Spanish alpargata in appearance) have long been carried on in the town. Since the construction of an oil refinery on the banks of Qara Su River in 1935, motor spirit and other petroleum products have been processed there for consumption in northern and north-western Iran.

However, the present Kermanshah does not seem to be of any great interest, especially for a foreign visitor. And although it is not, relatively speaking, an old town, there are some very ancient remains in its neighborhood, which suffice to attract the attention of the interested tourist. It has a beautiful setting, framed by permanently snow-clad mountains. Kermanshah is best avoided in winter, but the climate is very pleasant for most of the rest of the year.


Annual Temperature average:

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

4.9

2.3

6.0

12.2

18.0

24.1

27.4

27.9

21.5

17.1

9.9

5.0



 

The Orientation and walking tour in Kermanshah Itineraries - From $10.00 (Kermanshah)

EXCURSIONS AROUND KERMANSHAH

Buildings and places of interest around Kermanshah are as follows: the Rock Carvings and Inscriptions of Darius I at Bisotun, 32 km east of Kermanshah, in addition to which you will see the relief of a bearded reveler (probably Hercules) with a goblet of wine recently discovered near the main road; the Relief and Inscriptions at Taq-e Bostan; the two Staircases of the Temple of Anahita at Kangavar; the Taq-e Gara (believed to be Sassanian, but the actual date is the subject of much controversy) near the top of the Pay-e Taq pass, approximately 90 km west of the town; the Ruins of Dinavar (dating from the Seleucid era to the late 14th century AD), 45 km east-northeast of the town; the Mound of Kambadene (from Achaemenian to Sassanian times), just to northeast of Kermanshah; and Dokkan-e Davoud (Davids Shop), a Median Tomb of 7th century BC, 3 km from Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, which shows a praying man on a rock piece.



 


On the roadside there are Achaemenian inscriptions and relief engraved high up (100 and 40-50 m above the ground) on the Bisotun cliff, which attract the attention of tourists, travelers, and passengers-by. Henry Rawlinson, then subaltern in the British Army, copied the trilingual inscriptions in 1833 and 1834 and eventually began the process of deciphering the Akkadian script which until that time had baffled scholars. Again in 1948 Dr G Cameron of Chicago University could correct some of Rawlinsons errors.

Altogether twelve hundred lines of inscriptions tell the story of the battles Darius had to wage in 521-520 BC against the governors who were trying to dismantle the Empire founded by Cyrus. The decisive battle took place on this site.

A bas-relief portrays the Kings victory; unfortunately the scene showing him with his main enemy at his feet and nine rebel governors enchained, is some 50 m above ground level and is hardly visible without the use of binoculars.

The tablet of Darius I is high up on the side of the cliff over the village of Bisotun which stands to a large pool. Below the tablet is a staircase up to a platform, from which you can see a shallow recess containing an inscription in Greek and a rather worn mid-second century BC sculpture of Hercules (Heracles) on the back of a lion. These sculptures, inscriptions and tablets of considerable dimensions, comprise the figure of Darius I, tall and with attractive features, while Ahura Mazda' symbolic celestial figure can be seen hovering above his head. Darius has stretched his right hand toward this deity and with his left foot he is trampling upon the rebel Gaumata (pretender) lying prostrate at his feet. Two persons are standing behind Darius, while nine governors from different nations are seen before him with their hands tied behind their backs and a cord running around their necks. The name and nationality of each rebel governor have been inscribed as follows:

Atrina (of Susiana)
Nidinter-Bel (of Babylonia)
Faravartish (of Media)
Martiya (of Susiana)
Citrantakhma (House of Sargartiya, in Media)
Vahyazdata (Smerdis in Persis)
Arakha (of Babylonia)
Frada (of Marv)
Skunkha (the Scythian)

The latter figure, wearing a rather tall hat, seems to be later addition. The three languages used in the inscriptions are Babylonian, Elamite, and the Old Persian. The inscriptions are also known as the Longer and the Shorter. The former consists of Ahura Mazdas praise and adoration, the genealogy of Darius, and an account of the events of his reign, his views, beliefs, recommendations, and comments. The Shorter inscription deals with Darius lineage and a number of events taken place during his reign.

These sculptures seem to have been intended to give a true picture of those represented. The Achaemenian sovereign, for instance, wears a garment with folds at the waist. He is 180 cm high.

One of the two prisoners (governors) standing behind the King, bears the royal bow and arrows, while the other is holding the Kings spear. The figure of Ahura Mazda is seen above the heads of the prisoners, with a winged sun-disc (which is the symbol of eternity) encircling him. In the inscriptions, Darius gives the names of his ancestors and says: "Eight of my family were kings before me. I am the ninth. We inherit kingship on both sides."

The Bisotun sculptures (measuring 5.48 by 3.04 m) are of the highest historic importance and have been created in 480 BC, the sixth year of Darius reign. It would take the best part of a Day to explore everything, although most visitors are happy merely to see these famous relieves. Because of the lighting conditions, it is better to visit the site in the early morning and then move on to Taq-e Bostan.

There are plenty of remains at this site. Within easy reach of the cliff there are a Median citadel, the walls of a Parthian settlement, a stone block carved with three Parthian figures, the foundations of a Sassanian bridge, and a grotto with evidence of occupation in Neanderthal times. In Bisotun, there are several places to eat.


Bisotun

The Bisotun (or Behistun) mountain stands some 30 km to the northeast of Kermanshah via the main road to Hamadan, which itself follows the ancient caravan route along the bottom of a fine velvety fawn-colored cliff. Long before Achaemenians, even prehistoric man inhabited Bisotun according to Carleton Coon, who found while excavating a cave there in 1949 evidence of a highly developed industry datable to the Middle Paleolithic, indicating that Bisotun was inhabited during the Wurm glaciation.




 


The Sassanians carved majestic sculptures out of the living rock, mostly in their native province of Fars, designed to exalt their kings and perpetuate their fame. Taq-e Bostan is discovered along the avenue now floodlit: the favourite excursion place of the townspeople. The bas-reliefs decorate two grottoes, large and small, which have been cut out of a rock cliff rising high above a pool of clear water, which recalls the Sassanian site at Darab (Fars Province).

The first one you come to is a majestic bas-relief depicting the investiture of Artaxerxes II, at the same time celebrating a victory over the Romans, by the deity Ahura Mazda to the right and Mithras, holding symbolic sacred bunch of twigs, to the left. The next is a small arched recess carved out of the cliff in the 4th century AD, showing Shapur II and his grandson (later Shapur III), created by the latter as a testament to his own dynastic credentials. The third is a larger grotto, with a lower panel depicting an armored figure holding a lance and seated on a now headless horse, and an upper panel showing a royal investiture. Both are believed to represent Khosrow II, a contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad. The inner walls of this remarkable monument are decorated with relieves of royal hunting scenes, together with a much later addition, a coloured picture of three royal prices added at the time of Fath Ali Shah (Qajar). On the symmetrical facade are two winged angels above some simple floral relieves.

The side-walls have scenes of a royal boar hunt and a royal deer hunt (on the right and on the left, respectively). The hunting party was accompanied by ladies of the court and musicians, all of whom are shown in a style very different from that of the traditional sculpture of the West: this is the art of a jeweler or the miniaturist, the wall being treated as if it were a crown to be covered with precious stones.

Originally decorated in bright colours, the figures are more formal and stylized than those of the Darius relief at Bisotun. The site is fenced off and attended by a curator from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. It is open more or less throughout the hours of Daylight, but it is best to come in the mid-afternoon, after visiting the site at Bisotun.

Here, like Bisotun, there are many places to eat: pleasant restaurants with a selection of fried chicken, kebabs and sometimes fish.

Taq-e Bostan

The bas beliefs at Taq-e Boston (Arch of the Garden), 6 km northeast of Kermanshah, are, with one exception, the only Sassanian rock carvings outside Fars Province; they are also the latest of Sassanian carvings.



Temple of Anahita, 3rd century BCE

The worship of Anahita goddess of abundance and guardian of water in ancient Iran, and goddess of beauty and fecundity in some other countries was broadly practiced during the Parthian period. However, nothing is said of her existence in numerous Achaemenian inscriptions. The cult of the goddess and the building of temples to her, continued during the Sassanian period. Despite historical references to the temple, its location and architectural decorations by few Muslim and Greek geographers and historians, the greatest bulk of material evidence on the history of the temple and the cult has been gathered as a result of excavations carried out at the temple site on an outcropping rock.

The temple building is a rectangle with its facade to the south. The platform is higher than the ground by several steps, which have completely disappeared. A small mosque has been built to the west, and on the northwest of the temple is a lane along which the best preserved and the most important part of the building is to be seen. This part of the temple is placed on a beautiful foundation of white marble. At this point there are nine white marble columns built into the mud-brick walls of the houses providing a good support for the buildings of the villagers.

Walls, wide steps and marble columns, represent a combination of Irano-Greek architectural styles. Its fortifications have excited archaeologists, although there is no longer that much to see.

Kangavar

TEMPLE OF ANAHITA: This is one of the architectural monuments of ancient Iran, with its history going back to the Parthian period (200 BC), recently unearthed at Kangavar, 90 km to the east of Kermanshah, and on Hamadan Kermanshah road.




Giveh: the Comfortable Traditional Shoe

Giveh is the name of a sort of traditional foot-ware made from strong, coarse cotton cloth in Iran since many centuries ago. The upper cotton is sewn to a leather sole to make one of the coolest, most comfortable, and sturdy traditional shoes that exist in the world. In northwestern, western, and central parts of Iran, people have traditionally worn givehs. When it comes to making these traditional shoes for women, the giveh makers spend longer time, particularly when they decide to decorate the upper surface with beautiful designs. The upper cloth may be either of cotton or silk, and the quality of the material used for the sole depends on the income and social status of the people for whom gives are made. The best quality giveh is produced in Kermanshah and Abadeh.

Kermanshah Museum

Kermanshah Museum is located in Dr Shariati Avenue, Shahid Haddad-e Adel Street, in a famous building called Takyeh Moaven ol-Molk (locally known as Hosseinieh), which is one of the historical monuments from the Qajar period. Built in 1890 AD, it was finally handed over to the former Ministry of Culture and Art by Moaven ol-Molk family. The building consists of the following three sections: A) Hosseinieh; B) Zeinabieh; and C) Abbasieh. The latter section with its beautiful painted walls, is built in two floors, of which the second floor is allocated to the exhibit of ethnological articles. The first floor is planned to be allocated to the display of archaeological exhibits in future. For centuries, the building acted as a popular court with religious significance. Parts of the building that have been damaged during the Constitutional Revolution were repaired and renovated in 1912-13 by Moaven ol-Molk, the last private owner of the building.

Qassr-e Shirin

CHAHAR TAQI: Also called Chahar Qapu, it is a square fire-temple of stone and gypsum with an area of 586.60 square meters, which belongs to the Sassanian period and is considered to be the greatest of its kind in that epoch. It is a square structure with a domical roof, and there seem to have existed some corridors around it. The building bears perfect resemblance to the Sassanian temples. Its main facade is over 16 meters wide. This is one of the historic sites heavily (up to 90%) damaged during the Imposed War of Iraq against Iran (1980-88).

Sar-e Pol-e Zahab

TAQ-E GARA: In the district of Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, in the heights known as the Gate of Zagros, there is a gorge called Pa Taq. Adjoining the Pa Taq path, there can be seen a simple stone structure, somewhat like a grotto, which is known as Taq-e Gara. At the entrance of this structure, there is a cradle-shaped arch cut as corridor into the mountain and consisting of large rectangular blocks of stone. Inside the grotto and the arcade there are some graceful remains of the Ashkanian and Sassanian structures. According to some archaeologists the structure was intended to be used for occasional royal stop-overs, while other consider it as landmark on the borderline.

THE ANUBANINI SCULPTURES:

The bas-relief figures of 2800 BC attributed to the Semite King Aubanini can be seen on the mountainside at a height of 35 meters, with his left foot on a prostate prisoner while receiving two more prisoners from the Goddess Nana. Under this sculptured scene, there are the figures of six more prisoners, also carved in relief. They are naked, with their hands bound at the back and presumably being led from left to right by their king who can be differentiated from the rest by the crown that he still has on his head. The sculpture possesses an inscription concerning Anubaninis victories. The skill manifest in these sculptures, and various designs and ornamental strokes adorning them, have been a source of amazement and admiration to the archaeologists and to those who have scrutinized in the inscription.

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