A glimpse on the Persian Carpet

Persian Carpet (Quali) has been considered as a sublime embodiment of timeless beauty and elegance over thousands of years in human history and it has constantly evolved into a more elegant and artistic creation throughout its existence. It has always been an essential part of Persian culture and a staple of each Iranian home. For centuries, Persian Carpets have been appreciated for their high quality, uniqueness and the fact that they are handwoven. The variety of Persian Carpets is somewhat impressive if you put some thought into it; from large carpets knotted in workshops to lively patterned village carpets and charming nomadic carpets. These hand-woven arts are not only limited to carpets. There are other relative structures with different materials, design executions and techniques, that have also made a special place for themselves in Persian culture such as Gabbeh, Kilim and Palas

The journey through the world of antique Persian Rugs is not only a treat for the eyes, but also a journey through culture. The patterns, the sizes and the colors are all rooted in deeper meanings and sometimes, possibly stories. Stories of past generations and their traditions.

Theoretically, it is implied that a Persian Rug would have to be at least 80 years old to be considered “antique”.

Persian Carpets

Hand-woven Persian Carpets

As the Persian carpet has been a subject of interest amongst many people including us, Kalout team has taken the elaborate decision to present this historical and cultural legacy through our eyes. We are beyond ourselves to be able to share this gem with our international friends and clients.

Brief History

A significant part of the movement of the Persian floor covering lies related to the different leaders of the nation all through time. By vanquishing Babylon in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great was struck by its quality, which led him to present the craft of rug making into Persia. Numerous history specialists credit Cyrus for this cultural and artistic impression. It is said that the burial chamber of Cyrus the Great, at Pasargadae close to Persepolis, was secured with valuable rugs.

Renowned conventional Iranian floor coverings caused some zones to incorporate Mashhad, Tabriz, Arak, Isfahan, Kashan and Kerman. Notable assortments of Persian carpets, some from the previously mentioned cities and provinces include Khorasan, Herat, Shiraz and Hamedan.

Through history, until the 19th century, people from nomads to kings, only utilized the rugs from Persia as floor coverings and decorations. Generally, the word carpet was used for any cover, such as a table cover or wall hanging. However, afterwards it has been seen with a fresh pair of eyes, as a genuine art form.

Nowadays, these carpets are appreciated not only as artworks but also as investment worthy pieces. The experience of seeing and feeling a genuine antique Persian rug in person, can be truly powerful.

Iranian Carpet

Antique Persian Rug

The orientation of carpet weaving in Persia goes back to more than 2,500 years ago. At first, carpets and rugs were made as simple necessities to cover the floors, protecting people from the cold and damp and provided them with warmth and comfort. However, through time, the skill and craft of weaving carpets gradually evolved to the creation of art works that passed down from generation to generation over the centuries.

In the past, it was believed that the geometric designs and symbolic figures protect the Persian rug’s owner from misfortune and evil. As for the tribal rug designs, the pattern of animals, people, and everyday objects, are a classic example of art imitating life. Persian antique rugs are one-of-a-kind masterpieces and luxury design items, which can make a house, feel like a home. Not to mention they have been quite popular amongst Europeans aristocrats like England and Germany, especially during the 1850’s. Due to their timeless elegance, hand woven Persian rugs are an unbeatable, must-have piece among designers.

During the Safavid Period, Persia was an ancient and powerful empire embracing lands from Africa to India. The largest flourishing carpet producing areas were the now modern-day cities of Tabriz, Herat, Kashan and Kerman. The Safavid Dynasty encouraged many other kinds of arts as well, which stepped into the original foot prints of the art of carpet weaving, including painting, calligraphy and intricate weaving. Nowadays these patterns have made their way onto the nomads traditional clothing, table cloths and animals’ saddlebags. There are also certain woven curtains, which are mainly used to divide a room from another. These detailed weavings and pattern are not only bound down to nomadic areas. Modern day fashion is no stranger to intricate weaving or crosshairs. Many hand-made rugs with intricate designs, which passed down from one generation to another, have survived for hundreds of years, as they were so well crafted and cherished. These specific rugs are evidence of a rich heritage and culture.

Iranian Rugs

A local woman hand weaving a Persian carpet

Persia is considered one of (if not the most) varied carpet producing regions of the Middle East. However, the golden era of Persian Carpets really began after the foundation of the Safavid Dynasty and during the 16th and 17th centuries, Persia produced many of the great masterpiece carpets, which are still in existence today.

The display of Persian carpet from outside in & International legacies

As briefly mentioned, the rugs from Persia also made their way west to Europe. Persian Carpet started a long journey of display from Spain, which was initially introduced to the art from Northern Africa and Morocco and ended up in Southern Europe.

As of today, the most famous Persian carpets came from Tabriz, which are referred to as the Twin Ardabil Carpets. These carpets have made it in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and Los Angeles Country Museum.

Sheikh Safi Persian carpet at the Victoria and Albert museum

Sheikh Safi Persian carpet at the Victoria and Albert museum

It is only fit to introduce some of these fine carpets to paint a picture of how mesmerizing they actually are. Let’s not forget that with Kalout international tours, all these treasures would be personally introduced to our visitors.

A beautiful rug belonging to Northwest Persia is the animal” carpet, half of which is in Kraków Cathedral, Poland, and half in the Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris. Another legacy of antique Persian carpet is the great hunting” carpet, which now is in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan. A deep blue field, where hunters dash after their prey, covered with a compelling network of blossoming stems surrounds a scarlet and gold medallion which brings this magnificent design to finish. The words inscribed with the museum display read: “It is by the efforts of Giyath-ud-Din ʿJami that this renowned carpet was brought to such perfection in the year 1521.”

The world’s oldest hand-woven carpet is the Pazyryk Rug, which dates back to 2,500 years ago. This piece includes Iranian and Achaemenid motifs. The carpet is currently kept at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

And lastly, Silk carpets woven to surround the shrine of Shah Abbas the second in Qom were the last superior achievements in Persian Carpet weaving. The pattern is beautiful, the colors are varied and in harmony with each other. The piece is dated and signed by Nimat Allah of Joshaqan.

Silk Persian carpet

Silk Persian carpet

The market and value of Persian carpets

Hand-woven Carpet is one of Iran’s key non-oil exports, considering Iran makes three quarters of the world’s hand-woven carpets.

The Persian Carpet is pretty popular among European (Germany for instance) and American Aristocrats and interior design or art connoisseur in general.    

The value of the Persian carpet is determined by various factors, including the beauty, intricacy and authenticity of designs, durability of colors, the quality of materials and the knots as well as the years of labor spent for producing each carpet.

According to estimates by the Iranian Industry, Iran annually makes around 400 tons of hand-woven carpets, the majority of which are exported to other countries.

The display of a few grand Persian carpets for an auction

The display of a few grand Persian carpets for an auction

The authentic Persian carpet has lost a part of its share in the international market as replicas with lower price and quality from China, Afghanistan, Turkey and Pakistan have flooded the market. Regardless of other countries’ replicas and Monets of the Persian Rug, real Persian art connoisseurs believe this particular Iranian handicraft still maintains its status in the world.

Moreover, the unique features of the Persian Nomadic Rug have made it impossible for other producers to copy the exact handicraft.

According to the recent reports, over the past decade, the Persian Carpet Industry has experienced one of the roughest times in its era. Nonetheless, it still stands on top of its game due to its deep roots.

Fun facts

Khosrow Carpet: There has been a legendary, royal silk carpet woven with an intention of nothing but magnificent beauty, dedicated to the divine role of the king, a mythical king who turned each season around and promised the return of spring and earth’s fertility. The Spring of Khosrow Carpet made for the audience hall of the Sāsānid palace at Ctesiphon

Khosrow Carpet  was a representation of the Garden of Eden, which in other words symbolized a promise of eternal happiness.

Unfortunately, this masterpiece has not survived throughout time. According to written records, the motifs and superior embellishments of this piece were mind blowing. Just to train your imagination, picture a royal garden with watercourses, paths, rectangular flowerbeds and blossoming shrubs and fruit trees, which were the main motifs and patters of this carpet. A literal yellow brick road, woven in gold and each flower pedal, fruit or bird was worked in with pearls and different jewels. The border was not just woven out yarn like ordinary carpets. This border was by itself, a smaller frame holding the scene of a meadow, solid with emeralds. It’s truly a shame to miss out laying our eyes on such a terrific piece. 

 Qab Qabi( Frame pattern)carpet

Qab Qabi( Frame pattern)carpet

It is referenced in numerous western records that Iranians stroll on nurseries, sky and suchlike that were weaved on twist and woof. Iranian heaven had seven dividers to keep evil spirits from entering inside, the example which has been seen in the arrangement of Persian Gardens too.

The general state of the Iranian rug is square or square shape, to help to remember the four old style components, the four fundamental headings and the example of nurseries. At the point when the circle joined the rug conspire, it has become to look like a sanctuary, keeping each consecrated thing inside it. In Islamic time the hover set in the focal point of the square shape territory, to be the uprightness of presence. The Islamic craftsmanship sought after to take earth to the sky and carry the sky to earth, and how decent rug has carried out this responsibility.

Gold threaded rugs (In Kashan)

Around the 17th century, the rise of lavish lifestyle and luxury, lead to the production of gold- and silver-threaded carpets. Some were even costume ordered or exported to Europe, due to the good relations between the two countries at the time. It is believed that the main producing city for these rugs were Isfahan and Kashan. As the Persian Carpets, particularly the silver and gold-threaded one were first exhibited in Paris, many believed that the rugs were actually European.

The gold thread Persian rug with silk from Kashan

The gold thread Persian rug with silk from Kashan

Iran Carpet Museum

As Iran is one of the major carpet producers in the world with an immaculate history attached, it would only be just to have a museum dedicated to this art. The Iran Carpet Museum, located northwest of Laleh Park in Tehran, is a visionary representation of all the rave on Persian Carpet, its evolution and history. The architecture of this building is something that your eyes won’t miss as you approach. A façade resembling a carpet weaving loom, casting shadows on the walls, is not only a visionary but also a practical shelter to cool down by. Even though this museum has many photography hot spots, it should be mentioned that flash photography in not allowed inside. You will not miss visiting this Museum, traveling with Kalout tours.

Kalout team has expert guides who will make sure that you won’t miss out on the one of a kind adventure to visit Iran Carpet Museum. Not to mention that you will be hearing all about the history and culture, right there in the moment, along with the introduction of some of Iran most famous carpets.

Iran carpet museum in Tehran

Iran carpet museum in Tehran

The building is divided into two exhibition galleries on two floors, with each exhibition displaying different styles from varies regions and backgrounds. In short, the ground floor belongs to permanent exhibitions and the upper floor is designed for temporary exhibitions and regional displays. The overall collection of Iran Carpet Museum holds more than 150 pieces, dating from the 17th century up to the current creations.


Iran has many roots and cultural authenticities to rely on when it comes to proving its originality. However, putting aside all the fuss and marketing competitors, what captures anyone’s heart regarding Iran’s cultural aspects, is the warmth, the hospitality and sheer humbleness of the people who contributed to this art.

As Kalout Tours is quite familiar with the enthusiasm regarding Persian Carpets, visiting carpet weaving workshops and traditional Bazaars are usually squeezed in most of our classical and cultural itineraries, passing through popular cities such as Tehran, Kashan, Na’in, Kerman, Shiraz and Isfahan, where you can witness the art of weaving, which open the doors to a trail of Iran’s history, culture and nature of this ancient land. Most tourists are drawn to purchase one fine piece as a souvenir to have as a memoir of their trip to the land of 1001 nights.

Naqsh-e Rustam, the Ancient Necropolis of Powerful Persian Kings

Naqsh-e Rustam is an ancient necropolis situated northwest of Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Naqsh-e Rustam (Naqsh-e Rostam) is an impressive reminder of once glorious Achaemenid Persian Empire (c. 550–330 BC) and it stands as a magnificent manifestation of ancient Persian art. Naqsh-e Rustam is the house for the immense rock tombs cut high into the cliff. The rock tombs belong to four Achaemenian kings. The ancient tombs attracted Sasanian kings as well. They wished to imitate the glory of the Achaemenian kings; maybe that is why they created huge reliefs besides the tombs. The immense rock reliefs mainly depict the investiture scenes and the equestrian fights of the Sasanian kings. However, the history of Naqsh-e Rustam is not limited to  the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods. There is evidence that the site exists from the Elamite period.  An ancient rock relief dating back to Elamite period indicates that Naqsh-e Rustam had been a sacred place during the ancient times. That might be the reason Darius I ordered to carve his monumental tomb into the cliff at the foot of Mt. Hosain (Huseyn Kuh). His rock tomb is famous for its two inscriptions known as the king’s autobiography. The inscriptions indicate that Darius the Great had been the king who ruled according to justice. Travel to Iran and enjoy visiting so many great cultural attractions especially the great ones registered on UNESCO World Heritage List or waiting to be registered. Pasargadae, Persepolis, Naqsh-e Rajab that lies a few hundred meters from Naqsh-e Rustam, and Naqsh-e Rustam, the ancient necropolis of the powerful Persian kings are the best cultural attractions of Iran located in Shiraz, Fars province,.

Achaemenid Tombs

Naqsh-e- Rustam houses four rock tombs carved out of rock face. Since the façades of the four Achaemenian tombs look like Persian crosses- chalipa- some call it Persian Crosses as well. The entrance to each tomb is located at the center of the cross and it leads to a small chamber where the king’s body lay in a sarcophagus. It is not clear whether the bodies were directly put into the sarcophaguses or the bodies were exposed to a tower of silence, and then the bones were put there. What is certain is that the tombs were closed after the burial, but the doors were smashed and the tombs were looted after the invasion of Alexander the Great in the 4th BC.

Darius I standing on a platform in front of an altar and the winged figure of Ahuramazda

Ka’ba-ye Zartosht 

In front of the rock tombs, there is a square tower known as the Ka’ba-ye Zartosht that means the Cube of Zoroaster (Ka’ba is the famous monument as a holy site for Muslims located in Mecca). The structure of the building is a copy of a sister building at Pasargadae known as the Prison of Solomon; however, this building is a few decades older than Ka’ba-ye Zartosht. On the wall of the tower, there is an inscription in three languages from Sasanian time and it is considered as one of the most important inscriptions of that period. It is not obvious what the purpose of the building had been. It might have been a library for the holy books, a place to keep the holy fire, or maybe a treasury.

Ka’ba-ye Zartosht in front of the rock tombs at Naqsh-e Rustam

According to Persepolis fortification tablets, there must have been trees at Necropolis that apparently it refers to Naqsh-e Rustam. The experts believe that there must have been three lines of trees in the area between the tower and the tombs; however, it has been a long time since the trees have disappeared.

Sassanid Reliefs

Besides the tombs, there are seven over-sized stone reliefs dating from the 3rd century AD.  The huge rock reliefs mainly belong to the Sassanid period and they depict scenes of imperial conquests and royal ceremonies. What is amazing about the reliefs is that they indicate details of events carved in the heart of rough rocks. Therefore, they can give the visitors a visual insight into the spirits of the ancient times.

The most famous rock relief at Naqsh-e Rustam belongs to the Sasanian king Shapur I. The relief depicts his victory over two Roman emperors; Valerian and Philip the Arab. Shapur I is on the horseback, while Valerian is bowing to him and Philip the Arab is holding Shapur’s horse.

Shapur I celebrates his victory over two Roman emperors; Valerian and Philip the Arab

The investiture relief of Ardashir I as the founder of the Sassanid Empire is also depicted. The relief indicates Ohrmazd giving Ardeshir the ring of kingship. The inscription also has the oldest use of the term “Iran”.

There are also the equestrian reliefs such as equestrian relief of Hormizd II at Naghsh-e Rustam. The relief depicts Hormozid and above the relief, one would see a badly damaged relief that apparently is depicting Shapur II with his courtiers.

The relief of Bahram II depicts the king with an oversized sword. On the left, five figures stand and they seem to be the members of the king’s family. On the right, three courtiers stand and one of them is apparently Kartir- a highly prominent Zoroastrian priest.

The Oldest Relief at Naqsh-e Rustam

The oldest relief at Naqsh-e Rustam dates back to approximately 1000 BC and it dates back to the Elamite period. Though the relief is severely damaged, it depicts a faint image of a man with an unusual head-gear. He is thought to be an Elamite one.

Why Is It Called Naqsh-e Rustam?

Sassanid reliefs mainly depict equestrian fights or investiture scenes. Since the equestrian fights of the Sasanian kings represent the tales of chivalry, locals believed that the man depicted on reliefs was Rustam, the hero of Shahnameh. The epic of Shahnameh is the masterpiece of Ferdowsi, the great Iranian poet of the 10th and 11th the century. Therefore, the site is called Naqsh-e Rustam (meaning the carvings of Rustam); because the locals believed that the carved man on the reliefs was their epic hero” Rustam”.

Locals believed that the carved man on the reliefs was their epic hero” Rustam”

The oldest wedding ring

Getting the wedding ring is one of the oldest and most universal traditions.This is a very old tradition.
In fact, nobody can tell the right time about it.But the use of it, in the form of a “ring”, as the mark of perfection and its relationship with two people’s intercourse, was a sign of the perfection of human life.
According to some evidence, the first people who used the marriage ring in history were Egyptians.
In the hieroglyphic writings of Egyptian portraiture, the ring was the symbol of eternity.
The marriage ring in the finger of couples has been a kind of marital covenant that has been permanent and eternal and after the Egyptian people, Christians began to use it.

Declaring love and commitment to people through the ring had existed from years ago. As the pop star, Beyonce also pointed out in one of his songs about the use of it by men.
But according to the latest available documents, the world’s first marriage ring, back to 3260 years ago, belongs to the king of Ilam, Iran, Queen Napriasu, the wife of OnutasNaprisha!
So proudly, the marriage ring is about Iran!

The statue of Napir Asu is one of the remains of the Elamite civilization.The Queen of Napierasu was the wife of Untas Neapirisha, king of Elam.It dates back to 1250 BC.
The statue, made with a layer of copper and gold on a bronze molding, is about 130 cm high, 70 cm wide and 1750 kg Weight.

“This sculpture is the largest metalwork of the  East ancient, which is not even seen in Egypt, Babylon, and Anatolia.
This statue is not only an art piece but also a culmination in the art of bronze casting, which shows the presence of super-skilled craftsmen in the land of Elam.This statue is a very important art-work  dedicate the commemorating and honoring the Elamite emblem and in fact, show the value and credibility of the woman in the ancient Eilami civilization.”

The name of the Queen and the great gods of Susa carved into Elamite cuneiform on the boundary skirt of this statue.
There is a ring on the left hand, which is her wedding ring probably.
The statue of Napier  stores in the Louvre Museum.


Cyrus II, known as Cyrus the Great, was the founder of Achaemenid dynasty. His maternal grandfather was Astyages, the last king of the Medes, and his paternal grandfather was Achaemenes, the first founder of hereditary rule among the Persians.

Cyrus presented a new empire based on morality, justice, and decency to the world. Unlike the previous emperors, he treated the defeated with compassion, enemies with tolerance, and those with opposing beliefs and customs with liberality. His statement in Babylon, written on a clay cylinder, is the first draft of the Declaration of Human Rights.

The followings are three sites worth exploring to learn more about the rise and fall of Achaemenids. You can leave Shiraz for a one-day tour to visit these spectacular sites and then come back.

Pasargadae: This Is Where Achaemenids Rose to Power


Tomb of Cyrus at Pasargadae, Iran


It was the dynastic capital of Achaemenid Empire, the first great multicultural empire in western Asia. Today, it’s located near Shiraz in Fars province, south western Iran. It’s where Cyrus the Great conquered Astyages, the last Median king, in his last battle, and then founded the first Persian Empire in the same region and beyond. He founded Pasargadae and constructed palaces in memory of his victory. It was the rise of Achaemenids and Cyrus the Great was the author of Achaemenid dynasty. His tomb is also here in this city.

According to UNESCO, “palaces, gardens, and tomb of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture, and exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization”.

A brief description of the site

The tomb of Cyrus has long been a focal point for visitors to Pasargadae and the palace area lay almost a kilometer north of it. This area included a palace to receive audiences and a whole series of adjacent gardens. They emerged to be the first Persian gardens. Unfortunately, all that has remained from Achaemenid era in this region are stone foundations and some wall socles.

In this site, the columned hall is the most common form of design. A notable architectural point about this hall was making use of stone-working techniques. It’s notable because all the previous columned halls in Iranian plateau were built in mud-brick walls and wooden columns.

Such an innovation facilitated the production of stone platforms, staircase, floors, and stone columns. Each one of these structures was to become a hallmark of architecture in Achaemenid era from about 540 BCE onward.

The gardens at Pasargadae would appear to be the first known occurrence of chaharbagh or fourfold garden, a specific articulation of space. It went on to become a distinctive characteristic of later garden designs in Iran for centuries.

Pasargadae kept its importance to Achaemenid emperors, but during the reign of the next kings, the capital moved to other cities.

Persepolis: The Glorious Times of Achaemenids



Gate of All Nations at Persepolis, Achaemenid Era


It’s the other dynastic center of Achaemenid kings located about 60 kilometers south of Pasargadae. After Cyrus the Great, Darius I, known as Darius the Great, succeeded in ruling the Persian Empire. He started the construction of Persepolis. It consists of ceremonial palaces, provisional residential palaces, a treasury, and a chain of fortification. It was built as a ceremonial palace complex mainly for celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival.

The gate to the site was from the south, through a staircase. To the right of this entrance, you can see a huge rectangular block bearing four cuneiform inscriptions in the name of Darius the Great: Two in Old Persian, one in Elamite, and the fourth in Babylonian. These scripts were clearly meant to inform visitors of the nature of Persepolis, the people who contributed to its construction as well as Darius’ beliefs and ideals.

The remarkable parts of the palace complex consist of:

  • The Gate of All Nations.

It was a four-columned square hall with three stone doorways. Two enormous winged bulls are carved at the inner side of eastern as well as western doorways, and the gates are decorated in the upper part with six cuneiform inscription sections.

  • The audience palace of Darius, The Apadana

The double-reversed stairways of this palace are the most splendid parts of Persepolis

  • The Palace of Darius known, the Tachara.

A charming structure which is the oldest palace of Persepolis. Here, you can find three different scripts carved in various historical periods: one in cuneiform from Achaemenid era, one in Pahlavi from Sassanid era, and one in modern Persian from Qajar era.

  • The Palace of Xerxes, the Hadish

It was the Xerxes’ temporary residence.

  • The Central Palace, the Tripylon

A small but lavishly ornamented structure located in the center of the complex. Three doorways and a couple of corridors and staircases were linked to the other palaces. It must be attributed to Xerxes and Artaxerxes I.

  • The second largest palace of Persepolis, The Hundred Column Hall

Its main feature was a square hall provided with ten rows of ten columns. It was an audience hall.

These structures were built by Darius the Great and his successors, Xerxes and Artaxerxes I, and maintained until 330 BCE, when they were looted and burnt by Alexander of Macedonia. Although today you can see only the remains of this complex, its magnificence can still impress you.

Darius the Great was a powerful and sage emperor in the ancient world. His territory was so extended that there were no such imperial expansion until then and long after.

Naqsh-e-Rostam, Mighty Emperors Have Rested Here


Naqsh-e Rostam, Achaemenids’ Necropolis near Shiraz, Iran


It’s one of the most spectacular ancient sites of Achaemenid era dating back to the times when the fall of Achaemenids was about to happen. It’s located almost 5 kilometers northwest of Persepolis, and consists of the colossal rock tombs of Persian kings dating back to the first millennium BC. Here you can see the best ancient rock reliefs in Iran from both the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods.

The rock-cut tombs of Achaemenid rulers and their families dating back to the 5th, 4th, and 3rd centuries BC have been engraved on the façade of a mountain. The tombs belong to Darius the Great, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. In addition to being a royal necropolis, Naqsh-e-Rostam was a major ceremonial center for the Sasanians until the 7th century AD.

I highly suggest you to put these three spectacular Achaemenid sites in your checklist for travelling to Iran. It takes just one day to visit them all and learn about the rise and fall of Achaemenids. I promise there will be so many amazing things that can cause your admiration.


Iran Must See Wonders!

Iran, known as Persia until 1935, is a partly undiscovered gem. It offers rich culture, history and provides visitors with impressive heritage. Iran ranks seventh among countries in the world as regards the number of World Heritage Sites recognized by UNESCO. Historical and urban settlements date back to 4000 BC in this area. Locals are called Persians and represent about 51% of the population. Tourism-review.com, in collaboration with prominent Iranian tour operator kalouttour, introduce the best, most famous, historical and prominent places of the “Land of the Aryan’s” – the 7 wonders of Iran.


Once the thriving cultural and art center of Iran, today Persepolis is considered one of the most beautiful historical locations in the world. The ancient city, situated 60 km northeast of the city Shiraz, had long been buried under the sand for centuries until its discovery in the 1930s by Erich Frederich Schmidt and his colleagues.
It was founded by Darius I in 518 B.C. and served as the capital of the Archaemenid Empire. The ruins of Persepolis, which burnt down at the order of Alexander the Great, are considered one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites and is also registered as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Shah Mosque

Created during the Safavid era, the Shah Mosque, also known as Imam Mosque, is situated in the south side of the Naghsh-e Jahan Square. The square is in the center of the city Isfahan. Its construction began in 1611 and the mosque represents the culmination of a thousand years of mosque building.
It is a remarkable example of the diversity of Iranian architecture, with its seven-color mosaic tiles and calligraphic inscriptions being the highlights. The port of the mosque measures 27 m high and is crowned with two 42 m tall minarets. It is also surrounded by four iwans and arcades. The Shah Mosque, one of the seven wonders of Iran, is also registered as a UNESCO Heritage site.

Haft Tepe

Haft Tepe is located 15 km to the south of the ancient city of Susa. It is one of Iran’s most significant archaeological sites and the remains of the ancient Elamite city of Kabnak were discovered here. It is composed of seven ancient mounds. The site was first excavated by French archaeologist Jacques de Morgan, with Iranian Ezzat Negahban continuing work in the second half of the 20th century.
Excavations on the site revealed a large temple founded by Tepti-Ahar where the god Kirwashir was worshiped. Below the temple lay a funerary complex for the king and his family, with skeletal remains found in the tomb. Other than that, structures reminding of the foundations of a ziggurat were found here, along with courtyards and suites of rooms.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Naqsh-e Jahan Square is a square located in the center of the city of Asfahan. It was constructed between 1598 and 1629 and is now a very important historical site and one of Iran’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is 160 meters wide and 560 meters long. The square is bordered by two -story arcades and surrounded by many buildings from the Safavid era, such as the already mentioned Shah Mosque, the Ali Qapu Palace or the Mosque of Sheykh Loftollah. It is one of the largest city squares in the world and another great example of Iranian and Islamic architecture.

Eram Garden

The Eram Garden, another of the seven wonders of Iran, is a historical Persian garden located in Shiraz. The whole complex is located at the northern shore of the Khoshk River in the Fars province. The word “Eram” is the Persian version of the Arabic word “Iram” which means heaven in the Quran.
No one is quite sure when construction of the beautiful complex began, but it is suggested that the gardens were built during the Seljuk Dynasty (11th – 14th centuries) under the rule of Ahmad Sanjar. Later it was repaired by the Zand kings of the Zand Dynasty in the second part of the 18th century. Many more rulers decided to improve the gardens, with the Qajar Dynasty leading constructions to what now stands in the gardens: beautiful flowers, refreshing air, myrtles and enormous cypress trees surrounded by typical Iranian architecture.

Nasir ol Molk Mosque

The Nasir ol Molk Mosque, nicknamed the Pink Mosque, is a traditional mosque located in Shiraz. It was built between 1876 and 1888 during the Qajar era. What makes it unique and beautiful is the extensive use of stained glass in its facade, with many pink tiles as well.
It also displays other traditional elements, such as Panj Kase (“five concaved”) design. The best time to visit the mosque is in the morning, when the sun rises over Shiraz. During this time, the sunlight bursts through the windows and illuminates the walls and floors of the mosque with beautiful colors.

Vank Cathedral

The Vank Cathedral, also known as the Church of Saintly Sister, is a cathedral located in the New Julfa district, specific for its predominant Christian community, in the city of Isfahan. Construction began in 1606 during the Safavid period, but in 1655 the Armenian church was rebuilt to adapt to the growing Christian community in the city. A tilework plaque inscribed in Armenian can be seen by the entrance to the cathedral.
The cathedral’s interior is a prime example of the mixture of Islamic and Christian style. The interior is covered with frescos and gilded carvings as well as wainscot of rich tile work. The courtyard contains a large belfry towering over the graves of both Orthodox and Protestant Christians. In one corner, there is also a memorial to the Armenian Genocide in Turkey.


Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BC). It is situated 60 km northeast of the city of Shiraz in Fars Province, Iran. The earliest remains of Persepolis date back to 515 BC. It exemplifies the Achaemenid style of architecture. UNESCO declared the ruins of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.
The site includes a 125,000 square meter terrace, partly artificially constructed and partly cut out of a mountain, with its east side leaning on Rahmet Mountain. The other three sides are formed by retaining walls, which vary in height with the slope of the ground. Rising from 5–13 meters (16–43 feet) on the west side was a double stair. From there, it gently slopes to the top. To create the level terrace, depressions were filled with soil and heavy rocks, which were joined together with metal clips.
Archaeological evidence shows that the earliest remains of Persepolis date back to 515 BC. André Godard, the French archaeologist who excavated Persepolis in the early 1930s, believed that it was Cyrus the Great who chose the site of Persepolis, but that it was Darius I who built the terrace and the palaces.
Since, to judge from the inscriptions, the buildings of Persepolis commenced with Darius I, it was probably under this king, with whom the scepter passed to a new branch of the royal house, that Persepolis became the capital of Iran proper. As the residence of the rulers of the empire, however, a remote place in a difficult alpine region was far from convenient. The country’s true capitals were Susa, Babylon and Ecbatana. This accounts for the fact that the Greeks were not acquainted with the city until Alexander the Great took and plundered it.
Darius I ordered the construction of the Apadana and the Council Hall (Tripylon or the “Triple Gate”), as well as the main imperial Treasury and its surroundings. These were completed during the reign of his son, Xerxes I. Further construction of the buildings on the terrace continued until the downfall of the Achaemenid Empire.

Around 519 BC, construction of a broad stairway was begun. The stairway was initially planned to be the main entrance to the terrace 20 meters (66 feet) above the ground. The dual stairway, known as the Persepolitan Stairway, was built symmetrically on the western side of the Great Wall. The 111 steps measured 6.9 meters (23 feet) wide, with treads of 31 centimeters (12 inches) and rises of 10 centimeters (3.9 inches). Originally, the steps were believed to have been constructed to allow for nobles and royalty to ascend by horseback. New theories, however, suggest that the shallow risers allowed visiting dignitaries to maintain a regal appearance while ascending. The top of the stairways led to a small yard in the north-eastern side of the terrace, opposite the Gate of All Nations.
Grey limestone was the main building material used at Persepolis. After natural rock had been leveled and the depressions filled in, the terrace was prepared. Major tunnels for sewage were dug underground through the rock. A large elevated water storage tank was carved at the eastern foot of the mountain. Professor Olmstead suggested the cistern was constructed at the same time that construction of the towers began.

The uneven plan of the terrace, including the foundation, acted like a castle, whose angled walls enabled its defenders to target any section of the external front. Diodorus Siculus writes that Persepolis had three walls with ramparts, which all had towers to provide a protected space for the defense personnel. The first wall was 7 meters (23 feet) tall, the second, 14 meters (46 feet) and the third wall, which covered all four sides, was 27 meters (89 feet) in height, though no presence of the wall exists in modern times.



Naqsh-e Jahan Square:
Naghsh-e-Jahan Square is a huge rectangular square in Isfahan, Iran, which is surrounded by monuments from Safavid period. Naghsh-e-Jahan Square was built during the reign of Safavid Shah Abbas. There are other historical monuments in the square including Ali Qapu Palace, Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, Qeisarieh Gate. In addition to these monuments, there are 200 chambers around the square, in which Isfahan’s handicrafts are presented.
In comparison with “Place de la Concorde” in Paris, Naghsh-e-jahan Square is historically superior, and after “Tiananmen Square” in Beijing, it is the second largest square in the world.
Due to the harmony existing in the construction of it, Naghsh-e-Jahan Square has surprised Europeans during centuries.
The square was registered in Iran’s National Heritage on January 28, 1935 under the registration number of 102. Also, it was among the first Iranian monuments, which was registered in UNESCO World Heritage in April, 1979 under the registration number of 115.
The square was named “Shah Square” after it was built, and it was registered in World Heritage list under this name. Currently, however, it is also known as “Imam Square” in that list.

Naqsh-e Jahan

Naqsh-e Jahan

Yazd city:
Yazd city is the center of Yazd province, Yazd is considered to be of the old cities of Iran and one of the best desert cities. It’s the first raw adobe city and the second historical city in the world after Venice in Italy. This region has been considered as one of the main and historical path and passageways of Iran and has always been noted by governments. Yazd is known as the “City of Wind Tower”. Also, “Bride of the Desert”, “Dar al Elm”, “City of Bicycles” and “the City of Sweets” are considered to be its other titles. Yazd is the city of different cultures and religions and its cultural inhabitants live peacefully together. This city is sister to the cities of Homs in Syria, Jaszbereny in Hungary, Nizwa in Oman, Jakarta the capital of Indonesia, Holguin in Cuba and Yeosu in South Korea.Yazd city was Just registered in UNESCO World Heritage in July, 2017

Yazd city

Yazd city

Tabriz Bazaar:

The Bazaar of Tabriz (Romanized as Bāzār-e Tabriz) is a historical market situated in the city center of Tabriz, Iran. It is one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East and the largest covered bazaar in the world. [Citation needed] and is one of Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity. Its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centers on the Silk Road. A bazaar has existed on the same site since the early periods of Iranian urbanism following Islam.

Located in the center of the city of Tabriz, Iran, the structure consists of several sub-bazaars, such as Amir Bazaar (for gold and jewelry), Mozzafarieh (a carpet bazaar, sorted by knot size and type), shoe bazaar, and many other ones for various goods such as household items. The most prosperous time of Tabriz and its bazaar was in the 16th century when the town became the capital city of the Safavid kingdom. The city lost its status as a capital in the 17th century, but its bazaar has remained important as a commercial and economic center. Although numerous modern shops and malls have been established nowadays, Tabriz Bazaar has remained the economic heart of both the city and northwestern Iran.

Tabriz Bazaar has also been a place of political significance, and one can point out its importance in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the last century and Islamic Revolution in the contemporary time.

The bazaar was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in July 2010.



Traditional water sources of Persian antiquity (Qanat):

Most rivers in Iran are seasonal and have traditionally not been able to supply the needs of urban settlements. Major rivers like the Arvand, Aras, Zayandeh, Sefid and Atrak were few and far between in the vast lands of Persian antiquity.
With the growth of urban settlements during the ages, locally dug deep wells (up to 100 meters deep) could no longer keep up with the demand, leading to the systematic digging of a specialized network of canals known as Qanat.
Persia’s Qanat system dates back many centuries, and thousands of years old. The city Zarch in central Iran has the oldest and longest qanat (over 3000 years and 71 km long) and other 3000 years old qanats have been found in northern Iran. The Qanats mostly came in from higher elevations, and were split into a distributing network of smaller underground canals called Kariz when reaching the city. Like Qanats, these smaller canals were below ground (~20 steps), and were built such that they were very difficult to contaminate. These underground aqueducts, built thousands of years ago suffer no evaporation loss and are ideally suited for drinking water since there is no pollution danger.
But with the further growth of the city in Persian lands, even the Qanats could not respond to the needs of residents. That is when some wealthy inhabitants started building private reservoirs called Ab Anbar.
This Qanat surfacing in Fin is from a spring thought to be several thousand years in running, called The Spring of Solomon (“Cheshmeh-ye Soleiman”). It is thought to have been feeding the Sialk area since antiquity.
In the middle of the twentieth century, it is estimated that approximately 50,000 qanats were in use in Iran, each commissioned and maintained by local users. Of these only 25,000 remain in use as of 1980.
One of the oldest and largest known qanats is in the Iranian city of Gonabad which after 2700 years still provides drinking and agricultural water to nearly 40,000 people. Its main well is more than 360 meters deep and the qanat is 45 kilometers long. Yazd, Khorasan and Kerman are the known zones for their dependence with an extensive system of qanats.

In traditional Persian architecture, a Kariz is a small Qanat, usually within a network inside an urban setting. Kariz is what distributes the Qanat into its final destinations.
Qanats of Gonabad also is called kariz Kai Khosrow is one of the oldest and largest qanats in the world built between 700 BC to 500 BC. It is located at Gonabad, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran. This property contains 427 water wells with total length of 33113 meters. This site were first added to the UNESCO’s list of tentative World Heritage Sites in 2007, then officially inscribed in 2016 with several other quants under the World Heritage Site name of “The Persian Qanat.




Shushtar is located in Khuzestan province. This region is situated on the slope of Zagros mountains and has unparalleled historical and tourist attractions. This county is known as one of the most important tourist areas of Iran and its mills and hydraulic systems, which have been registered in World Heritage, attracts many Iranian and foreign tourists.




Susa is of the northern counties of Khuzestan province and its center is the city of Susa. The ancient Susa city has been of the centers of old civilization, of the most famous cities in the world, several thousand year old capital of Elam civilization and also the winter capital of the Achaemenian empire. Of its valuable historical monuments Chogha Zanbil ziggurat and the historical site of Susa can be mentioned; which are all registered as world heritage. Susa county, due to its special geographical location and valuable and unique historical and religious monuments, has a special place in the area of tourism



Gonbad-e Qabus Tower:

Tower of Gonbad-e Kabus is a historical and glorious construction and it is one of the attractions of Gonbad-e Kabus town in Gulistan province and it is located in a vast and beautiful park and attracts the eye of any observer from kilometers long. The Tower of Gonbad-e Kabus is a valuable relic left from the fourth Hijri century and is a remnant of Ziyarid dynasty in this land of Iran. This tower used to be the guide and landmark of travelers who used to pass this land. Tower of Gonbad-e Kabus is the largest brick tower of Iran and is one of the longest towers of the world.
Tower of Gonbad-e Kabus was registered in the 36th UNESCO conference as a world heritage.

Gonbad-e Qabus Tower

Gonbad-e Qabus Tower

Jameh Mosque, Isfahan:

Isfahan is one of the famous cities in the world due to its ancient history and numerous ancient monuments. According to Andre Malraux, it is only comparable to two cities of Beijing and Florence. The major part of this city is related to the period after the advent of Islam, especially Seljuks and Safavid eras and precious monuments have remained among the mosques, inns, squares, bridges and streets from those periods.
Isfahan has sister city relationship with ten cities of Freiburg in Germany, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Florence in Italy, Xi’an in China, St. Petersburg in Russia, Havanna in Kuba, Yash in Romania, Kuwait City and Barcelon in Spain.
Jom’e Mosque or Jameh Mosque of Isfahan is one of the most important and oldest religious monuments in Iran. This mosque presents a vast historical complex of 170 × 140 meters in dimension in the north east of Isfahan and beside the old square and today it includes different parts such as Nezam al-Molk Dome, Taj ol-Molk Dome, four-porch yard and its circle chambers, Mozaffari School and Aljayto Altar, each of which represents the process of Islamic architecture over different periods. Architecture of this mosque is admirable and it has a unique altar. Based on historical evidences, Jameh Mosque of Isfahan has been built on the ruins of an even older mosque which was built in Judea by resident Arabs of Tehran in the second Hijri century. The first mosque was established on the ruins of buildings related to the late Sassanid period.
The most important development plans took place in Buyids and Safavid era. The architecture of the mosque is in Razi Style. Jameh Mosque of Isfahan reflects Byzantine and classic art in the form of a traditional and Islamic building.
This mosque is one of the monuments registered in UNESCO World Heritage.

Jameh Mosque

Jameh Mosque


Pasargadae was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great who had issued its construction (559–530 BC); it was also the location of his tomb. It was a city in ancient Persia, located near the city of Shiraz (in Pasargad County), and is today an archaeological site and one of Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Cyrus the Great began building the capital in 546 BC or later; it was unfinished when he died in battle, in 530 or 529 BC. The remains of the tomb of Cyrus’ son and successor Cambyses II have been found in Pasargadae, near the fortress of Toll-e Takht, and identified in 2006.

Pasargadae remained the capital of the Achaemenid Empire until Cambyses II moved it to Susa; later, Darius founded another in Persepolis. The archaeological site covers 1.6 square kilometres and includes a structure commonly believed to be the mausoleum of Cyrus, the fortress of Toll-e Takht sitting on top of a nearby hill, and the remains of two royal palaces and gardens. Pasargadae Persian Gardens provide the earliest known example of the Persian chahar bagh, or fourfold garden design (see Persian Gardens).

The Gate R, located at the eastern edge of the palace area, is the oldest known freestanding propylaeum. It may have been the architectural predecessor of the Gate of All Nations at Persepolis.



Arg-e Bam:

The Arg-e Bam was the largest adobe building in the world, located in Bam, a city in Kerman Province of southeastern Iran. It is listed by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site “Bam and its Cultural Landscape”. The origin of this enormous citadel on the Silk Road can be traced back to the Achaemenid Empire (sixth to fourth centuries BC) and even beyond. The heyday of the citadel was from the seventh to eleventh centuries, being at the crossroads of important trade routes and known for the production of silk and cotton garments.

The entire building was a large fortress containing the citadel, but because of the impressive look of the citadel, which forms the highest point, the entire fortress is named the Bam Citadel.

On December 26, 2003, the Citadel was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake, along with much of the rest of Bam and its environs. A few days after the earthquake, the President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, announced that the Citadel would be rebuilt.

Arg-e Bam

Arg-e Bam

Takht-e Soleyman:

Takht-e Soleyman, also known as Azar Goshnasp, literally “the Fire of the Warrior Kings”, is an archaeological site in West Azarbaijan, Iran. It lies midway between Urmia and Hamadan, very near the present-day town of Takab, and 400 km (250 mi) west of Tehran.

The originally fortified site, which is located on a volcano crater rim, was recognized as a World Heritage Site in July 2003. The citadel includes the remains of a Zoroastrian fire temple built during the Sassanid period and partially rebuilt during the Ilkhanid period. This site got this Semitic name after the Arab conquest. This temple housed one of the three “Great Fires” or “Royal Fires” that Sassanid rulers humbled themselves before in order to ascend the throne. The fire at Takht-i Soleiman was called ādur Wishnāsp and was dedicated to the arteshtar or warrior class of the Sasanid.

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 Arab conquest of Persia. A 4th century [citation needed] Armenian manuscript relating to Jesus and Zarathustra, and various historians of the Islamic period, mention this pond. The foundations of the fire temple around the pond is attributed to that legend. Takht-E Soleyman appears on the 4th century Peutinger Map.

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 Armenian Monastic Ensembles:

The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, located in the West Azerbaijan and East Azerbaijan provinces in Iran, is an ensemble of three Armenian churches that were established during the period between the 7th and 14th centuries A.D. The edifices—the St. Thaddeus Monastery, the Saint Stepanos Monastery, and the Chapel of Dzordzor—have undergone many renovations. These sites were inscribed as cultural heritages in the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee on 8 July 2008 under the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The three churches lie in a total area of 129 hectares (320 acres) and were inscribed under UNESCO criteria (ii), (iii), and (vi) for their outstanding value in showcasing Armenian architectural and decorative traditions, for being a major centre for diffusion of Armenian culture in the region, and for being a place of pilgrimage of the apostle St. Thaddeus, a key figure in Armenian religious traditions. They represent the last vestiges of old Armenian culture in its southeastern periphery. The ensemble is in a good state of preservation.

Armenian Monastic Ensembles

Armenian Monastic Ensembles

The Bisotun Relief:

The Behistun Inscription (also Bisotun, Bistun or Bisutun ‎‎, Old Persian: Bagastana, meaning “the place of god”) is a multilingual inscription and large rock relief on a cliff at Mount Behistun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran. It was crucial to the decipherment of cuneiform script.

Authored by Darius the Great sometime between his coronation as king of the Persian Empire in the summer of 522 BC and his death in autumn of 486 BC, the inscription begins with a brief autobiography of Darius, including his ancestry and lineage. Later in the inscription, Darius provides a lengthy sequence of events following the deaths of Cyrus the Great and Cambyses II in which he fought nineteen battles in a period of one year (ending in December 521 BC) to put down multiple rebellions throughout the Persian Empire. The inscription states in detail that the rebellions, which had resulted from the deaths of Cyrus the Great and his son Cambyses II, were orchestrated by several impostors and their co-conspirators in various cities throughout the empire, each of whom falsely proclaimed kinghood during the upheaval following Cyrus’s death.

Darius the Great proclaimed himself victorious in all battles during the period of upheaval, attributing his success to the “grace of Ahura Mazda”.

The inscription includes three versions of the same text, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian (a variety of Akkadian). The inscription is to cuneiform what the Rosetta stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script.

The inscription is approximately 15 metres high by 25 metres wide and 100 metres up a limestone cliff from an ancient road connecting the capitals of Babylonia and Media (Babylon and Ecbatana, respectively). The Old Persian text contains 414 lines in five columns; the Elamite text includes 593 lines in eight columns, and the Babylonian text is in 112 lines. The inscription was illustrated by a life-sized bas-relief of Darius I, the Great, holding a bow as a sign of kingship, with his left foot on the chest of a figure lying on his back before him. The supine figure is reputed to be the pretender Gaumata. Darius is attended to the left by two servants, and nine one-meter figures stand to the right, with hands tied and rope around their necks, representing conquered peoples. Faravahar floats above, giving his blessing to the king. One figure appears to have been added after the others were completed, as was Darius’s beard, which is a separate block of stone attached with iron pins and lead.



Meymand Village:

Meymand (Romanized as Maymand, Meimand and Maimand) is a village in Meymand Rural District, in the Central District of Shahr-e Babak County, Kerman Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 673, in 181 families.

Meymand is a very ancient village which is located near Shahr-e Babak city in Kerman Province, Iran. Meymand is believed to be a primary human residence in the Iranian Plateau, dating back to 12,000 years ago. Many of the residents live in the 350 hand-dug houses amid the rocks, some of which have been inhabited for as long as 3,000 years. Stone engravings nearly 10,000 years old are found around the village, and deposits of pottery nearly 6,000 years old attest to the long history of settlement at the village site.

Regarding the origin of these structures two theories have been suggested: According to the first theory, this village was built by a group of the Aryan tribe about 800 to 700 years B.C. and at the same time with the Median era. It is possible that the cliff structures of Meymand were built for religious purposes. Worshippers of Mithras believe that the sun is invincible and this guided them to consider mountains as sacred. Hence the stone cutters and architects of Meymand have set their beliefs out in the construction of their dwellings. Based on the second theory the village dates back to the second or third century A.D. During the Arsacid era different tribes of southern Kerman migrated in different directions. These tribes found suitable places for living and settled in those areas by building their shelters which developed in time into the existing homes. The existence of a place known as the fortress of Meymand, near the village, in which more than 150 ossuaries (bone-receptacle) of the Sassanid period were found, strengthens this theory.

Living conditions in Meymand are harsh due to the aridity of the land and to high temperatures in summers and very cold winters. [citation needed] The local language contains many words from the ancient Sassanid and Pahlavi languages.

In 2005, Meymand was awarded the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes (about $20,000).

On 4 July 2015, the village was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.



The Golestan Palace:

The Golestan Palace (‎‎Kākh-e Golestān) is the former royal Qajar complex in Iran’s capital city, Tehran.

One of the oldest historic monuments in the city of Tehran, and of world heritage status, the Golestan Palace belongs to a group of royal buildings that were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran’s arg (“citadel”). It consists of gardens, royal buildings, and collections of Iranian crafts and European presents from the 18th and 19th centuries.



Sheikh Safi al-Din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble:

Sheikh Safi al-Din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble is the tomb of Sheikh Safi-ad-din Ardabili located in Ardabil, Iran. In 2010, it was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Sheikh Safi, an eminent leader of an Islamic Sufi order established by the Safavids, was born in Ardabil where this complex is located. The Safavids valued the tomb-mosque form, and the tomb with its mausoleum and prayer hall is located at a right angle to the mosque. The buildings in the complex surround a small inner courtyard (31 by 16 meters). The complex is entered through a long garden.
The Mausoleum of Sheikh Safi, in Ardabil, was first built by his son Sheikh Sadr al-Dīn Mūsā, after Sheikh Safi’s death in 1334. It was constructed between the beginning of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century. The mausoleum, a tall, domed circular tower decorated with blue tile and about 17 meters in height; beside it is the 17th-century Porcelain House preserving the sanctuary’s ceremonial wares. Also part of the complex are many sections that have served a variety of functions over the past centuries, including a library, a mosque, a school, mausolea, a cistern, a hospital, kitchens, a bakery, and some offices. It incorporates a route to reach the shrine of the sheikh divided into seven segments, which mirror the seven stages of Sufi mysticism. Various parts of the mausoleum are separated by eight gates, which represent the eight attitudes of Sufism.

Several parts were gradually added to the main structure during the Safavid dynasty. A number of Safavid sheikhs and harems and victims of the Safavids’ battles, including the Battle of Chaldiran, have been buried at the site.



The Lut Desert:

The Lut Desert, widely referred to as Dasht-e Lut (“Emptiness Plain”), is a large salt desert located in the provinces of Kerman and Sistan and Baluchistan, Iran. It is the world’s 27th-largest desert, and was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on July 17, 2016. The surface of its sand has been measured at temperatures as high as 70 °C (159 °F), making it one of the world’s driest and hottest places.



Soltaniyeh Dome:

Soltaniyeh (Romanized as Solţānīyeh, Solţāneyyeh, Sultaniye, and Sultānīyeh; also known as Sa‘īdīyeh; Latin: Soltania/ Sultania) is the capital city of Soltaniyeh District of Abhar County, Zanjan Province, Azerbaijan, northwestern Iran.
Soltaniyeh, located some 240 kilometres (150 mi) to the north-west of Tehran, was built as the capital of Mongol Ilkhanid rulers of Iran in the 14th century. Its name which refers to the Islamic ruler title sultan translates loosely as “the Regal”.

In 2005, UNESCO listed Soltaniyeh as one of the World Heritage Sites. The road from Zanjan to Soltaniyeh extends until it reaches to the Katale khor cave.

William Dalrymple notes that Öljaitü intended Soltaniyeh to be “the largest and most magnificent city in the world” but that it “died with him” and is now “a deserted, crumbling spread of ruins.



Persian Gardens:

The tradition and style of garden design represented by Persian gardens or Iranian gardens has influenced the design of gardens from Andalusia to India and beyond. The gardens of the Alhambra show the influence of Persian garden philosophy and style in a Moorish palace scale, from the era of al-Andalus in Spain. Humayun’s Tomb and Taj Mahal have some of the largest Persian gardens in the world, from the era of the Mughal Empire in India.
Persian gardens may originate as early as 4000 BCE. [dubious – discuss] [verification needed] Decorated pottery of that time displays the typical cross plan of the Persian garden. The outline of Pasargadae, built around 500 BCE, is viewable today.

During the reign of the Sasanian Empire (third to seventh century), and under the influence of Zoroastrianism, water in art grew increasingly important. This trend manifested itself in garden design, with greater emphasis on fountains and ponds in gardens.

During the Islamic period, the aesthetic aspect of the garden increased in importance, overtaking utility. During this time, aesthetic rules that govern the garden grew in importance. An example of this is the chahār bāgh, a form of garden that attempts to emulate the Garden of Eden, with four rivers and four quadrants that represent the world. The design sometimes extends one axis longer than the cross-axis, and may feature water channels that run through each of the four gardens and connect to a central pool.

The invasion of Persia by the Mongols in the thirteenth century led to a new emphasis on highly ornate structure in the garden. Examples of this include tree peonies and chrysanthemums. [clarification needed] The Mongols then carried a Persian garden tradition to other parts of their empire (notably India).

Babur introduced the Persian garden to India. The now unkempt Aram Bagh, Agra was the first of many Persian gardens he created. The Taj Mahal embodies the Persian concept of an ideal paradise garden.

The Safavid dynasty (seventeenth to eighteenth century) built and developed grand and epic layouts that went beyond a simple extension to a palace and became an integral aesthetic and functional part of it. In the following centuries, European garden design began to influence Persia, particularly the designs of France, and secondarily that of Russia and the United Kingdom. Western influences led to changes in the use of water and the species used in bedding.

Traditional forms and style are still applied in modern Iranian gardens. They also appear in historic sites, museums and affixed to the houses of the rich.

Elements of the Persian garden, such as the shade, the jub, and the courtyard style hayāt in a public garden in Shiraz.
Sunlight and its effects were an important factor of structural design in Persian gardens. Textures and shapes were specifically chosen by architects to harness the light.

Iran’s dry heat makes shade important in gardens, which would be nearly unusable without it. Trees and trellises largely feature as biotic shade; pavilions and walls are also structurally prominent in blocking the sun.

The heat also makes water important, both in the design and maintenance of the garden. Irrigation may be required, and may be provided via a form of underground tunnel called a qanat, that transports water from a local aquifer. Well-like structures then connect to the qanat, enabling the drawing of water. Alternatively, an animal-driven Persian well would draw water to the surface. Such wheel systems also moved water around surface water systems, such as those in the chahar bāgh style. Trees were often planted in a ditch called a juy, which prevented water evaporation and allowed the water quick access to the tree roots.

The Persian style often attempts to integrate indoors with outdoors through the connection of a surrounding garden with an inner courtyard. Designers often place architectural elements such as vaulted arches between the outer and interior areas to open up the divide between them.



History of Persia (Beginning – Revolution)

C. 8000-7500 BC – Pre-Pottery Neolithic period c. 8000 BC – First settlements on the Iranian plateau; the earliest domestication of sheep and goats in Iran c. 7500-5000 BC – Pottery

Neolithic period c. 6300 BC – First evidence of copper smelting in Iran c. 5000-3500 BC – Chalcolithic period c. 5000 BC – A wine jar discovered at the Hajji Firuz Mound proves to be the world’s oldest evidence of wine-making c. 4000 BC – Sialk Mounds

(pi 65) yield some of the most ancient remains of settled life on the Iranian plateau c. 3500-2000 BC – Early Bronze Age

By the end of the 4th millennium BC, craftsmen had made a great progress in pottery; producing the most vivid and lively painted ceramics, found at the Sialk Mounds and Susa. This pottery is decorated with geometric abstractions, showing a naive but strong expression of the lives of its makers.





Early Civilizations in Iran
Man’s presence on the Iranian plateau during the Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages has not yet been properly studied. Life during the Neolithic period, however, is much better known. Considerable geological and natural evidence has proven that Iran was home to one of mankind’s first major cultures, ahead of every other part of the world except Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India. Significant shifts in tool manufacture, settlement patterns, and subsistence methods, including domestication of plants and animals, characterize the Neolithic Iranian settlements, all of which date wholly or in part from the 8th and 7th millennia. Iranians were probably the first to cultivate wheat and dates, and to tame camels and sheep. The existence of rich mines in Iran can be an indication that metal was excavated and processed here since ancient times. One of the recently excavated archaeological sites – Arisman (p201) – has proved to be one of the world’s earliest centers of the metallurgical industry. By approximately the 6th millennium BC, village farming was widespread over much of the Iranian plateau and in lowland Khuzestan. Among others, Sialk [pi65) on the rim of the central salt desert has yielded evidence of fairly sophisticated patterns of agricultural life. Having begun in the Paleolithic era, Iran’s first vigorous growth had developed by the 3rd millennium BC into a civilization of great sophistication – Elam.




C. 2700-1500 BC -Old Elamite period 2348 BC -Year of the Flood, 600 years after the birth of Noah, as will be reckoned by Biblical chronology c. 1700 BC-Judaism is founded by Abraham c. 1500-1000 BC-Middle Elamite period c. 1450-1250 BC – Iron Age I c. 1340-1300 BC – A new capital and religious complex, including a ziggurat, is built by King Untash-Gal at Chogha-Zanbil c. 1250-800 BC – Iron Age II c. 1100 BC – Nebuchadrezzar I of Babylon invades Elam, plundering the countryside and destroying Susa; Zoroaster founds a faith whose sacred literature will be the Zend-Avesta; The Iron Age that began more than 400 years before in the Near East moves to Europe 1000-539 BC – Neo-Elamite period 9th century BC – First mention of the Iranians in Assyrian texts 961-931 BC – Rule of Judea’s King, Prophet Solomon c 800 BC – Hasanlu, a Mandaean fortified city in northwestern Iran is destroyed

800-550 BC – Iron Age III

Elam BC
In the late 4th and early 3rd a brilliant ancient culture came into being on the Iranian territory – Elam, “The Land of Gods”. The origin of the Elamites is unclear. Their earliest kings reigned around 2700 BC. These early rulers were succeeded by the Awan (Shustar) dynasty, which was then replaced by a new ruling house, the Simash dynasty. About the middle of the 19th century BC, power in Elam passed to a new dynasty, that of Eparti.

This Elamite bronze tableau is the only three-dimensional example of worship in progress in the ancient Middle East (now in the Louvre)



These two gold and silver figurines mounted on lumps of copper are almost identical representations of an Elamite king at worship (now in the Louvre).

From a 2nd-millennium-BC tomb at the Elamite city of Susa, this life-size clay head lay next to a skull and may have been a portrait of the dead man (now in the Louvre).

The cemetery of Marlik (c. late 2nd—early 1st millennium BC) in northern Iran near the Caspian Sea, yielded rich tombs with precious metal vessels, glass objects, and ingeniously grotesque terracotta and bronze animal __ figurines in the shape of m. humped 4 bulls.

Died protecting – or stealing – it. The scene shows a storm god goading a bull spewing water onto the land and a boxer fighting a monster.



According to Iranian myths, King Jamshid led his people from lran-Vij (a mythical place, probably the last common motherland oflndo-lranians) to Iran. He is reported to have shoved his sword into the earth three times, and made it expand thrice as big during three periods – the myth that has prompted the scholars that Aryan migrations were held in three major waves.

According to Iranian myths, King Jamshid led his people from lran-Vij (a mythical place, probably the last common motherland of lndo-lranians) to Iran. He is reported to have shoved his sword into the earth three times, and made it expand thrice as big during three periods – the myth that has prompted the scholars that Aryan migrations were held in three major waves.

825 BC – Rise of the Medes

776 BC – Greece’s first recorded Olympic games are held 753 BC – The city of Rome is founded 728 BC – Deioces founds the Median Empire 644 BC – Assyrian king Ashurbanipal sacks Susa, ending Elamite supremacy 633-584 BC – Cyaxares 612-606 BC-Medes and Babylonians overthrow Assyrian Empire; destruction of Nineveh 584-550 BC – Astyages 565 BC – Daoism is founded by the Chinese philosopher Lao Zi 550 BC – Astyages is defeated by his grandson, future Achaemenid king Cyrus II



Parts of the column from Persepolis, a complex of palaces built by Darius the Great and his successors, almost exclusively to stage the ceremonies of the Persian New Year (today in the National Museum in Tehran).

Migrations. The natives of the Iranian plateau enthusiastically greeted the newcomers, who brought with them the technologies that could help them to survive. Among the Aryan tribes in Iran, three major groups are identifiable – the Scythians, the Medes, and the Persians.

The Scythians established themselves in the northern Zagros Mountains and clung to a semi nomadic existence in which raiding was the chief form of economic enterprise.

The Medes settled over a huge area, reaching as far as modern Tabriz in the north and Isfahan in the south. The Persians settled in three areas: to the south of Lake Orumiyeh, on the northern border of the Elamite kingdom, and in the environs of modern Shiraz, where they established their main settlements, to which they gave the name Parsa (or Persia, in Greek). Gradually Iranian tribes, especially under the pressure of constant Assyrian attacks, started to reorganize themselves into kingdoms and then empires. The first-known Iranian empire was that of the Medes.

Median Empire BC
The Median Empire started with Deioces’s rule. He organized his realm into several provinces and created a strong army to stop the Assyrians. The military genius of his son and successor, Phraortes, helped the Medes defeat the Assyrians. After Phraortes, there was a short period of Scythian domination over the Medes until they were overthrown by Cyaxares, who induced Scythian kings to get so drunk that they were then easily slain. Cyaxares, the greatest king of the Medes, reorganized the army and utterly defeated the Assyrians. At his death, the Medes controlled vast territories, stretching from Anatolia in modern Turkey to the area of Tehran as well as all of southwestern Iran. The last king of the Medes, Astyages, was perhaps the first unjust ruler of the country. Moreover, the sim- A sold Mede rhyton is one of the rarest artifacts of the Mede period plastic lire style or tne (today in the Reza Abbasi Museum Aryans that provided in Tehran).

Medes with their amazing conquests, was replaced with an extravagant Mesopotamian court life. The Median Empire started to decline. The Persian Achaemenid dynasty, tracing their origin from Achaemenes, in Greek, were gaining power.



Map of the Median Empire



Achaemenid Empire B
Cyrus the Great was the first important Achaemenid ruler. By the time he became king, Persia was already a large domain, but Cyrus aspired to nothing less than the conquest of the entire known world. In a campaign that lasted for less than two years, he took Elam, Media, Lydia, and several Greek cities on the Ionian coast. Having strengthened his power, Cyrus besieged and captured Babylon and released the Jews who had been held captive there, thus earning immortality in the Book of Isaiah. His territories in the east also were great and stretched as far as the Hindu Kush in present-day Afghanistan. Cyrus was a world conqueror unlike any other. Not only Persians but even Greeks held him in the sentiments of esteem and even awe, and it was no accident that Xenophon praised Cyrus as an ideal monarch. Cyrus died in battle, while putting down a revolt, and was buried in Pasargadae, the capital he had founded. Cyrus’s son and successor, Cambyses II, was less successful. However, he managed to invade Egypt and create the dynasty of Persian kings there. He was killed (or died of a self-inflicted wound) during a revolt led by a priest, Gaumata, who held the throne until overthrown by a member of a collateral branch of the Achaemenid family, Darius I. Darius I, another “Great” of the Achaemenid dynasty, finished Cyrus’s incomplete job of invasion, having conquered Northern India and some parts of Greece, as well as the whole of Asia Minor.

Important Achaemenid Kings:

Cyrus II, The Great – 559-530 BC Cambysus II – 530-522 BC Darius I, The Great – 522-486 BC Xerxes I – 486-465 BC Artaxerxes I – 465-425 BC Darius III – 336-330 BC

c. 559 BC – Croesus, king of Lydia, invents metal coinage 550 BC – Persian Empire, the first major Indo-European power, is established by Cyrus the Great 549 BC – Armenia becomes a Persian satrapy after 63 years under the kings of Media 546 BC – Cyrus defeats Croesus 539 BC – Cyrus conquers Babylon and Syria

Cyrus’s Mausoleum in Pasargadae is an early example of Achaemenid monumental art (photo by Naser).



528 BC – Buddhism has its beginnings in India

525 BC – Cambysus conquers Egypt; he learns that his throne has been usurped by a “false Smerdis” (called by Darius Gaumata, a Magian priest from Media) and dies en route home from Egypt 521 BC – “False Smerdis” is killed in battle by Darius I 500 BC – Beginning of Persepolis’s construction 495 BC – Confucian teaching is spread in China

490-479 BC – Persian-Greek wars 490 BC – Battle of Marathon, won by the Greeks

481 BC- Persian victory over the Spartans at Thermopylae; Xerxes conquers Athens and sets lire to the Parthenon

480-479 BC – Battles of Salamis and Plataea, won by the Greeks

449 BC – Herodotus writes his Histoiy

333 BC – The Battle of Issus is won by Alexander the Great over the Persians

331 BC – The Battle of Arbela (Gaugamela) in northern Mesopotamia gives Alexander the Great another victory over Darius III 330 BC -Darius III is murdered by his satrap Bessus

The so-called Oxus Treasure comprises about 170 items, mostly dating from the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The gold ringlet with griffins is one of the most spectacular pieces of this collection. Ringlets were considered a prestige gift at the Persian court.



In a watercolor painted in 1913 by French architect and archaeologist Maurice Pillet, Darius I leads a procession into his palace at Susa. Susa was always the pride of the Elamites and later the Persians, a city that stood for 5000 years until totally sacked and razed by the Mongols.

A golden bowl from the Achaemenid period features a cuneiform inscription in Old Persian, saying

“Khashayarsha [Xerxes], the King yy




Earrings inlaid with turquoise and lapis lazuli and similar in design to this pair from Susa were common during the Achaemenid period; they were worn by both men and women (now in the Louvre).

330 BC – Alexander becomes master of the Persian Empire and destroys Persepolis 323 BC – Alexander dies at age 32, and a 42-year struggle begins that will be called the Wars of the Diadochi (successors) 317 BC – Armenia’s Persian satrap Ardvates frees his country from Seleucid control

310 BC – Cassander, Macedonian ruler, has Roxana, widow of the late Alexander the Great, put to death along with her young son, Alexander IV

245 BC – Babylon and Susa fall to the Egyptian armies of Ptolemy III

Important Seleucid Kings:

Seleucus I Nicator – 312-281 BC

Antiochus I Soter – 281-261 BC

Antiochus II Theos – 261-

The statuete of Zeus

(Today in the National Museum in Tehran) exhibits direct Greek influence in Persian art.



Tured to the northern Black Sea region, but was thrown back by the Scythians. Darius also attacked the Greek mainland, but as a result of his defeat at the Battle of Marathon was forced to retract the limits of the empire to Asia Minor. Despite this defeat, Darius’s empire was the largest the world had ever known, and administering such a gigantic land was quite a challenge. Maybe not a great army general, Darius was certainly the greatest of politicians. One of his amazing achievements was creating the world’s first highway network. The stone-paved Royal Road, 2,703 km (1,679 miles) long, ran from the empire’s winter capital at Susa to Ionian Ephesus on the Mediterranean and had 111 stations. Darius is also credited for the introduction of the world’s first postal system (band). He coined money (darik), established the institution of political marriage, appointed royal inspectors to be aware of state affairs, and was the first ruler to ask for sons and heirs of the defeated kings as hostages and guarantors of their fathers’ loyalty. Other accomplishments of Darius’s reign included the codification of data, a universal legal system upon which much of later Iranian law was based, and the construction of a new capital at Persepolis. Trade was extensive and, as a result of this commercial activity, Persian words for typical items of trade became prevalent throughout the Middle East and eventually entered Western languages. Examples in English are bazaar, shawl, tiara, orange, lemon, peach, ‘chalcedony’Though rarely repre-spinach, and asparagus.

His successor Xerxes, the Achaemenid power started to decline. The last Achaemenid king, Darius III, was overthrown by Alexander the H Great. In 330 BC, the 26-year-old Macedonian conqueror set fire to Persepolis and put a full stop to the Achaemenid rule.

Hellenistic Period 323-141 BC
In his world-conquering campaign, Alexander hoped for a fruitful union of the Europeans with the peoples of the Middle East. In the effort to reach this goal, Alexander married Roxana, daughter of the most powerful of the Bactrian chiefs, and commanded 80 of his top officers and 10,000 of his soldiers to marry Persian women in a mass wedding at Susa. However, his plans to consummate the union of the Greek and Iranian peoples ended when Alexander was struck with fever and died in Babylon. His generals began squabbling over rights to his extensive empire. They assassinated Alexander’s widow and son, and all but…
Then they divided the empire among three of them. Iran passed on to Seleucus, the only officer under Alexander who had kept his Iranian wife whom he genuinely loved. He eventually became known as Seleucus I Nicator, or the “Conqueror”. Under Seleucus’s son, Antiochus I, many Greek colonists entered Iran. By establishing mixed Greek-Iranian colonies, the Seleucids tried to strengthen their power. A strong Seleucid monarch, Antiochus III, the sixth in the Seleucid line of kings, was successful in suppressing the threat of constant insurrection by local rulers, but in general he could not stem a tide of rebellion that arose in the Iranian provinces. Despite Selucid’s strenuous efforts to introduce Greek culture in Iran, the Greeks remained strangers to the Iranian people. After approximately a century and a half of Greek rule in Iran, the Seleucids were completely overthrown by the Parthians.





Drinking cup in hand, club resting by his feet, a life-size Hercules lounges on a lion skin beside Bisotun. A protective canopy casts a shadow across a corner of the Seleucid rock carving, which has been dated 148 BC by a Greek inscription found behind it (photo by Naser Mizbani).

Parthian Empire (247 BC-224 AD)

Under the Achaemenids, a satrap named Parthava was annexed to the empire during Cyrus the Great’s campaign south and east of the Caspian Sea. The Parthians were among the first to revolt against the Seleucids and were led by two brothers, Arsaces and Tiridates. Arsaces was proclaimed the first king, and his name became the honorific title used by all subsequent Parthian kings, who were generally known as the Arsacids.

Mithradates I is considered the founder of the Parthian empire. He is believed to have established his capital.

Important Parthian Kings:

Arsaces I – 250-247 BC Tiridates-247-211 BC Artabanus 1-211-191 BC Mithradates I – 161-138 BC Phrates II- 138-124 BC Mithradates II, the Great – 123-87 BC

Orodes II – 54-38 BC Phrates IV – 38-29 BC Artabanus V – 216-224 AD

250 BC – Parthians (Arsacids) capture Khorasan from the Seleucids

2nd century BC – The Silk Road “opens” for commercial trade of silk and other goods 129 BC – Phrates II finally defeats the Seleucids

92 BC – Mithradates II makes an alliance with Rome and invades Mesopotamia; Mithradates II concludes the first peace treaty in the history of Parthia and Rome 53 BC – The Roman legions under Crassus suffer a decisive defeat at the hands of the Parthians at Haran (ancient Carrhae) in Mesopotamia; this victory elevates the Parthians into a superpower of their era 46 BC – Caesar institutes the Julian calendar

36 BC – The Partians defeat Mark Anthony’s troops in Azerbaijan.

23 BC – The Roman Emperor Hadrian averts a new war with the Parthians by meeting in person with the king of Parthia 222 – Succesful revolt of Ardashir, the ruler of Persia, against Artabanus V





Among the most important artistic remains from the Parthian period is a bronze statue of a prince, now kept in the Iranian National Museum in Tehran.

Sassanid Empire (224-651 AD)

The last Parthian king, Artabanus V, lost the final battle to the Sasanids around 224 AD near Hormozdegan (site unknown). A legend claims that Ardashir Babakan, a vassal of Artabanus V, provoked the encounter.
Hunting scenes are the most popular themes on Sasanid silver plates.

Sasanid coins often shown fire altars on their reverse sides, as seen on one of Bahrain V’s coins.

Founded a city called Gur, or the “Glory of Ardashir”, near Firuzabad. Ardashir traced his ancestry to Sasan, a Zoroastrian priest, who gave his name to the last native dynasty in Persia before the Arab conquest. A strong centralized government, a strict principle of dynastic legitimacy, and an official religion, which were quite contrary to the Parthian confederation and freedom of religious practices, characterized the Sasanid domain, which rapidly rose to rank among the world’s largest empires.

Under Ardashir’s successor, Shapur I, the Sasanid Empire extended from the Indian Punjab to the eastern border of Capadocia in Anatolia. The level of prosperity had risen so much that Shapur I was able to wage a war against Rome and even to take the Roman Emperor Valerian prisoner. In contrast to Ardashir, who claimed to be “king of kings of Iran”, Shapur I assumed the title “king of kings of Iran and non-Iran”, a title that was retained by his successors.

The Sasanids chose the Zoroastrian religion as the main means of unifying the diverse peoples of their expanded country. Shapur I, however, did not oppose Manichaeism, a teaching combining the beliefs of Zoroaster, Jesus, and Buddha. However, his successors suppressed other faiths severely, and the high priest, Kartir, was the most infamous instigator of this intolerance.

Shapur’s victory over Valerian was greatly replicated during the early Sasanid reign. The best relief in Naqsh-e Rostam in Fars shows the victory scene with the utmost splendor.

244 – Roman Eemperor Philip the Arabian makes a disgraceful peace with the Persians 260 – Shapur I takes Emperor Valerian prisoner 242-276 – Preaching of Mani

297 – Nerseh (Narses), the Sasanid king, cedes Armenia and Northern Mesopotamia to Rome

301 – The kingdom of Armenia makes Christianity an official state religion, the first nation to do so

306-337 – Constantine the Great 337-361 – Persian-Roman wars 364 – Emperor Jovian signs an onerous treaty with the Persian Shah Shapur II, yielding the kingdom of Armenia and most Roman holdings in Mesopotamia 371 – Persian Empire reaches its height as the Romans and Persians renew their wars 376 – Peace is established with Rome

421 – Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II sends his army against Bahram V

422 – Theodosius II concludes peace with Persia after 2 years of war 460 – A famine that will last for several years begins in the Persian Empire

524 – Rome and Persia renew hostilities to begin a war that will last for 7 years

525 – “Easter Tables” are issued by Roman theologian-mathematician Dionysius Exiguus, giving the birthday of Jesus incorrectly as December 25, 753 years after the founding of Rome, the error that will be standardized in all Christian calendars.

528 – Mazdak advocates abolition of private property and the division of wealth – the world’s first “communist/socialist” ideas.

529 – The Academy founded at Athens by Plato in 347 BC is closed by Emperor Justinian, and many of the professors emigrate to Persia and Syria; Khosrow Anushirvan’s famous prime minister, Bozorgmehr, reportedly invents the game of backgammon

532 – Justinian signs a “Perpetual Peace” with Khosrow I to free his armies for operations in the West

539-562 – Persian-Byzantine war

540 – Persian forces take Antioch from the Byzantines

549 – Pctra falls to the Persians, who will hold the eastern outpost of Byzantium for 2 years

570 – Birth of Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him

572-591 – Persian-Byzantine war

589 – Bahram Chubin, a Persian military, deposes Khosrow II, who flees to Constantinople

591 – Byzantine Emperor Maurice restores Khosrow II to his throne and receives territorial concessions for his help

608-622 – New series of Persian-Byzantine wars

614-615 – Khosrow II captures Damascus and Jerusalem, bringing the True Cross to Ctesiphon

iran maps

Shapur Rock Relief of Naqsh-e Rustam

Shapur Rock Relief of Naqsh-e Rustam

Shapur Rock

Shapur Rock

616 – Persian forces overrun Egypt and subjugate its people

620 – Khosrow II captures Rhodes and restores the Persian Empire as it existed in 495 BC under Darius the Great

621 – The year of the Islamic Prophet’s flight from Mecca (Hegira) – the starting point of the Islamic calendar; Khosrow II is defeated by Heraclius

627 – Heraclius gains a decisive victory over the Persians in the Battle of Nineveh

628 – Khosrow II is imprisoned and murdered after a mutiny by the military; his son Hormoz IV makes peace with the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius; the True Cross is returned to Jerusalem

632 – Death of Prophet Mohammad; Abu Bakr succeeds him as the first Islamic caliph

633 – Muslim forces attack Persia

634 – The first caliph, Abu Bakr, is succeeded by Omar

636 – Arabs defeat the Sasanids at Qadisia

637 – Arabs take Ctesiphon

642 – Arabs defeat the Sasanids at Nehavand; Persia is formally annexed to the Arab Caliphate

Four various patterns dividing the object into four separate parts (as seen on this Sasanid shield were among the most popular of late-Sasanid motifs.

A Sasanid king thought to be Khosrow II is portrayed in relief at Taq-e Bustan near Kermanshah. He slays a leaping wild boar from a boat. He is accompanied by a large entourage, including a vessel filled with harp-playing musicians.

They were also persecuted, particularly after the Roman Empire, the archenemy of the Sasanid Empire, had become Christian.

Shapur II, the next important ruler after Shapur I, is credited with the longest reign in Iranian history – 70 years. His period was darkened only by perennial wars with Byzantium over the newly Christianized Armenia. Shapur had several unsuccessful successors until Yazdgerd I initiated a relatively peaceful era. Yazdgerd I left the country to his son, Bahram V. Sur-named Gur (Wild Ass), Bahram became the favorite of Persian popular tradition, which exuberantly celebrated his prowess in hunting and love. Bahrain’s descendant, Qobad, was an unusual king in Iranian history in the sense that he actually cared more about the opinions of the common people than of the highly-placed courtiers. He moved away from official religion and greatly welcomed Mazdak and his teaching. His son Khosrow I (Chosroes), an orthodox Zoroastrian, however, destroyed the Mazdakites in a great massacre. Nonetheless, this act has not prevented him from being entitled the Just. Khosrow’s grandson, Khosrow II, was surnamed Parviz (the Victorious). He was immortalized in Persian literature for his devotion to his wife, an Armenian Christian called Shirin. During Khosrow’s rule, the Persian Empire occupied the largest area in its history and was marked by the highest level of civilization. At this time, a message was brought to the king from Medina, bidding him acknowledge Mohammad as the Prophet of God. The king treated the missive with contempt, little thinking that before many years had passed the followers of the Prophet would have swept away the Sasanid line. Instead, he ordered his agent in Yemen called Bazan to capture the Prophet and bring him before the king. However, this mission was never accomplished because of Bazan’s conversion to Islam.

At Khosrow’s death, eleven rulers succeeded one another to the vacant throne, two queens among their number – the first women who had ever held the scepter in Persia – but their united reigns amounted to only five years. After a succession of short-time rulers, Khosrow’s grandson, Yazdgerd III, took the throne. His story is reminiscent of the story of Darius III Achaemenid. Like Darius, Yazdgerd was not destined to rule. A new force was coming from the Arabian deserts, a force that changed both the state and the religion. In 650, only a few years after the death of Prophet Mohammad, the Muslim armies attacked the southern provinces of the Sasanid Empire. Soon afterwards, Ctesiphon, the Sasanid glorious capital and the largest city in the world, was invaded and sacked by the Muslim armies. At the battle of Nehavand, the Arabs utterly defeated the Persians and gained possession of their national standard, the blacksmith Kaveh’s leather apron. Yazdgerd sought refuge in one province after another, until he was assassinated near Merv.



Bowl from the early-Islamic period is today on display in the Ceramics and Pottery Museum in Tehran.

Arab Conquest and the Early Iranian Islamic Dynasties 636-C .1100:
The Muslim Arabs who toppled the Sassanid Empire were inspired by a new religion -Islam.

Although the Koran, the holy book of the new religion, considered people equal regardless their race and social status, the conquerors, especially the Umayyads (the Muslim rulers who succeeded Prophet Mohammad), tended to stress the primacy of Arabs. Despite this, the Iranians rapidly integrated into the new Islamic community. They began to contribute significantly to all branches of Islamic learning and to play an important role in the economic and even political life of the new Muslim Empire. The new caliph came to power due to the Iranian military leader called Abu-Muslim, who led the armies of Saffah against the last of the Umayyad caliphs. Saffah was a great-grandson of Abbas, Prophet Mohammad’s uncle, so he called his dynasty Abbasid. The Abbasid dynasty was the most famous in the Islamic world. Abbasid caliphs were the generous patrons of Islamic culture and arts. However, despite the outstanding progress achieved in the cultural field, the military problems.
642-661 – Rule of the Rightly Guided Caliphs

644 – Caliph Omar is assassinated by Abu Lolo (plS4) in Medina and succeeded by Osman 656 – Caliph Osman is assassinated in Medina and succeeded by Mohammad’s nephew and son-in-law Ali

661 – Imam Ali is assassinated in Kufa

661-750 – Umayyad Caliphate, ruling from Damascus
680 – Imam Hossein, Imam Ali’s son, is killed in Karbala in Iraq; his martyrdom will be commemorated annually by Shiite Muslims 696 – Arabic becomes the official language of the Islamic world 744-749 – Shiite revolt led by Abu Muslim results in establishing the Abbasid Caliphate 750-1258 – Abbasid Caliphate, ruling from Baghdad 771-814 – Rule of Charlemagne, king of the unified Franks and then the first Holy Roman Emperor 817 – 8th Shiite Imam, Reza, dies of suspected poisoning and is buried in Mashhad 820-873 – Rule of the Tahirid dynasty in Khorasan 838 – Persian social and religious revolutionary Babak is executed by the Abbasid caliph al-Mutasem 867-903 – Rule of the Saffarid dynasty in Sistan.





Ghaznavid Dynasty (962-1186)
The Ghaznavid dynasty was of Turkish origin. It was founded by Saboktekin, a former Turkish slave who was recognized by the Samanids as governor of Ghazna (modem Ghazni, in Afghanistan). As the Samanid dynasty weakened, Saboktekin consolidated his position and expanded his domains as far as the Indian border. His son Mahmud continued the expansionist policy, and during his reign, Ghaznavid power reached its zenith. Mahmud created an empire that stretched from the Oxus to the Indian Ocean. In the west he captured (from the Buyids) the Iranian cities of Rey, Esfahan, and Hamadan. A devout Muslim, Mahmud was the first to carry the banner of Islam into the heart of India. Although the Ghaznavids were proud of their Turkic descent, Mahmud encouraged the use of Persian, and the greatest Persian epic, Shah-Nameh (pp44-46), was completed by Ferdowsi at his court. Among the other great Persians at Mahmud’s court were Biruni, an outstanding scholar of encyclopedic knowledge, and Abolfazl Beyhaqi, the writer of a remarkable history of the Ghaznavids, the first major prose work in New Persian. Mahmud’s son, Masud I, could not keep the integrity of the empire. Challenged by Seljuk Turks, he lost most of his territories, but retained possession of eastern Afghanistan and northern India, where the Ghaznavids continued to rule until 1186.

867-903 – Rule of the Safarid dynasty in Sistan 871-899 – Alfred the Great of England

875-999 – Rule of the Samanid dynasty in Khorasan 922 – First Persian most important Sufi and mystic al-Hallaj is sentenced to death for heresy 928-1077 – Rule of the Ziarid dynasty

936-973 – Otto 1 the Great of Germany

940 – Rudaki, first major poet of the Modern Persian language 945-1055 – Buyid rule; the influence of the Abbasid caliphs is limited to the moral and spiritual spheres as the heads of Orthodox Sunnite Islam

950-1020 – Ferdowsi, poet of the greatest Iranian epic “Shah-Nameh” (pp44-46)

The empire and its administrative organization were left unsolved. Moreover, Iranians who gladly accepted Islam, which freed them from the dictates of the taboo-ridden and excessively ritualized Zoroastrian-ism, could not bear invaders in their homeland. Numerous rebellions took the form of peasant revolts in Azerbaijan and Khorasan. Soon the first Iranian dynasties threatened the Abbasid empire with dreams of Iranian independence. Purely Iranian states were formed in the main part of Iranian territory (Tahirids in Khorasan with Nishapur as the capital, Saffarids in Sistan, Samanids in wealthy Transoxanian and east Khorasanian cities, Ziarids in Tabarestan, and Gorgans and Buyids all over Iran excluding the Samanid properties). The Buyids shared with the Samanids the fame for having brought to fruition the Iranian renaissance.

Iran under Seljuk Rulers (1037-1200)
The Seljuks were a clan of the Oghuz Turks, who traced their ancestry to a chieftain named Seljuk. Seljuk’s two grandsons, Chaghri Beik and Toghrol Beik, enlisted Persian support to win realms from the Buyid and Ghaznavid rulers. After “petitioning” the Abbasid caliph for permission, Toghrol Beik was also able to occupy Baghdad. At his death in 1063, Toghrol Beik headed an empire that included Iran and Mesopotamia and held the title King of the East. In 1071, a Seljuk army led by Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantines. The way was open for Turk tribesmen to settle in Asia Minor. Under Alp Arslan and his successor, Malek Shah, the Seljuk Empire included all of Iran, Mesopotamia, Syria, and first influences of Far Eastern Palestine. The Seljuks were art reveal themselves in Seljuk great architectural patrons and ceramics. r , . r in addition to constructing numerous mosques, Madreseh, orphanages, caravanserais, and bridges, they were particularly known for their tomb-towers. Their buildings are notable for their decorative masonry, elaborately ornamented portals, and the use of Kufic script as an architectural decorative device. The Seljuks also attained a high standard in decorative arts, especially in metalwork, wood carving, and pottery.

Important Seljuk Kings:

Toghrol Beik – 1037-1055 Alp Arslan – 1063-1072 Malek Shah – 1073-1092 Sanjar- 1117-1157

The tomb-tower of Gonbad-e Sorkh (Red Dome) in Maragheh in northwestern Iran is a typical example of Seljuk architecture characterized by its distinctive brickwork.

1037 – Seljuk Turks invade Persia under Toghrol Beik 1042 – Seljuk Turks rise against their Byzantine overlords 1055 – Toghrol Beik ends the Buyid rule and makes himself temporal master of the caliph 1048-1123 – Omar Khayyam, a great mathematician, poet and astronomer (p47) 1063-1092 Nezam al-Molk ip57), the renowned prime minister of Alp Arslan and Malek Shah Seljuk is assassinated by the Ismailites

1064 – Seljuk Turks conquer Armenia

Mongol Rulers of Iran (1219-1353)
Mongol occupation was disastrous to Iran. Numerous cities were razed, and a large number of people (particularly males) were killed. The Kharezm-Shahs could not oppose the Mongol hordes led by Genghis Khan. The last Kharezm-Shahs’s prince, Jalal od-Din, tried to restore the empire but failed to unite the Iranian regions, although by that time Genghis Khan, who had withdrawn to Mongolia, was dead. Iran was left divided between Mongol agents and local adventurers, both of whom profited from the lack of order.

A second Mongol invasion began when Genghis Khan’s grandson Hulagu Khan destroyed the Ismailite fortress at ewer inlaid with Alamut. He then besieged silver and copper dates from the I2th-13th centuries (today in British Museum in London).



The Soltaniyeh Dome near Zanjan is one of the most famous memorabilia of Oljeitu, the Il-Khanid ruler who was reportedly buried there.

Ordered the execution of the last Abbasid caliph. Hulagu hoped to consolidate Mongol rule over western Asia and to extend the Mongol Empire as far as the Mediterranean. He made Iran his base, but the Mamluks of Egypt (1250-1517) prevented him and his successors from achieving their imperial goal. Instead, a Mongol dynasty, the Il-Khanids, or “Deputy Khans” to the Great Khan in China, was established in Iran to attempt repair of the damage of the first Mongol invasion. They made Azerbaijan their center and chose Maragheh as the first capital until Sultaniyeh was built early in the 14th century. A later Mongol ruler, Ghazan Khan, and his famous Iranian vizier of Jewish descent, Rashid od-Din Fazlollah, brought Iran a partial revival. Ghazan Khan was the first Mongol ruler to adopt Islam. His successor to the throne was Oljeitu. Oljeitu changed his religious affiliations several times. A great-grandson of Hulagu, founder of the Il-Khanid dynasty, Oljeitu was baptized a Christian and given the name Nicholas by his mother. As a youth, he adhered to shamanism but was later, apparently under the influence of one of his wives, converted to Sunnite Islam, taking the name Mohammad Khodabandeh. During the winter of 1307-08, a bitter religious feud ensued between the adherents of the Hanafi and Shafii schools of Sunnite Islamic law. This so disgusted Oljeitu that he considered converting back to shamanism, but that course proved politically impossible. Greatly influenced by the Shiite theologian, Ibn al-Mutahhar al-Hilli, he came to embrace the Shiite religion. On his return from a visit to the tomb of Imam Ali in Iraq, he proclaimed Shiite Islam to be the state religion. Oljeitu’s conversion gave rise to great unrest, and civil war was imminent when he died in 1316. His son and successor, Abu Said, reconverted to Sunnite Islam and averted war, but during his reign factional disputes and internal disturbances became rampant. The Il-Khanid line was interrupted by the death of Abu Said, who died without leaving an heir, and Iran again lapsed into petty dynasties – the Jalayirids, Injuids, and Mozaffarids.

The Sultaniyeh Dome near Zanjan is one of the most famous memorabilia of Oljeitu, the Il-Khanid ruler who was reportedly buried there.

1380-1393 – Tamerlane conquers Iran

1405 – Tamerlane’s death; the accession of his son Shahrokh 1411-1492 – Jami, the last important Persian classical poet

1429 – Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) bccomes the heroine of France

1447-1452 -Rule of Ulugh Beik, Timur’s grandson, who is better remembered in history as a great scientist 1452-1466 – Abu Said’s rule

1453 – Constantinople falls to the Ottoman Turks, who end the Byzantine Empire that has ruled since the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 1455-1536 – Behzad, one of the major Persian painters and the founder of the Herat miniature school 1478-1506 – Rule of decorations of the Shrine of Ali ibn Hossein Bayqara

J afar in Qom) reached the highest 1500 – Overthrow of the level of craftsmanship during the Timurids Mongol and Timurid periods.



Timurid and Turkman Rulers (1389-1508)

Tamerlane (Timur), who claimed descent from Genghis Khan’s family, was the next ruler to achieve the status of emperor.



The splendid Blue Mosque in Tabriz, founded in 1465 at the order of Jan Beygom Khatun, a pious Jahanshah Qara-Qoyunlu s consort, is the most famous architectural commission from the Turkman reign.


Iran during the Timurid period

1406-1469 – Qara-Qoyunlu dynasty

1439-1467 – Rule of Jahan Shah, the most prominent Qara-Quyunlu ruler, famous for his patronage of architecture and the arts of the book

1453-1490 – Uzun Hasan Aq-Quyunlu

1456 – The Gutenberg Bible published at Mainz

1460-1485 – England’s Wars of the Roses

1462-1505 – Ivan 111 the Great, the first Russian national sovereign 1469-1508 – Aq-Quyunlu dynasty 1492 – Christopher Columbus crosses the Atlantic 1497 – Rostam Shah dies, leaving the Aq-Quyunlu tribe without a powerful ruler

1500 – Aq-Quyunlu dynasty comes under attack from tribesmen commanded by the Safavid leader Ismail, at that time only 14

The splendid Blue Mosque in Tabriz, founded in 1465 at the order of Jan Beygom Khatun, a pious Jahanshah Qara-Quyunlu s consort, is the most famous architectural commission from the Turkman reign.

1509-1547 -Henry VIII of England

1510 – Shah Ismail defeats an Uzbek army extending his realm from the Tigris to the Oxus 1514-1555 – War with Turkey

1514 – Shah Ismail is defeated at Chaldoran by his Sunnite rival, the Ottoman Sultan Selim I

1515 – Portuguese naval strategist Alfonso de Albuquerque takes Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf

1517 – Reformation of the Catholic Church, appearance of Protestanism (gets its name in 1529)

1520-1566 – Soleiman the Magnificent of Turkey the huge forces of earlier Mongol leaders, so his conquests were slower than those of Genghis Khan or Hulagu Khan. Ironically, this ruthless warrior and appalling killer was a great patron of arts and initiated a true civilization with a center in Samarqand. Timur was famed for his great interest in unorthodox religious beliefs, among them Sufism (p36-37), which developed considerably in his time.

Under Timur’s son Shahrokh and grandson Ulugh Beik the Iranian culture began to flourish. Their capital, Herat, was turned into the seat of splendid culture, the atelier of great miniature painters, and the home for a revival of Persian sciences and arts. The Timurid Empire, however, disintegrated rapidly after Ulugh Beik’s death. After the Timurid princes, Iran was dominated, particularly in its northern part, by the Qara-Qoyunlu, the “Black Sheep” Turkmen tribe. On Shahrokh’s death, their leader, Jahan Shah, extended his rule deep into Iran. Their rival was another Turkman tribe of Aq-Qoyunlu, the “White Sheep”, who were concentrated around Diyarbakir in Turkey. The White Sheep, led by Uzun Hasan, destroyed Jahan Shah’s troops by the end of 1467. Uzun Hasan established a short-lived empire but was confronted by a new power in Asia Minor -the Ottoman Turks. Minor Mongol tribes, Uzbeks, and Turkmen clans ruled over Iran until the rise of the Safavid dynasty.

Safavid Dynasty (1501-1736)

While the Turkman dynasties ruled in Azerbaijan, Sheikh Heydar headed a movement that had begun in the late 13th century as a Sufi order under his ancestor, Sheikh Safi od-Din of Ardabil, who claimed descent from the Seventh Shiite Imam, Musa al-Kazem. By the end of the 15th century, this Sufi order was turned into a militant movement with numerous followers, mainly from the Turkman tribesmen of Anatolia. They were called the Qizil-Bash, Red Heads, because of the distinctive red headgear that they had adopted to mark their adherence to the Safavids. With their help, the Safavids conducted several successful military campaigns, especially in the Caucasus. By virtue of their descent from the Prophet’s family, the Safavid movement was invested with a semi-sacred character, and the religious character of the new claimants to the throne was particularly acceptable to the Persians. When Sheikh Heydar was killed in one of his battles in the Caucasus, his son Ismail avenged his death by con-quering Azerbaijan and then the whole of Iran. In 1501, Ismail was proclaimed Shah of Iran. He became the founder of one of the most famous ruling dynasties in Iranian history – the Safavids.

The Safavids declared Shiite Islam the state religion and used proselytizing and force to convert the large majority of Muslims in Iran to the Shiite sect. Their main external enemies were the Uzbeks and the Ottomans. The Uzbeks were an unstable element along Iran’s northeastern frontier, raiding Khorasan and blocking the Safavid advance northward into Transoxiana. The Ottomans, who were Sunnites, were rivals for the religious allegiance of Muslims in eastern Anatolia and Iraq and pressed territorial claims in both these areas and in the Caucasus. A series of battles between Iran and the Ottoman Turkey lasted throughout the reign of the Safavids.

Tahmasb, the eldest son and successor of Shah Ismail, had none of his father’s appeal or personal courage. For a long period after coming to the throne, he was a pawn of powerful tribal leaders.




Ismail I (1501-1524)

Abbas I, The Great (1587-1629)

1533-1584 – Ivan IV the Terrible of Russia, who in 1547 is crowned czar (caesar) to be the first Russian ruler formally to assume this title 1534 – Ottoman forces attempt to take Tabriz from the Persians; Shah Tahmasb, now 20, has his regent executed and assumes personal power

1548 – Ottoman forces occupy Tabriz

1555 – Safavid capital is removed to Qazvin

1558-1643 – Queen Elizabeth of England

1582 – A new Gregorian calendar is instituted by Pope Gregory 1589-1610 – Henry IV the Great of France

1590 -Shah Abbas and the Ottoman Sultan Murad III end a 12-year war

1595 – The Dutch East India Company sends its first ships to Iran

1587 – Shah Abbas chooses Esfahan as his capital and undertakes to make it a showplace of the world.

1603-1625 – James I of England, the first king to rule over a united kingdom

1616 – England’s East India Company begins trading with Persia from its Indian base at Surat 1618 – The Ottoman Sultan Mustapha I gives up Georgia and Azerbaijan by treaty with Abbas the Great

1622 – Persians take Qandahar from the Mughal Empire and drive the Portuguese out of Hormuz.
1623 – Abbas I takes all of Mesopotamia from the Ottoman Turks

1629 – Abbas I dies on January 19 at age 72 after a 42-year reign. Two of his five sons died, he had two others executed and another blinded, so he is succeeded by a grandson aged 13. The new shah has his grandfather’s counselors beheaded along with most of Persia’s best generals, all the blood princes, and even some of the princesses. Qandahar’s Persian governor defects to the Uzbeks, who take the city and province.

1630 – The Ottoman Sultan Murad IV defeats the Iranian army and captures Hamadan.
1635 – Murad IV leads an Ottoman army against Persia, Erivan capitulates after a siege, Tabriz surrenders without resistance but is deliberately destroyed

1636 – Shah Safi retakes Erivan and signs a treaty with Constantinople setting western borders that will remain substantially unchanged for more than two centuries

1638 – Murad IV retakes Baghdad from the Persians after a 40-day siege, slaughtering the city’s defenders

1642-1646 The Great Civil War in England.
1643-1715 – Louis XIV of France 1649-1660 – The Commonwealth is established in England 1650 – Abbas II retakes Qandahar, but Mughal emperors will besiege the city repeatedly 1667 – Shah Abbas II dies at age 33 after a 25-year reign. His ministers pretend that his son of 20 is blind and try to install a younger son, but a court eunuch betrays their scheme, and the dissolute elder son will reign as Soleiman I 1689-1730 – Peter the Great of Russia

1707 – The Kingdom of Great Britain is established

1722 – Mahmud, an Afghan chieftain and a vassal of the Safavids, attacks Persia and captures Esfahan, thus ending the Safavid rule decline of the dynasty. He was crowned at a very early age and thus successfully escaped the seclusion of the harem, which may well be the reason why he developed more favorably than the other of Shah Abbas’s successors. Although inclined to lose control under the influence of alcohol and narcotics, he was more gifted than any other descendant of Shah Abbas the Great, and history records him as a just ruler and an intelligent patron of arts. Abbas IT died in 1666 at the age of thirty-three. Abbas’s eighteen-year-old son ascended the throne as Shah Safi. However, shortly after his accession, the shah fell ill. The doctors ascribed his illness to the miscasting of his horoscope at the time of his accession. Therefore on a day proclaimed by the astrologers as unlucky, a mock coronation of a Zoroastrian was performed. The following day, allegedly a lucky one, an effigy of the Zoroastrian was decapitated, and Shah Safi reassumed his throne as Shah Soleiman. Soleiman’s harem upbringing had left him under the thumb of the eunuchs. Like most of the Safavid rulers, he cared more about women and wine than his country. Chardin reported that he could drink any Swiss or German under the table. The Soleiman’s reign was for the most part peaceful, though it was not the ruler’s merit but rather a fortunate culmination of circumstances. His piety earned him the nicknames of “Mullah Hossein” and “Yashki dir” (Turkish: “It is good”), the second deriving from his invariable reply of assent to every proposal made by the clergy. His feebleness accelerated the decline of the country. Once again the eastern frontiers began to be breached, and a small body of Afghan tribesmen led by Mahmud, a former Safavid vassal in Afghanistan, won a series of easy victories before taking the capital. Although the Safavid dynasty claimed rule for many following years, bearing illustrious but hollow names like Tahmasb II and Abbas III, the glory of the Safavid reign was never re-established.

1729-1747 – Nader Shah 1729 – Nader expels the Afghans from Iran.

1736 – Nader ascends the throne 1740-1786 – Frederick the Great, Prussia’s King.

Afsharid and Zand Dynasties:
After a disastrous but brief Afghan occupation, the country was united  under the power of Tahmasb Qoli, a chief of the Afshar tribe. He expelled the Afghans in the name of  surviving Safavid members, but soon dethroned them and was him- self crowned as Nader Shah. He chose Mashhad as his capital.

He wanted to restore the glory and prestige of his country by regaining the diamond. The treasures brought by Nader I to Iran (today in the Jewelry drove the Ottomans from Georgia Museum in Tehran).



Karim Khan the king of Zandieh and Armenia and the Russians from the Iranian coast on the Caspian Sea, and restored Iranian sovereignty over Afghanistan. He also took his army on several campaigns into India, bringing back fabulous treasures. Among them were two of the world’s largest diamonds.

Zand decorates the interior of of Light (now part of the the Pars Museum in Shiraz. British Crown Jewels) and the Sea of Light (now in the Jewelry Museum in Tehran). His Indian expedition solved the problem of how to make his empire financially viable. Too powerful and ambitious in the view of some of its neighbors, Nader Shah seemed to have pose a threat to their imperialistic plans. Perhaps a victim to their conspiracy, Nader died from the hands of his own tribesmen, assisted by some Qajar chiefs.

Almost immediately after Nader’s murder, the country fell into anarchy. Afshar, Qajar, Afghan, and Zand chieftains struggled for supremacy, until finally Karim Khan Zand defeated his rivals and unified the country (except for Khorasan) under a loose form of central control. Karim Khan’s geniality and common sense inaugurated a period of peace and popular contentment. He refused to assume the title of shah and ruled as Vakil al-Roaya (Deputy of the Subjects). Shiraz was made the capital city under his rule.



Qajar Dynasty (1794-1925)
After Karim Khan’s death, Agha Mohammad Qajar, who was brought up at the Zand court, gathered a large force of his Qajar tribesmen and embarked upon a war of conquest. He defeated the last Zand ruler and in the same year took Mashhad, which was at the time the residence of the last Afsharid king. In this way, he made himself master of the country and founder of the Qajar dynasty. Under his successors – Path Ali Shah, Mohammad Shah, and Naser od-Din Shah – a degree of order and stability returned to the country. However, from the early 19th century, the Qajars began to face pressure from two great world powers, Russia and Britain.

1750-1779 – Karim Khan Zand 1756-1763 – Seven Years’ Anglo-French War in North America 1757 – Karim Khan places on the throne the infant Shah Ismail III, the grandson of the last official Safavid king, as a figurehead ruler 1762-1796 – Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia 1775-1783 – The American War of Independence

1776 – The American Declaration of Independence

1789-1894 – Lotf Ali Khan Zand

1789 – Bastille falls, French

Revolution begins

1794 – Lotf Ali Khan is defeated by Agha Mohammad Qajar; Agha

Mohammad Khan chooses Tehran as his capital city.



Qajar Kings:

Agha Mohammad Khan – 1794-1797

Fath Ali Shah – 1797-1834 Mohammad Shah – 1834-1848 Naser od-Din Shah – 1848-1896 Mozaffar od-Din Shah – 1896-1907 Mohammad Ali Shah – 1907-1909 Ahmad Shah – 1909-1923

1796 – Agha Mohammad is formally crowned shah 1803-1815 – Napoleonic Wars 1813 – Treaty of Golestan that stipulates Russia’s annexation of former Iranian territories in Georgia and north of the Caucasus region 1819-1901 – Queen Victoria of Britain

1828 – By the Treaty of Turkmanchai Iran acknowledges Russian sovereignty over the entire area north of the Aras River (territory comprising present-day Armenia and Republic of Azerbaijan)

1844-1850 – Preaching of Bab, the prophet of Bahaism 1851 – Amir Kabir, a prime minister of the Qajars, is assassinated (pl66)

1861-1865 – The American Civil War

1905 – Constitutional Revolution; First Revolution in Russia

1906 – Mozaffar od-Din Shah signs the first Iranian constitution 1914-1918-World War I

1917 – February and October Revolutions in Russia

1921 – Coup d’etat of Reza Khan
1925 – Reza Khan is crowned the first Pahlavi Shah

1934 – Hitler becomes Fuehrer of Germany

1935 – Country’s name is changed from Persia to Iran 1939-1945 – World War II

1941 – Britain and the USSR invade Iran and send Reza Shah into exile

1941 – Mohammad Reza Shah ascends the throne

1943 – Tehran Conference of Rosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin

1944 – Reza Shah dies in exile 1951 – Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq becomes Prime Minister; Nationalization of oil from British control 1953 – British Intelligence and the CIA sponsor a coup d’etat to topple Dr. Mossadeq’s government 1962-1963 – Beginning of the reform programs known as the White Revolution.

1971 – Shah holds in Persepolis an extravagant celebration of 2,500 years of Persian monarchy 1976 – Shah replaces the Islamic calendar with an “imperial” calendar, which began wit i the foundation of the Persian empire more than 25 centuries earlier 1979 – General uprising of the discontent.
In 1909, his son Ahmad, a boy of 11, was crowned. Meanwhile, Reza Khan staged a coup d’etat and took control of all the military forces. After the deposition of the last Qajar Shah, Reza Khan took the throne for himself and started to reign as Reza Shah Pahlavi, having found the last royal dynasty in Iran.
January 16, 1979 – Shah left Iran.



Glorious Day for Historical City of Yazd   

Marco Polo described Yazd as “a good and noble city” with “a great amount of trade”. This noble city now stands a chance to become another UNESCO cultural and architectural site in Iran.

THE 40th UNESCO World Heritage Committee begins to review 34 global nominations in Krakow, Poland, including Iran’s candidate, the historical texture of Yazd. The 21 members of the committee are to discuss the tentative list from all corners of the world in 10 days to reach a verdict which to some are really important such as the Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore, Pakistan, Historic Centre of Vienna, Austria, Cerrado ecoregion in Brazil.

It has been 9 years since the registration of Historic city of Yazd in the tentative list; however, due to several ill-matched and uncommon constructions which unbalance the historical texture of Yazd, it is still on a lengthy waiting list of Iran. The UNESCO International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) finds a number of defects in the texture of the city which look somewhat incongruous to the homogeneous clay structure of the area. According to the World Heritage Site website “The historical structure of Yazd is a collection of public-religious architecture in a very large scope comprising of different Islamic architectural elements of different periods in a harmonious combination with climatic conditions.”

For the past two years, Iranian officials of the Cultural Heritage Organization cooperating with the locals and authorities of Yazd by arranging and conducting workshops and meetings, has been doing its best to pave the way for the 22nd UNESCO World Heritage Site in Iran and today finally Yazd joined in the World Heritage List of Iran.