Hafezieh is the most popular historic-cultural site in Iran

Tomb of Hafez

 

 

Hafezieh is one of the most popular poets in Iran, as well as the most well-known Iranian poet in the world.Every year, millions of tourists visit the mausoleum of this famous Iranian poet.Based on the latest census of 20 historical sites, The Hafezia mausoleum in  Shiraz is known as the most popular place.
The tomb of Khajeh Hafiz Shirazi is located in the city of Shiraz, near the Koran Gate.The Hafezieh Hall of Shiraz builts during the Zandieh era.This mausoleum is about 2 hectares.
Hafez’s Tomb is the most magnificent historical monument of Iran during the New Year Eve.

 

The most historic monuments of Iran
If Iran’s history is divided into three part,  prehistoric periods, ancient Iran and Islamic period.The temples of Choghazenbil, Persepolis and Jame Mosque of Isfahan are the best of the architecture of this era.

Chogha Zanbil

Dur Untash or Chogha Zanbil an ancient Elamite temple in the Khuzestan province south of Iran. It is one of the few ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia. It is about 30 km south-east of Susa and 80 km north of Ahvaz.In 1979, this structure was the first Iranian monument to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The ancient city of D?r Untash or the historic site of Choghaznbil in the 13th century BC was built by “Ontas Nepirisha”, the king of Ilam.
The “ziggurat” is an Akkadian name used in Mesopotamia and Ilam for temporal temples.
The Chogha Zanbil ziggurat has a square shape with a length of about 105 meters.This building is made entirely of bricks and mud and sometimes baked bricks.The temple was built on seven floors, which now has 5 floors.The monuments were decorated with glazed bricks, gypsum, and ornaments of faience and glass.
Thousands of baked bricks bearing inscriptions with Elamite cuneiform characters were hand-engraved.Glazed terracotta statues such as bulls and winged griffins guarded the entrances to the ziggurat.
Orientalists consider this building the first religious building in Iran.

Persepolis

Takht-e-Jamshid or Persepolis the capital of Achaemenid Empire(550–330 BC) is located 80 Km from Shiraz city in Fars province.It exemplifies the Achaemenid style of architecture. UNESCO declared the ruins of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.In 518 BCE, the construction of Persepolis began as the new capital of the Achaemenids in Pars.The founder of Persepolis was great Darius, after whom his son Xerxes and his grandson, Ardeshir I, expanded to expand it.Historians believe that Alexander the Great, Macedonian commander in the 330 BC, invaded Iran and set fire to Persepolis.The Sassanid kings also have inscriptions on Persepolis at Tacher Palace.After the entrance of Islam to Iran, they also considered this place worthy of a thousand pillars or forty minars, and linked them with characters such as Suleiman Nabi and Jamshid.
Another historical monument related to the Achaemenid is Naghsh-e-Rostam.These Achaemenid temples are located 6 km from Persepolis.The Naghsh-e-Rostam includes the shrines of the kingdoms like Darius the Great / Xerxes / Ardeshir I and Darius II.

 

Jameh Mosque of Isfahan

This mosque is one of the most important and oldest religious buildings in Iran.The Mosque of Isfahan is a reflection of Byzantine and classical art in the form of a traditional Islamic building.This mosque is a complete collection of Iranian architecture from the early Islamic centuries to the Safavid era.This mosque is a collection of the best of Iranian architecture that includes the most beautiful tile, the most beautiful Minbar and the most magnificent altar.The mosque has 4 Ivans and 8 entrances, each of them has been constructed in different periods of history.The four porch of the mosque identifies the method of Iranian mosques, which has become popular in other mosques after its construction.The entrances around the mosque indicate the extensive connection of the mosque with the old urban fabric.

It is one of the oldest mosques still standing in Iran, and it was built in the architectural style of four-iwan, placing four doors face to face. An iwan is an open vaulted room. The qibla iwan on the south side of the mosque was vaulted with muqarnas in the 13th century.

 

CONGREGATIONAL  MOSQUE  (MASJED  JAME)

masjed_jame_hamedan

In Islamic countries there is a congregational mosque in every city. In fact, the most important mosque in any city is called the Jame Mosque. Friday preaching or prayer is recommended to the Shiites and community mosques in cities are used for the Friday preachers. Large areas were allocated in the large cities.
Masjede Jame in Isfahan is the most notable mosque in Isfahan. It is an encyclopedia of Iranian and Islamic art and architecture. Step by step development of Iranian art and architecture can be seen in this complex. It takes at least half a day to visit different parts of it. The complex shows different structures from different centuries, which date back to the 10th century to the 18th century.
The oldest part was built on a Sassanid fire temple, which belonged to the Zoroastrians. The first part of the mosque dates back to the 8th century. The second mosque or part belonged to 1030.
During the Buyid Dynasty in 908-932 one of the oldest parts was built. In Buyid, a court of several prayer halls was built. In later centuries changed in the mosque.
Saheb Ibn Ebad was a learned minister of the Buyid dynasty who lived in Isfahan and played a major role in the development of Isfahan. The Seljuk Dynasty extended the mosque in the 11th century.
The jame mosque shows specifications of Iranian mosques. It has a courtyard and there are four large Eivan (Grand Arches). It has one of the largest courtyards in Iran.
Four Eivans are connected by two storey arcades. Eivans are from the 15th to 17th century. These arcades are decorated with tiles. Some of these tiles are glazed and some are inlaced. There are two marble pools in the courtyard. One of these basins is covered by a structure that reminded Saint Kabeh of Mecca. Muslims were able to practice the Hajj rites before they traveled to Mecca.

View Masjede Jame

 

THE  SOUTHERN  EIVANS

This Eivan is known as Soffe Saheb Ibn Ebad. The present Eivan dates back to Seljuk period. There are two beautiful minarets on the top of Eivan, which are 35 meters high, and belong to Aq- Qunlu era.
Interior and exterior parts of Eivan are beautifully decorated with tiles and tile mosaics. The inscription comes from the Safavid dynasty. On the back of this Eivan there is a wonderful sanctuary called “Nezam Al Molk” dome.
Nezam Al Molk was a popular vizier of the Seljuk dynasty. This dome was built in 1030. The dome reminds us of Sassanid architecture.
There is fantastic calligraphy in Kufic script, which dates from the 11th century around the dome. The name of Nezam Al Molk can be seen in the calligraphy. The dome is one of the most glorious domes of Iranian mosques.
The base of the dome is in a rectangular shape, which is transformed into a circular dome. This is a pre-Islamic technique, but the size of the dome can not be compared with pre-Islamic domes, which were much smaller than this high monument. Ornaments of the Mehrab (prayer benches) and also marble stone of the lower part belong to the Safavid era.

NORTHERN  Eivan

Jame mosque

HYPOSTYLE  HALLS  &  TAJ AL MOLK  DOME.
Sofe – ye Darvish (Eivan) is from Seljuk dynasty. Fabulous ornamentations of this Eivans belong to later period. Specifications of ornamentation are different from other parts of the mosque. The magnificent stuccoworks are from Shah Soleiman Safavid.
Behind the Eivan, there are successions of hypostyl halls, which come from different times. At the far end is the tall dome of the Taj Al Molk. Taj Al Molk was a Vizier from the Seljuk Dynasty. He competes with Nezam Al Molk. This magnificent dome was built by the command of Taj – Al Molk.
Interior decoration of Taj Al Molk dome is unique in all Iranian mosques. It is a single shelled dome. Fortunately the dome and its decoration have not been damaged. Great varieties of designs are made of plaster and small pieces of bricks are a splendid sample of huge artistic work. In fact there is a collection of designs which have survived for more than 900 years. The dome is without any Mehrab (prayer- niche).
One of the entrances to the mosque is located next to the dome. For those architects who are seeking traditional adornment, the dome is considered a museum of decorative designs. The Kufic calligraphy around the dome’s base dates back to 1080 and covers the name of Taj Al Molk. The Khaki dome is about 18 meters high and about 9 meters in diameter.

THE WESEREN EIVAN
The western Eivan is called Soffe – ye – Ostad. The original construction belongs to Seljuk dynasty. The beautiful tile and tile- mosaic work belong to era of Shah Sultan Hossein.
This Eivan is considered a wonderful museum of Iranian and Islamic calligraphy. Various types of calligraphy such as Solth, Nastaliq, Bannaeis and geometrically designed calligraphy have decorated inner parts of Eivans. For those artists who have selected calligraphy as their field of art, this Eivan has a lot to teach. Next to the Eivan, there is a door that opens to another part of the mosque built by Sultan Oljeitu. One of the most fantastic mehrabs is in this part. Many Iranians consider this Mehrab has a unique structure. It shows an excellent stucco work from the year 1310.
Unfortunately, it was damaged at bombing of Isfahan. There is an old wooden minbar in this part.
The Mehrab’s design shows a combination of calligraphy, imaginary flowers, blossoms and leaves which is a masterpiece in Islamic world. Such a fantastic work can be created by a unique faithful stucco work artist.

THE WINTER GALLERY (BEIT AL SHETA)

Jame Mosque

Each part of the Jameh mosque is a masterpiece of art and architecture. This winter gallery from Timurid era is one of the beauties of Iranian architecture, dates back to 1447.
Every part of it looks like tents used by Timurid. This part is quite cool and warm during the hot summer season during the cold days of the winter season. The style of the winter gallery is almost self-sufficient for heating and cooling systems. Daylight is reflected to Beit Al Sheta through small windows covered with slices of marble stone. The architect has made ideas from tents to create this part.

EIVAN  SHAGERD (SOFFEH- YE  SHAGERD)
It was originally built during the Seljuk period. Ornamentation is from Seljuk and IL – Khanid periods. Fortunately his ornamentation from Seljuk and IL Khanid has not been damaged. The calligraphy of this Eivan is from Shah Soleiman Safavid.
The central part of Eivan has a structure which is similar to Eivane Ostad, on the opposite side. Next to this Eivan there is a corridor leads us to a Madreseh (Theological School) from Mozafarid era.

Aran and Bidgol

Aran va Bidgol is a city close to Kashan. It took shape after the destruction of Sialk civilization. It was built as one of the forty-fence castles (Kashan old name). The word Aran is driven from Arian (Aria tribe). According to another narrative it is driven from the name of one of the pre Islamic respectable man, Aran ibn Ghasan. And the word Bidgol is the variation of Bibi Gol, Mogul commander’s daughter. Aranies people speak in farsi with accent. Imamzadeh Halal is the most important historical and cultural symbol of the city.

Maranjab Desert

The dazzling desert is stretched endlessly in north east of Aran va Bidgol covered by eye catching sand dunes, flowing sands and Haloxylons. Its approximately 850 meters above sea level and has hot-dry climate. Not being so fruitless, it has its own flora and fauna such as tamarix and Zygophyllum, fox, Jackal, Rüppell’s fox, hyena, sand cat, Monitor lizard, Chameleons, lizard, snake, Scorpion, See-see partridge and falcon. In Maranjab desert two North and Shahriari winds are desirable and the others like Khorasan, Qebla, black wind and Tire Lovar are viewed as notorious ones.

Salt Lake

stunning, enchanting, unique and economically vital in the region, Salt Lake is one of the most beautiful landscapes in desert. It is the result of centuries of salt deposit, carried by salty water of rivers and floods. its approximate expanse (2400 Km) alters depending on water debit and periodic seasonal rainfalls. Due to precipitation and evapotranspiration, dazzling white salt crystal polygons surround lake bank’s surface.

Maranjab caravanserai

Dating back to Safavid era, Maranjab caravanserai, 810 m above sea level, is located 50Km from Aran va Bidgol. In north its bordering Black Mountain range. Maranjab caravansary is situated on one of silk roadside roads, built under Shah Abbas command in 1604 in order to secure the transition of goods from China to Europe and domestic caravans who traveled from Khorasan to Isfahan (Safavid Capital) and Ray.

Due to the importance of the route and military and defensive role of the caravanserai, the roof, walls and watch out towers are built like a castle. It’s built of brick and consisted of rooms, stables, and King’s special place which are surrounding the central yard.

Drinking water from Qanat has formed a tiny pool surrounded by tall green trees right before the colossal structure. This rare confrontation of water and land, light and shadow, heat and cool weather opens a wondering landscape before desert goers’ eyes. That’s why a quotation regarding the name “Maranjab” sounds believable. “do not be hurt due to heat, wind and dust of desert, water pool and desirable shadow of trees awaits you.

Wander Island

Wander island, with 808 M height in highest point, is a vegetation free hill made of volcanic rock located inside Salt Lake.  The island is wandered because it looks endless from either side at long distance due to extreme heat, light breakdown and eye mistake. Based on an old belief this island has been moving constantly. Wander island is a mysterious beauty of Salt Lake from top of which mesmerizing sun rise and sun set leave you speechless.

Handmade well

Handmade well along with other caravansary’s ruins, located in east, 4Km from Maranjab caravansary. It was a resort for caravans commuting the route before Maranjab caravansary was built. Despite bordering Iran’s biggest salt marsh, surprisingly, its water is drinkable. The water is high enough and so close to the well mouse (about 2 meters deep), that the name sounds logical.

Dunes and pebbles

Dunes are sandy hills formed as a result of soil erosion, lack of rain and vegetation. They take different shapes with the wind direction such as curve and sword-like. situated in east, 12Km from caravansary, Band-e Rig starts from dunes’ west bank and continues to far east. A combination of growing green plants on brown sandy context bordering blue sky, creates dazzling beauty. On the dune’s side roads located on a two-way intersection, there is a steep uphill called Khatab shekan by locals. Khatab is part of the camel saddle and it breaks most of the time due to heaviness and high pressure of climbing steep hills in the area.

 

Elburz Mountains

also spelled Alborz, Albourz, Alburz, or Elburs, Persian Reshteh-ye Kūhhā-ye Alborz,

major mountain range in northern Iran, 560 miles (900 km) long. The range, most broadly defined, extends in an arc eastward from the frontier with Azerbaijan southwest of the Caspian Sea to the Khorāsān region of northeastern Iran, southeast of the Caspian Sea, where the range merges into the Ālādāgh, the more southerly of the two principal ranges there. More commonly, however, the westernmost part of the range is called the Talish (Talysh, Talesh, or Tavālesh) Range, or the Bogrov Dāgh. The Elburz Range, in its strictest sense, forms part of the central stretch of the chain, which also includes Iran’s two highest peaks, Mount Damāvand and Mount Alām. The Elburz mountain system traverses virtually all of the northernmost portions of Iran from east to west.

Elburz Mountains

The Elburz chain is not as truly alpine (i.e., resembling the European Alps) in its structure as is often suggested. On the one hand, continental conditions regarding sedimentation are reflected by thick Devonian sandstones (about 360 to 415 million years old) and by Jurassic shales containing coal seams (about 145 to 200 million years old). On the other hand, marine conditions are reflected by strata dating to the boundary of the Carboniferous and Permian periods (about 300 million years old) that are composed mainly of limestones, as well as by very thick beds of green volcanic tuffs and lavas. Orogenic (mountain-building) phases of importance date from the Miocene and Pliocene epochs (between about 23 and 2.6 million years ago). Over large areas they produced only a loose folding; but in the Central Elburz a number of folds were formed into blocks thrust mainly southward but in places northward, with cores made of Paleozoic rocks (more than 250 million years old). Structurally and topographically, the Elburz system is less clearly defined on the southern than on the Caspian (northern) side of the chain, since various off-branching elements interconnect it on the southern side with the adjoining Iranian plateau.

The Western Elburz Range runs south-southeastward for 125 miles (200 km). Varying in width from 15 to 20 miles (24 to 32 km), it consists of a single asymmetric ridge, the long slope facing the Caspian. Few of its peaks approach or exceed 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) in height. There is a low pass west of Āstārā, near the Azerbaijan frontier, 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea level. The Safīd River, formed by the junction of the Qezel Owzan (Qisil Uzun) and Shāhrūd rivers, is the only river to cross the whole width of the chain: its gorge, giving access to the low pass of Qazvīn, offers the best passage through the mountain chain, although by no means an easy one, between the Gīlān region on the shores of the Caspian and the inland plateau to the south.

The Central Elburz is 250 miles (400 km) long. East of the longitude of Tehrān, which lies to the south of the range, it reaches a width of 75 miles (120 km). Located among the longitudinal valleys and ridges of the range are some important centres of settlement, with the towns of Deylamān, Razan, Kojūr, and Namar located on the Caspian side and Emāmshahr (formerly Shāhrūd), Lār, Damāvand, and Fīrūzkūh on the southern side. There are likewise many gorges, by which the rivers find their way down one or another of the slopes. Only two passes allow a relatively easy crossing in a single ascent—those are the Kandevān Pass, between the Karaj and the Chālūs rivers, and the Gadūk Pass, between the Hableh and the Tālā rivers. The main divide runs generally south of the highest crest, which—with the exception of the towering and isolated cone of the extinct volcano Mount Damāvand (18,386 feet [5,604 metres])—culminates in the glaciated massif of Takht-e Soleymān, which rises to more than 15,750 feet (4,800 metres).

The Eastern, or Shāhkūh, Elburz runs about 185 miles (300 km) in a northeasterly direction. Since two ranges branch off on its southern side and no compensatory elements appear on the northern side, its width dwindles to less than 30 miles (48 km). With the exception of the Shāhkūh Range proper (which reaches an elevation of 12,359 feet [3,767 metres]), the chain decreases in height toward the east. Longitudinal valleys are found less and less frequently east of the Shāhkūh. There are several passes at low elevations.

The Caspian and the inland, or southern, slopes of the Elburz differ markedly from each other in climatic and vegetational aspects. The Caspian slope has a distinctly humid climate, thanks to northerly air movements, enriched with moisture from the sea, which collide with the steep faces of the mountains to cause precipitation. The precipitation amounts to more than 40 inches (1,000 mm) annually in the lowlands of the Gīlān region and is even more plentiful at higher elevations. Although it decreases toward the east, it still suffices to nourish a humid forest for the whole length of the chain on the Caspian side, where the soils are mostly of the brown-forest type. The natural vegetation of that slope grows in distinct zones: the luxuriant Hyrcanian forest on the lowest levels; a beech forest in the middle zone; and a magnificent oak forest from the elevation of 5,500 feet (1,700 metres) up to the levels where gaps in the divide allow the moist air to overflow into the inland basins. In some sheltered valleys there are extensive stands of wild cypress. Sheltered valleys adjacent to the Safīd River constitute the only olive-growing areas of note in Iran.

The southern slope of the Elburz, by direct contrast, shares the arid character of the Iranian plateau. Annual precipitation varies between 11 and 20 inches (280 and 500 mm) and is very irregular. The soils are mostly of the type associated with steppe (treeless, grassy, or shrubby) vegetation. The slope has become even more steppelike ever since the almost complete destruction of its original dry forest of junipers.

The Hyrcanian tigers for which the Caspian forests were famous are now extinct, but other wild cats, such as the leopard and the lynx, are still numerous in the Elburz. The bear, the wild boar, red and roe deer, the mouflon (wild mountain sheep), and the ibex are also present. Eagles and pheasants are notable among birds.

Although large areas of the Elburz Mountains are almost uninhabited—some being occupied only by nomads and others having been depleted by Turkmen raids in the 19th century—there are still several well-settled districts, including Deylamān, Alāmut, Tālaqān, and Lārījān (at the foot of Mount Damāvand). The landscape of the Caspian slopes is characterized by forest clearings with shingle-roofed loghouse villages and by lush fields and pastures. The landscape of the inland slopes is of the oasis type. Extensive grain cultivation occurs on both slopes, and cattle raising occurs on the Caspian side. Alpine pastures, seasonally dotted with flocks of sheep, cover an extensive zone yet higher. The land-distribution pattern prevailing in the Elburz includes a high proportion of peasant ownership. The holdings often are much-fragmented.

Many of the traditional ways of livelihood of the mountaineers, including charcoal burning (now prohibited because of devastation of the forests), the transportation of goods (especially of rice and of charcoal for Tehrān) by pack animals, and the working of hundreds of small coal mines, have been displaced by the 20th-century modernization of Iran.

Apart from the main line of the trans-Iranian railroad, which links Tehrān with Bandar-e Torkeman via the Gadūk Pass, there are several asphalted roads across parts of the Elburz. From west to east, those run between Ardebīl and Āstārā, between Qazvīn and Rasht, between Tehrān and Chālūs, between Tehrān and Āmol (via Damāvand); between Tehrān and Bābol (via Fīrūzkūh), and between Shāhrūd and Gorgān (via Kotal-e Zardāneh Pass).

The wild (natural or original) forests of the Elburz Mountains cover more than 8,000,000 acres (3,000,000 hectares), of which some 3,000,000 acres can be exploited commercially for timber and other wood. There are also a few modern coal mines, as well as some deposits of iron and other ores. But most important is the water of the rivers, which is used for irrigation, for generating hydroelectric energy, and for supplying the fast-growing Tehrān. Spectacular dams have been built. Those include the Safīd Rūd Dam, used for the irrigation of the Safīd Rūd delta; the Karaj Dam and the Jājrūd Dam, used mainly for supplying water to Tehrān and partly for irrigation; and a series of dams on other rivers of the Māzandarān ostān (province) also used for irrigation.

 

The other side to ancient Iran, with an abundance of culture & history, is its breathtaking four season nature which has no shortage of scenic views. Among the very best sits the holistic Mount Damavand wrapped in snow on its cap all year round, a popular destination for trekking lovers.

The volcanic Damavand, inactive for more than 38500 years, rises above the clouds at 5671 meters (18606 feet) and has crater with a 400-meter diameter. The region harbors a great variety of wildlife, vegetation and natural features such as huge glaciers & sulfuric hill at the peak besides its hot springs situated in lower level skirts.

Cited in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, Damavand has deep roots in Persians beliefs and faith. There are 16 routes towards the peak with various degree of difficulty, making the Mount one of the most accessible peaks globally in class of 5000+ meters.

The southern face climb goes all the way up from Polur Village and your journey begins here. Your trekking adventure to Damavand summit starts from Polur. Read on to find out about the most exciting climb in Middle East happening to be the highest!

Itinerary of Damavand Trekking Tour is found here.

Damavand

Damavand

 

Polur

 

A heaven in the heart of hot summer days, the mountainous village of Polur (Pūlūr) becomes an ultimate destination for trekking camps base, most of which heading towards the splendid Mount Damavand – the highest peak in Mid-East.

Located at a height of 2300 meters, Polur sees dozens of wildflowers growing after snowmelt runoff occurs in mid-April followed by flourishing of yellow & Anemone flowers in late May & June.

This serene area, booming with tourists, backpackers and climbers specially in hot seasons, is believed to be home to some ancient hoards, artifacts and other treasure troves which besides the perfect weather has drawn attention to itself. Although some of these are based on legends, there’s been Glasswares & Ceramics dating back to Parthian, Sassanids and early Islam era of Iran found here.

Other belief of the villagers is that, long back in time there once lived maidens of a legendary King up here in a citadel worshiping Water.

This castle resembles the one in Firouzabad Shiraz, namely Qaleh Dokhtar (The Maiden Castle) – a castle made by Ardashir I 209 AD.

 

The highest waterfall of Mazandaran Province, Shahandasht Waterfall at a height of 180 meters is one of many tourist attractions of the area which is near Polur village, an approximate 40-minute drive away.

A rock climbing site in Polur Complex welcomes climbers in different types such as Bouldering, Top Rope & Competition in a 900 square meter area.

Damavand

Damavand

Rineh Hot Spring

 

On south face climbs you’ll come across one amazing natural gem, the Rineh Thermal Springs. Located 21km away from Mount Damavand this natural attraction has several bathtubs and pools.

Different options of residence are available here and people mainly come here for its therapeutic properties from Metropolis of Tehran and other nearby towns each and every day.

 

The pleasant weather combined health benefits of thermal waters has made Rineh a popular spot not only for mountaineering adventurers but also for others looking for some quality leisure time.

 

Goosfand Sara

Goosfand Sara

Goosfand Sara (Sheepfold) or Modque Base camp

 

Goosfandsara is a mountain camping site located at 3050m altitude and is one main point as a stop in trekking to Damavand Summit. In this area there is a small mountain shelter or refuge, a mosque called Saheb Zaman (or Saheb al Zaman) and a sheepfold!

The climbing season sees to itself a lot of SUVs transferring climbers and their equipment to this campsite. Mules and porters are other means of transport available here on your way to the last campsite called Bargah Sevom.

 

Damavand

Damavand

 

Third Camp – Bargah Sevom

Coming up to the next and the last camp before reaching the top, is located Bargah Sevom at a level of 4150 meter. Standing up there you already are getting breathtaking views under your feet.

 

There is an old shelter, considered the oldest camp of Mount Damavand, and a newer hut built in 2009.

The trek towards the summit would take roughly 5-7 hours depending on physical conditions.

Plan your trip to Damavand as the best time is just now. This trek to the very top of Damavand has been labeled as a MUST and will be a unique experience you’ll never forget.

By Omid Mirzaie

 

Cyrus II, who was later known as Cyrus the Great, is the founder of Achaemenian dynasty, creator of Persian Empire and the father of a nation called Iran. He was appointed as governor at the Southern part of Iran by Medes who rules from Zagros Mountains at the Northwestern and Western of Iranian plateau. He was also the king of an area known as Anshan for eight years. It was a territory at central Iran.

cyrus-the-great

Famous Reliefs attributed to Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae

Two Major Accomplishments of Cyrus the Great

The reputation of Cyrus the Great is due to two major accomplished tasks he had brought to reality:

  1. He changed the small country of Persia to a powerful empire in a vast territory. No other government had reached this level of authority in the world till then.
  2. His ethical values had made him a well-behaved emperor with humble policies and favorable method by which he treated the conquered nations.

The world was dominated by brutal arrogant rulers who didn’t care about their nations’ rights. In fact, they oppressed everyone with sheer rigidness to put awe in their hearts. Cyrus changed all such mannerism.

When the final years of Medes’ domination was accompanied by oppressing people and treating them unfairly, the level of injustice was so high and suppression so severe that Median people had no choice but to wait for someone to save them from their brutal ruler. Cyrus turned to be this savior character. When he came to power, the new situation couldn’t corrupt him and make another monster out of him. Instead, he won lots of hearts and gained many nations’ respect for his mannerism. Cyrus united Medes with Persians.

cyrus-tomb-pasargadae

The tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae

 

The Policies of Cyrus the Great

He maily focused on bringing peace, security, understanding, respect for others’ opinions and justice to his empire. He deeply influenced the civilization at the world of his time with positive impacts. The century in which he established Achaemenian Empire became the golden era of the world history and the century of creating arts and cultures. Subsequently, he brought about the acceleration in evolution of human societies and the development in ethical values, civilizations and human rights.

Cyrus the Great is well-known for his policy of tolerance and respect. When Cyrus defeated Croesus, the last king of Lydia, he ordered him to be saved, not killed and made him an advisor for his empire. He conquered Babylonia without a fight. He respected hand-made gods of all conquered nations despite of the fact that he believed in an unseen God. He went further and even helped the followers of other religions to rebuild their temples and take back their gods to their worshipping places. Historians and the Old Testament has recorded the way he treated captivated Jews forever.

pasargad-palace

Ruins of the residential palace of Cyrus at Pasargadae

Cyrus allowed the nations under Persian Empire to keep their religions, traditions, dress code, language, etc. He didn’t force the ideas, rituals and beliefs of Persians to the rest of the world. However, today we see that there are lots of powerful influences of Persian culture outside the present boundaries of Iran in a vast area.

The mighty rulers before him used to build minarets out of people’s heads and created heaps of corpses to demonstrate their power to the subject nations. They burned the people alive in fire, gouged their eyes, cut their tongues and boasted of the number of young girls and women imprisoned and taken away by their brutal soldiers. On the contrary, he didn’t carry out bloodshed, plunder, brutality, etc to prove his power. He established a government that tried hard to found unity and peaceful coexistence among nations from India to the Mediterranean Sea. To win people’s support, he used a different policy: He supported their rights, promoted justice and worked for their prosperity.

 

tall-e-takht-pasargad

Ruins of the fortification at Tal-e-Takht at Pasargadae

The Legacy of Cyrus the Great

After the death of Cyrus the Great, Pasargadae, his capital city, wasn’t the capital anymore. Yet, it kept its significance among the succeeding Achaemenian kings. They held their coronation ceremonies there first and paid their respects to him as the founder of the dynasty. Then, they went to Persepolis to keep up with their festivities.

He built the first series of Achaemenian palaces in Pasargadae. He planned and made the first examples of Persian gardens at Pasargadae. He planned water channels and basins along the ducts there. We see the same style of parks and gardens made in Iran using the same plan.

persian-garden-channels

Water Channels of Persian Gardens remained at Pasargadae

 

Without Cyrus the Great, there wouldn’t be any nation called Persia and later Iran. He united different ethnic groups via mutual respect and humanitarian supports under one flag. He taught everyone that tolerance and kindness is more powerful than any other weapons.

Even until 20th century, all dynasties in Iran tried to connect themselves somehow, through bloodline, etc, to Achaemenians and Persian Emperors. He’s the author and father of Iran. He’s the source of pride for everyone in Iran.

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

pasargadae-achaemenids

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

 

persepolis-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

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.

 

Damavand volcano is a majestic stratovolcano located 70 km NE of Tehran and 70 km south of the Caspian Sea. Mt Damavand is the highest peak in the Middle East and the second highest volcano in Asia (after Kunlun volcano in Tibet).
Damavand last erupted about 7,300 years ago. There are no historical eruptions, but fumaroles at the summit crater suggest that the volcano is still active.

Damavand is located on the tectonically active thrust and fold belt of the Alborz Mountains.
It is a massive stratovolcano with a volume of about 400 cubic kilometers and consists of a younger cone that was constructed during the past 600,000 years above an older, 1.78 million years old edifice, remnants of which were previously thought to be part of a caldera.
Damavand has only few flank vents. Most activity has been from the summit crater, which has erupted a series of radial lava flows, mostly of trachyandesite composition. Most eruptions of Damavand seen to have been effusive, and only one significant explosive deposit is known, a welded ignimbrite that was produced about 280,000 years ago.
The latest activity occurred about 7300 years ago and produced lava flows from the summit crater that cover the western flank.

Damavand

Damavand, the oldest mountain ever been climbed, is world’s mountaineering heritage.

 

Looming high above the wind-scoured steppes of the Alborz Mountains – the crescent range that divides the Great Salt Desert from the fertile Caspian coast – Damavand’s dimensions make a mockery of its limited renown outside its homeland. Based on its summit’s most widely cited height of 5,671m, this is the highest point in Eurasia west of the Hindu Kush. It’s also the highest volcano in Asia, and it’s this aspect of its physiology that lends Damavand its near-symmetrical lines, the graceful form of a stratovolcano that has lain dormant for 10,000 years.

But the thing that had struck me most that first day on the mountain, wending up the vague mule-trails on its north-eastern flank, was how much it transfixed the eye. Though surrounded by lesser peaks in every direction, Damavand still cut an aloof and imperious figure. We’d come here to bag a peak, and found ourselves on a pilgrimage to a country’s geographical heart.

As dusk fell, a cloud inversion filled up the northern valleys like a tidal surge, blanketing the lowlands to leave behind an archipelago of mountaintops nudging above a rolling purple ocean. Every ten minutes the clouds’ tendrils clawed up the slope and lapped at our feet.

The only direction left to look was up. After a fitful night, we broke camp with the dawn, each lamenting the thin air and lack of sleep. Damavand’s broad topography means that the journey to its summit starts high, and night one had been spent at the already heady altitude of 3,800m.

Mercifully, our second day’s trek was a short one, spent engulfed in a mist of condensation that filtered out the scorch of the sun. we climbed over ground covered in hardy, dew-soaked flowers, flourishing in soils made fecund by the ashy deposits of ancient eruptions. Three hours’ march took us to the ice-line at a translucent slick the shape of an inverted teardrop. We stopped to replenish empty water bottles from the glacial run-off, while the guides grumbled about wider issues down on the plains.

“On the north side, the Siyouleh Glacier used to stretch all the way down to 4,000m; now it finishes 600m higher up the mountain,”

As we shivered over this forlorn remnant of Damavand’s colder past the country below was feeling the burn.

 

damavand foothills

Damavand, this unique beauty is located south of Caspian Sea. It is 5610 meters high and quite visible from southern Caspian Sea shores.

 

A little past midday, above a cruddy slope of light brown pumice, the base camp hut came into view, looking like a miniature aircraft-hanger around 10m long by 4m wide, its semi-cylindrical roof striped orange and blue. Inside we found a shrine to past expeditions. The gloomy room reeked with the musty smell of anxious nights, while all over the bare-brick walls and sheet-steel ceiling, swirls of Persian graffiti – Islamic invocations and summit posts – reflected the human tendency to leave a mark where humans seldom tread.

We unfurled our sleeping bags on a dirty wooden platform, strewn with woven plastic sheets and discarded pistachio husks, and chugged down some sugar-laden tea. The plan for the afternoon was to ascend ‘Himalayan style’, ditching our gear in the hut and then trekking up to 4,900m or so to accustomise lungs to the lofty altitude, before heading back down for supper and sleep.

Lightning darkens the mood

The weather ignored the script of course. Bound by the Englishman’s congenital over-excitement at the sight of weather that’s not drizzle, we scampered outside when the snow started tumbling out of the firmament in heavy, thumb-sized dollops. But this was only a prelude to something more sinister, its coming heralded by a thunderclap of biblical fury and a fizz in the air that crackled in our ears: lightning hunting for a salient point to strike.

So much for Himalayan style. For the next four hours we were confined indoors while a scything wind consumed the shelter, jeering us as it rattled the opaque Perspex windows.

At 6.30pm, as the light began to fade, quiet finally returned to the mountainside. Their tantrum exhausted, the clouds fled downhill like a sheet being drawn back to reveal a whole new mountain: starkly placid and dressed in two inches of snow. On the craggy promontory that overshadowed the hut, we submitted offerings to a 2m-high, meticulously crafted rectangular cairn in thanks for the turn in providence, and gritted our teeth against the biting chill.

The scene below – a replay of last night’s surreal cloudscape – was suitably magical, for this was a mountain swathed in myth. In the Shahnameh, the poet Ferdowsi’s epic 11th-century distillation of Persian folklore, this region was the scene of a showdown between the hero Fereydun and Zahhak, a tyrant king said to have fed his pet serpents on his subjects’ brains.

Confronting his nemesis on the slopes of Damavand, Fereydun smote Zahhak with his ox-head mace, imprisoned him within the mountain and usurped the crown. His benevolent rule lasted for 500 years.

In the centuries since, the spectacular ridge on which we stood, and which delineates much of the north-east route from here on up, has come to be known as the Takht-e Fereydun – Fereydun’s throne. Zahhak, meanwhile, remains trapped in the earth that lay beneath our feet, his vengeful rages expressed in the sulphurous billows that belch daily from the summit crater.

with the sun rising at our backs, we set off up the spine of the ridge, eyes squinting in the direction of the summit – from here a blazing white dome, defiant and still impossibly remote, framed against an auspicious cobalt sky.

With boots crunching through snow hardened by the night winds, I reassured myself with the knowledge that we were embarking on the business end of what is a relatively uncomplicated climb. “Basically a walk-up,” one website had declared reassuringly as I researched the trip from the comfort of sea level. “Technically easy and physically moderate.”

As long ago as 1837 it had proved straightforward enough for the English explorer W Taylor Thomson to achieve the first recognized ascent, no doubt attired in tweed and probably taking pot-shots at the Asiatic wolves and black bears, now so rare in the region, with his musket.

damavand peak

It is 5610 meters high and quite visible from southern Caspian Sea shores. it was listed as the Iran’s first natural heritage and preserved as national natural monument.

 

Braving the elements

But I also knew that we had been unlucky with yesterday’s sudden squall. The previous evening, Mohammad, who likes to quantify things, had conceded that Damavand snow showers only occur about 15% of the time in the summer months, and that the snow cover was likely to make the climb around 25% more difficult than it would be otherwise. How much harder could things get, I pondered nervously, if the elements turned again?

The digital display on Nasir’s GPS flickered past 5,000m, and we stopped to take stock of rapidly deteriorating conditions. This morning’s plucky breeze had become a biting gale, while an angry carpet of slate-colored cumulus was working its way up the slope to the east, threatening to converge with the wispy penumbra coalescing about the summit. The icy wind had left my extremities numb, and I couldn’t help but recall images of frostbite victims from the Everest disaster book in my luggage, a regrettable choice of holiday reading.

Taking on this mountain means dueling with its fickle winds. Like other prominent peaks around the world, Damavand has a weather system all of its own: hot air blowing up from Iran’s parched interior bombards the mountain’s southern flank, yielding storms that are sudden, unpredictable and capable of quashing the ambitions of the most seasoned summiteer.

In the early 1970s, the man widely considered the greatest alpinist in history, Reinhold Messner, learned this lesson the hard way when a storm swept in and sabotaged his summit bid. Henceforth, Messner, whose normal playground is the death-zone of the Himalaya, would describe Damavand as “that little hill that defeated me”.

Determined to outdo the great Tyrolean but far from sharing the “little” sentiment, our single file trundled on, heads bowed in submission to the eye-watering headwind. (Later, recuperating in a Tehran café, we calculated our average speed on the way up: 1.2km/h.)

At 5,400m we were within touching distance of ‘the gate’, a gap between two rocky outcrops, like a half-finished barricade, through which lay our goal. Cheered by its apparent proximity we urged Nasir onwards. “Ten minutes from here,” said the indefatigable Azerbaijani, fibbing brazenly in a last-gasp attempt to raise our spirits – it turned out to be more like 40.

Smell to high heaven

Eventually, at a little before noon, we clambered onto the roof of the Middle East, a barren plateau festooned with ugly, Sulphur-yellowed stones. It seemed a slightly anti-climactic end; enveloped in cloud, we had no sweeping views of the land below and no fresh mountain air.

Instead, an acrid smoke contaminated each breath, as fumaroles within the snow-covered crater – the reason behind the rocks’ jaundiced coloration – pumped out a noxious brew of gases from the center of the earth. The stench served as a reminder of Damavand’s earthly purpose: a pressure-valve built by nature to relieve the earth-shuddering friction at the conjunction of the Arabian and Eurasian plates.

Even so, at 5,650m, we congratulated ourselves at being the highest earthbound people for thousands of miles around. To find humans suffering at higher altitudes you would have had to travel east to the Pamirs, west to the Rockies, and south to Kilimanjaro.

In a fit of clarity that belied my exhaustion, it struck me then that Damavand was indeed an appropriate symbol of the multifarious melting-pot that is modern Iran. Heightened over millennia by the eruption of successive layers of lava, this is a mountain borne of ferment and upheaval. Like the country in which it resides, a hostile reputation had disguised a place that was magnificent to behold and engrossing to explore.

For now, it merely slumbered, a sleeping giant waiting to be discovered.

damavand volcano

The steepest volcanic mountain, Mythical Damavand peak, deserves to be hiked more than 20 times from different faces.