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Persepolis

It was one of the first Iranian sites to be registered in UNESCO World Heritage List. The Persepolis compound, known to Iranians as Takht-e Jamshid, is a very remarkable example of ancient monuments of Iran.

Persepolis (Persian: Takht-e Jamshīd) is perhaps the best-known archaeological monument of Persia (Iran). Here in the twinkling of an eye we can leave the modern world behind and find ourselves in about 500 BC at the capital of the greatest empire the world had known to that time: the Persian Empire.

‘Persepolis’ is the Greek name given to the capital of the Achaemenid dynasty. It means the City of the Persians. Ancient Persians, however, would refer to it as the city of Pārse.Today Persepolis is located a few minutes driving from the city of Marvdasht in Fārs province, 56 km northeast of Shīraz.The geographical site of the Persepolis is also interesting. It is built on the foothills of Rahmat Mountains near the Sīvand River. This place has been regarded as a sacred site from prehistoric times.

The construction of the Persepolis began between 518 and 516 BC upon the order of Darius The Great who transferred the capital of the empire from Pasargadae to this newly established place. The construction continued Darius; successor Xerxes I and Artaxerxes I in the 5th century BC.

At its height the Persian Empire stretched from Greece and Libya in the west to the Indus River in present-day Pakistan in the east. The many nations under the empire’s rule enjoyed considerable autonomy in return for supplying the empire’s wealth. Each year at New Year Festival of Norūz—still celebrated in Iran on the first day of spring—representatives from these nations brought tribute to the king. The Persian kings used Persepolis primarily as a residence and for ceremonies such as the celebration of Norūz.

The site of Persepolis consists of the remains of several monumental buildings on a vast artificial stone terrace about 450 by 300 m (1,480 by 1,000 ft). A double staircase, wide and shallow enough for horses to climb, led from the plains below to the top of the terrace. At the head of the staircase, visitors passed through the Gate of All Nations, a gatehouse guarded by enormous carved stone bulls.

Apadana

Massive stone columns supported the Apadana’s roof; 36 were interior columns and another 36 supported verandas on three sides of the building.

The largest building at Persepolis, the Apadana (audience hall), stood to the right of the gatehouse. Archaeologists estimate that it could accommodate 10,000 people. Massive stone pillars supported the Apadana’s roof; 36 were interior pillars and another 36 supported verandas on three sides of the building. Thirteen of these 72 pillars remain standing today. Each pillar rose nearly 20 m (66 ft) high and had vertical channels called fluting carved into it to emphasize this height. At the top of the pillars were capitals elaborately decorated with plant forms, scrolls, and double-headed animals. The animals supported wooden roof beams on their backs. Traces of paint found on pillars bases and other remains suggest that the room was originally brightly colored.

Monumental staircases decorated with elaborate sculpture in relief (raised) led to the Apadana, which stood on an elevated platform. The relief sculpture depicts the ceremonial procession that took place when representatives from the conquered nations brought gifts to the king. The procession is led by Persians and Medes, the peoples whom Cyrus the Great united to found the Persian Empire. After them come delegates bearing gifts. Because the east staircase lay buried beneath ashes and rubble for centuries, its delicately carved relief sculptures remain in excellent condition today.

100 Pillars Palace

Throne hall also known as the Hundred-Column Hall after the 100 columns that supported its roof.

Next to the Apadana was the Throne Hall, the second largest building at Persepolis, where the king received nobles, dignitaries, and envoys bearing tribute. An enormous throne room, 70 by 70 m (230 by 230 ft), occupied the central portion of the Throne Hall. It is also known as the Hundred-Column Hall after the 100 pillars that supported its roof. Eight stone doorways led into the throne room. Carvings on the sides of the doorway depict the king on his throne and the king in combat with demons. The Throne Room was begun by Xerxes and completed by Artaxerxes I.

St. Thaddeus Monastery

Some 20 km south of Maku in Western Azarbaijan province lies the famous and marvelous monastic complex of St. Thaddeus.  It is located on a mountain ridge beside a stream sunken into the rock, thus giving it a natural fortified position. The outline of it, placed on gently rolling hills, stands out sharply against the vastness of the horizon. Sourb Thade (St. Thaddeus) or Ghara-Kilisa (the black church) as it is called by the people of Northwestern Iran, forms a harmonious, integral part with its surroundings both in the material with which it is constructed, and in its form.

The location of the monastery was surely chosen for strategic reasons, for it was built during a period when neighboring peoples seriously threatened it. The thick walls around the monastery, also, had an important defensive function during sieges, and the complex was built especially to withstand them. It is situated within a natural circle of mountains, a short distance from a river. Wells drilled within the enclosure guaranteed a water supply. The church was surrounded by vast, fertile fields, quite suitable for farming, and therefore capable of supplying food for both men and animals. The harvest was well protected in special storage rooms, thus enabling the monastery to keep its independence and relative security.

Although it is not dated, according to the legend, the monastery was founded by Apostle Thaddeus (66AD) on the spot of a former pagan temple. Time after time it was destroyed by invasions, and struck by earthquakes, the most devastating of which occurred in 1319. The monastery was rebuild, and further renewed and enlarged during the course of the following centuries. St. Thaddeus consists of two adjacent churches, a portico, numerous ancillary rooms (monks cells, abbot? cells, work cells) lined up against a very massive surrounding wall, that? been fortified for defense purposes.

Within the walled area there are two large interior courtyards. The first, to the west, seems to have been used for agricultural purposes, where the second encircles the two churches, the portico, and the cells. Two round towers protect the monastery's west side and soften the harsh outlines of the wall. A center opening made on west side is decorated with ornamental motifs and two khatchkars (stone crosses with intricate and decorative designs etched into the flat rock, like lacework) inserted into the masonry.

This opening leads to the first courtyard where, in the South-East corner, are a series of rooms given over to the processing and preserving of agricultural produce. Among other things are found rooms equipped for oil making, a miniature windmill, an oven, and a fountain.

A small door opens to the second courtyard where the monks cells for living and working line the perimeter of the wall together with the abbot? rooms, the refectory, the kitchen, and the facilities. The oldest building at the eastern end is a domed, central plan cruciform for the interior, and quadrangular for the exterior. On one side, the dome rests on the two pillars incorporated into the external western walls, which were later included in the eastern part of the central church. The later central structure, built in the 19th century, acts as the fulcrum of the entire composition because of the complexity of its mass and exceptional dimensions, thus extending the volumetric play of the older church.

Located on the same longitudinal axis as the older church, this later one with its special plan is reminiscent of the church of St. Etchmiadzin (niche-buttressed square plan) in Vagharshapat. This structure, built in 1811-1820 in front of the former church, became the main church of the complex, and replaced and expanded the west side of the older one. Like the cathedral of Etchmiadzin, it has a square layout with four free-standing supports, but it has three apses instead of the usual four.

Moreover, the west apse is reduced to make room for the portico (porch). Resting on cruciform free-standing pillars, the central arches support the cupola and the dodecagonal drum surrounding it externally. The portico, inserted at the point corresponding to the western exedra of the main church, was never completed and dates back to the middle of the 19th century. It probably was intended to have a second floor and a true bell tower. The portico? Massiveness is lightened by little blind arches, decorative and geometric figures repeating those of the central church, to further unify the two parts of the complex. The element connecting the portico-bell tower and the church wall is missing.

The building technique of this section, artially demolished and partially unfinished, is typical of Armenian architecture with the external surface of the walls in ashlar stones,and the supporting section of the walls in roughly worked stone. From the outside, as well as from the inside, the three different constructive periods - the oldest church, the main church, and the portico-bell tower - are evident. The first of the three has smooth walls in gray-black tuff, from which its name Ghara-Kilisa (black church) is derived.

Placed on the two-step high baseboard of the building are decorative half-columns with an unfinished base, more than likely

remains of the first church destroyed prior to the 14th century. The roof has 2 layers of large stone shingles: the surface of the tympanum is carved with bas-reliefs, some of which are in white stone, which can probably be attributed to restoration work done in later centuries. The twelve sided tambour is in alternating light and dark colored stones. Of particular interest are the three miniature models of the church placed at the vertex tambours bringing to mind the architectural structure of the Seljuk tribe, for instance, Mama Hatun of Derchan. with the use of rhythmic horizontal bands. Below, the decoration comprises the foundation, the first area of smooth stone, and then a series of panels with round, blind arches alternating with pointed ones, all resting on slender half-columns. Inside the panels are various decorative motifs such as rosettes, khatchkar, coats-of-arms, flowers and animal figures.

Near the impost of the arches are winged cherubim heads, and statues of angels are placed in the corners of the church facade.

Above this finely sculptured double band of bas-reliefs, richly adorned with episodes from the Old and New Testaments, scenes with animal and human figures, goes around the entire church. Slightly higher, the panels, formed by half-columns surmounted by decorative capitals, with mythical animals flanking their baseboards, are repeated. Inside the panels are bas-reliefs depicting saints and other figures connected with the life of the monastery.

Still higher up are isolated figures, and on the North and South facades, there are crosses designed in the wall with dark-colored stone. The relief figures in the main church are clearly inspired by the ones at Akhtamar (10th c). It is curious to note that the Saints at St. Thaddeus have no halos, due undoubtedly to a certain influence of Islamic art, especially in its Persian tradition, which must be recognized in the decoration of the monastery.

The Monastery of St. Thaddeus has a surprising ethereal ambiance of a living presence within its walls. It must be due to this feeling that numerous pilgrims gather there each year for the traditional feast-day of St. Thaddeus.

Historical City of Masouleh

On the foothills of Talesh Mountains in the Caspian coastal belt of northern Iran lies the historical city of Māsūleh. It is situated approximately 60 km southwest of the city of Rasht and 32 km west of Fūman in Gīlān province.

The historical city of Māsūleh was established around 1006 AD, 6 km to the northwest of its current place. People moved from Old Māsūleh to the current site because of pestilence and neighbor attacks.

Masūleh River is the river passing through Māsūleh with a water fall 200m away from the city. So many other springs are found around Māsūleh. The city is also surrounded by forest from valley to mount. Fog is the  predominate weather feature.

The most exquisite feature of Māsūleh is its architecture: The buildings have been built into the mountain and are interconnected. Courtyards and roofs both serve as pedestrian areas similar to streets. Māsūleh does not allow any motor vehicles to enter, due to its unique layout. It is the only village in Iran with such a prohibition. However, the small streets and many stairs simply also wouldn't make it possible for vehicles to enter. Yellow clay coats the exterior of most buildings in Māsūleh.

Masūleh women adorn the windows with flowerpots and this gives a unique beauty to the village.

The main bazaar of Māsūleh would also be attractive to tourists: there you can see handicrafts being made by traditional artisans—Māsūleh handicrafts can be a proof of your visit to this beautiful village in evergreen land of Gīlān.

 

Pasargadae

Pasargadae is the capital city and the burial place of Cyrus the Great, the king who founded the Achaemenid Persian Empire, centered on Persia and comprising the Near East from the Aegean Sea eastward to the Indus River. He is also remembered in the Cyrus legend—first recorded by Xenophon, Greek soldier and author, in his Cyropaedia—as a tolerant and ideal monarch.

Cyrus the Great was not only a great conqueror and administrator; he held a place in the minds of the Persian people similar to that of Romulus and Remus in Rome.

It is a testimony to the capability of the founder of the Achaemenid empire that it continued to expand after his death and lasted for more than two centuries. But Cyrus was not only a great conqueror and administrator; he held a place in the minds of the Persian people similar to that of Romulus and Remus in Rome. His saga follows in many details the stories of hero and conquerors from elsewhere in the ancient world. The sentiments of esteem or even awe in which Persians held him were transmitted to the Greeks, and it was no accident that Xenophon chose Cyrus to be the model of a ruler for the lessons he wished to impart to his fellow Greeks.

The figure of Cyrus has survived throughout history as more than a great man who founded an empire. He became the epitome of the great qualities expected of a ruler in antiquity, and he assumed heroic features as a conqueror who was tolerant and magnanimous as well as brave and daring. His personality as seen by the Greeks influenced them and Alexander the Great, and, as the tradition was transmitted by the Romans, may be considered to influence the Western culture even now.

Cyrus seems to have had several capitals. One was the city of Ecbatana, modern Hamadan, former capital of the Medes, and another was a new capital of the empire, Pasargadae, in Persis, said to be on the site where Cyrus had won the battle against Astyages. The ruins today, though few, arouse admiration in the visitor. Cyrus also kept Babylon as a winter capital. The name of the city may have been derived from that of the chief Persian tribe, the Pasargadae.

The majestic simplicity of the architecture at Pasargadae reflects a sense of balance and beauty that was never equaled in either earlier or later Achaemenian times.

The majestic simplicity of the architecture at Pasargadae reflects a sense of balance and beauty that was never equaled in either earlier or later Achaemenian times. The principal buildings stand in magnificent isolation, often with a common orientation but scattered over a remarkably wide area. Although no single wall enclosed the whole site, a strong citadel commanded the northern approaches. The dominant feature of the citadel is a huge stone platform, projecting from a low, conical hill. Two unfinished stone staircases and a towering facade of rusticated masonry were evidently intended to form part of an elevated palace enclosure. An abrupt event, however, brought the work to a halt, and a formidable mud-brick structure was erected on the platform instead. It is possible that the building represents the famous treasury surrendered to Alexander the Great in 330 BC.

To the south of the citadel was an extensive walled park with elaborate, irrigated gardens surrounded by a series of royal buildings. These walled gardens were called ‘Pardīs’ in ancient Persian-- which still survives in English in the word ‘Paradise’.

Amongst these one building, designed as the sole entrance to the park, is notable for a unique four-winged, crowned figure that stands on a surviving doorjamb; the figure appears to represent an Achaemenian version of the four-winged genius (guardian spirit) found on palace doorways in Assyria.

At the extreme southern edge of the site, an impressive rock-cut road or canal indicates the course of the ancient highway that once linked Pasargadae with Persepolis.

Farther to the south, the tomb  of Cyrus still stands almost intact. Constructed of huge, white limestone blocks, its gabled tomb chamber rests on a rectangular, stepped plinth, with six receding stages. In Islāmic times the tomb acquired new sanctity as the supposed resting place of the mother of King Solomon. At the extreme southern edge of the site, an impressive rock-cut road or canal indicates the course of the ancient highway that once linked Pasargadae with Persepolis.

After the accession of Darius I the Great (522 BC), Persepolis replaced Pasargadae as the dynastic home.

 

Menar jonban(Isfahan)

The historic mausoleum called Menar-e Junban (The Shaking Minaret) from the Mongol period and 6 km to the west of Esfahan, consists of the tombstone of Amu Abdollah Karladani (bearing the date 1316 AD) and two shaking minarets each soaring high on either side of the mausoleum ivan, as the main attraction of the place. If you climb up the very narrow stairway to the top of one of these minarets and lean hard against the wall it will start to sway back and forth, and so will its twin, and the whole ivan decorated with polygonal azure tiles. Although by no means unique in this respect, the Shaking Minarets of Esfahan are probably the most famous of their kind.

 

Naghsh-e jahan

Known also as Naghsh-e Jahan, the square is a masterpiece of urban construction situated at the heart of the legendary city of Isfahan. Built in the 17th century CE by Shah Abbas of the Safavid dynasty at the time of flourishing of Isfahan, the compound consists of bazaars, mosques and government headquarters.

Its name, Naqsh-e Jahan means “image of the world” in Persian. The compound has been described as a Persian equivalent to Saint Mark’s in Venice. Two beautiful mosques of Masjed-e Imam and Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfullah situated at the sides of the square would charm your eyes with their intricate but simple design and decoration.  The Aliqapu compound situated on the other side of the square is a six-storey Safavid structure with exquisite design and decoration. The Naqsh-e Jahan square was registered in UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979, together with Chogha Zanbil and Persepolis.

 

Armenian Museum (Vānk)

The architectural style of this two story building is a combination of Eastern and Western forms. Building, itself, bears a truly Persian character and its interior, ornamented with numerous murals (depicting the life of Jesus Christ) and plasters molding, illustrates the influence of Italian Renaissance.

This edifice is a dependency of Armenian Cathedral of Isfahan, which houses a variety of items worth viewing, including "The Order of Safavid Kings", granting Armenians religious freedom, and a manuscript dating from the 10th. century A.D.

 

Abianeh Village

This village which is one of the most famous mild climate villages of Isfahan is located at 28 km distance to the city of Natanz on the foothills of Karkas Mountain. The interesting issue about this village is its social structure, architecture and the natives' interest in preserving their ancient traditions and culture.

 Alighapou Palace

This palace was also called 'Daulat Khaneh-e-Mobarakeh Nagsh-e-Jahan' and the 'Daulat Khaneh Palace'. Its unique archaic architecture is related to the Safavid era. This edifice was constructed under the orders of Shah Abbas I. The monarch would receive special envoys in this palace and hold his audience here. Valuable miniature paintings, the works of the reputed artist of the times Reza Abbassi, and other traditional works of art can be noted here. Plasterwork of the 'sound room' was modeled such that the acoustic affect produced natural and pleasant sounds. The sovereign and his guests would be spectators to polo, illuminations, fire-works and the dramatics that took place in the Nagsh-e-Jahan Square from the halls of this elegant palace.

 

Amir Chakhmagh Mosque

Amir Chakhmaq Shami and his wife, Seti Fatimeh built this square, in the 9th century AH. Hadji Qanbar Bazaar on the east side of the square was one of the buildings constructed by Nezameddin Hadj Qanbar Jahanshahi. The famous Mir Chakhmaq Mosque and theater for passion plays are located on the north of the square.a

 

Wonderful IRAN

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