Calling Iran, the “Immortal Land” is not for nothing. Perhaps Roman Ghirshman, Vladimir Minorsky, and Ramesh Sanghvi knew it better, as they decided to write a book about Persia and the Persian people, calling it “Persia, the Immortal Kingdom”.
Shiraz, Isfahan, and Yazd are by far the first three cities tourists and travelers reach out to, to unveil the cultural and historical sides of Iran. Perhaps lots of publicity and advertising circulating around these cities have brought them more into the spotlight. Although they prefer to start off their journeys from these three cites, however, at every corner of this country of four seasons, you can spot historical or cultural heritage.
The smallest cities and villages have held on to these precious monumental memoirs that have been inherited to the Iranian people by their ancestors. Take Hamadan for example! Have you thought about prioritizing Hamadan on your next travel to Iran? If the answer is yes then it’s perfect! But in case the answer is no, perhaps the reason lies behind the fact that you may not know enough about this province and its ancient capital, Hamadan!
In this article we’ll present you with the most famous attractions of Hamadan.Other than these 8 sites, there is a lot more to see in Hamadan. But sadly we only have room fora few.
But before that, we’ll take you to a very short history class.
According to country divisions, Hamadan is a mountainous western province of Iran with an area of around twenty thousand square kilometres, encompassing 1.2% of the country’s area and housing around 2.5% of Iran’s population.
Hamadan city, which is the capital of both Hamadan Province and Hamadan County is a mountainous city on the hillsides of Alvand mountain,1741 meters above sea level.
This city with its pretty dense population is Iran’s 14th populated city. Therfore, it has been named a metropolitan city since 2009.
Hamadan was the capital of Medes, first Persian Kingdom. It also became the capital of the following kingdoms such as Achaemenid, Arsacid, Sassanid, Buyid and Seljuks. Hamadan’s name was first mentioned in 1100 BC and during the Medes dynasty. According to Assyrian inscriptions, people called it, “Amadaneh” back in the Medes Dynasty. The name gradually transformed to Anadana, Hegmataneh, Hegmatan, Ekbata, and Ekbatan preserving its initial intonation. Through its last transfigurations during the Sassanid era, it changed from Ahmatan and Ahmadan to its current name, Hamadan.
Cyrus the Great chose Hegmataneh (Ecbatana) as his summer residence. Furthermore, Alexander the great had paid it a visit while he was on the pursuit of Darius III. The World War I had a dramatic effect on the western parts of Iran including Hamadan. It was during the Qajar era when the city went through two rounds of famine in the course of 10years. One was an artificial famine and the other was the effects of World War II.
Hamadan not only is the oldest city in Iran but itis also considered one of the most ancient cities in the world. Being the capital of the Medes, the first Persian Kingdom is enough of a proof for this city’s historical and cultural significance. Which is why Hamadan received its long-awaited serving appellation in 2006, “the historical and Civilization Capital of Iran.”
During early 1920’s, Karl Fritsch a German engineer designed a modern urban plan for Hamadan. The plan was a radial city layout or Baroque city planning method.
Now that you have a general idea about the city of Hamadan, it is now time to present you with some of the historical and natural attractions of Iran’s 5th tourist city.
On the cliffs of the Alvand region, are the inscriptions of Ganjnameh. These inscriptions which are some of the remains of a magnificent empire date back to the reign of Dariush Shahand Khashayar Shah, two of the Achaemenid kings. The writings on these inscriptions have been written in Achaemenid language which was first decoded by a famous French archaeologist in the 19th century. On both of these inscriptions, the kings have paid tribute to the Zoroastrian God, the Ahouramazda.
Don’t miss Bahram Fire Temple and Ganj-Nameh Waterfall while you’re at this site.
This mausoleum is one of the main landmarks of Hamadan. It is the resting place of a very famous and most influential Persian doctor, mathematician, astronomer, physician, chemist, psychologist, geographer, geologist, poet, logician, and philosopher. Avicenna was a Persian polymath born in the late 10th century in the city of Bukhara- the capital of Samanid, dynasty. He died at the age of 58.
He who mastered multiple sciences, including mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry wrote more than 450 books. The majority of these books revolved around medicine and philosophy. Avicenna is famous for being the father of modern medicine and philosophy. George Sarton, an American chemist, refers to Avicenna as the most famous scientist of all times, nations and ethnicities.
After his death, Avicenna was buried in his friend’s house, Abu-Saeid. He was also buried next to Avicenna a while later. A simple dome sitting on four pillars sheltered these tombs. With passing years and due to the lack of maintenance, it was inevitably at risk of destruction. Until one of the Qajar princesses, “Negar” ordered for the tombstones to be replaced and a new mausoleum to be built. Years later, they built a wall around the mausoleum. Moreover, a hall, a library, a book source, and a pool was also added to the complex.
During the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi, on the occasion of Avicenna’s 1000th birthday, they decided to build a new mausoleum. An architecture contest was held, with Andre Godard the French archaeologist and Mohsen Foroughi being the referees of this contest. Houshang Seyhoun, famous Iranian architect won the architecture competition and his design was scheduled to be executed.
Before the actual construction, the first step was to destruct the old mausoleum. Prior to the destruction, they obviously had to properly exhume the tombs of Avicenna and his friend. The construction of the mausoleum took two years to finish. At the time of inauguration, the bones, skull and other remains were respectfully buried again in an official burial ceremony.
Currently, this mausoleum encloses the tombs of Avicenna, Abu-Saeed (his friend) and Aref Qazvini a Persian poet. A library and a museum are also a part of this complex. The statue of Avicenna in the neighboring square of the mausoleum was built by a famous sculptor called Abolhassan Sadighi. He built Avicenna’s statue according to the data gathered from reliable sources, hence it is the closest and most accurate portrayal of Avicenna.
The initial objective was to build a structure, that simultaneously showcased modern architecture techniques, ancient architecture and the common architecture of the era Avicenna lived in. With this in mind, Hooshang Seyhoun designed Avicenna’s mausoleum in accordance with these criteria. This harmonious combination of modern and traditional architecture consists of a tower adapted from the architecture of the famous “Qonbad-e-Qabus”, a garden designed in accordance with the Persian garden template, pools and fountains inspired by traditional springhouses, and a façade covered with granites of the Alvand Mountains,resembling palaces of ancient Persia.
The metaphorical meaning of the famous ancient Greek, Egyptian and Iranian architectures beneath the tower, is the fact that Avicenna’s scientific knowledge was the evolutionized version of multiple nations’ ancient sciences.
Visiting Hours: 8:30 am- 5 pm
Stone lion of Hamadan is a monument located in a quadrangular square in the city of Hamadan. This lion now sitting on an ancient hill, used to guard the city with its twin lion, at the gate of Hamadan. At the time of Hamadan’s conquest, Arabs called it the “Lion’s Gate”. Around mid 10th century in an attempt to steal the lions, one of the lions were completely destroyed and the paws of the other lion were broken. The broken lion was left on the ground for many years until Hooshang Seyhoun, the designer and architect of Avicenna’s mausoleum, decided for the lion to be permanently put on its current location. The reason behind choosing this location was the discovery of an Ashkanid coffin. Tappeh- Hegmataneh museum is currently the home to this Ashkanid coffin.
Stone lion’s exact construction date is not clear. There are two guesses regarding the timing of construction. However, the carving method and the Ashkanid coffin found in this area leads us back to the Ashkanid era. On the other hand, Alexander may have also been the one who ordered for this sculpture to be built in the honor of one of his commanders in chief.
There are no specific hours for visiting the Stone Lion, as it’s located in the middle of a square in the city of Hamadan.
Baba Taher was an Iranian poet who was famous for his couplet poems and lived through late 10th and early 11th century. He was also known as Baba Taher Oryan, that referred to his gnostic life and friary manners. Baba was the appellation of God’s adherent followers and “Oryan” referred to their detachment from worldly attachments.
His love for God, nature and humanity was evident in his poems. His sweet couplets written in “Lor” dialect, still drunkens the readers and lovers of poems.
Baba Taher’s mausoleum is now in one of the main squares of Hamadan which is called ” Baba Taher Square”. Although this mausoleum has always faced the Alvand mountain it looked quite different from what it is now. The former building was an octagonal shaped brick tower dating back to the Seljuk era. With passing years and the lack of maintenance the building was gradually destructed and nothing was left oft he building but a ruin of what used to be a mausoleum.
It wasn’t until the Pahlavi era that Reza Shah ordered for the mausoleum to be rebuilt with a new look. During the reconstruction process, they discovered a turquoise tile dating back to the 13th century. This tile which is now housed in the National Museum of Iran was decorated with verses of Quran written with Kufi calligraphy. Due to unknown reasons, they left the construction of the new brick building incomplete But after a few years, they resumed the construction process until it was finally finished.
About 15 years later, Houshang Seyhoon and Mohsen Foroughi suggested the idea of building a newer mausoleum. Following the approval of their design, the construction began, which took about 4 years to finish.
This mausoleum which is a significant example of modern architecture is a beautiful combination of ancient and current architecture. A turquoise dome sitting on six pillars standing on an octagonal-shaped ground only describes half of the beauty of Baba Taher’s mausoleum. The façade of the mausoleum may resembles an equilateral triangle, shifting our gaze to the sky, evoking ascension.
Spring and Summer 8:30 am – 7:30 pm
Autumn and Winter: 8:30 am- 5 pm
This historical tower which dates back to 13thand 14th century is the burial place of one of Hamadan’s famous literary personalities. It is also the tomb of a number of Seljuk rulers. Qorban historical tower became one of Iran’s national monument in 1975.
The tomb of Esther and Mordechai is located in one of the neighborhoods of the city of Hamadan. This tomb which is basically known to be the tomb of Esther (Suzan), the Jewish Achaemenid queen (Biblical Queen) and her cousin Mordechai, dates back to the Sassanid era. Khashayar Shah of the Achaemenids married a Jewish girl called Esther, the cousin of Mordechai an Achaemenid courtier. This marriage significantly increased the presence and influence of the Jews in the royal court.
As a temple and a mausoleum, this brick structure is especially of high importance to the world’s Christian and Jewish population. The existence of such pantheon in this city has played a significant role in the formation and the continued presence of the Jewish community in Hamadan. That explains why The Tomb of Esther and Mordechai is on the list of Iran’s Cultural Heritages.
This 190-million-year old cave in Hamadan is one of Iran’s Natural Heritages.
It is not only one of nature’s wonders, but it is fact, one of the live caves in the world. Ali-Sadr cave is 2100 meters above sea level and its main entrance is about 110-meters beneath the earth’s rocky surface. One of Ali-Sadr’s prominent characteristics is its lagoon of fresh water, born from various springs at the bottom of the cave.
This water used to be the water supply for the people of Ali-Sadr village, as it was odorless and free from any toxic gasses. While safely paddling on this lagoon wearing your life jackets, you can see up to 10 meters beneath the water’s surface. In some areas, the height between the bottom of the lagoon and the roof of the cave reach to about 54 meters. Meanwhile, don’t lose sight of the incredible stalactite texture of the cave.
During your 2-kilometer guided boat ride, you’ll see the forest of rocky columns, dragon’s claws, rocky waterfall, eagle’s claw, cresset hall, and Persepolis as it resembles famous ancient site in Shiraz.
Spring and Summer: 8 am – 8 pm
Autumn and Winter: 8 am – 4:30 pm
The historical Alavian dome is one of the masterpieces of stuccos and architecture of post-Islamic era inside the city of Hamadan. According to the technical identification of this structure, it dates back to the Seljuk era. This building which was built by Alavian family was primarily built for the purpose of a mosque. But later a hypogeum was added to the building, and so it began to be utilized as a mausoleum for the family members.
This brick structure is an example of the post-Islamic architecture, unique stuccos, delicate interior, and exterior decorations. Alavian Dome has undergone many renovations and reconstructions in the course of the years and what you see now has been the witness to many incidents through its living years.