Iran is mostly famous for its history, beautiful carpets and delicious pistachios. But there’s much more than that to explore in this vast country. Iran has several historical and cultural sites that have been added to UNESCO world heritage sites list. We have introduced seven of them here. In this article, you’ll read about other enchanting sites of Iran that you must not miss in your visit to this country.
The Persian Garden
This might come as a surprise to you. But Iran has stunning gardens! Persian Garden is a title referring to a special type of design for gardens that is unique to Persian architecture. In 2011 nine Iranian gardens were added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites under the title of Persian Garden.
These gardens have a similar pattern but each of them is unique in its own right. Persian Garden typically has a rectangular form divided to four quarters to symbolize the four famous Zoroastrian elements: fire, water, earth and air. As you walk along the pathways of each quarter, you will be amazed by the beautiful ponds, fountains and trees on each side.
In addition, the Persian Garden features a remarkable pavilion on the main axis which is regarded as one of the prominent characteristics of Persian architecture.
The gardens that fall under this category belong to different historical eras. The ancient garden of Pasargadae near Persepolis is known as the oldest one. Bagh-e-Fin in Kashan, Bagh-e-chehel-sotun in Esfahan, Bagh-e-Dolat-Abad in Yazd and Bagh-e-Eram in Shiraz are the most famous examples of the Persian Garden.
Interested to read more about the Persian Garden? Click here.
The Persian Qanat
When you visit some arid regions of Iran, you may inevitably wonder how people in the ancient times used to live there and provide the water they needed. The Persian Qanat system is the answer to this question.
Qanat is a gently sloping underground channel constructed to lead water from one place to another. This ancient system transfers the water along underground tunnels over kilometers. You may ask how? Well, by the power of gravity! Eleven qanats have been added to the list of UNESCO world heritage list under the title of Persian qanat so far. We suggest you to visit at least one of them while you’re travelling Iran.
Although most of the famous ancient and historical sites of Iran are located in central parts of this country, if you travel to north-western Iran, you’ll see one of the most important historical places of it. Takht-e-Soleyman is an archeological site that includes the principal Zoroastrian sanctuary that was partly rebuilt in the 13th century during the Ilkhanid era. Also, an important temple dedicated to Anahita (a goddess in Persian mythology) that dates back to Sasanian period (6th and 7th century) is located in this place.
Importantly, the design of different architectural structures in Takht-e-Soleyman have had strong influences on the Islamic architecture of Iran.
This is another fascinating archeological site for history lovers who want to travel to Iran. Tchogha Zanbil is one of the most prominent Iran’s UNESCO world heritage sites, a place where you can see the ruins of the holy city of Elam dynasty.
As unused bricks are found at this place, it is concluded that the process of building this city was left unfinished because it was invaded by Ashurbanipal.
This place proudly displays an enormous ziggurat that is known as the largest ziggurat outside of Mesopotamia and one of the best examples of stepped pyramidal monuments.
Visiting Tchogha Zanbil is strongly recommended to history enthusiasts!
Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
If you are interested in visiting one of the most important trade centers of the historical famous Silk Road, you should not miss Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex! This complex is made of several spaces and sections for different functions and is regarded as one of the best illustrations of the traditional commercial system of Iran.
This bazaar complex is a living environment that has been a center for trade, social events and gatherings, religious practices and education – due to having several mosques and religious schools inside it – throughout history.
As you walk along its different passages, you’ll be enchanted by the handmade carpets, fancy jewelry and colorful spices. If you are looking for a place with a genuine middle eastern character, you have to visit Tabriz Historic Bazaar. Each section of it is unique and has a different feel. Walk along its lively alleys and explore!
Susa is located in the south west of Iran as contains a group of archaeological mounds on the eastern side of the Shavur River. In addition to that, you can see Ardeshir’s palace on the other side of the river and get amazed by the architectural structures that are excavated in this site.
These structures had administrative, residential and palatial functions. Susa, a valuable UNESCO world heritage site, is known as one of the most prominent testimonies of Elamite, Persian and Parthian cultures.
If you are planning to visit this place, don’t forget to apply plenty of sunscreen on your face since you’re going to spend a lot of time under the sun!
Known as Iran’s Taj Mahal, Soltaniyeh is one of the most admired architectural structures left by the Mongol dynasty called Ilkhanids which ruled over Iran (1256-1335 CE). Soltaniyeh, a UNESCO world heritage site, is an octagonal building crowned with a turquoise dome – which is known as the earliest existing double-shelled dome in Iran – and eight minarets. Although the exterior of this structure is very astonishing, don’t miss the interior decoration of Soltaniyeh since there’s a lot to see and enjoy from the Islamic architecture of Iran.
Sheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil
Sheikh Safi-al-din Khaneghah is undoubtedly one of the best architectural monuments from the Safavid era. Khaneghah is a word referring to spiritual retreats that are used by Sufis in Iran. Sufis are people who follow a special Islamic mystical tradition and have their own rituals and belief system. Sheikh Safi al-din Khaneghah was built between the beginning of the 16th century and the end of 18th century. The interior ornaments of this site are breathtaking. Ghandil Khane (Lantern House) with gold and indigo decorations and Chini Khane (China Room) with vaulted gilt niches make two of the best examples of Persian interior design and decoration. If you are a photographer, you can hardly leave this place before taking tones of pictures!
Shahre-e-Sukhte means ‘the Burnt City’ in Persian. This archeological mud-brick city dates back to 3200 BC and is evidently one of the earliest complex societies in eastern Iran. You can see monuments, residential areas, industrial locations and graveyards in here which all prove the advancements of the ancient civilization that used to live here. Note that four stages of civilizations had seen this place before it was totally abandoned in 1800 BCE due to climate change. Shahr-e-Sukhteh exhibits an urbanized community with social, cultural and economic achievements. If you are interested in visiting an ancient city with impressive history, the Burnt City of Zabol is a must-see for you.
Want to visit Iran?
If you are interested to visit Iran’s UNESCO world heritage sites, please do not hesitate to contact us for information about our several cultural and historical tours. Note that visiting all of these sites in one trip to Iran is not possible unless you plan to stay here for a rather long time. We will be pleased to design high quality tours to Iran for you due to your time and personal preferences.