Takht-e-Soleyman, an ancient city with remarkable historical value is an ensemble of several ancient remnants and is one of the first Iranian historical sites added to the list of UNESCO heritage sites. Some historians believe it to be the birthplace of Zoroaster. You may find it a soulless ruined place at the first sight since it has not been restored very well and most of it is under scaffolding. However, if you visit this place with a knowledgeable guide to explain about each element of it, the whole place will come to life for you and you’ll feel the spirit of an ancient magnificent land while wandering among its remnants. Read on to find out what you can expect to see in Takht-e-Soleyman.
Although the main excavations of Takht-e-Soleyman reveal that it was built during the Sassanid era and was later completed by the Ilkhanids, some archaeological excavations demonstrate traces of Achaemenid and Parthian architectural remnants too. In addition, there have been coins from the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II (408 – 450 AD) found in Takht-e-Soleyman archaeological site.
Throne of King Solomon (Soleyman)
You may ask what “Takht-e-Soleyman” means in Farsi. It means Throne of King Solomon and it’s believed to be the place where King Solomon used to live and rule. However, it’s only a legend and evidence demonstrates that this ancient site dates back to the period of Sassanian dynasty.
Located in West Azerbaijan between Urmia and Hamadan, Takht-e-Soleyman is situated very near to a city called Takab which is a rather remote town. So you will spend hours in order to rich this historical landscape.
Takht-e-Soleyman is located in a valley and is surrounded by mountains that have added an eye-catching view to the landscape.
The Famous Lake of Takht-e-Soleyman
Takht-e-Soleyman archaeological site is mostly characterized by a big lake that has given a spectacular view to the place. The lake is located in the center of the southern square-shaped plan of Takht-e-Soleyman. Mysterious legends have been told about this lake due to its unique characteristics. It’s a spring fed lake and its water is saturated by minerals. Therefore it cannot be used for drinking or farming.
This lake has been mentioned in various manuscripts. In addition, the proximity of fire temples and water in this location is a testimony to the religious belief of ancient Iranians regarding the holiness of fire and water as two elements of nature.
The Lake of Takht-e-Soleyman city has been mentioned in a 4th century Armenian manuscript as well as in several writings from post-Islamic historians.
The Solomon Prison
The Solomon Prison, known as Zendan-e-Soleiman in Farsi is an archaeological mound that locals used to believe some interesting folk tales about it. According to local tales, King Solomon used to prison disobedient monsters inside this conical hill which lies 3 km west of Takht-e-Soleyman archaeological site and is 100 m high. But legends and folklore tales aside, it’s guessed that the deep crater of this hill used to be filled with water thousands of years ago.
Temple of Anahita
As you walk toward the northeast side of the lake, you see a temple which was attributed to the goddess of water, known as Anahita in ancient Persian legends. It’s fascinating to know that people used to throw their valuable objects into the lake since they believed that Anahita will protect them in the times of war.
Azar Goshasb Fire Temple: One of the three Royal Fires of Sassanian Emperors
Takht-e-Soleyman is often referred to as the Fire Temple of Azar Goshasb since this archaeological site was home to one of the most important and respected fires of Zoroastrians during the reign of Sassanian dynasty.
The Sassanian rulers had a tradition of humbling themselves before a great flame of fire in Zoroastrian temples before ascending the throne. It’s interesting to know that there were three great fires for this purpose. One of them was located in Takht-e-Soleyman which – as explained earlier – was dedicated to the warriors of the Sassanian dynasty. This ancient fire temple is located in the northern square shaped plot of the archaeological site of Takht-e-Soleyman and served as a venue for royal ceremonies.
Evidence demonstrates that the fire of Azar Goshasb Fire Temple was kept alive for 7 centuries and the religious value of it led to a remarkable respect for Takht-e-Soleyman as the greatest religious center of the Sassanian era. It’s notable that Takht-e-Soleyman was the most prominent religious, educational and political ensemble of pre-Islamic Iran and its fire temple was regarded as a symbol of the authority of Zoroastrianism.
Interestingly, all of the structural relics of Takht-e-Soleyman were built in oval shaped ramparts. The oval shaped ramparts contain two square plots and the exterior rampart features 38 conical defense towers. The ensemble includes a gateway that was constructed during the reign of Ilkhanid dynasty.
The city of Takht-e-Soleyman includes residencies, religious temples, royal palaces and halls.
This outstanding city has gone through many ups and downs throughout centuries. Different rulers from different periods have added structures to this archaeological city throughout history, although it was flourished during the reign of Sassanian kings.
Takht-e-Soleyman was a great city that symbolized the power of Persian emperors until Heraclius, the Roman emperor who invaded Iran in 624 AD, destroyed it. This invasion took place during the reign of Khosrow Parviz who was the last ruler of the Sassanian dynasty.
The whole city was severely damaged and therefore abandoned until it was greatly repaired under the order of the second Ilkhanid ruler of Iran, known as Abagha Khan in the 13th century. The newly restored Takht-e-Soleyman was then used as a summer resort for the royal family.
However in the 14th century the archaeological site of Takht-e-Soleyman was deserted forever.
Why you must Visit Takht-e-Soleyman
Takht-e-Soleyman is a significant archaeological ensemble due to its symbolic and spiritual value. It was the main sanctuary for Zoroastrians during the Sassanian era. The remains of an ancient Zoroastrian fire temple in this archaeological site demonstrate the religious importance of Takht-e-Soleyman in its time. It’s evident that the fire temple was partially rebuilt to be a mosque during the reign of the Ilkhanid dynasty. The fact that the fire of this temple was dedicated to the warriors of the Sassanian Empire gives a legendary ambiance to the whole place.
In fact, Takht-e-Soleyman is a prototype of Zoroastrian sanctuary and its general layout has inspired the religious architecture of post-Islamic Iran. Moreover, the plan of this site as a prominent religious and cultural place has influenced the arts and architecture of other cultures in East and West.
Interested to Visit Takht-e-Soleyman?
If visiting this archaeological royal landscape seems interesting to you, contact us at Land of Turquoise Domes for information on our many tour packages and itineraries. You can easily plan a trip to Northeast of Iran and enjoy visiting other nearby attractions too. We make your trip to Iran an unforgettable memory.