Iran’s cultural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (UNESCO)

  1. Tchogha Zanbil (1979):
    Tchogha-zanbilA great marvelous stepped mud-brick ziggurat belonging to Elamites about 500 BC, located in ancient city of Elam near Susa (Shush), in today Khusestan province. This Ziggurat was founded by the king of Elam, Untash Napirisha. Ziggurat means ‘’mountain peak’’ where people used to go there for worshiping, in other words it was considered as a link between the heavens and the earth and was dedicated to Inshushinak and Napirisha the Sumerian gods by command of Untash Gal the king of Elamites. This huge structure was a five-story building, but two stories have been destroyed during many years. Tchogha Zanbil archeological site covers a vast, arid plateau overlooking the rich valley and the forests. One of the most interesting things about this ziggurat is that the stories are not built on each other for instance the fifth story of this structure begins from the ground, so this feature makes it so distinctive among other ziggurats. Tchogha Zanbil was given a facing of baked bricks, a number of which have cuniform characters giving the names of the deities in the Elamite and Akkadian languages.
  2. naghsh-e-jahan-SQNaghsh-e Jahan Square, Isfahan (1979):
    The Royal Square, a monument of Persian socio-cultural life during Safavid period. Naqshe Jahan square also is called Emam square and is considered as the largest city squares in the world. It is an outstanding example of Persian and Islamic architecture. Shah Abbas I, the powerful king of Safavid dynasty who reigned from 1587 to 1628, chose Esfahan as his capital. He made this beautiful royal square bordered on all sites by the monuments and historical buildings. It was considered as the center of the city and was called Naqshe Jahan which means ‘’the image of the world’’. This wonderful site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qaysariyeh and Ali Qapu palace. All these monuments are an impressive testimony to the level of social and cultural life in Persia during Safavid era.  Chogan as a Persian game was so popular in Safavid era and this grand square was used as a Chogan pitch as well.
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  3. Persepolis (1979):
    persepolis
    Literally means ‘’Persian city’’, also known as the Throne of Jamshid. The magnificent ruins of Achamenids’ ceremonial capital located in Marvdasht 60 km northeast of the city Shiraz in Fars province. These ruins someday were a complex of many palaces founded by Darius, the Great and his son Xerxes, kings of Achaemenid dynasty in 518 BC. The site is marked by a huge terrace with its east side adjacent to the Kuh-e Raḥmat (“Mount of Mercy”). On the west side of this site there is a magnificent double stair in two flights of 111 short stone steps leading to the top. On the terrace there are the ruins of a number of enormous buildings, all made of dark gray stones. A number of inscriptions attributed to Darius I (the Great), Xerxes I, and Artaxerxes III indicate to which monarch the various buildings were belonged. The oldest of these inscriptions on the south retaining wall gives Darius’s famous prayer for his people: “God protect this country from foe, famine, and falsehood.” There are numerous reliefs in Persian, Median, and Elamite languages. There is a large gate in Persepolis which is called “Gate of All Lands”. Gate of All Lands is a small palace in the eastern part of Persepolis. The main reason for calling it” Gate of All Lands” is that the representatives of different nations should have entered this gate first then they were guided to the main palace for respecting Xerxes the Great, king of Persia. This magnificent gate reminds the glory and power of Achaemenid Empire and was built by Xerxes, Darius’s son. Two stoned winged bulls are located in the western part of the gate and inside the palace there is an inscription in Persian, Elamite and Babylonian language.
  1. Takht-e Soleyman (2003):
    takht-e-soleymanIn Persian means ‘’ Solomon’s throne’’. This complex are the ruins of a fire temple from Sassanid period located in northwest of Iran, Takab, in west Azerbaijan province. The site is situated in a valley near a volcanic mountain region. It consists of several groups of ruins of almost simultaneous occupation, each of them some way devoted to Zoroastrian worship. In addition to Takht-e Soleyman and adjacent ruins, including Zendan-e Soleyman (“Solomon’s Prison”) and Kuh-e Belqeys (“Mount Bilqis”; Bilqis in the Islamic tradition was the name for the Queen of Sheba). Kuh-e Belqeys is located 8 km northeast of Takht-e Soleyman. A castle located there dates back to the Sassanian period. About 623 AD, Byzantine Roman armies sacked the temple and damaged it badly. During the Islamic conquests several generations later, an accommodation was made with local Muslim rulers, and Zoroastrian services continued to be observed on the site. It is not clear when the site ceased to operate as a temple, and also it is not known what became of the fire altar itself. Over many years, it was damaged by natural disasters earthquakes,  natural fluctuations of weather, and regular inundation of the lake as well as by local residents seeking to gain building material for new construction.
  2. Arg-bamBam and its Cultural Landscape (2004):
    A cultural landscape and a testimony to the development of a trading settlement in the desert, built by mud brick and located in Kerman province. It is so famous because of existence of an enormous fortress. The region around the city has long been known for its date palms, which are among the most productive in Iran, although cotton and various grains are also raised there. Arg-e-Bam (citadel) is considered as the world’s largest mud-brick complex. The walls of the fortress, some12 meters high. The citadel was established during the Sassanian dynasty (224–651 AD). Even till the beginning of the 19th century, it was the strongest fortified place in Iran, having been used most extensively during the Iranian dynastic conflicts of the 18th and 19th centuries. During that same period, the fortress fell into the hands of invading Afghan armies, and much of the population fled.
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  1. pasargadaePasargadae (2004):The first achaemenian capital built by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC located in Shiraz.Cyrus II (the Great) after integrating the country chose Pasargadae as his capital and first achaemenian city. The name of the city may have been derived from the chief Persian tribe, the Pasargadae, although it is possible that the original form of the name was Parsagadeh “Throne of Pars”. Pasargadae was the first garden city in the world. Eventually the beautiful city of Pasargadae with all the palaces and gardens ruined by Alexander and his warriors during his invasion to Persia and destroyed all the city except Cyrus the Great tomb which stands still and reflects the glory of a peace lover king who wrote the first commandment of human rights in the world and eliminated slavery and cruelty.
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  1. Soltaniyeh (2005):
    gonbad-e-soltaniye
    The ancient capital of Ilkhanid dynasty, a testimony to the history of 13th and 14th The dome of Soltaniyeh is considered as the highest brick dome in the world. It is located in Zanjan province. Oljeito’s Mausoleum known as dome of Soltaniyeh was constructed in 1302-12 in the city of Soltaniyeh, the Ilkhanid capital. Soltaniyeh is one of the outstanding examples of the achievements of Persian architecture and also shows the traces of Islamic arts. This octagonal structure is crowned with a 50 meter tall dome which is covered in turquoise blue glazed ceramics and also surrounded by eight minarets. We have many examples of double-shelled domes and Dome of Soltaniyeh is the earliest one in architecture of Iran. There interior decoration is also eye-catching. On the sides of the ceiling, verses of Quran and names of God have been written in beautiful handwriting, which is a mixture of Persian and Islamic art. Some historians believe that Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh (Oljeito) the Mongol king of Ilkhanid built the great structure and dome to transfer the remains Imam Ali and Imam Hussein from their mausoleums in Iraq to that place. However, he gave up the idea after a dream he had. The dome, which is the largest in the world after Santa Maria in Italy and Hagia Sophia in Turkey.
  1. Bisotun (2006):
    BistonIt is located in today Kermanshah province along the ancient trade route linking the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and all the features there remains from the prehistoric times to Median, Achaemenid, Sassanian, and Ilkhanid period. The most significant monument in Bisotun is the cuneiform inscription ordered by Darius I, the Great. This rock relief depicts Darius the Great as the Persian Emperor and successor of Cyrus, the Great in 521 BC. He has a bow in his hand as a sign of power and sovereignty and the man who lies on his back before him is Gaumata, the Median Magus who wanted to sit on the throne of Persian Empire but his assassination results in Darius’s rise to power. Also there are 1200 lines of inscription stating about the battles in which Darius defeated all the pretenders to the Persian throne after Cyrus the Great. Another inscription exists there which is considered as the oldest inscription telling about the battles in which Darius the Great could defeat all the pretenders to the Persian Empire throne. In Bisotun we see an Elamite text as the oldest inscription describes the legends, kings and the rebellions which are obviously similar to the Babylonian version. The last important inscription is that Darius the Great is introducing the works done by him in Old Persian for the first time.
  2. armenian-monasticArmenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran (2008):
    Thaddeus and St. Stephanos, the presumed locations of the tombs of the apostles of Jesus Christ. They have always been a place of high spiritual value for Christians and a place of pilgrimage for the Armenian Church. They are located in northwest of Iran. These monasteries illustrate the remarkable universal value of Armenian architecture and decorative traditions. Important cultural interchanges with Byzantine, Orthodox and Persian are also visible in their architecture. These monasteries have survived 2000 years of destruction, both by human and natural disasters. These churches have been rebuilt several times in order to keep the Armenian culture in this region.
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  3. shushtarShushtar Historical Hydraulic System and waterfalls (2009):
    The ancient Shushtar waterfalls and the historical hydraulic system are situated in Iran’s southern province, Khuzestan. The city of Shushtar is famous for its water supply installations, which date back to the Sassanid era (224-651 AD). Karun is the largest river of the country which encircles the city and has created beautiful waterfalls in different parts of Shushtar. There are two canals on Karun river on of them Gargar canal which is still in use and provides water to the city of Shushtar via a series of tunnels. This forms a spectacular cliff from which water cascades into a downstream basin. Then enters the plain located in the south of the city where it has enabled the planting of orchards. This system is a homogeneous hydraulic system, designed globally and completed in 3rd century AD. It demonstrates the rich civil engineering structures. This fantastic complex also includes other remarkable structures such as the tower for measuring the water level, bridges basins and mills.
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  4. tabriz-bazzarTabriz Historic Bazaar Complex (2010):
    This historic Bazaar complex is located in Tabriz province along one of the frequented east-west trade routes. It consists of many interlinked and roofed brick structures, buildings and commercial trade centers. Tabriz bazaar is an enclosed area serving a variety of functions. During the 13th century AD, the city of Tabriz and its bazaar flourished and gained fame when the town served as the capital of Safavid kingdom. Tabriz however lost its role as the capital city in the 16th century but remained as an important commercial center until the end of the 18th century, with the expansion of Ottoman power. It is one of the most evident instances of traditional, commercial and cultural system of Iran. In addition to being a commercial center, this complex also served as the social gatherings, and educational and religious practices. Tabriz Bazaar Complex was one of the most important international trade and cultural centers in Asia and the world between the 12th and the 18th centuries AD in view of its location along the east-west trade routes.
  5. safi-al-din-ardebiliSheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble (2010):
    This complex is located in Ardabil province. It can be considered as a microcosmic city consists of Bazaar, religious buildings, public baths, squares, houses, and offices. This complex also hosts the tomb of a Sufi, Sheik Safi, the founder of Safavid dynasty and the prominent mystic of Safavid era. Complex of Sheikh Safi in Ardabil is of outstanding universal value as an artistic and architectural masterpiece and also representation of the fundamental principles of Sufism. Due to the shrine of the great Sufi master, the property has remained sacred in Iran up to the present day.
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  6. The Persian Garden (2011):
    Persian-gardenThe Persian Garden consists of a collection of nine gardens, selected from various regions of Iran including Pasargadae garden, Chehel sotoun garden in Isfahan, Fin garden in Kashan, Dolat abad garden in Yazd, Eram garden in Shiraz, Shahzadeh garden in Kerman and etc. these gardens demonstrate the different forms garden designing during centuries in diverse climatic conditions. These gardens reflect the flexibility of Chahar Bagh, using geometrical functions. The origin form of Persian garden and the first mature example of Persian garden is Pasargadae, the garden city and the palatial complex of Cyrus the Great. Each Persian garden is ivided into four zones and in each zone the hydraulic system plays an important role to arrogate the whole garden. A beautiful pavilion in the center built for the king can be considered as the climax of the architecture of Persian garden. In Persian garden a mixture natural elements and manmade components can be observed. This mixture results in a unique and artistic achievement reflecting artistic, philosophical and religious concepts along aesthetic features. The Persian garden can also reflect and materialize the concept of Eden Garden or paradise on the Earth.
  7. gonbad-qabos1Gonbad-e Qabus (2012):
    This unique tower belonging to Ziyarid dynasty located in Golestan province is visible from a large distance. It is 53 meters and is made of unglazed fired bricks. This masterpiece is situated in Gorgan (Jorjan). Jorjan was the capital of Ziyarid dynasty. This tower has been constructed near ruins of ancient city of Jorjan (the best testimony to the cultural exchange between central Asia and the ancient civilization of Iran) in 1006 AD as the tomb of Voshmgir the king of Ziyarid dynasty. Now this tower is the only remaining evidence of Jorjan which has been destroyed totally during Mongol invasion in 14th and 15th This tomb tower as the tallest brick tower in the world is an outstanding example of Islamic architecture which influenced the buildings in Iran, Anatolia and Central Asia. This eye-catching structure is made of unglazed fired bricks. This tower has a kind of intricate geometric design and illustrates the development of mathematics and science among Iranians in 1006 AD.
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  1. masjed-e-jame-of-isfahanMasjed-e jame of Isfahan (2012):
    This great and magnificent mosque is the oldest congregational mosque in Iran and is located in center of Isfahan. Its history dates back to Seljuk dynasty and illustrates a sequence of architectural construction and decorative styles. In this congregational mosque we can observe a stunning example of the evolution of mosque over twelve centuries. This mosque is a unique example of a mosque design throughout Central Asia. The area of this great complex is more than 20,000 m2 and is the first example of Islamic building that adapted four courtyard layout of Sassanid palaces to Islamic religious architecture. The dome of this mosque is double-shelled. The stunning decorative details of this building show a kind of innovation in architecture. The architectural construction of this mosque shows decorative styles of different periods covering 12 centuries from Abbasid to Safavid era.
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  2. golestan-palaceGolestan Palace (2013):
    It is located in the heart and historic core of Tehran. This palace complex is one of the oldest in Tehran. It is built in Safavid era and recognized as the seat of power of Qajar dynasty in 1779. Golestan is considered as the oldest of the historic monuments in Tehran. Golestan Palace (Palace of Flowers) belongs to a group of royal buildings that were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran’s Historic Arg (citadel). In its present state, Golestan Palace is the result of roughly 400 years construction and renovations. The buildings at the contemporary location each have a unique history. This palace embodies the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with western influences. This palace is built around a garden featuring pools as well as planted areas. Golestan palace is an example of traditional Persian arts and elements of 18th century architecture and technology. The palace was rebuilt to its current form in 1865 by Haji Abol-hasan Mimar Navai.
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  3. shahr-i-sookhtaShahr-i Sookhta (2014):
    Shahr-i Soukhta (burnt city) is considered to be one of the significant cities of Elamite era. It is located in south east of Iran and also thought to be a center of culture, economy and policy. First animation in the world painted is so amazing. During the excavation of Shahr-e Soukhteh, the archeologists found an animated bowl which dates back to five thousand years ago with the image of a tree and a running goat. The skillful artist with five motions has been able to show that the goat is feeding from the leaves of the tree. The interesting point is that by closing the image of five goats to each other, the archeologists could reach a twenty second movie. First artificial eye was made and also first skull operation occurred there. The remains of this mud brick city represents the emergence of first complex society in east of Iran. It is believed to be founded in 3200 BC and was populated up to 1800 BC. A great fire took place there and the city remained deserted but the main reason of its abandonment is still unknown.
  4. shushSusa (2015):
    Susa or Shush archeological area is located in Khuzestan province, south west of Iran. Susa was a significant city mostly as the capital of different dynasties during the Persian history and contains many historical sites. This ancient city covers about 350 hectares, Susa constitutes one of the world’s largest archaeological sites. It was formed on the bank of Sha’ur river since the 4th millennium BC and has been uninterruptedly inhabited until the 8th century AD. During mentioned period, it was the capital of the Elamites and subsequently the Achaemenians for some 2.800 years. Since about 150 years ago. The archaeological teams have carried out excavations here, retrieving artifacts, buildings and objects from various periods, and, most importantly, knowledge about Elamite history and culture.
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  5. maymandCultural Landscape of Maymand (2015):
    Maymand is a rock village near the city of Shahre-Babak in Kerman province, south east of Iran. This ancient village is thought to be as one of the primary residences in Iran which approximately dates back to 12000 years ago. Maymand is a semi-arid area at the end of a valley at the southern extremity of Iran’s central mountains. The villagers are semi-nomadic. They raise their animals in the mountains. In winter they live in lower down the valley in the caves. This cultural landscape is a great example of a dwelling system which was widespread in the past..
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  6. Lut Desert or Dasht-e Lut (2016):
    lutThe big desert of Lut is located in the east and south east of Iran. The total area of this vast desert is approximately 5400 km2. In a major part of this desert, there is no animal and no kind of vegetable life. A great massif of dunes and sand rises exist in the eastern part of Lut. Due to its vastness only a part of this area (near the historical city of shahdad), that includes the most of its phenomena is taken in to consideration. Lut desert because of rough environmental conditions and limited facilities of life is almost deserted. Also due to limited access to the passing roads and civil industrial activities, this desert has been remained virgin and intact.Four universal records are inscribed in Lut desert:
    • The longest widespread system of yardangs in the world (120 km long in 80 km wide).
    • The tallest sand pyramid of the world (nearly 500 M high)
    • The hottest point of the world (based on the studies on the satellite images and data).
    • The biggest desert plants (Nebka) in the world, (most probably)

  7. The Persian Qanat (2016):
    ghanatQanat is a gently sloping underground channel with a series of vertical access shaft. Qanats are used to transport water and create a reliable supply of water for the human settlement of the arid zones. Throughout the arid regions of Iran, permanent settlements and agricultural farms are supported by the ancient qanats. This system conducts water along underground tunnels by gravity sometimes over many kilometers. These eleven qanats which are inscribed in UNESCO as Iran’s Cultural Heritage provide a unique testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in deserts and arid areas

         Two of the registered qanats are situated in Khorasan Razavi province in east of Iran including Ghasabe qanats of Gonabad which is the oldest qanat in the world with more than 2500 years old and also Baladeh qanats of Ferdows registered for its complex water distribution method.

    In Yazd Province, Zarch qanat, is the longest qanat in the world with 71 Kilometer length and Hassan Abad Moshir qanat, has a good quality of water, both of them can be observed in the list.

    In Kerman province also two qanats have been registered including Akbarabad qanat and Ghasemabad qanat. The first is registered for its water supply from faults and the two other for being twin qanats.

         Three qanats from Isfahan Province are also on the list; Moun qanat that is the only doubled-decked qanat in the world, Vazvan and Mozdabad qanats for using underground dam.

    Ebrahimabad qanat in Arak Province also is among11 registered items, which is registered for its conical shape of the qanat.