Natanz is a city in the province of Isfahan, and is located 70 kilometers southeast of Kashan. The mild climate, pears and saffron from Natanz are well known in all parts of Iran. The Karkas mountain range, literally the mountain of the vultures, with an altitude of 3,899 meters, rises next to the city near the place where the Achaemenid king, Darius III, was assassinated. In some parts of the mountain there are small sanctuaries that attract the attention of visitors.
Ancient monuments of Natanz
Natanz Mosque: Shrine of Sheikh Abd al-Samad
There is an imposing minaret and a pyramidal dome that attract the attention of visitors and are considered the most important historical and archaeological site in the city. Today the complex includes a four-porticoed mosque, an octagonal shrine, a minaret, and a 1930s mosque with a 14th-century hanqa.
The mosque has four porticoes (iwans) and occupies the eastern part of the complex. An arched door in the shape of an iwan leads, through a short flight of stairs, to a long corridor that ends at the southwest corner of the mosque’s courtyard. The facades of this courtyard are two stories high and connect four iwans of different depths. The construction is of fired brick, with a layer of white plaster. The vaults of the muqarnas are found in the north and south porticoes (iwans). Two bays at the rear of the south portico flank the mihrab, which leads to the octagonal domed shrine.
The tomb belongs to Abd al-Samad al-Isfahani, a sheikh of the Suhrawardiyya Sufi order, who died in Natanz in 1299. Over the following decade, his tomb was transformed into one of the best-preserved shrines of the Ilkhani period. The dome is conical and rests on an octagonal drum. The exterior is covered in tiles, while the interior is vaulted with muqarnas.
The portico at the western end of the facade is the only remnant of an early 14th-century janqah – a space dedicated to the reception of adherents at Sufi brotherhood meetings – that was destroyed and replaced by a mosque in the 1930s. The portal is in the shape of a two-story iwan with a pointed arch vault. The facade of the iwan is decorated with tiles and unglazed carved terracotta.
The minaret of the complex rises to the east of the facade of the janqah. It is cylindrical and rises on a square base to a height of 37 meters. On the side of the minaret’s base, facing the facade, there is a niche decorated with an engraved panel dating from 1324-25 AD.
Sassanid Fire Temple
This fire temple is located next to the Natanz Mosque and stands in the middle of a platform 2 m above the ground. Two of the four ceilings that connected the structure with the stone dome have survived from the work. The main structure was made of stone slabs covered with plaster.
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