Located in the northwest of Iran in a mountainous area at 1663 meters above sea level, it is the capital of the province of Zanjan, as well as an important city due to its position on the transit route to Turkey and Europe. As a geographical unit, Zanjan Province connects the Azerbaijani Plateau with the Qazvin Plain, with a slight slope. Zanjan has always been one of the most important agricultural centers in the country and among its crafts, handmade knives are very popular. The province has many natural and historical attractions.
This city founded by the Sassanid king Ardachir I (180-242 AD) serves as the basis for further exploration: the architectural marvel of Soltaniyeh, the Katale-Khor cave, the colorful mountains of Mahneshan and the ruins of Takht-e Soleiman (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Ancient monuments and tourist places in Zanjan
The Soltaniyeh Dome, traditionally called the dome, is actually the mausoleum of the ruler of the Ilkhani dynasty, Oljeitoo, known as Mohammad Khodabandeh. The dome is located in the city of Soltaniyeh, 45 km southeast of Zanyán. This impressive burial site occupies an important place among Iranian-inspired Muslim mausoleums, begun in the 12th century with the dome of Sultan Sanjar in Merv and completed in the late 17th century with the Taj Mahal in Agra.
The dome, which gave the building its name, based on a tall octagonal construction, is the most notable element that is noticeable at the beginning. It has a width of 38 m, an internal diameter of 25 m, and a peak of 50 m. The façade is covered in magnificent turquoise clay tiles that further emphasize the brilliance of the monument in a magnificent contrast to the various shades of blue.
The dome is the oldest example of a double-layer brick structure in Iran. Its design was highly innovative for the time (early 14th century) and, according to Piero Sanpaolesi, inspired the Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), finally ending a century of hitherto insurmountable difficulties. Between 1420 and 1436 he had the dome built (39 m high) of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.
In addition to the beauty of the monument, specialists appreciate the innovation of the double shell, here perfectly mastered, which involves scientific and technical knowledge in all fields related to architecture. Art lovers will long marvel at the interior decoration, whose brilliance arouses admiration and respect.
Rakhtshuy Khaneh Museum
An old laundry dating from the Qajar period displaying typical clothes of the Azerbaijani people from the Zanjan region and is situated on the city’s historic main street. The city of Zanjan, surrounded by mountains, is located at 1630 meters above sea level, where the temperature is usually very low. Thus, a laundry facilitated the washing of clothes in a closed place and in which it is not cold. The laundry room consists of two parts: the management area and the rectangular-shaped laundry room, equipped with a stream of running water. On the upper floor, where the administration room used to be, there is an area dedicated to the manufacture of handicrafts, such as slippers. The word “babouche” is derived from the Persian word “Papush”, composed of pa (foot) and push (blanket).
Zanjan Bazaar (1789-1925) has five mosques, two caravanserais and two baths, as well as 900 shops. Due to the changing climatic conditions in Zanjan, the bazaar was designed in a way that it does not perceive the variations of the outside climate at all, keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer.
In Iranian culture, bazaars are traditional public spaces that have contributed greatly to the commercial activities of urban life, while their activities can extend to social, cultural, political and religious functions.
Artisans in the province of Zanjan have begun to use nanotechnology in the production of handicrafts. Said technology is used mainly in the knife and watermark industries, two of the main crafts in the province, to prevent rust on products. Watermarking involves winding, twisting or braiding thin, flexible metal wires and soldering them at the contact points with a metal base.
Chehel Sotun Mosque
A mosque from the Qajar period (1789-1925), located in the historic Zanjan bazaar. It is the second most prestigious seminary school in Zanjan after the Jomeh Mosque. The main prayer hall of the mosque is built in the Chehel Sotun style (forty columns), which is mostly compared to the Chehel Sotun Palace in Isfahan (17th century).
Mummies of the Archaeological Museum
In 1993, miners at the Duzlakh Salt Mine, near Hamzehali and Chehrabad villages in Zanjan province, accidentally fell on a mummified head. The head was very well-preserved, so much so that his pierced ear still held the gold earring. His hair, beard and mustache were reddish and his imposing leather boot still contained parts of his leg and foot.
Later, the miners discovered more “salt men” and the remains of a human body as well as many wooden objects, metal tools, clothing and pottery. Studies of the bodies showed that a collapse of the mine caused the deaths of the miners in question. The mummies are on display, one in Tehran and the rest in the Zanjan Archaeological Museum.
A school complex for Abdullah Mirza Dara, the eleventh son of Fath Ali Shah Qajar during his reign in Zanjan. This historical complex is one of the most valuable monuments built on the basis of a four-iwan mosque.
Bibi Khanom’s name often corresponds to a mosque of the same name in Samarkand, known as Bibi Khanom Madrasa. The mosque, decorated with majolica and decorative stucco, has a central door located between the two small minarets. In the center of the interior space, a patio gives way to a summer room and a winter room, both to maintain a suitable seasonal climate for the performance of prayers and religious practices.
Castle of Behestan
Also known as “Dudkesh-e Jen”, it is considered one of the most important tourist attractions in this region, which is located 20 kilometers from Mahneshan and 120 kilometers from Zanjan. This natural phenomenon, called “Hudu”, is a kind of mushroom-like stone created as the result of erosion. It looks like a tall, thin tree with another stone on top. Dudkesh-e Jen and Behstan Castle in Mahneshan are among the previously unknown tourist attractions of Zanjan.
Aladaq Lar (Colorful Mountains of Zanjan)
Also known as Mahneshan Mountains, they are one of the most beautiful and fascinating natural attractions in Iran, located in Zanjan province, near Mahneshan and Mianeh counties. The colorful mountains of Aladaq Lar have created a special rainbow effect on the terrain and consequently a spectacular sight. On this mountain the colors red, green, brown, orange, yellow and white are so beautiful that they remind us of the solar system at first glance. Among the colorful mountains of Aladaq Lar, there are several villages in which the construction of houses with red earth has created a special effect.