Takht e Soleyman: Persian treasure in Iran

Asia | | November 12, 2010 at 12:05 am




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Welcome to the site of Persian traditions and grand historic monuments! Literally meaning the Throne of Solomon, Takht-e Soleyman has become one of the best places in Iran for a historic outing. Nestled in the West Azarbaijan of Iran and also known as Takhte Soleiman, the site is an archaeologically fortified region adorning a wide mountain valley located between Hamadan and Urmia. Accessible after driving for 45 km from the town of Takab, Takht e Soleyman is in the UNESCO list as the Heritage Site of the Sassanid rule (224–651 A.D) during the medieval times.

As per a folk legend, King Solomon used to detain several monsters in the crate close by, which is 100 m deep. It is also believed that the king had made a pond that is even seen today. When the Muslims invaded Persia, they were of the opinion that all Persian or Zoroastrian buildings or beliefs were against the religion of Islam. Therefore, the Arabs started devastating all these monuments. As a response to save these monuments as well as sites, the Persians changed the names of several buildings and sites to hide their actual identities.

So, what makes it among the much visited places in Iran? Well, it is its popular relics of a Zoroastrian fire temple that was constructed in the Sassanid period wherein a Great Fire or Royal Fire out of the total three in the world resides. Talking about its significance in the olden days, it was only in front of this Fire that the kings would degrade themselves prior to the throning event. Besides this one, there are also some more interesting relics that belong to the Median as well as to the Achaemenid times.

Today, Takht e Soleyman is known for the grand Sassanid monuments that are the Azargoshnasb Fire Temple, Belgheis Castle, Hadaya (Gifts) Museum, Anahita Temple, and Zendan (Jail) Mountain. On my trip to this one of the most interesting places in Iran, I with my guide first explored the Zendan-e Soleiman (Soloman Prison) that is also called the Zendan Mountain. Dominating the valley, this is prison that is capped on the conical peak, the place where the monsters were imprisoned. This is the structure with a huge hole, which is at an altitude of 100 m from the valley and is nestled at 3 km from the actual site of Takhte Soleiman. As per a legend, the mysterious crater lake used to run here in the hole, which was filled by the floor springs.

My next halt was at the Azargoshnasp Fire Temple that is also called the place of the Immortal Fire with no ashes being visible. The mystery is that the flame was kept burning leaving no ashes here. This was supposed to be an eternal flame of purity. Undoubtedly, all the holy fires were burned from here. Check out also for a captivating lake that is known to change its colors while you view it from the Khosrow’s portico front. Many experts believe that the Sassanids formed high stone walls along with 38 towers that once flanked the lake, but only till the 3rd century A.D. Today, this crater lake is the famous diving spot among the tourists who love adventure amidst historical ambience.

Devoted to the angel of the Waters, the Aredvi Sura Anahita Temple is associated mostly with healing, wisdom, and fertility. In fact, the word ‘Anahita’ itself means immaculate. The Persians used to believe each fire temple should be accompanied by a spring or river to mark the presence of Anahita. This is the reason why this temple in Takhte Soleiman is located just at the rear of the Azargoshnap fire temple adorning the lake’s north side. In the same side, a northern veranda can be seen, which was the venue of the coronation ceremony during the Sassanid era. Not much is known, but it is true that the king of Sassanid walked from Ctesiphon (Modern Baghdad) to be at this place after revering the eternal Fire.

Now, move towards the Southeastern Entrance Gate in Takhte Soleiman, which is well preserved. In the olden days, it was utilized only by the royal members. Look for gallery of blind windows as well as the lateral crescent bastions.

After visiting the ancient city of Takht e Soleyman, I would recommend you to also visit the close by Bijar city in the Kurdistan prefecture. Situated at a great height of 1883 m, the town is amusingly called the Roof of Iran. The town is also known for its ancient and elegant carpet and rug patterns, which pulled me from the historical Takhte Soleiman via an affordable taxi. This is surely a must visit place!

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