The city of Rey, historical seat of power

April 18, 2012
altTo the southeast of Tehran, just beyond that city's vast urban sprawl, lies the ancient city of Rey and its pilgrimage shrine of Shah-e' Abdal-Azim. Archaeological evidence indicates the city was important during the Achaemenian (559-330 BC) and Sassanian (224-637 AD) periods. Rey was occupied by the Muslims in 635 AD, was the regional capital in the 11th and 12th centuries, and was later plundered by rampaging Mongols in the 13th century. 
 
The city is akin to a great, open-air museum displaying ancient monuments and sites, such that visiting Rey is like stepping into history. In the pre-Median era, it was called Rhagae.
 
Some historians attribute its monuments to monarchs who made Rey their seat of power.
 
In the past 4,000 years, Rey has undergone many ups and downs, floods and earthquakes. The city proudly survived massive and destructive Arab and Mongolian invasions and plundering, which left serious scars.
 
Rey’s glorious days were much earlier than the birth of the modern city of Tehran, which was later constructed to its north.
 
Tehran overshadowed Rey after becoming the capital city, which brought in its wake huge investments and large influx of population from all across Iran. In the contemporary era, the lack of references and information on this ancient historical and religious city is evident. The followings are some of the city’s most important sites:
 
Cheshmeh-Ali Hill
 
altIt is a hill with a spring that its history starts when ancient cavemen stopped living in caves in the region, they settled on the banks of the hill.
 
In 1933-36, Cheshmeh-Ali Hill was excavated by archeologists from the Boston Fine Arts Museum and the Philadelphia University Cultural Foundation headed by Dr. Smith, which resulted in the discovery of 7,000-year-old artifacts. Some of the discovered objects are displayed at museums in Iran and abroad.
 
The hill, which is now entirely leveled out, was resided by Aryans about 6,000 years ago. Since Rey was used as a recreation center under Qajarid rule, Fath-Ali Shah often used to explore the city.
 
In 1831, his portrait and those of some Qajar princes were engraved on a rock at Cheshmeh-Ali Hill and its surrounding area was decorated with engravings covered by poetry.
 
Toghrol Tower
 
altThe architectural structure was constructed during the reign of Seljuk rulers at the order of Toghrol in 1140, once he transferred the capital city from Neishabour to Rey.
 
The tower is 20 meters high and the surface of its exterior is divided into 24 sections, which besides manifesting beauty and durability, symbolizes the figures of constellation as well as a 24-hour time length (a day and a night).
 
Shah Abbasi Caravansary
 
altThe caravansary is one of the ancient residential and commercial complexes, which was used for lodging by traders. It is located on Haram Street, close to the bazaar. The monument comprises four verandas and served as a marketplace.
 
Traditional bazaar
 
altIt is located to the north of Shah Abdol-Azim’s shrine, which comprises two sections and a crossroad. Since olden times, it has been a center for the sale of spices, herbs and commercial goods imported by traders via the Silk Road.
 
The structure of the bazaar is made of plaster, brick, raw mud brick and mud. It dates back to the Safavid era and is approximately 500 years old.
 
Anyanaj Tower
 
An octagonal tower known as Naqareh-Khaneh is situated on the slopes of Tabarak Mountain. A cellar is linked to the tower from underneath through a vestibule erected outside.
 
The tower, which is made of stone and plaster, and decorated by brickwork and zigzag vaults, dates back to the Seljuk era.
 
Bibi Shahr Banoo Tomb
 
The tomb, which is 1.5 kilometer to the north of Aminabad, is situated on a mountain. It is attributed to the daughter of Yazdgerd III, the last Sassanid monarch, who was married to Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam.
 
The tomb is surrounded by two courtyards, a veranda, a prayer niche and a well. It is bordered by a mountain to the north, a valley to the east and south and an asphalt road to the west.
 
The tomb’s structure, which is made of stone and plaster, dates back to the Aal-e Bouyeh era around 1,100 years ago.
 
 Mausoleum of Hazrat Abdol-Azim Hassani
 
Abdol-Azim, a grandson of Imam Hassan (AS), the second Shiite Imam, is believed to be a scholar and narrator of traditions from Shiite Imams, who left behind a number of books. Within the large shrine complex are buried the religious scholar Shah Abdul Azim (786-865 AD), a descendant of Imam Hussein; Hamzeh, a brother of Imam Reza; Hussain, the great-grandson of the second Imam Hassan, and Taher, a descendant of the fourth Imam. The mausoleum is the destination of thousands of pilgrims every day.