UNESCO adds two Iranian monuments to World Heritage List

June 30, 2012
TEHRAN - Iran’s Qabus Tower and Isfahan Congregational Mosque were registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on Saturday.
 
The decision to register the two Iranian monuments on the list was made during the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee, which opened in St. Petersburg on June 24 and runs until July 6, the deputy director of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) for the preservation of historical monuments, Masud Alavian Sadr, told the Persian service of the Fars News Agency on Saturday.
 
With the two new additions, there are now fifteen Iranian sites registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
 
The 55-meter Qabus Tower, which is the tomb of Zeyarid ruler Qabus ibn Voshmagir, who was the ruler of the Gorgan and Tabaristan regions of northern Iran from 977 to 981 and again from 997 to 1012, was built on a 15-meter mound located in Gonbad-e Kavus in Golestan Province.
 
It is the world’s tallest tower made of bricks. 
 
The star-shaped tomb is decorated with a Kufic inscription around it that reads, “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This is the magnificent palace of Emir Shams-ul-Ma’ali. Emir son of Emir, Qabus son of Voshmagir ordered that it be built during his lifetime. 397 A.H., 375 solar calendar.”
 
Covering an area of 23,000 square meters, the Isfahan Congregational Mosque is the largest of its kind in Iran and features many unique Iranian artistic and architectural elements. 
 
According to some historical texts, the structure was originally a Zoroastrian temple that was then converted into a mosque in the early eighth century CE by the Tayyem tribe, which was a migrant Arabian tribe living in the nearby village of Tiran.
 
The mosque was augmented by the Abbasid caliphs Mansur (reigned 753-775) and Mutasim (reigned 833-842).
 
Many decorations and several structures were added to the mosque over the centuries by the various dynasties that ruled the region.
 
The most important structures and decorations were added by Abu Ali Hassan ibn Ali (1018-1092), also known as Khwaja Nizam al-Mulk, a Persian vizier of the Seljuk sultans.
 
The brick dome on the southern side of the mosque bears a Kufic inscription suggesting that it was built on the order of Khwaja Nizam al-Mulk.
 
The dome on the northern side was constructed based on the southern dome in 1088 on the order of Taj al-Mulk, Khwaja’s rival, who was Sultan Malik-Shah’s favorite courtier.
 
Since the mosque was augmented several times during various eras, the monument beautifully displays the evolution of Islamic art and architecture.
 
Following is a list of the Iranian sites previously registered on the World Heritage List:
 
1. Chogha Zanbil, Khuzestan Province, 1979
 
2. Persepolis, Fars Province, 1979
 
3. Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Isfahan Province, 1979
 
4. Takht-e Soleiman, West Azerbaijan Province, 2003
 
5. Pasargadae, Fars Province, 2004
 
6. The city of Bam and its Cultural Landscape, Kerman Province, 2004
 
7. Soltanieh Dome, Zanjan Province, 2005
 
8. Bisotun, Kermanshah Province, 2006
 
9. Historical churches of St. Thaddeus and St. Stephanus, West Azerbaijan Province, and Dzordzor (Zorzor), East Azerbaijan Province, 2008
 
10. Shushtar’s ancient water system, Khuzestan Province, 2009
 
11. The Mausoleum of Sheikh Safi ad-Din Ardebili, Ardebil Province, 2010
 
12. Tabriz Bazaar, East Azerbaijan Province, 2010
 
13. The Persian Garden (nine gardens from the provinces of Fars, Yazd, Isfahan, South Khorasan, Mazandaran, and Kerman), 2011