Gonbad-e Qabus: Outstanding, innovative example of Islamic architecture

December 7, 2016 - 18:22

TEHRAN – The one-millennium-old Gonbad-e Qabus in northern Iran is of high architectural importance as an exemplar yet innovative design of the early-Islamic-era architecture.

Also called Gonbad-e Kavus, it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage site. The brick tower is located in a city of the same name.

The UNESCO comments that tower bears testimony to the cultural exchange between Central Asian nomads and the ancient civilization of Iran.

The long-lasting structure capped by an eye-catching conical roof boasts intricate geometric principles and patterns which embellishes parts of its load-bearing brickwork. 

Narratives say the tower has influenced various subsequent designers of tomb towers and other cylindrical commemorative structures both in the region and beyond.

Two encircling inscriptions in Kufic calligraphy date the tower to 1006-7 CE while commemorate Qabus Ibn Voshmgir, Ziyarid ruler and literati (reigned 978–1012).

The UNESCO also credits Gonbad-e Qabus as “an outstanding and technologically innovative example of Islamic architecture that influenced sacral building in Iran, Anatolia and Central Asia.”

Here is a select of comments that visitors to the historical tower have posted to TripAdvisor, one of the most popular travel websites in the world:

Iran's magnificent, mysterious tower

Looking somewhat like a rocket ship about to take off from its artificial hill, this enigmatic tower is reputed to be the world's tallest structure built exclusively of unglazed, fired brick and Iran's earliest building bearing its own date…

While the inscription calls the tower a "castle," the interior is totally vacant with no visible signs it was ever intended as a living space nor that access to the top was ever planned…

Although now surrounded by a somewhat nondescript city of the same name, this magnificent and historically important tower is well worth a special side trip when visiting Iran. (David P. St. Petersburg, Florida; visited May 2015)

1000 years old, and still perfect

A tower in excellent condition, built by a civilization 1000 years ago, the echoes are fun and we met some fantastic people while taking photographs, Iran and especially this region is fantastic. (Garyje from Ireland, visited July 2015)

An undated photo depicts some travelers visit the one-millennium-old Gonbad-e Qabus in northern Iran.


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