Soltaniyeh holds potential for being hub of tourism

November 14, 2020 - 18:46

TEHRAN –Soltaniyeh, an ancient city in west-central Zanjan province, holds the potential to become a tourism hub in the region, the provincial tourism chief has said.

Meaning “Town of the Sultans”, Soltaniyeh was briefly the capital of Persia’s Ilkhanid dynasty (a branch of the Mongol dynasty) during the 14th century.

The city, which is home to many historical structures, sites, and monuments including the UNESCO-designated Dome of Soltaniyeh, could be promoted to top tourist destination, provincial tourism chief Amir Arjmand said on Saturday.

Dome of Soltaniyeh, (“Soltaniyeh Cupola”), which is the highlight of the city’s tourist attractions, is constantly being monitored and restored under the supervision of the provincial Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department, the official noted.

Visitors to the World Heritage can be enriched with their excursions with additional tours of a nearby archaeological mount, monument, temple, and scenic natural landscapes amongst others, the official noted.

 A 14-century marvel of architecture

The 14th-century structure is highly recognized as an architectural masterpiece particularly due to its innovative double-shelled dome and elaborate interior decoration. The very imposing dome stands about 50 meters tall from its base.

The interior has long been under renovation, chockfull of scaffolding poles. However, its decoration is such impressive that scholars including A.U. Pope described it as ‘anticipating the Taj Mahal’. It is the earliest existing example of the double-shelled dome in Iran.

A great-grandson of Hulegu, founder of the Il-Khanid dynasty, Oljaytu was a Mongol ruler who, after dabbling in various religions, adopted the Shia name Mohammed Khodabandeh.

According to UNESCO, the Mausoleum of Oljaytu is an essential link and key monument in the development of Islamic architecture in central and western Asia. Here, the Ilkhanids further developed ideas that had been advanced during the classical Seljuk phase (11th to early 13th centuries), during which the arts of Iran gained distinction in the Islamic world, thereby setting the stage for the Timurid period (late 14th to 15th centuries), one of the most brilliant periods in Islamic art.

UNESCO says, “Excavations carried out in the 790-ha Mausoleum of Oljaytu property have revealed additional vestiges of the old city, and a large part of this property has retained its archaeological character. As the ancient capital of the Ilkhanid dynasty, Soltaniyeh represents an exceptional testimony to the history of the 13th and 14th centuries in Iran.”

The very large dome is the earliest extant example of its type and became an important reference for the later development of the Islamic dome. Similarly, the extremely rich interior of the mausoleum, which includes glazed tiles, brickwork, marquetry, or designs in inlaid materials, stucco, and frescoes, illustrates an important movement towards more elaborate materials and themes.


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