Iran’s ‘Taj Mahal’ cleaned to mark Intl. Day for Monuments and Sites

April 18, 2022 - 22:10

TEHRAN – A host of cultural heritage advocates have recently cleaned the UNESCO-designated Gonbad-e Soltaniyeh and its premises to celebrate the International Day for Monuments and Sites. Surmounted by a huge double-shell brick dome, the 14th-century monument is sometimes referred to as Iran’s ‘Taj Mahal’.

“We hope this clean-up project would help promote - and draw people's attention to - the preservation of natural and historical heritage,” IRIB quoted the director of the World Heritage site as saying on Monday.  

“Historical monuments and sites are of high importance as an ingredient of the national identity … people should be aware of their role in the protection of cultural heritage sites and monuments. In this regard, we will do our best for public education,” Hossein Eydani explained.

The International Day for Monuments and Sites is observed globally on April 18 to encourage local communities and individuals to recognize the value of cultural heritage in their lives.

According to the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the occasion focuses on raising awareness about the diversity and vulnerability of cultural heritage, in addition to measures to preserve monuments.

The World Heritage Day theme for 2022 is Heritage and Climate. ICOMOS has called on its members, individuals, and organizations to hold activities around the theme. “

This year's theme offers an opportunity to respond to questions of climate justice and equity to protect heritage. It is also an opportunity to discuss ways in which we may achieve equitable protection of vulnerable communities.”

"This day provides a timely opportunity to showcase strategies to promote the full potential of heritage conservation research and practice to deliver climate-resilient pathways to strengthen sustainable development while advocating for just transitions to low-carbon futures,” ICOMOS said.

Dominating the skyline, the 14th-century Gonbad-e (“The Dome of”) Soltaniyeh is highly recognized as an architectural masterpiece particularly due to its innovative double-shelled dome and elaborate interior decoration.

According to UNESCO, the mausoleum’s interior decoration is so outstanding that scholars like A.U. Pope has described the building as “anticipating the Taj Mahal”.

The monument is, in fact, the mausoleum of Oljaitu, also known as Muhammad Khodabandeh, who was the eighth Ilkhanid dynasty ruler from 1304 to 1316.

As mentioned by the UN cultural body, the Mausoleum of Oljaytu is an essential link and key monument in the development of Islamic architecture in central and western Asia. The fairly large dome is the earliest extant example of its type in the country and became an important reference for the later development of the Islamic dome.


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