Maragheh tomb towers on the verge of destruction

October 9, 2021 - 18:27

TEHRAN – The ancient city of Maragheh in northwestern Iran is home to magnificent tomb towers that are unfortunately at risk of being destroyed over time.

Throughout history, nine circular tombs have been destroyed and now there are only four ones left in the city.

These historical tomb towers came into existence during the Ilkhanid era (1256–1353) and before. Some of the towers used to have astronomical and calendar functions. In the past, to create information about the time and day, they built such towers using geometry and architecture.

In the order of their construction, the remaining tomb towers at Maragheh are the Red (Sorkh) tower, the Circular (Modavar) tower, the Blue (Kabud) tower, and the Ghaffarieh tower.

As the starting point of the Azari School of architecture, the Red tower is known as the most significant tower in the world. In the decoration of this structure, tiles and bricks have been combined for the first time.

Circular tower, built in 563 AH, has a simple outer wall, with the exception of a cube shaped entrance, and it is decorated with considerable architectural details.

The Blue tower was built in 593 AH, 10 meters from the Circular tower, whose geometric shapes and exterior decoration have provided an artistic combination of mathematics and art.

Ghaffarieh tower is one of the standing domes in the city, which was built between 716 and 737 AH during the Ilkhanid Dynasty. The tower gets its name from a school built in the vicinity of the tower called Ghaffarieh.

A notable feature of the building’s exterior is the use of small geometric knots and many designs, created with glazed tiles invented during the Ilkhanid era. The Ghaffarieh tower can be considered as an exhibition of this art.

Throughout Iran, such domes dot the landscape, and now Maragheh has managed to preserve several old towers. When properly preserved and protected, all four tomb towers, which are listed on the national heritage list, could become Maragheh’s most popular tourist attraction.