UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Iran Tangible Heritage of UNESCO
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Persepolis, also known as Takht-e Jamshid, is an ancient city located in the Fars Province of Iran. It was once the capital of the Achaemenid Empire and was built by Darius I around 518 BC. The city was designed to showcase the power and wealth of the Persian Empire, and it was filled with impressive palaces, audience halls, and monuments. Persepolis was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BC, but the ruins that remain today are still a testament to the grandeur of this ancient city. Visitors can explore the remains of the palaces, including the Apadana Palace and the Throne Hall, which are adorned with intricate carvings and impressive columns. Persepolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Iran, providing a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Persian Empire.
2- Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Naqsh-e Jahan Square, also known as Imam Square, is a historical site located in the center of Isfahan, Iran. The square was built during the Safavid era in the early 17th century and is one of the largest city squares in the world. It is surrounded by impressive monuments, including the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, the Ali Qapu Palace, and the Shah Mosque. The Shah Mosque is particularly impressive, with its blue-tiled domes and minarets, and was once a center of Islamic learning and culture. The Ali Qapu Palace is also notable for its music rooms, where the court musicians would perform for the Safavid kings. Today, Naqsh-e Jahan Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist attraction, where visitors can stroll around the square, admire the beautiful architecture, and learn about the rich history and culture of Isfahan.
3- Chogh Zanbil Ziggurat
Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat is an ancient temple located in the Khuzestan Province of Iran. It was built by the Elamite king Untash-Napirisha in the 13th century BC, making it one of the oldest and most well-preserved ziggurats in the world. The temple was dedicated to the Elamite god Inshushinak and was originally part of a larger complex that included a palace, a royal quarter, and a city. The ziggurat itself is a massive stepped structure made of mud brick and is surrounded by three walls with towers and gateways. The interior of the ziggurat contains several layers of chambers and corridors, which were used for religious ceremonies and offerings. Today, Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important archaeological site, providing valuable insights into the ancient Elamite civilization and their religious practices.
4- Takht-e Soleyman
Takht-e Soleyman, also known as the Throne of Solomon, is an ancient archaeological site located in the West Azerbaijan Province of Iran. The site is centered around a large crater lake, which is believed to have formed from a collapsed volcanic cone. The lake is surrounded by impressive ruins, including the remains of a massive fortified wall, a palace complex, and a fire temple. The fire temple, which dates back to the Sassanid period, was a center of Zoroastrian worship and housed a sacred flame that was kept burning continuously for centuries. The palace complex includes the ruins of a grand throne room and several other buildings, which were used for administrative purposes. Takht-e Soleyman is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Iran, providing a window into the ancient history and culture of the region.
5- Bam Citadel and its cultural landscape
Bam Citadel, also known as Arg-e Bam, is an ancient fortress located in the Kerman Province of Iran. The citadel was built around 2,000 years ago and was one of the largest adobe structures in the world, covering an area of over 180,000 square meters. It was once an important center of trade and culture along the Silk Road, and its strategic location made it a key stronghold for several dynasties throughout history. The citadel is made up of several structures, including a royal palace, a mosque, and a public bathhouse, all connected by a series of winding passages. The fortress was also surrounded by a series of walls and towers, which provided additional protection against invaders. In 2003, Bam Citadel was severely damaged by an earthquake, but it has since been partially restored, and efforts are ongoing to preserve this important piece of Iranian history. Today, Bam Citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich history and culture of Iran.
Pasargadae is an ancient city located in the Fars Province of Iran and is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. The city was founded by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC and served as the capital of the Achaemenid Empire until it was later replaced by Persepolis. The city is home to several important structures, including the Tomb of Cyrus, which is one of the most impressive and well-known tombs in the world, and the Pasargadae Palace, which was once the residence of the Achaemenid kings. The palace also features a large audience hall, which was used for official ceremonies and meetings. Pasargadae is also home to several other important monuments, including the Gate of All Nations, which served as the entrance to the city and was decorated with reliefs depicting the various nations of the Achaemenid Empire. Today, Pasargadae is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination, providing a fascinating glimpse into the rich history and culture of ancient Persia.
7- Soltaniyeh Dom
Soltaniyeh is an ancient city located in the Zanjan Province of Iran and is home to one of the country’s most impressive historical sites, the Soltaniyeh Dome. The dome was built in the 14th century during the reign of the Ilkhanate dynasty and is considered one of the largest brick domes in the world. The dome was built by the architect Muhammad ibn Makki al-Zanjani and was initially intended to be the mausoleum of the Ilkhanid ruler, Oljaytu. The dome is made of baked bricks and is decorated with intricate geometric patterns, calligraphy, and tile work. The interior of the dome is also decorated with stunning frescoes, which depict scenes from the life of the Prophet Muhammad and other Islamic figures. Soltaniyeh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most important examples of Islamic architecture in the world. The site attracts thousands of visitors every year, who come to admire the stunning beauty and intricate craftsmanship of the Soltaniyeh Dome.
Bisotun, also known as Behistun, is an archaeological site located in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, which is famous for its rock carvings and inscriptions. The site is dominated by a towering limestone cliff, which rises to a height of over 1,500 feet and is covered in a number of inscriptions and carvings that date back to the Achaemenid Empire. The most famous of these inscriptions is the Bisotun Inscription, which was carved into the cliff face by Darius the Great in the 5th century BC. The inscription is written in three different languages, including Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian, and provides valuable insights into the history and culture of the Achaemenid Empire. The site also contains several other important inscriptions, including carvings that depict the victorious battles of Darius the Great and a relief of him receiving tribute from other nations. Bisotun is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Iran, providing a fascinating glimpse into the ancient history and culture of the region.
9- Armenian Monastic Ensembles (4 Sites)
The total number of churches registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List includes four churches.
10- Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System
The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is an ancient irrigation system located in the city of Shushtar in southwestern Iran. The system dates back to the 5th century BC and is considered one of the most remarkable examples of ancient hydraulic engineering in the world. The system consists of a series of canals, tunnels, dams, and watermills, which were designed to control the flow of water from the Karun River and distribute it to the surrounding agricultural lands. The system was built during the Achaemenid era and was later expanded during the Sassanid era. The system’s watermills were particularly innovative, using the power of the water to grind grain and create flour.
11- Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh
Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble is a historical complex located in the city of Ardabil, in northwestern Iran. The complex is dedicated to Sheikh Safi al-din Ardabili, the founder of the Safavid dynasty, and includes a mausoleum, a mosque, a library, and a school. The complex was built in the 16th century and is renowned for its unique architectural style, intricate tilework, and beautiful calligraphy. The mausoleum houses the tombs of Sheikh Safi al-din and his descendants, while the mosque features a magnificent dome and minarets. The library contains a vast collection of Islamic manuscripts and rare books, and the school was once a center of Islamic learning. The Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble is an important pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.
12- Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
The Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex is one of the oldest and largest covered bazaars in the world, located in the city of Tabriz in northwest Iran. The complex dates back to the 14th century and is a labyrinth of interconnected brick-vaulted structures, alleys, courtyards, and caravanserais. The bazaar has been a hub of commerce, culture, and social interaction for centuries, and is known for its exquisite architecture, intricate tilework, and beautiful Persian carpets. It contains over 5,500 shops, selling a wide range of goods such as spices, textiles, gold, and silverware. The complex also includes several important religious and cultural sites, such as the Jameh Mosque of Tabriz and the Constitutional Revolution House of Tabriz. The Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, recognizing its cultural significance and contribution to the city’s heritage.
13- Persian Gardens (9 Sites)
The total number of churches registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List includes four churches.13
14- Masjed Jame Isfahan
Masjed Jame Isfahan, also known as Masjid-e Jameh, is a historic mosque located in the city of Isfahan, Iran. The mosque dates back to the 8th century and has been expanded and renovated over the centuries by various rulers and dynasties, including the Seljuks, the Safavids, and the Qajars. The mosque is known for its beautiful architecture, which reflects the various styles and influences from different periods of Islamic art and architecture. The mosque features a large courtyard, several prayer halls, and several minarets. The mosque’s main prayer hall is one of the oldest parts of the mosque and features beautiful stucco and tilework. The mosque also features a beautiful blue-tiled dome that is one of the most iconic landmarks of Isfahan.4
15- Gonbad-e Qābus
Gonbad-e Qābus is a historic monument located in the city of Gonbad-e Qābus, Iran. The monument dates back to the 11th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for its unique and impressive architecture, as well as its historical and cultural significance. The monument is a large brick tower that is approximately 72 meters tall and is the tallest brick tower in the world. The tower’s interior features a spiral staircase that leads to the top of the tower, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The tower is adorned with intricate brickwork, including geometric patterns and Kufic inscriptions, which serve as a testament to the artistic and architectural achievements of the Seljuk dynasty. Gonbad-e Qābus is considered one of the most important examples of Islamic architecture in Iran and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. It is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Iran and the ingenuity of Islamic architectural design.
16- Golestan Palace
Golestan Palace is a historic palace located in the heart of Tehran, Iran. The palace was built during the Qajar dynasty in the 19th century and is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful gardens. The palace features a blend of traditional Persian and Western architectural styles, and is adorned with beautiful tilework, mirrorwork, and carved wooden doors and ceilings. The palace features several buildings, including the Shams al-Emareh (Sun Building), which has a stunning facade with a mix of European and Persian architectural elements. The palace also features several museums that house a collection of Qajar-era art and artifacts, including the Marble Throne Room, which is considered one of the most beautiful rooms in the palace. The palace is surrounded by a large garden, which features several pools, fountains, and beautiful trees and flowers.
17- Shahr-i Sokhta
Shahr-i Sokhta, also known as the “Burnt City,” is an archaeological site located in the Sistan and Baluchestan Province of Iran. The site dates back to the Bronze Age, around 3200 BC, and is known for its advanced urban planning and sophisticated civilization. The city was destroyed and abandoned around 1800 BC, and was rediscovered in the 1970s. The site features several buildings, including a citadel, a cemetery, and a large residential area. The city was a hub of trade and commerce and was known for its advanced metallurgy and weaving skills. The site has yielded several artifacts, including pottery, jewelry, and figurines, which provide insight into the lives and culture of the people who lived in the city.
18- Maymand Village
The Cultural Landscape of Maymand is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Kerman Province of Iran. The site is known for its unique and ancient cave dwellings, which have been inhabited by the local community for thousands of years. The dwellings were carved into the soft rock of the mountainside and were used as homes, stables, and storage areas. The site also features a network of tunnels and underground water channels, which were used for irrigation and water supply. The Maymand community has preserved their traditional way of life and culture, including their language, clothing, and handicrafts. The site offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Iran and the ingenuity of human settlement in a challenging environment. The Cultural Landscape of Maymand is a popular destination for tourists and researchers alike, and is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of human communities over time.
19- Susa (Shush)
Susa, also known as Shush, is an ancient city located in the Khuzestan Province of Iran. The city dates back to the 4th millennium BC and it was one of the oldest and most important cities of the ancient Near East. Susa was the capital of the Elamite empire and was later conquered by the Achaemenid Persians, the Babylonians, the Macedonians, and the Parthians. The city is known for its impressive archaeological sites, including the Apadana Palace, the Tomb of Daniel, and the Acropolis. The Apadana Palace was built by Darius the Great and features stunning stone reliefs depicting Persian soldiers and court scenes. The Tomb of Daniel is a pilgrimage site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims and is believed to be the burial place of the prophet Daniel. The Acropolis is a large hill that features the remains of several ancient buildings, including a palace and a temple.
20- Lut Desert
The Lut Desert, also known as Dasht-e Lut, is a vast desert located in the southeastern part of Iran. The desert covers an area of approximately 52,000 square kilometers and is known for its extreme temperatures, stunning landscapes, and unique geological formations. The Lut Desert is one of the hottest places on Earth, with temperatures reaching up to 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas. The desert features several unique geological formations, including the Kaluts, which are tall, sandstone formations that have been sculpted by wind and water erosion. The desert is also home to several salt flats, sand dunes, and dry riverbeds.
21- Persian Qanats (11 Sites)
A Persian qanat is an ancient water management system that uses underground tunnels to transport groundwater from a source to various locations. The system has been critical to the survival of many communities in arid and semi-arid regions of Iran and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the qanats are still in use today.
The eleven qanats inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List are listed as follows
22- Historic City of Yazd
The Historic City of Yazd is a living testament to Iran’s rich cultural heritage and traditional way of life. This stunning city, located in central Iran, boasts a plethora of ancient landmarks, including the Jame Mosque of Yazd, the Zoroastrian Fire Temple, and the historic Dowlat Abad Garden, which is home to the tallest wind tower in Iran. The old city is also home to numerous traditional mud-brick homes, narrow alleys, and traditional bazaars that transport visitors back in time. Additionally, Yazd is renowned for its unique qanats, an ancient water management system that has been in use for over 3000 years. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Historic City of Yazd is a must-see destination for anyone interested in exploring Iran’s rich cultural and architectural heritage.
23- Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region
The Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region is a stunning testament to the grandeur and sophistication of the Sassanid Empire, which ruled Iran from 224 to 651 CE. Located in the southwest region of Iran, the archaeological landscape includes several ancient sites, such as the ancient city of Bishapur, the Palace of Ardeshir, and the fortress of Firuzabad. These sites feature stunning examples of Sassanid architecture, such as the iconic high-relief carvings and the grand arches that were used to decorate palaces and public buildings. The landscape is also home to several ancient irrigation systems and agricultural terraces that demonstrate the advanced engineering and agricultural techniques of the Sassanid period. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the ancient history and architectural marvels of Iran.
24- Hyrcanian Forests
The Hyrcanian Forests are a remarkable natural wonder that stretches across the northern regions of Iran, covering an area of over 530,000 hectares. These ancient forests are a biodiversity hotspot, containing a diverse range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species. The forest features several distinct ecosystems, including broadleaf deciduous, mixed, and Caspian Hyrcanian forests. The region is also home to several rivers, waterfalls, and wetlands that sustain a rich and diverse wildlife population, including brown bears, leopards, lynxes, and wolves. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Hyrcanian Forests are a marvel of nature, offering visitors a unique opportunity to witness the pristine beauty of one of the world’s most remarkable forest ecosystems.
25- Cultural Landscape of Uraman
The Cultural Landscape of Hawraman/Uramanat is a stunning testament to the unique cultural heritage and traditional way of life of the Kurdish people of Iran. Located in the western regions of Iran, the Hawraman/Uramanat region features a distinctive landscape of stepped terraces, ancient irrigation systems, and traditional mud-brick homes that have been built into the steep mountain slopes. The region is home to several ancient temples, shrines, and sacred sites that are revered by the local Kurdish population, including the ancient Pir-e-Shaliar shrine. The region is also famous for its traditional handicrafts, such as carpet weaving, embroidery, and pottery, which have been passed down through generations of Kurdish artisans. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Cultural Landscape of Hawraman/Uramanat is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the rich cultural heritage and traditional way of life of the Kurdish people of Iran.
26- Trans-Iranian Railway
The Trans-Iranian Railway is a remarkable feat of engineering and a testament to Iran’s modernization efforts during the early 20th century. This historic railway system spans over 1,394 kilometers, stretching from the Persian Gulf in the south to the Caspian Sea in the north, and crosses some of the country’s most rugged and challenging terrain. The railway system was constructed in the 1930s under the rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi and was intended to provide a modern transportation infrastructure that would connect Iran’s major cities and ports. The railway system features several remarkable structures, such as the Veresk Bridge, which is considered one of the world’s most daring railway bridges, and the Gorgan Wall, a massive earthen wall built by the Sassanid dynasty. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Trans-Iranian Railway is a remarkable example of Iran’s modernization efforts and an iconic symbol of the country’s railway history.