Architectural landmarks all around the world reflect how people perceive the world around them. That’s why architecture is seen as more than just building structures and foundations for life. Architecture has always been high in Iran due to the significant growth in mathematical sciences, especially geometry, from ancient times. It can confidently be said that Iran has been a pioneer in this field on a global scale. Iran’s Architectural Landmarks can be broadly categorized into two important groups: pre-Islamic and Islamic Iranian architecture. However, in a realistic view, Iranian architecture is often a fusion of both styles in most spaces. After the encounter of Islamic civilization with Iran, Iranian architecture gradually became a derivative of both types over time. In this article from Kantal Travel, we’ll look at ten remarkable Iranian architectural masterpieces.
List of Iran Architectural Landmarks
Architectural Landmarks in Iran have rich indigenous knowledge and a long history, and throughout time, it has been recognized as one of the most outstanding forms of art in Iran. Iranian architecture emerged between 550 BCE and 330 BCE, meaning it has a history of approximately 2,750 years. Now, let’s get acquainted with some of the most important architectural masterpieces of Iran:
The Azadi Tower is the main and one of Tehran’s most iconic towers, known as the Shahyad Tower, before the 1357 Iran Revolution. This symbol is recognized all over the world. The Iranian architect Hossein Amanat designed and built this Iran architecture site in 1970 (Solar Hijri 1349)! Its architecture is a fusion of Achaemenid, Sassanian, and Islamic styles.
The structure features four elevators, two stairways, and 286 steps, with several exhibition halls, a library, an art gallery, and a museum located in the lower area of Azadi. Around 46,000 pieces of cut stone were used to construct the tower. It is 63 meters long, 45 meters high from the ground level, and 5 meters above the museum floor.
Persepolis, the famous and prominent Persian architectural Landmark of the Achaemenids, is located in Marvdasht Plain near Shiraz. It is also known by other names such as Parsa, Takht-e Jamshid, Parsehpolis, Hazar Sotun, or Chehel Menar. It served as the magnificent ceremonial capital and center for various rituals and celebrations, especially for Nowruz, during the Achaemenid Empire and the royal court of Iran.
According to various historical sources, the construction of Persepolis began approximately 2,500 years ago on the western slope of Rahmat Mountain, also known as the Mountain of Mehr or Mithra, during the reign of Darius the Great. Later, his successors continued its construction with modifications to the original structure. Within the precincts of Takht-e Jamshid, there is an intriguing museum displaying Achaemenid artifacts, including inscribed tablets from the terrace of Takht-e Jamshid, columns, capitals, gold jewelry, the Cyrus Cylinder, a small unfinished stone statue, large glazed brick reliefs, and more.
Originally, this museum was the palace of the queen, completed under the order of King Xerxes I. Presently, Persepolis is one of Iran’s registered UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Khajoo Bridge was constructed in 1060 AH (Hijri Lunar calendar) over the river Zayandeh Rud in Isfahan, Iran’s historical city. Among the most beautiful historical structures in Iran from the Safavid era, Khajoo Bridge was built under the order of Shah Abbas II. This bridge was a passage for pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages in ancient times.
The architectural style, tilework, and paintings of Khajoo Bridge are a global masterpiece that captivates the eyes of all beholders. The historical Khajoo Bridge has a length of about 133 meters, a width of 12 meters, and a passageway of 5.7 meters. It features 24 arches and two lion-shaped statues on either side.
The bridge consists of four levels. The first level includes the base and stairs of the bridge. The second level serves as the passageway with columns supporting the bridge. The third level accommodates the river’s water passage and sluice gates used as a dam. Finally, the fourth level was the pedestrian walkway which also housed the king’s pavilion.
Milad Tower, with a height of 435 meters, is the tallest structure in Iran and the sixth tallest telecommunications tower in the world. It is one of the best sites of Iran’s architecture, located on the slopes of Nahre-Nars Park in the northern part of the Gisha neighborhood. The Milad Tower complex includes various administrative, commercial, and tourist sections. However, currently, it is trendy among the city’s residents due to its extensive recreational facilities and amenities.
The tower weighs approximately 150,000 tons and utilizes 17,000 square meters of glass in its construction. The Milad Tower building consists of three main sections: the lower part of the tower, the main body of the tower, and the rounded top part. These three sections create the current shape of Milad Tower.
The Milad Tower complex has various recreational and tourist facilities, including the Coin Museum, Hall of Fame, Sky Dome, Sky Bridge, bungee jumping, amusement park, and more. The main building of Milad Tower and the surrounding area also houses multiple restaurants, but the most famous is the Milad Tower Revolving Restaurant. It is the world’s largest revolving restaurant and can accommodate 400 people, completing a full hourly rotation. Located at an elevation of 276 meters, the Revolving Restaurant offers customers a complete view of Tehran city.
Aali Qapu Palace
One of the most important Architectural Landmarks in Iran, Aali Qapu Palace, built by order of Shah Abbas I in the first quarter of the 11th century AH (Hijri Lunar calendar), stands on the western side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan. The palace was completed in the early years of the same century and served as the administrative center for the country’s affairs and the king’s seat. It was also the place for receiving high-ranking diplomats and guests of the Safavid dynasty. Historians have referred to Aali Qapu in historical texts as the “Blessed Government House of Naqsh-e Jahan.”
The ceiling of the building is made of finely cut and specially painted wooden beams, displaying exceptional craftsmanship and elegance. Twenty wooden columns, exquisitely painted and carved, support this ceiling. The walls of the palace are adorned with European-style paintings. What has truly elevated Aali Qapu to the category of magnificent and precious works of the Safavid era are the miniature paintings done by the renowned artist of that time, Reza Abbasi, as well as the skillful stucco works of the top floor of the palace, known as the “Music Room” or “Sound Room.” These stucco works are designed to regulate sound and prevent echoes.
Tabatabaei Historical House
Tabatabaei Historical House is the most beautiful and oldest historical house in Kashan and plays a vital role in attracting tourists to this city. This ancient house is architecturally and aesthetically so stunning that it is recognized as the bride of Iranian houses. Covering an area of 4,730 square meters, this house comprises various sections.
The highlights and beauties of this historical and touristic attraction include the architectural decorations on both the exterior and interior facades, colorful stained glass and exquisite mirrors, delicate stucco ornamentations, and the combination of authentic Iranian architecture with Islamic elements. All these elements and features combined make Tabatabaei Historical House one of the world’s most unique and captivating structures.
Chehel Sotoon Palace
The Chehel Sotoon Palace in Isfahan is an attractive Architectural Landmark in Iran and the masterpiece of Safavid art and architecture, built by the order of Shah Abbas I. This colorful pavilion is like a dazzling gem set in the heart of a grand garden, captivating all travelers and tourists with its unique design and exquisite paintings. The palace covers an area of 67,000 square meters.
This palace’s story begins with the construction of a pavilion in the middle of the garden. This pavilion serves as the central core of the Chehel Sotoon Palace. Gradually, the rest of the building is completed, and other sections are added to the complex. The later additions include:
- The Mirror Hall.
- The Twenty Columns Hall.
- The ivans on both sides of the King’s Hall.
- A large basin in front of the hall.
Throughout the various sections of the palace, one can witness a sense of symmetry that reflects strength and stability. The intricate detailing and precision employed in constructing the Chehel Sotoon Palace are truly admirable, to the extent that it has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Grand Mosque of Isfahan
The Grand Mosque of Isfahan, also known as the Friday Mosque of Isfahan or Atiq Mosque, is a historical mosque at the end of Isfahan’s bazaar. It stands as a testament to various architectural styles that emerged after Islam. The construction of this mosque began in 156 AH (Hijri Lunar calendar) under the order of the Abbasid caliph al-Mu’tasim and changed during the Seljuk period.
The mosque has a rectangular layout and boasts ten entrances. It also features several courtyards, stone reservoirs (sahnabs), a library, and more. The global registration of the Grand Mosque of Isfahan as a UNESCO World Heritage site took place in 1390 (Hijri Solar calendar), recognizing it as one of the world’s cultural treasures.
The Bazaar of Isfahan
The Bazaar of Isfahan, one of Iran’s most beautiful and vibrant traditional markets, is not limited to a specific location; instead, it consists of various diverse sections, some of which have a longer history than others. The architecture and construction style of the Isfahan Bazaar makes it one of the most stunning places to visit in Isfahan and Iran. To believe this, you only need to look at the market’s ceiling and explore the scattered historical spots.
The structure of this Architectural Landmark in Iran is densely packed; the shops inside the market are placed shoulder to shoulder, leaving hardly any empty spaces in the alleys, except for some areas where caravanserais, schools, and mosques around the bazaar provide some relief from the density. The Isfahan Bazaar is approximately 1.5 kilometers long, and its ceiling height varies between 7 to 7.5 meters at different points.
Broujerdi House is one of Kashan’s most famous historical buildings, dating back to the second half of the 13th century AH (Hijri Lunar calendar). It represents a prime example of aristocratic residential houses from the Qajar period in Kashan. This Architectural Landmark in Iran was built by a merchant named Haj Seyyed Hasan Natanzí.
The valuable paintings and stucco works in Broujerdi House were executed under the supervision of two prominent and renowned Iranian painters from the Qajar era, the late Mirza Abolhasan Ghaffari Kashani and his nephew, known as “Kamal al-Molk,” the late Mirza Mohammad Khan Ghaffari Kashani. The gypsum designs of the house were also completed under the guidance of these two masters.
The Director-General of UNESCO visited Broujerdi House and called it the “most beautiful historical house in the ancient continent of Asia.” To truly appreciate the wonder, amazement, and beauty of this building, one must immerse themselves in its artistic features for hours to savor the taste of such exquisite craftsmanship.
Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse
Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse is one of the most beautiful bathhouses in Iran and one of the best Architectural Landmarks in Iran and Kashan, with a history dating back to the Seljuk and Qajar periods. This bathhouse, also listed as a national heritage site in Iran, is a unique example of Iranian bathhouse architecture and decorations located in a historic neighborhood. The rooftop of Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse is an iconic spot in Kashan and a subject of interest for many photographers. Additionally, the turquoise blue tiles, intricate stucco works, and impressive architecture annually attract thousands of domestic and foreign tourists to this site.
One of the most famous Architectural Landmarks in Iran, Arg-é Bam, known as the largest adobe structure in the world, is situated in the historic city of Bam in southeastern Iran. Arg-é Bam is the largest Adobe building listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This structure was founded during the Sassanian era and is located on top of an artificial hill in the northwestern quarter of the old city of Bam. This area was once a significant crossroads for the Silk Road and the routes leading to Central Asia, the Persian Gulf, and Egypt. From the 7th to the 11th century, Arg-é Bam thrived as a bustling trade center, facilitating the trade of silk and cotton fabrics. The complex occupies an area measuring 315 meters along the east-west axis and 270 meters along the north-south axis.
FAQs about Most famous Architectural landmarks in Iran
- What is the oldest architecture in Iran?
The oldest architecture in Iran dates back to ancient times and is seen in structures like the ziggurat at Chogha Zanbil, built around 1250 BCE
- Was Persia inspired by Egyptian architecture?
The art of other nations has always influenced Achaemenid art. This receptivity began with the Medes and extended to Mesopotamia, Greece, and Egypt. However, this influence was active, as they skillfully managed to incorporate other nations’ artistic experiences and abilities under their rule and evolved them in the best possible way! The best example of this behavior is their architecture, especially in columns and capitals, which showcase their finest achievements.