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Behistun Narrates Persia Ancient Stories

Behistun, the area of the gods, is one of the most prestigious ancient monuments and substantial inscription in the world.
Reading Time: 11 minutes

Introduction to Behistun (Bisotun)

Behistun site is located on the slopes of a Mountain in Kermanshah province, next to the ancient road of Kermanshah to Hamedan, which is one of the most prestigious ancient monuments in the world. Many places in this vast country historically have become more important over time and have attracted so much attention; one of these most important places is the plain of Behistun. This impressive attraction is located in the east of the Kermanshah province. Due to its pleasant weather, and geographical location near the Mesopotamian region, it was placed on the path of important roads and because of the sanctity of Mount Bisotun, it was popular among the people and kings. Since the objects found in this rich site belong to different periods, we could say that this place includes seventy thousand years of rich history. In ancient Persia, Bisotun was called the area of the gods.

History of Behistun

Bisotun refers to the position of the gods that mention of this place was in the book of Siculus, which is a part of the Greek text of Ctesias concerning Behistun and the legend of naming telling the story of a stone introduced by the mythical queen of the Assyrian mythology as the “Bagastanon Oros”, and the Mount Behistun was offered to Ahura Mazda (the god of ancient Persians and Zoroastrians). The history of this rich area belongs to the past, where there have been findings that narrate seventy-thousand years of the history of Bisotun. The community of all monuments on Behistun was because of the water which was a manifestation of purity and light, flowing out of the heart of the Mouisotun, and by the order of Darius the Great, due to its value and holiness among the Persian people, this place was chosen for engraving the Behistun Inscription. The importance of Kermanshah and its Rocky Mountains, the great works of Aryans, and other reasons like the proximity of Bisotun Plain to important roads attracted the attention of kings.

Darius I Inscription in Bisotun

The most authentic and substantial inscription in the world, recognized as one of the human cultural heritage and registered by UNESCO, on the other hand, Darius the Great describes his victories in three old languages of Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian at the heart of the stone, also the greatness of the inscription is that only the Old Persian language has 414 rows. In addition to recording his victories, also mentions Ahuramazda, the good god of the Old Persian, and has encouraged humans to speak the truth and do good deeds, along with its decrees carved on stone.

Hercules statue

At the heart of the Behistun Mountain, there is a huge statue of a naked man with curly hair and a beard resting on lion skin carved from the rocks of the same mountain which is one of the most important monuments located in the Behistun area. Hercules is a Greek mythical figure who symbolizes courage, power, and the embodiment of masculinity and has superhuman power and is of high importance and sanctity among the Greek people, dating back to about 153 BC. According to the evidence Built late in the Seleucid rule an inscription with numerous motifs behind the statue of Hercules, written in ancient Greek the motifs include an engraving on a lion and an olive tree.

The story of Behistun

Nezami Ganjavi in ​​the collection of Panj Ganj, Hakim Abolghasem Ferdowsi in a part of Shahnameh, and also Vahshi Bafghi in the two poems “Shirin and Farhad” and “Khosrow and Shirin” each of them has written about Bisotun mountain, and the fiery love of the Sassanid era in such way that makes each reader eager to visit the site, the marks of Farhad’s ax on it.

Nizami Ganjavi mentions Mount Behistun in his Khosrow and Shirin poems, where everyone tells his poetry with eagerness to visit Bisotun. In his story, Farhad becomes enthralled with Shirin, and Khosrow Parviz, one of the most well-known kings of Persia who also loves Shirin, tells Farhad that he could marry Shirin only if he digs Mount Bisotun. Farhad had been hiking in Bisotun for years, and Khosrow Parviz, who would not think he could do so, got concerned about Farhad’s work. Khosrow Parviz, sent an old woman to Farhad in Behistun to tell him that Shirin is dead and when Farhad heard the fake news about Shirin’s death, he killed himself.

Nizami Ganjavi Love Story in Behistun Mountains

Farhad, a leading engineer in stonemasonry and painting, fell in love with Shirin on a mission (according to Nezami, this happened when Shirin had not yet officially married Khosrow and lived in a palace near Behistun). It is narrated that Shirin, the Armenian prince, loved lions very much, and a flock of sheep was far from the palace where Shirin lived, which made it difficult for him to provide milk; The servants had to go a long way to get the milk, and Shirin did not like to bother them. Also, due to the long distance, the fresh milk was getting old on the way. Shapur, Khosrow Parviz’s maid of honor, found out about this issue so, he introduced Farhad to the king and told him he was a very skilled master in stone carving. He can dig a path in the heart of Bisotun mountain where the sheep are kept to the palace where Shirin stays so that the milk can flow in it and reach her place directly.

Shirin and Farhad Love in Bisotun

Farhad accepted the order and started carving Behistun mountain. Once, Shirin decided to go to the place where Farhad was working to find out how the process of carving goes. When she saw his work, she admired him and gave him some expensive gemstones from her necklace. She gave them as a guarantee until she could pay his salary later. Farhad took the gems and thanked her. From then on, the love of Shirin settled in his heart. From then, he moaned about her separation because he wouldn’t dare to express his love to the Armenian prince. He suffered so much that he withdrew from the people and lived alone in the mountains for a while.

Khosrow and Farhad Story

It was so heartbreaking that everyone became aware of this love; Including Khosrow, who loved Shirin, and she also loved him. Khosrow was shocked to hear this, and called a number of his relatives and consulted with them about his work, and said: I cannot leave Farhad like this, and if I kill him, I will eliminate innocence. Tell me what to do. Because I cannot stand someone who loves sweets. The elders said to Khosrow: Kings! It is better to make him greedy and offer him a lot of money and property to give up on her love. What better than him to accept? Otherwise, you have to keep him digging the mountains so that he either refuses to love her or would waste his life in this work and would not achieve his goal.

As the king commanded, Farhad was spared and brought to the palace, and Khosrow gave him valuable gifts. When Farhad arrived at the castle of Khosrow Parviz, he sat down to debate with him. Whenever Khosrow asked Farhad, he would give powerful answers to Khosrow with his love for Shirin, and by relying on her love in his heart, he wouldn’t feel any fear. Khosrow suggested Farhad forget about her but, not only didn’t accept forgetting her but also, he refused to take the offers.

Bisotun Is the Reason for Love

For this reason, Khosrow ordered him to build a path in the middle of Bisotun mountain to make it easier to cross over. Farhad accepted and said he would do it so that you would stop thinking of Shirin. Khosrow became angry and decided to separate his head from his body; But since he had already spared him, he did not say anything and sent him to the Behistun mountains. Farhad went to Mount Bisotun, which was made of hard stones; But for the love of Shirin, he took the hard work upon himself. Farhad artistically carved the shape of Shirin’s face on the mountain rock and then sculpted the figure of Khosrow Parviz and his horse, Shabdiz, on the mountain.

Farhad always thought of Shirin while carving the Behistun mountain. This thought would make the blood flow into his veins. Sometimes he cried, and sometimes he would look at the palace she would sit in a place, and speak to himself: O my unfaithful lover! Now that I am carving this strong mountain for you, you have rested with your lover, Khosrow, and not thinking about an alien, like me. You are in celebrations and parties with joy and happiness while I have imprisoned myself among these stones and rocks, and will sacrifice my life for you.

Shirin and Farhad’s Love

One day, Shirin, while joking with her servants, said: Now that Farhad is carving a mountain for me, it is good to get there and watch his work closely. She rode her horse and went to Mount Behistun with gifts. Farhad, who could not believe that Shirin had come to the mountain, was so excited to see her, and words fail him, he rushed to Shirin and greeted her. Shirin asked him how he was, and Farhad, whose heart was full of her love, answered her with passion and affection: I love you, but you do not care about me. Please stay awhile, so I look at you. If you love me, then the king can no longer claim that you love him. When Shirin wanted to return, her horse fell to the ground, and was unable to get up. Farhad lifted the horse while Shirin was still on it, put it on his back, and went down the mountain.

Khosrow was informed that Shirin had gone to see Farhad, and such things happened. From that moment on, Farhad was so glade and motivated that he would soon finish digging Mount Behistun. Khosrow consulted with the elders and asked them for a solution. They told him that he should send someone to the mountain to inform Farhad of Shirin’s death. They taught an old woman. She went to the mountain and falsely informed Farhad about Shirin’s death. Farhad was sad and died on the spot. Farhad’s ax and saws, which were in his hands also, fell on the damp ground.

Bisotun as a sports landscape

Behistun Mountain is the fifth natural wall in the world to be called the lost paradise by climbers and because it is the seventh highest rock in the world, it becomes important and valuable for climbers.

Bisotun Mirage

Behistun Mirage, a fountain bubbling from the ground and gathering water in a not-too-large pond. Most of Bisotun ‘s monuments are located around the mirage. The existence of this mirage indicates that it is one of the main reasons for human settlements at the location from thousands of years ago. Historically, it has also been used as a residence for travelers and caravans on the route between the center and west of Persia and Mesopotamia.

Behistun Caves

There are several caves on the slopes of Behistun Mountain creation dates back many years and there were materials found inside such as human, and animal bones, stones, and tools. The bones found in the cave date back to 40000 to 70000 years ago, also pottery from the Assyrian and Achaemenian periods have been discovered.

Bas-relief of Mehrdad II and Bahram II and Goodarz II

The prominent role of Mehrdad II, which is a monument to the Parthian rule in Persia and represents Mehrdad II, king of the 3rd dynasty of Persia, Along with four other political figures, face to face with Mehrdad. That is another valuable work in Behistun, which is surrounded by the Darius I inscription written in Greek, introducing the prominent people. At the bottom of the Darius inscription, there is a bas-relief of Bahram II and Goodarz II of Parthian, which is destroyed strongly by the inscription of the Safavid period.

Inscriptions of Sheikh Ali Khan and Bisotun Inn.

Alongside the prominent role of Mehrdad, there is an inscription by Sheikh Ali Khan Zanganeh, one of the rulers of Kermanshah. Sheikh Ali Khan was a minister during the reign of Shah Abbas II who left a mark on the inscription with the contents of a dedication letter for a caravanserai in the heart of Behistun which was completed during the reign of King Suleiman by Sheikh Ali Khan Zanganeh. The building was used as a checkpoint and prison in recent decades but it was evacuated and refurbished to register the historical monuments of Bisotun.

Farhad Tarash

Farhad Tarash is one of Bisotun ‘s effects that takes its name after the story of Farhad Koh-Kan (mountain digger) and his lover, Shirin. A large wall 200 m long and 36 m wide, is carved on the slopes of Mount Behistun and west of the Darius I inscription.

Barnaj crypt

A long distance to the right of the inscription of Darius I, at a height below, there is a small cave, dated from the Median to the Sassanid period.

Bisotun Bridge

Bisotun Bridge is built on the Dinoor River on Kermanshah’s old road. The foundations were laid centuries ago in B.C. and were restored about 500 years ago.

Blash’s role

On the slopes of Mount Behistun, there is a boulder with the role of three men the main role is the Parthian Blash. It is not clear who the Blash was because the inscriptions have been destroyed. The other two roles relate to anonymous men as if they were moving toward Blash, and it is conjectured that Blash’s role depicted the scene of religious worship.

The incomplete Sassanid palace and the Ilkhanid Inn.

At the bottom of the Great Mount Behistun, in front of the engraved role of Farhad, there is a palace whose architectural style shows that the building belongs to the 5th Pars dynasty, which was abandoned for unknown reasons, and a Mongol caravanserai was built on the palace’s remains. Its remnants are still in place.

Temple of Harsin

Below the inscription of Darius on the right side of the Bisotun mirage, there is a room whose height is 1.5m and is known as the Mede shrine.

Behistun is a World Heritage

Bisotun is the eighth Persian World Heritage site which was added to the list in 2006, and about 28 monuments from the Behistun site are listed in Persian’s National Heritage List too. Among these 13 monuments, Darius’s inscription has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Behistun is one of those places where by listening to its stories, you’ll never feel your presence in the space!

UNESCO World Heritage Criteria of Behistun

Criterion (ii): The prominent and inscribed role of Darius is a clear indication of the importance of human communication in the development of art and writing.

Criterion (iii): The historic site of Behistun was one of the main routes of communication between Persia and Mesopotamia and confirms evidence in this area of human presence in pre-historic times. Since the Bisotun inscription is the only textual discovery of an Achaemenid historical event that shows Darius I rebuilding the empire, the first cuneiform inscription was deciphered in the 19th century.

Location of Bisotun

Behistun or Sarpol Bisotun is one of the ancient cities in Kermanshah province, which is located at the foot of a mountain known as Kermanshah and has two villages called Chehr and Markazi. Bisotun historical area is located 25 km east of Kermanshah Province.

Where to eat near Behistun

The Bisotun ‘s Pantry is a beautiful tablecloth that has five traditional cells whose windows overlook the Behistun Mountains, also the demos made in this pantry are for guests, particularly for this area.

And if you would like to have your meal in one of Kermanshah’s modern, stylish restaurants, we suggest you have your meal with the highest quality in one of the greatest restaurants in Kermanshah named Arg, located on the 4th floor of the Arg shopping mall, and if you are a risk-taker, be sure to include Khoresht Khalal in your choice which is local food.

Where to stay near Behistun

If you plan to stay overnight in Kermanshah, the 5* Laleh International Hotel, whose four-porch architecture is built in a mountainous area and dates back to the Safavid era, for this reason, this hotel was also known as the Abbasi Inn. The hotel is located 37 kilometers from Kermanshah and almost 2km from the historic Complex of Bisotun.

Also, we recommend Jamshid 4* Hotel with the most modern amenities with a short walk to historic attractions, which is a perfect choice for your accommodation.

When to visit Bisotun

The best time to visit Behistun is from the beginning of April to the end of May and October and November each year, and if you visit the Complex in summer, be sure to use sunscreen, glasses, and a hat, to have a good time.

How to get to Behistun

To travel from Tehran to Kermanshah by road, the Tehran-Saveh highway, one of the important, old roads on the road map of Persia to reach Kermanshah by car and bus, is the exact road you must drive through to first get to Hamedan and from there to Kermanshah.

Another way to travel from Tehran to Kermanshah is to fly from Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport (IKA) or Meh-Abad Airport (THR) to Shahid Ashrafi Isfahani Airport (KSH) in the northeast of Kermanshah Tehran, which is about an hour flying.

Traveling by train is a good option for those daydreamers who only reserve chairs near windows to get lost in their dreams for hours and hours. It’s an 11-hour ride by train. Just make sure to reserve your chair because it is the only train from Tehran to Kermanshah.

How to visit Bisotun

Mount Behistun in Kermanshah expresses the wonderful wonders of the history and power of the periods of the Persian Empire. On your way to Bisotun, there is a lake in the heart of a small and beautiful forest that fascinates us. See you.

They a prominent role in the victory and assassination of Gaumat the Magus, who was claimed by the religious leaders to be a false claimant to the throne, and Darius I triumphed over him, who set foot on Gaumat’s body as the king. There is an inscription below these reliefs that tells the story of Darius’ wars and victories in his battles against the rulers who intended to divide the great empire built by Cyrus.

Then visit the Hercules Sculpture; A tall, naked Greek warrior with a cup in his hand stroking the leather skin, which is one of the rare works of the Seleucids in Persia. Go to the four surviving reliefs of the Parthian kings, the second Persian kingdom, and from there head to Farhad Tarash, where it is sweet to express Farhad’s suffering and love for his beloved. Visit the Abbasi caravanserai, a relic of the Islamic era, and the Safavid kingdom left in Behistun.

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