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Soltaniyeh Dome, the Turquoise Jewel of Persia

Soltaniyeh Dome, symbolizes the victory of Persian culture over the wild mood of the Mongols in Zanjan province.
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Introduction to Soltaniyeh Dome

Soltaniyeh Dome is one of the masterpieces of Persian architecture in the patriarchal period in the city of Soltaniyeh in Zanjan province. The dome of Soltaniyeh symbolizes the victory of Persian culture over the wild mood of the Mongols. The conquerors of the Mongols, who a few generations ago showed the great and rich mosques and libraries in Persia, can now create the beauty of the works of the history of Persian architecture. This dome is a symbol of the glory and equipment of the Persian civilized browser. A civilization that not by the force of the sword, but by the power of knowledge and thought have won the battle.  Soltaniyeh Dome, the turquoise jewel of Persia shining in the heart of the plain. It is one of the most magnificent, double-breasted dome, the best dome that has taken the label of the largest brick dome of the world.

History of Soltaniyeh

Soltaniyeh was once the capital and the house of the Mongol kings in Persia. Before being relocated to the city, Soltaniyeh uses a limited budget to interpret and hunt. The fourth Mongol patriarchal empire, Arghun Khan, ordered the construction of the city of Soltaniyeh in this part of Kurdistan. During the Ilkhanid period, Soltaniyeh was the third capital to be distributed after Maraghe and Tabriz, and these days it is the tomb of Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh. The famous 700 year-old dome of Soltaniyeh, is located in the wide plain of Soltaniyeh. The greatness of this magnificent building has been mentioned in the confirmation of travelogues and historical texts. Orientalists and western archaeologists can also provide you with the best of them. The eighth king of the patriarchal period, known as Al-Jaito, took the name of Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh by choosing the religion of Islam.

Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh has changed the structure of the dome of Soltaniyeh. After visiting the shrine of Imam Ali, he decides to move the grave of the Imam of Muslim in Najaf and bring his body to Soltaniyeh. After the opposition of the Shi’a clerics, he gave up and brought some of Najaf’s soil with him to Soltaniyeh and used it to build the dome for himself. It is interesting to know that it took 3000 men to be built.

Architecture of Soltaniyeh Dome

In terms of architecture, the Soltaniyeh Dome in Zanjan consists of three floors. The spaces around the dome in the ground floor and the first floor, are similar to rectangles and becomes octagonal on the second and third floors. There are eight high arches, but there is no exact information for the usage of number eight, but many experts say that it relates to the purpose of the sundial. Some believe that the reason is eight in heaven and the materials in the main body of the dome used is brick, and in the dome section. There is a cover of turquoise and azure tiles, which is made with mosaic style. The distance from the dome to the floor of the building is 50 meters. This building consists of three spaces of Gonbad Khaneh, Torbat Khaneh, and Sardabeh. The interior decorations of Gonbad Soltaniyeh building include plastering, muqarnas Kari, tiling, decorative lines, and various brick decorations. The interior of the building is designed with words of Allah, Muhammad and Ali with a combination of blue tiles and bricks.

There are some interesting points about the architecture of this building, including the fact that this building inspired the construction of the Cathedral of Florence in Italy and the Taj Mahal, which is considered one of the masterpieces in the history of world architecture. Another is that the Dome of Soltaniyeh is a turning point in the history of architecture because in terms of architectural style and art, it is completely different from the art of the Seljuk period and for the first time in the history of Persian architecture. The art of tiling has been used in a complex level. Finally, the building was used as a sundial, so that the shape of the light passing through the large windows of the structure on the interior walls indicates the time of the day, and this is one of the strange and interesting features of this monument. In 1348 AH its restoration was started by an Italian group and continued until 1357. Experts refer to the restoration of this building as one of the most delicate and complex restoration works of its kind, which continues to this day.

Name of the Dome of Soltaniyeh

The dome of Soltaniyeh is a symbol of superiority and meritocracy. Al-Jaito or Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh built the city of Soltaniyeh on the green grasslands of Khorram, south of the Alborz mountain range, because the grasslands are reminiscent of his ancestral homeland, the grasslands north of the Gabi Desert in Mongolia. He also competed with the great Shang Ghazani building in the city of Tabriz, which was built by Ghazan Khan, the elder brother of Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh, during his reign, and was buried there after his death.Another reason for building the Soltaniyeh Dome was to change the religion of Al-Jaito because he had converted to several religions during his lifetime. The religion of Islam is in the heart of the Sultan. He built this dome in the heart of the patriarchal empire, a magnificent dome, and a sign of lasting faith.

The main parts of the Dome of Soltaniyeh

Torbat Khaneh

In the southern part of Gonbad Soltaniyeh in Zanjan, there is a famous part called Torbat Khaneh, which the king of Al-Jaito, after being disappointed with the transfer of the body of Imam Ali. His noble son, ordered to transfer from Najaf and Karbala to Soltaniyeh. The soil was used in the instruction of this part of the building. On the walls of the altar in front of the door, with the use of Imam Hussein’s Torbat (soil), the Al-Mulk Surah is engraved with two hand writings of Sols and Kufic and that is why this part is known as Torbat Khaneh. The gold and painted tiles and octagons of this part of the building and its protective wall coverings are amazing, extraordinary, and unique in terms of tile art.

Refrigerator (Sardabeh)

Another side space of Gonbad Soltaniyeh is Sardabeh, which is located on the south side of Torbat Khaneh. Some believe that it was built in this place before the construction of Gonbad. The crypt was the burial place of kings and dignitaries at that time, and the entrance to this part is a little high so that when you enter it, so you have to bend your head to respect the dead and pay your respects. This section is accessible via the south porch of Torbat Khaneh. In the middle of the crypt is the tomb, and on its sides are two small spaces. Although excavations at the site did not show any graves in the crypt, historians and some scholars still believe that Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh was buried in the same crypt.

Dome of the House

The dome of the house is another part of the dome of Soltaniyeh. This dome is one of the first examples of two shells in the world and is about 160 cm thick. The fact that the dome of the dome is double-walled shows the architect’s intelligence in relation to static issues, which has made the building resistant to earthquakes by creating a hollow space.

Inscriptions of Soltaniyeh

Inside the dome, inscriptions from Quranic verses can be seen on all the walls of the dome, as well as around the ground floor of Surah Fatah. Above the main door of the entrance to the tomb in the eastern part of the building, it is decorated with verses of Ayatollah Al-Kursi, and inside the porch of the first floor, Surah Al-Ikhlas (Tawhid) is engraved. The bodies of the building also host verses from the chapters of Al-Anbiya ‘al-Mu’minun wa al-Mulk, as well as all the walls of the first and second floors with inscriptions named Ali and Muhammad. In other inscriptions in Gonbad Soltaniyeh , the name of Sobhan allah is mentioned about six times, the name of Muhammad (PBUH) five times, the name of Ali (AS) five times, the name of Muhammad Rasool allah, Sultan Zolullah, etc., and the name of Sultan is mentioned several times in several inscriptions. Muhammad and his son and Taj al-Din Ali Shah can be seen to have guessed that he was the architect of this building.

Soltaniyeh Dome is one of the amazing attractions of Zanjan, which according to studies in terms of height after the Church of Santa Maria in Italy and the Hagia Sophia in Turkey is known as the third dome in the world and also the title of the largest brick dome in the world and the largest. The historical dome has been registered in Persia and one of the features of this brick building is its weight of 1600 tons, of which only 8 cm has leaked during these years. Arthur Epham Popp, a prominent American orientalist and historian, considers the Taj Mahal building in India to be an adaptation of the building and considers the Soltaniyeh Dome as a model for it.

He says about this building:

” The dome of Soltaniyeh is very strong, full of spirit and is a building where everything is in place, even the pressure on the building is exactly where it should be, and that is why this structure is a masterpiece of art.”

Hafiz Abru the Timurid historian also says of Gonbad Soltaniyeh:

It is a unique building like no other in the world.

 As a UNESCO World Heritage

In 2005, the largest brick and turquoise dome, which shines from afar like a turquoise ring, was registered in the historic city of Soltaniyeh as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Persia.

UNESCO World Heritage Criteria of Soltaniyeh Dome

Criterion (ii): As a link between the early examples of the Seljuk and Timurid eras, Gonbad Soltaniyeh is an important element in the formation of Islamic architecture in Central and Western Asia. This is reflected in the double-walled structure, as well as the skillful use of visual materials and effects in interior decoration.

Criterion (iii): The dome of Soltaniyeh, the capital of the patriarchal rulers, is a testament to the history of Persia in the seventh and eighth lunar centuries.

Criterion (iv): The dome of Soltaniyeh shows great progress in Persian architecture, especially during the patriarchal era. Features such as engineered structure, spatial dimensions, architectural forms, techniques, and decorative patterns in Persian architecture have made Soltaniyeh Dome unique.

Soltaniyeh Dome is a historical turquoise jewel from the patriarchal era. The dome of Soltaniyeh, the tomb of Al-Jaito (Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh), is one of the patriarchal rulers of Persia. This area has long been the capital of the Ilkhans, and the building itself was completed from 702 to 712, with the help of about 3,000 people. The importance of this building is not only that it is a pure example of Persian architecture, but also in terms of the evolution of Islamic architecture. The main building of the dome is an octagonal prism on which a dazzling turquoise dome is placed like a crown. Around this complex there are 8 narrow minarets. The interior of the building consists of three main sections: the entrance, the tomb, and the crypt, but the main entrance is currently blocked.

The engineering and mathematical aspects of this building can be interesting for many people, but the main importance of the Soltaniyeh Dome is that the dome is double-walled; the world’s first double-walled dome! This has been the reason for the strength of the structure against various damages such as earthquakes, storms, and floods. The interiors of the mausoleum, which includes muqarnas Kari, tiling, plastering, decorative inscriptions, and brick symbols, are so unique that Professor Arthur Opham Pope, a famous American Orientalist, considers these decorations more delightful than the decorations of the Taj Mahal.

Location of the Dome of Soltaniyeh

Soltaniyeh Dome, in Soltaniyeh city in Zanjan province, which is located in the northwestern part of Persia. On the Qazvin-Zanjan highway and a little bit before the city of Zanjan, a turquoise dome of Soltaniyeh Dome can be seen.

When to Visit of Soltaniyeh

Zanjan has a mountainous climate with very cold winters and the best period to spend leisure time in this province is spring and summer.

Where To Eat Near of Soltaniyeh Dome

Polo Restaurant

For dining in Zanjan, Polo Restaurant can be a great option. Here is one of the best restaurants in the city with a variety of Persian cuisine. The only dish we suggest is Barg Kebab, because it is the best of this restaurant and its fame is due to the Kabab.

Nasser Jegarki

Jaghour Baghour is one of the traditional dishes of Zanjan and Nasser Jagarki restaurant with 50 years of experience can be a good place to taste this food.

Stone Caravanserai Traditional Canteen

It dates back to the Safavid period and is now used as a dining hall. The use of stone as the main material in the construction of the caravanserai has made this building known as the stone caravanserai. Live music is performed in this restaurant at night.

 Where To Stay Near of Soltaniyeh Dome

Zanjan Grand Hotel

This amazing 4* hotel in Zanjan is one of the most luxurious and largest hotels in Zanjan. This complex has special amenities. The location of the hotel creates a landscape view of the forest and green space around the hotel, which is a suitable destination for relaxing travelers.

Park Hotel

Park Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Zanjan. The special thing about this hotel is that the special location of this hotel in the city center makes your commute in the city in a complete easy way and you can get to the city center in a short time.

White Hotel

Located in the center of the city, close to shopping and sightseeing and reasonable prices, has made this hotel a popular place to stay.

How to go to Soltaniyeh

Zanjan city has an airport and you can use the vehicle to travel to this city. For land travel to Zanjan, you can use the train, the Tehran-Tabriz railway passes through the city of Zanjan, and you can choose this safe option for travel. Road travel is also possible by bus. Using a personal car, you can easily travel to the city from the Zanjan-Qazvin freeway or Tabriz, it should be noted that the distance from Zanjan to Tehran is 290 km.

How to visit Soltaniyeh Dome

On the Qazvin-Zanjan highway, a short distance from the city of Zanjan, a turquoise-colored dome stands out, indicating that you are passing by the city of Soltaniyeh. This high dome is so colorful and glazed that it is impossible not to see it or the temptation to see it does not come close to your life.

Soltaniyeh is a small town, yet it not only houses one of the most valuable historical monuments, but there are other fascinating sights nearby. The tomb of Chalabi Oglu, one of the Sufi mystics from Urmia, who is said to be in the city of Soltaniyeh in the past and whose tomb is located in the southwest of Soltaniyeh, is the way the tombs are arranged in this building, which is reminiscent of the Hagia Sophia. You can reach Chalabi Oglu Tomb by walking 10 minutes from Soltaniyeh Dome. The tomb of Mullah Hassan Kashi, one of the seventh-century mystics who lived in Soltaniyeh in the past and Shah Tahmasb Safavid in his honor, built this magnificent tomb, but the interior decoration of the tomb was completed during the Qajar period. The entire Gonbad Soltaniyeh complex is located in the middle of Argi in the middle of the city. There is also a collection of Abu al-Albar, which is a work of Mongol architecture and the Ilkhanate period, which includes a school, a monastery, a hospital, and other attractive sections. Don’t forget the Archaeological Museum in the southwestern part of the citadel, where you can find items such as tiles, pottery, copper, and silver coins from the patriarchal period.

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