Introduction to Takht-e Soleyman
The ancient site of Takht-e Soleyman (Throne of Solomon) in the city of Takab in West Azerbaijan is one of the most mysterious monuments of ancient Persia. This legendary attraction is the land of myths that have been forgotten but still return to their origins in this ancient beauty. Takht-e Soleyman has housed various historical and natural monuments from the first dynasties of the Kingdom of Persia. There are many stories to tell about this place. This place is considered to be the birthplace of Zarathustra and the great fire temple of Azargashnesb which was built as one of the three important fire temples of the Sassanids in which the eternal fire of this temple would remain burning for seven centuries. The Takht-e Soleyman was revered by Zoroastrians and was once a gathering place for Zoroastrian priests. You can relax for a moment around the lake to release your soul with the help of the earth’s energy that flows in this eye-catching area. Takht-e Soleyman is a masterpiece of Persian art that shines on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
History of Thakht-e Soleyman
Takht-e Soleyman is a 12-hectare historical and important complex with various buildings around the turquoise lake known as Takht-e Soleyman Lake, which has gone through a tumultuous past. Experts and archaeologists date the collection to 1,500 years ago, which contains very good information from pre-Islamic times. Archaeological excavations in the Takht-e Soleyman area have also shown remnants of the Achaemenid and material eras, but the area’s fame is largely due to Sassanid-era buildings. The most important Sassanid capital in religious, historical and literary of ancient Persia and Islamic period which has been mentioned many times. Azargashnesb Fire Temple is one of the most important Sassanid fire temples, which is a religious and political place and has played an important role in the architecture and urban planning of this complex. Takht-e Soleyman was the largest social and religious education center of its time, nurturing Zoroastrian priests and spreading religion in the vast Sassanid realm, and played an important role in the political, social, and religious life of the Sassanid government. This collection was as important and valuable to the Sassanids as Persepolis was to the Achaemenids. Another part of the buildings belongs to about 700 years ago and the reign of the Mongol Ilkhans. During this period, the kings used Takht-e Soleyman as their summer capital and added buildings to the complex depending on their needs.
According to experts, the city’s builders used clever techniques to provide all the necessary functions for the city while creating a unified identity: peace for the worshipers, glory for the rulers, proper defense for the soldiers and safety for the residents. However, many parts of this magnificent building, especially during the reign of Khosrow Parviz and the Roman Empire, were destroyed and looted in 624 AD, and many parts of it have not yet been excavated and Persian archaeologists are still exploring the attraction. They are, but still have their own charm. Especially since it is said that the birthplace of Zoroaster was in this place and that is why every year the Zoroastrian ceremony is held in September and the celebration of Mehregan is held in this place in October.
Name of Thakht-e Soleyman
In order to know the reason for naming the Takht-e Soleyman , we must first get acquainted with the name of Azerbaijan, the land of secrets and legends. In the past, the name of Azerbaijan was Atropatgan, which is the name of a person named Atropat. Atropatus was a Medes governor chosen by Alexander the Great to rule Azerbaijan. After the fall of Alexander’s empire, he declared independence and chose the Takht-e Soleyman as his independent homeland, with the name of the Little Medes and named his land as Atropategan which means protected by fire. There are legends that Zarathustra, the prophet of ancient Persia, was born and lived here. This city has many names in different languages and over the years, the most famous of which is Azargashnesb, because it is one of the three most famous fire temples of Sassanid era. This collection was very glorious and extensive during the Sassanid era, and after the advent of Islam, it was called the Takht-e Soleyman because it was extraordinary.
The reason for this could be the belief in the life of Prophet Solomon and the construction of this place by him, but the more probable reason is that at the time of the Arab invasion in order to prevent the destruction of this complex, which was a collection related to the religion of Zoroaster. They did so because during the Arab invasion, they destroyed buildings belonging to other religions. The ancient collection is called Ganzka or Kadza in Armenian, Ganzzak or Ganjang in Syriac, Ganzka in Greek, Gadzaka and Gadza in Greek, Jazn in Arabic, Jaznagh and Shiz , Chichest in Shahnameh, Avesta in Avesta and Mongolian in Sturridge.
Takht-e Soleyman’s collection consists of different parts with many stories:
Azargashnesb Fire Temple
The most important building of Takht-e Soleyman, which became an excuse for the formation of other structures in this complex, is called Azargashnesb Fire Temple. The fire temple of Azargashnesb was a temple for the sacred fire of Mars, which is called the son of Ahuramazda in the collection of Zoroastrian poems. This fire was a factor for the unification and strength of the Sassanid rulers and was kept on for 700 consecutive years. They consecrated and offered a large part of the spoils of war to the fire temple when they returned from the war. Therefore, the fire temple became the richest place of its time, which was known as Ganjeh, Ganzak, Gatzka, or Gatzaka, and the treasure house in which there were gifts offered to the fire temple. In historical stories, it is said that after the battle with Turks of the North Caucasus, Bahram Gur, presented his war trophies to the fire temple.
Fire Temple Structure
The fire temple played a major role in the findings of experts on fire temples. Before exploring the Takht-e Soleyman , it was believed that the fire temples were open on all four sides, but an examination of the Takht-e Soleyman revealed that the Sassanids believed sunlight should not shine on the sacred fire. Therefore, they built the temple with a roof. They built a quadrangular dome in a completely closed space, and most of the fire temples leftover from the Sassanid period are quadrangular. The altar of fire, which was located in the center of the quadrangle, and no one but the cleric was allowed to approach the fire, and the worshipers stood in the four-aisled corridors and prayed under the arches. The small four-story brick fireplace, called Yazeshngah, was used as a place to hold fire during non-prayer ceremonies. Here, the fire was divided into four parts to reduce the chance of accidental extinguishing, and men and women who were called Raspis or Atashbod protected the fire day and night.
It is interesting to note that at various times, no ash was ever found in the Azargashnesb fire temple, some believed that the fire in the Azargashnesb fire temple was lit using natural gas nearby, but evidence of incorrect geology showed this hypothesis. The investigation revealed that the fire was kept lit by the fragrance of fragrant and sacred trees in the yard, and the ashes were carefully collected from the environment to be sent to the corners of the Sassanid realm as a blessing. Eventually, in 624 AD, the Roman army, led by Heraclius, invaded Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the Persian army was defeated in the battle. And they destroyed the city and razed the Azargashnasb fire temple to the ground. Later, during the Mongol dynasty’s reign over Persia, Abaqa Khan, one of the Mongol kings, built a mosque on the ruins, which did not last long and was destroyed, with reliefs in Kufic script and azure tiles from the mosque, some of which remain. The decorative tiles of this area are kept in the Reza Abbasi Museum in Tehran and another part in the museums of London and the United States. Enmity and enmity are the main reasons for the destruction of the largest fire temple in Persia after centuries.
Takht-e Soleyman Lake
A lake that is colored like a peacock and attracts the viewer. The amazing structure of this natural phenomenon is remarkable. In fact, it is a boiling spring of artesian. Due to the high sediments of the Artzin spring of the lake water and over time with the deposition of water salts, the edges of the spring have risen and today they have grown to this height. The water of this lake is supplied by underground aquifers. At first, it has a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, but when it reaches the surface of the lake, the temperature reaches 21 degrees. Agriculture is not used. Its depth is 112 meters and the length and width of the lake are 110 and 80 meters, respectively, and it is formed as an irregular oval.
The hill on which the lake and the ancient site are located is 62 meters high and the sediments from the lake’s bottom spring have created it. On average, 9 mm of sediment is formed on this hill every year. Swimming is prohibited on the lake, and this can be seen in the numerous signs that swimming around the lake is forbidden, as many people have gone to the lake to swim and have never returned. This lake is one of the most mysterious historical points of the Persian plateau, about which many local and strange legends and stories are told, the truth of which is not clear.
- Some believe that the Prophet Solomon beat his cane on the ground which at the place it hit the ground,a fountain was born on the site of today’s spring. Some other believe that Hurmoz, the Persian king was sent for the birth of Christ to Maria. She gives a package of soil to Hurmoz to bring back as a gift. Hurmoz falls ill on the way back and bury the package in Solomon’s bed before he dies, and a fountain springs up in this place.
- Other legends suggest that there are many treasures in the lake that some historical texts confirm, but no one has ever reached this treasure.
- A treasure of Cyrus the Great is said to have been buried in the lake.
- Another narration refers to the existence of precious objects from the Parthian period.
- In another case, Zoroastrian priests believe that the lake belongs to the goddess of water, Nahid or Anahita, and in the past, votive objects were poured into it. It is also said that before the complete conquest of the Takht-e Soleyman , the vows and treasures in the fire temple were thrown into the lake by the priests so that the enemy would not have access to them.
- There are some stories about the existence of the Prophet Solomon’s ring in this lake.
The Fence Around Takht-e Soleyman Complex
All the works in this collection are made inside an oval fence and cover a wide plain. The use of this type of fence in the city map dates back to before the Sassanids, and the famous Parthian cities such as Merv and Ctesiphon were built in the same way, but the fence of Takht-e Soleyman was built based on the oval shape of its spring. Despite reconstruction in various periods, including the Ilkhans, the fence was severely damaged over time and human intervention. Inside the fence, there are two concentric squares, but the Takht-e Soleyman Lake is located in the center of the South Square and the Azargashnesb Fire Temple is located in the center of the North Square, and the square is surrounded by a rectangular fence with circular towers.
The Gates of Takht-e Soleyman
Takht-e Soleyman fence initially had two northern and southeastern gates, and the southern gate was added during the patriarchal period. The southeast gate acts as the entrance to the complex. At the top of this gate, 7 stone altars can be seen, which are a sign of the 7 gods or Amshaspand guards in the Zoroastrian religion. It is a testament to the similarity of many religions in the ancient or modern religions, and the gateway to this gate is the healthiest gate left of this sacred complex. The south gate is where the car road leads today. The north gate is the main entrance to the city and is slightly similar to the southeast gate.
Atrium or Hallway of Takht-e Soleyman
As mentioned, the north gate was the main entrance to the Takht-e Soleyman . The entrance leads to a porch where there are two large covered corridors on the right and left. Each time people would enter the complex, it was necessary to determine whether he or she had come to Takht-e Solyman for religious work and praying, or whether the administrative and political work and the individual had entered one of the corridors and reached their destination. In this large area, with many structures and complex plans, they could mislead people and create unnecessary crossings and confusion, but these corridors led people exactly to the desired section. Of course, these corridors formed a smaller square security fence around the structures and the lake.
And the reason for making these corridors goes back to the sanctity and spirituality of Takht-e Soleyman. The most important thing for the shrines of this city was peace, and the hustle and bustle of political movements and armies disturbed this peace. These corridors helped to keep calm by making noise due to the movement of people. A significant portion of the Western Corridor is still standing. The corridor is about 90 degrees from the courtyard and covers all the spaces of the west porch. To the left and right of the vestibule, there are doors that, except for one of them, do not face each other and have helped to better maintain security. Probably everyone had a door and different permits were required for the authorities to enter. These doors open onto rooms and buildings in the area that are currently being explored.
In addition to these corridors, there was a straight path from the north gate that continued to the center of the fire temple and the lake. According to the Persian archaeologist Takht-e Soleyman, this route was only used when the kings entered the city or for the coronation ceremony.
Anahita Temple on the Thakht-e Soleyman
According to the ancient Persian people, Anahita is the guardian angel of water, beauty, and fertility. This goddess was so important that many temples were dedicated to her, one of which is located northeast of the four-aisled fire temple of Azargashnesb. In Persian beliefs, the star of Venus or Anahita (Venus) is considered to be the most delightful star in the sky, the star of flowing waters, so the temples of this goddess were built near water and in Takht-e Soleyman area, water worship has a longer history than prayer.
The Architecture of the Temple of Anahita
The gray color of the stones is an interesting contrast to the red brick of the fire temple and creates a special calm. In the central courtyard of the temple of Anahita Takht-e Soleyman, there is a shallow basin with a polished stone floor in which the image of the sky is reflected and makes a spiritual connection between the skyand the earth. This architectural element of Anahita temple can be seen later in the courtyards of Islamic mosques. Interestingly, in the temple of Anahita, no mortar was used to build the structure, and the stones were fastened together using beam and non-beam techniques.
Ivan Khosrow – The Lost Myth of Legends
The tallest building in Takht-e Soleyman is the structure of the western porch or Khosrow Anoushirvan porch. The reason for building this structure was the need of Khosrow Anoushirvan for showing-off. This porch is built in Sassanid and extroverted style and the purpose of making this decoration was to show his proud, value and power which has been dramatically shown. It is interesting to know that this porch is considered an example of Kasra arch or Madain porch in Iraq, but in a smaller size and also in the south of the porch there is a structure called Khosrow dormitory. It is famous for its secret passage to the lake. 7 Centuries after the destruction of the Takht-e Soleyman by the Roman emperor Heraclius (622 A.D), the Ilkhans rebuilt the collapsed porch with stone carcasses and gypsum mortar. They used the most eye-catching decorations of their time, such as muqarnas gachi, zarin fam tile, setareh chelipa, and painting on plaster, to decorate this porch. The samples obtained from these decorations are available in the National Museum of Persia in Tehran.
Other Porches of Takht-e Soleyman
Apart from the Khosrow porch, there were other porches in the complex, the only foundations of which can be seen today. These porches are: south porch, east porch and north porch or canopy. After purging the temple and temple of Anahita by fire and water, the kings crowned the priests on the north porch. The existence of these porches has given rise to the hypothesis that in the past there were halls with porches on all four sides of the lake.
German explorers consider the hall to be the dining hall of kings and to hold parties and celebrations, where they have found works of sanitation and cooking equipment. In this hall, you can see the signatures and signs that have different designs and are left on the floor of the hall by their stone carvings. To protect the pavement, explorers have covered it with a layer of sand, but one of these signs can be seen to the east of the hall. This is the symbol of the swastika or the broken cross or the sun, which is an ancient role from the time of Mithraism, and today we know it as the symbol of the Nazi Party of Germany.
One of the sights of Takht-e Soleyman, which is mixed with legends, is the dragon stone, which is 300 meters long and about 2 meters high. Locals believe that the stone was a dragon in the past and that Solomon defeated it and has since become a rock, but some believe that this large rock is the historical route of the Blue River from which the Agricultural land has been used and over time, this rock surface has been created.
The council hall is a monument to the patriarchal era, which, according to explorers, was a royal palace for patriarchal kings and a place to hold meetings to decide on important national issues. After the first restoration phase of the Takht-e Soleyman complex, the site was converted into a museum to display historical artifacts found on the grounds. When the hall was turned into a museum, a shell with modern materials was placed next to the old architectural layer, which is quite obvious.
Objects in the Museum
- Remains of pottery, ceramic, bathtubs and ceramic water canals for transferring lake water, bronze bowls and pins, decorative stone beads, bone sutures, parts of beds, decorations and tiles, patriarchal stone and stone fountains of Islamic period.
- Various examples of jars, cans, bowls, and other ancient pottery or glazed pottery from the Islamic times.
- Photos of exploration and restoration work on the site over the past 48 years. One of the most important and interesting of these photos is Schmidt’s aerial photograph, which was the starting point for the excavation of this ancient site in the present time.
This old bath dates back to the time of the Ilkhans, in which Sassanid bricks were used and the floor was often paved. According to explorers, there are paths under the bath where large volumes of ash show the use of underfloor heating, which means that the bath is heated by lighting fires and heating coals and ashes.
Takht-e Soleyman, As a UNESCO World Heritage
Takht-e Soleyman and its ancient and historical monuments are among the most important and famous centers of history and civilization of Persia and the world, and Robert Ken in 1967 introduced this place as one of the main points of energy in the earth and these reasons caused Takht-e Soleyman was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2003.
UNESCO World Heritage Criteria of Takht-e Soleyman
Criterion (i): The Takht-e Soleyman is a stunning collection of royal architecture in which the elements of Sassanid architecture, with a systematic combination inspired by nature, are placed side by side.
Criterion (ii): The composition and elements of Sassanid architecture in Takht-e Soleyman have not only had a strong influence on Islamic architecture in Persia, but have also influenced other indigenous cultures.
Criterion (iii): Takht-e Soleyman’s collection is a historical testament to the fact that ancient religious sects, which for 2500 years considered fire and water sacred, have continued to this day. The ancient heritage of this complex will be enriched by the Sassanid city, which is under further exploration.
Criterion (iv): The Takht-e Soleyman complex is a valuable example of the Zoroastrian tombs, which have been integrated with the luxurious architecture of the Sassanids and have created a unique combination.
Criterion (vi): Takht-e Soleyman is in the first place a fire temple for Zoroastrians, which is one of the first monotheistic religions in the world. In the heart of this collection, many symbols show the influence of ancient beliefs much older than the religion of Zoroaster. Another interesting thing about the symbols of Takht-e Soleyman is its connection with the forms and myths of the Bible.
Location of Takht-e Soleyman
Takht-e-Soliman is located in the province of West Azerbaijan, 45 km northeast of the border town of Takab, and is surrounded by a multitude of natural monuments and other historical buildings.
When to visit Takht-e Soleyman
West Azerbaijan is a cold region and the best time to visit this region is from May to the beginning of summer because the weather is pleasant and cool. If you are a nature lover this city would look eye-catching and picturesque in cold seasons.
Where To Eat Near To Takht-e Soleyman
Roma Takab Persian Restaurant and Fast Food
It is one of the restaurants in Takab city in West Azerbaijan province. The restaurant menu of Roma restaurant has a variety of Persian, Western, and grilled dishes.
Roya Big Restaurant
Roya Big Restaurant was opened in Takab city in Pasdaran dormitory and has a very good quality
Kaziveh is the traditional restaurant we sugest. This restaurant offers local Saqez (the natural chewing gum taken from Saghez shrubs) local food with different flavors to our dear customers. Where the unparalleled quality of food has made it one of the most popular traditional restaurants in Saqez.
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.
Where to stay near to Takht-e Soleyman
Takht-e Soleyman Eco-Resort
This residence is located 2 km from Takht-e Soleyman and has all the amenities and facilities for preparing local food, breakfast, herbal teas, and catering in the homes of the villagers.
The 2* Ranji Hotel has a modern architecture and is known as the best hotel in Takab. This hotel is located in a pleasant area and has a traditional coffee shop and teahouse.
Zanjan Grand Hotel
The big 4* hotel in Zanjan is one of the most luxurious and largest hotels in Zanjan. This complex has special amenities. Also, the hotel’s location has created a picturesque view of the forest and green space around the hotel, which is a suitable destination for travelers. They are looking for peace.
How to visit the Takht-e Soleyman
The extraordinary allegiance that surrounds Takht-e Soleyman, along with the enchanting apple orchards and large and small mountains, and the amazing natural island of Chelmi Gul, which floats in the water near Takht-e Soleyman, and Takht-e Soleyman prison awaits nature lovers. If you want to meditate a little while visiting and get rid of everyday life for a moment, Takht-e Soleyman complex, especially its lake, has provided these conditions for you, because Takht-e Soleyman is one of the energy absorption centers of the earth. Solomon’s bed has a special beauty at night, some parts of it are illuminated by lighting, so you can enjoy and photograph the night walk in this area, and you can visit this magnificent building, If you are interested in astronomy, watch the stars in the sky and the constellations along with visiting Solomon’s throne. In very cold weather, you can go to hot springs and take a bath and enjoy.
How to go to Takht-e-Soleyman
Zanjan and Urmia airports are the closest airports to this area and you can use this vehicle to travel to this city. For land travel you can use the train, Zanjan railway station, which is about 140 km from Takht-e Soleyman and Soleyman prisons. Road travel is also possible by bus. Your car is the best way to get from Qazvin highway to Zanjan, then go to Bijar and get to Takab. Then follow the signposts to Nusrat Abad and Takht-e Soleyman villages.