- a Zoroastrian fire temple on the top of a hill
outside the center of Esfahan. It was inspired by the Zoroastrianism, which was
the main religion of the two great dynasties of ancient Persia, the Achaemenids
and Sassanids. © Travel Explorations.
Esfahan or Isfahan is considered as one of the most beautiful city`s in the
world. Its located about 340 kilometres south of Tehran, and is the capital of
Isfahan Province and Iran's third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad. Its
population is over 2 millions.
Esfahan has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage city. It contains a
wide variety of Islamic Architectural sites ranging from the 11th century to the
19th. One of ancient wonders in Esfahan, as mentioned, who is not noticed by
UNESCO, is the Atashgah - the Zoroastrian fire temple.
Esfahan has a violent history, and has lost many great
wonders due several wars. Before the Arabs invaded Iran, there were many fire temples in Esfahan. The Arabs destroyed
them all, except this one on top of a hill. So why did
this temple survive? It`s steep and very hard to climb up the hill where the temple stands, especially in the
summer. I was nearly boiled in the sun. Perhaps the Arabs were so exhausted after
the climbing to the top of this hill that they had no energy left to destroy
When I finally reached the top, and after I retained my breath, I
could admire the ancient temple. I enjoyed also the wonderful view over Esfahan.
Photo. A wonderful view from the top of the
hill where Atashgah stands - the Zoroastrian fire temple in Esfahan. ©
The Arabs ruled in Esfahan until 1050. They converted most of the population to Islam.
They were fought back by a Turkish dynasty, which conquered Esfahan in 1051.
The Turks were thrown out by Genghis Khan's Mongol
warriors in the early 13th century, but become later squeezed out again by
Turkmen tribes, Ottoman Turks and European colonialists such as Portugal. The city
been has benn invaded several times since then and the situation has through centuries
been very unstable until late in the 20th century.
Zoroastrianism was once the state religion of Sassanid -
Sassanian - in Iran, and was central in the Achaemenid and Parthian empires in
Persia - now officially called Iran. The religion is also known as Mazdaism by
some followers and Zarathustrianism by others.
Many traits of the Zoroastrian faith are still present
in all Iranian peoples' cultures and traditions from Kurdistan and the Caucausus
to Iran and Central Asia. As Lonely Planet (www.LonelyPlanet.com) writes on its
website: "Iran's religiousness is its most striking cultural feature - it
pervades all aspects of life."
The beauty of the city, the
amazing wonders and the fascinating history, is well worth a visit to Esfahan.
Actually my best experience in Esfahan was meeting so many friendly people. In
general I will say the biggest wonder of Iran is the people themselves:
they have an outstanding universal value as friendliness and
hospitality, and should be notified on UNESCO World Cultural and Natural
Heritage List. I will say as James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937) wrote, the author
of Peter Pan: "Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it
Stein Morten Lund, 8 February 2006
UNESCO`s work (UNESCO`s
website ) is
committed in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the
Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in
The World Heritage List includes 812 properties forming part of the cultural
and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having
outstanding universal value.
These include 628 cultural, 160 natural and 24 mixed
properties in 137 States Parties.
|Photo. Kabeh-e Zarthusht - Cube of
Zoroaster, Naqsh-e Rustam, near Shiraz in Iran. This building is still a
mystery. Is it connected to the Zoroastrianism religion?
© Travel Explorations.