The entire nation of Iran has a fascinating and rich history, offering visitors an insight into a past that spans thousands of years and many empires. Add in seemingly endless museums and galleries, and the country is truly a history lover’s paradise.
One of the most historical places of all is the city of Hamedan, which is also the capital of the province by the same name. It is so old there are few definitive accounts, however it is known that the walls surrounding the city date back to 700BC, and that the city is what is left of the ancient Medes town of Ecbatana.
It is no surprise, then, that the city offers plenty of things to see and do for those who love to hear about the past. However, there is still more, with other attractions including beautiful lush gardens. To help you on your visit to Hamedan, here are our top 8 things to see and do:
Dome of Soltaniyeh
Considered one of the most important architectural sites in the Islamic world, the dome of Soltaniyeh is the 3rd largest dome structure in the world (after the Florence Cathedral and Hagia Sophia), and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All of this is particularly impressive given that the Dome was constructed over 700 years ago.
You may be forgiven for underestimating this fairly humble sight, about 5km south-west of Hamedan. However, once you know the history, you will be amazed! Here, there are two ancient enscriptions. To the left, the inscription was left by the former king, Darius the Great (522 BCE – 486 BCE) and the right, Xerxes the Great (485 BCE – 465 BCE). They are written in 3 Ancient languages, and are an incredible historic artefact.
As mentioned above, modern day Hamedan is founded on what was once the capital of Medes, Ecbatana. According to Greek writings, Ecbatana was founded by the first Medes King, Deioces in 678 BCE. Over time, the city saw many historical uprisings and events, before eventually becoming Hamedan. Today, excavations continue to find more and more information about the ancient city, and so history is literally being unearthed before your eyes!
Tomb of Avicenna
This imposing structure was erected on the site of the tomb of Avicenna, a 10th Century Islamic philosopher who is widely considered to be one of the most important philosophers in the pre-modern era. Avicenna did not only contribute to philosophy, but also to science, art, poetry, astronomy and geography. An impressive monument was built as a tribute to him in 1952, and has stood the test of time, with many visitors paying their respects.
Tom of Baba Tahir
Another famous and revered figure in Iranian history is the 12th Century poet, Baba Tahir. Stories suggest that Baba Tahir was born in Hamedan as an illiterate woodcutter, and attended school secretly where he learned to read and write, before becoming one of Iran’s most accomplished and respected poets, who wrote often about love and other topics. When he died, he was buried near his home town. The tomb that commemorates his great life was completed in 1970.
The Alvian Dome, situated in Hamedan, is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of Islamic-Iranian architecture. Built in approximately 1106, it is peace with its surroundings and blends beautifully with its environment. Unfortunately, the Dome which was once atop it is no longer standing, however it is spectacularly beautiful with its delicate details and clean lines.
Tomb of Esther and Mordecai
Another important historical site in Hamedan has particular significance for people of the Jewish faith. In a Biblical story, Esther, who had been adopted by her uncle Mordecai, eventually marries the King of Persia and saves the Persian Jews from slaughter, defying her husband and risking her own life in the process. While there is some debate by historians, it is thought that she is buried in modern day Hamedan along with Mordecai. The current structure is thought to have stood for at least 500 years, and is visited by many people every year.
Ali Sadr Cave
While many of the attractions on our list have been historical and manmade, the last one is one of Iran’s many natural wonders. The Ali Sadr Cave is located about 100km away from the city of Hamedan, but attracts thousands of visitors every year. It is in fact the largest water cave in the world, being 11km long. The best way to enjoy the cave is from the comfort of a boat, as you travel along viewing the magnetic sight. Scientists believe that the cave is over 70 million years old, and inside the cave explorers have discovered artefacts thought to be more than 12,000 years old.