Iran was used to be the core of the great Persian Empire. This Persian empire stretched from Greece all the way to China. The monuments of Iran are full of this rich history, bursting with fascinating feats of engineering and colourful tiles. While the country has twenty UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as the country certainly isn’t lacking in attractions, Iran is not a top tourist destination due to its political situation. With rich and unique cultural heritage and civilisation that dates back over 5,000 years, these jewels of architecture display a mastery over geometry and design that mark them not just as highlights of Iran’s cultural heritage. However, these sites provide an opportunity to learn more about the country than just what we see on the news. Even if you don’t plan to visit, you can still marvel at these amazing historic monuments in Iran:
List of Monuments in Iran
1. Ali Qapu Palace
Just opposite to the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, the Ali Qapu Palace is located on the western side of the Naqsh-e-Jahan Square and this famous monument in Iran is commissioned by Shah Abbas first. He was one of the kings of the Safavid Dynasty in the early 17th century, the whole place is filled with wall paintings by Reza Abbasi and you will find in the palace various halls, and a large veranda adorned with wooden columns. People across the world come to explore this palace and you will also find here many souvenir stores around the palace.
Read More: Famous Monuments of Colombia
Address: Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan, Iran.
2. Khaju Bridge
The Khaju Bridge is not just a bridge but both a bridge and a dam. This popular monument in Iran is built by the great-grandson of Shah Abbas I. On the north bank of the Zayanderud, it is meant to link the Khaju quarter with the Zoroastrian quarter across it. It comprises 23 decorated arches and once served as a tea house and also a public meeting place. Here a little water now runs under the bridge and it has been damaged by recent “restorations“
Address: Khaju Bridge, Isfahan, Iran.
3. Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse
In the 16th century, this traditional Iranian hammam was originally constructed. Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse is also known as the Qasemi Bathhouse. With turquoise and gold tile work and artistic paintings it is covered. However, it was damaged by an earthquake in 1778 and renovated during the Qajar era. With its large dressing hall (sarbineh) and hot bathing room (jamkhaneh) is a museum, today the bathhouse giving an incredible insight into daily life in ancient Iran. That’s why it is considered in one of the ancient monuments in Iran.
Read More: Monuments in Mumbai
Address: Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse, Kashan, Iran.
4. Badgir, Yazd
Located in the hot desert, Yazd is full of mud-brick buildings “badgir” or “wind-catchers” to provide ventilation and cool air. At the bazaar, one of the most unique examples of this is in the city’s historical centre. It was constructed from adobe and has a truly unique system of “badgir”. You can also visit the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence outside Yazd. This bazaar has now become a popular tourist point of interest and because of its historic perspective it is known as the most popular monument in Iran
Address: Badgir, Yazd, Iran.
Built by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BCE, this distinctive complex of palaces, gardens and waterways was the first capital of the Achaemenid empire. Includes what is believed to be the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great, the site covers 1.6 sq km. The Persian Gardens here in this oldest monuments in Iran are said to have been inspired from India’s Taj Mahal and Spain’s Alhambra and are one of the oldest of their kind.
Read More: Buildings in Jaipur
Address: Pasargadae, Shiraz, Iran.
6. Tomb of Daniel
The traditional burial and sacred site of the Biblical (and Islamic) prophet Daniel. This most beautiful monument in Iran is known for its distinctive conical dome. Its earliest mention comes from Benjamin of Tudela and he was one of those who visited the area in the 12th century. From that time it still remains a popular pilgrimage site. People having faith in Islam, come here every year from every corner of the world. It is among the sacred place of the Islam religion
Address: Tomb of Daniel, Susa, Iran.
The ruins of the ancient city of Persepolis is located to the northeast of Shiraz is the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Persepolis (“the city of Persians” in Greek) would have been known as Parsa to the ancient Persians dating to 515 BC and is one of the most famous cultural monuments in Iran. While the city is now in ruins, covered in relief sculptures of bulls, lions, mythical creatures, the enormous columns you can still marvel at the colossal buildings and there are grand marble staircases also.
Read More: Monuments of Chile
Address: Persepolis, Shiraz, Iran.
8. Shah Mosque
Also known as the Royal Mosque or the Imam Mosque, this is one of the most recognisable sights in Iran. Shah Mosque was built during the Safavid Dynasty in Naghsh-e Jahan Square. Its beauty comes from its calligraphic inscriptions and seven-colour mosaic tiles. In Iran, the Shah Mosque is one of the masterpieces of Islamic architecture and it is considered one of the religious monuments from decades
Address: Shah Mosque, Isfahan, Iran.
9. Nasir-al-Molk Mosque
The beautifully vibrant Nasir-al-Molk Mosque is one of the finest examples of the Persian architecture.This 19th-century mosque is like a jewel box and considered one of the best monuments in Iran to visit. With a kaleidoscope of colourful light as the sun rises, the tranquil interiors are filled with it. While this itself makes it worth visiting, the stained glass windows are not the only unique feature of the mosque. Its rose coloured interior tiles have also given it the nickname of Pink Mosque. You will find many tourists around it every year.
Read More: Monuments in Madrid
Address: Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran.
10. Imam Reza Shrine, Mashhad
One of the holiest monuments in Iran, this is the largest mosque in the world. The mosque houses the tomb of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam, as well as many other important religious figures. Also here are a series of mosques, a madrasa, and a museum containing priceless historical artefacts. People who are having faith in Islam specially Shia muslims come here every year to pay respect and pray
Address: Imam Reza Shrine, Mashhad, Iran.
11. Golestan Palace
The stunning Golestan Palace in Tehran is one of the most visited monuments in Iran. The Golestan Palace was used to be the former royal complex of the Qajar dynasty, it is one of the prestigious dynasties of Iran. The complex was built during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is filled with various royal buildings and gardens that were once contained within the “arg” or citadel walls of Tehran. Sadly, many structures were destroyed by Reza Shah between 1925 and 1945.
Discover: What Guangzhou is Known For
Address: Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran.
12. Shah Cheragh Mosque
Shah Cheragh Mosque is situated in the city of Shiraz. This building may look like an unsuspecting funerary monument on the outside, but its glittering interior transports you to another world. It’s insides are lined with glass tiles that bounce the light in every direction, and intricate geometric designs that create a stunning otherworldly light show. This monument in Iran has been a pilgrimage site since the 14th century
Address: Shah Cheragh, Shiraz, Iran.
13. Tower and Fort of Bam
Located in the Kerman province, the ancient desert city of Bam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This tower is dating back 2,000 years to the Parthian Empire. The citadel, the Arg-e Bam, is the largest adobe building in the world and visited by many travelers across the planet. While this national monument in Iran was abandoned after the Afghan invasions of 1722 and the city is slowly being inhabited once more.
Visit: Famous Foods of Guangzhou
Address: Tower and Fort of Bam, Bam, Kerman Province, Iran.
14. Eram Garden and Palace
Eram Garden and Palace is the most popular site for the tourists as well as locals. The Persian gardens and the three-storey of Eram Palace were built in the mid-13th century. However, the gardens might have been laid out earlier, in the 11th century. The colourful tilework of the palace and the lush greens of the gardens are also reflected in an ornamental pool. Now this important monument in Iran is becoming the hub of the tourist
Address: Eram Garden and Palace, Shiraz, Iran.
15. Naqsh-e-Rustam Necropolis
Naqsh-e-Rostam Necropolis is located near the ancient city of Persepolis. This most important monument in Iran is a series of enormous monuments carved into the mountains. These are the tombs and final resting places of the Achaemenid kings. The sheer size of these carvings is magnificent in their own right while the tombs themselves were raided by Alexander the Great and his army after their conquest of the city. If you want to explore the history of Iran you must visit this place once in your life.
Read More: Water Parks in Guangzhou
Address: Naqsh-e-Rustam Necropolis, Shiraz, Iran.
16. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
This important religious monument in Iran is dating back to the 17th century. This whole mosque is covered in intricate corbeling and delicate tilework. This artwork made this mosque more beautiful compared to others in Iran, sometimes it is called a masterpiece of Safavid Iranian architecture. It is known for its harmonious proportions, so it became a popular choice for the tourists. It sits in the Naqsh-e Jahan Square like the Shah Mosque and was one of the first monuments to be built there
Address: Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Isfahan, Iran.
17. Vank Cathedral
The country also has long traditions of Christianity but Iran may be known for its stunning mosques, especially along the northwestern border. Vank Cathedral was established in 1606 near Isfahan and built by Armenians. During the Ottoman Wars, these Armenian were resettled here by Shah Abbas I of Persia. The interior is covered in vibrant intricate frescoes and gilded carvings. If you are planning to make a trip to Iran, shortlist this one of the oldest monuments in Iran in your bucket list for sure.
Address: Vank Cathedral, Isfahan, Iran
Of course, there are lots of other important cultural monuments in Iran, and if we’ve missed any, be sure to share them in the comments below. In the meantime, you can also read about the future of tourism in Iran.