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Iran UNESCO Heritage Sites: A Valuable Legacy For All

Iran, with 25 historical monuments and 2 natural features registered by UNESCO and dozens under consideration for registration, is among the top 10 world's historical countries. Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites showcase Iran’s rich cultural and historical legacy. These sites, such as Persepolis, Pasargadae, Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Golestan Palace, Bam and its Cultural Landscape, Takht-e Soleyman, Soltaniyeh, Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex, and Susa, reflect the deep-rooted civilization. These magnificent World Heritage Lists represent the country's unique historical, natural beauty, and religious significance. Iran’s inclusion in the UNESCO list is a testament to the importance of preserving and promoting these cultural treasures for future generations. Iran's 27 UNESCO World Heritage Sites showcase its outstanding universal value. Whether tangible or intangible, these sites offer a glimpse into Iran’s rich heritage and serve as a reminder of people's contributions throughout history.

 Here is the list of Iran UNESCO Heritage Sites:

Tchogha Zanbil. Khozestan Province

1-Tchogha Zanbil. Khuzestan Province

Tchogha Zanbil in Khuzestan Province is an ancient sanctuary dating back to the Ilam (Elamites)(1250 BC). It is a remarkable structure located within the city of Dur Untash near Shush or Susa in Khuzestan province. The Tchogha Zanbil temple was recorded in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979 as the first Iranian monument. This unique Elamit temple showcases its exceptional and universal value. Orientalists have hailed Tchogha Zanbil as the earliest known Iranian religious monument. This ziggurat recognized as the best-preserved example of a stepped pyramidal monument by UNESCO. Tchogha Zanbil's historical temple serves as a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Iran and the architectural prowess of the ancient Ilam civilization.

Persepolis. Shiraz

2-Persepolis Palaces: The glory of Achaemenid architecture

Persepolis, 80 km from Shiraz, is the most famous Shiraz historical site and the Achamenian heritage. It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and shows the grandeur of the Achaemenian Dynasty. The tourists have mentioned it as the best historical site in Shiraz City, Fars Province. This eye-catching architectural Royal palace consists of 8 palaces and various other buildings. It started in 512 BC and was completed 150 years ago.  The Achaemenid architecture at Persepolis reflects a unique blend of styles inspired by Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and the Urartu people. The name “Persepolis” derives from the Greek words Pérses and pólis, translating to “The Persian city” or “the city of the Persians”.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Isfahan

3- Naqsh-e Jahan Square. The most Famous Isfahan Monument

Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Site in Isfahan and the focal point of the most important Isfahan historical monuments during the Safavid period was the largest sq at 1502–1736. This magnificent complex was constructed in 1598 - 1629. It is 160 meters (520 ft) wide by 560 meters (1,840 ft) long has an area of 89,600 square meters and is decorated with the best Safavid Era monuments.  This expansive square is adorned with stunning examples of Persian architecture, including the magnificent Shah Mosque, the intricate Sheikh Lutfullah Mosque, the grand Ali Qapu Palace, and the ornate Qeysarieh Gate.
As one of Iran's most significant cultural hubs, Naghsh e Jahan Square attracts tourists who come to marvel at its beauty and immerse themselves in its rich history. The harmonious blend of religious and secular structures around the square shows the artistic and architectural Safavid dynasty achievements, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to experience the grandeur of Persian heritage.

Takht-e Soleyman.Takab. West Azarbaijan

4- Takht-e Soleyman.Takab in West Azarbaijan: A universal heritage

The UNESCO-listed Takht-e Soleyman, located in Takab, Iran, is a sacred site and historical landmark featuring an ancient Zoroastrian Fire Temple. This cultural heritage site dates back to the Sassanian Empire and is dedicated to Anahita, the divinity of the waters. This temple housed one of the three "big fires" of the Sassanid rulers. It has particular importance for legitimizing the rule of the Sassanid kings. Takht-e Soleyman showcases the ruins of this significant religious complex, offering a glimpse into ancient Zoroastrianism practices. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and spiritual Iran's history.

Pasargadae was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire

6- Pasargadae Tomb: The Cyrus tomb the founder of Achaemenid Empire

Pasargadae is Cyrus King's Tomb the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. This historical site contains significant remnants of the Achaemenid period, including the Cyrus Tomb, gardens, and royal palaces. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pasargadae showcases the splendid Persian architecture and ancient ruins of the Persian Empire. The Tomb of Cyrus stands as a testament to his legacy and importance in Persian history. Visiting the Pasargadae "Cyrus tomb"+ Persepolis lets you explore the rich history and Achaemenian dynasty's cultural heritage and learn more about the Persian Empire and its historical significance.

Arg e Bam.Kerman

5- Arg e Bam, Kerman: The World's Largest Adobe Building

A desert castle located on the corner of the Iran desert and the Silk Road shows a great background and deep history from the Achaemenid Empire (2500 years ago) up to recent centuries. Arg e Bam, the world's largest adobe building (20 hectares or 200,000 square meters), is the most important and valuable historical landmark castles in Iran.
This cultural landscape and historical castle in Bam city, Kerman Province is surrounded by 6 to 7 meters high walls and 1815 meters in length. The Bam ancient castle has different sections such as the Military section, ruler's home, Bazaar, Public Bath, School, Mosque, and other sections. Arg-e-Bam had 38 watchtowers, four entrance gates, and a defense wall surrounded by an outer moat. The most notable structures are the market, the Congregational Mosque, and the Mirza Na’im complex.

Soltaniyeh dome.Zanjan province The largest dome of the world during the rule of the  Ilkhanis

7- Soltaniyeh ِِDome: A unique Iranian-Mongolian Architectural

The Soltaniyeh Dome in Zanjan province is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the mausoleum of an Ilkhanid ruler (Oljeitu 1302–12). It is known for its stunning Persian and Islamic architecture. The Soltaniyeh Dome is a main tourism destination, a must-visit landmark close to Zanjan, and a symbol of Persian heritage. It is located in the historical site of Soltanieh city, the previous Ilkhanid Mongol rulers' capital in the 14th century. The dome, was built during Oljaitu, and completed in 712 AH. It remains the second largest domes in the world, after the Santa Maria del Fiore Church in Italy. This historical site is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Iran and a showcase of its architectural prowess.

Bisotun inscription is the world's largest stone inscription

8- Bisotun Inscription: The most famous Achaemenid stone inscription

The Bisotun or Behistun Inscription is the most famous Achaemenid trilingual inscription and large rock relief located on a cliff face on Behistun Mount in the Kermanshah province. Bisotun Inscription is considered the world’s largest stone inscription and the first well-known Iranian text, dating back to the Achaemenid dynasty around 520 BC. Commissioned by Darius the Great Achaemenian King between 522 BC and 486 BC, the inscription features a detailed autobiography of Darius, including his ancestry and lineage.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a significant archaeological site, showcasing ancient rock carvings or bas reliefs that depict part of Persian history and the glory of the Persian Empire. Behistun Mountain serves as a historical landmark, embodying the rich heritage of Kermanshah province and the achievements of Darius the Great.

Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

9- Iranian Armenian Churches: The Most Famous Iran Christian Churches

The Armenian Monastic Ensembles in the West of Iran, embody the rich history of the Armenian community in Iran. These historical churches, including St. Thaddeus Monastery, Saint Stepan Monastery, and the Chapel of Dzordzor, date back to the 7th to 14th centuries A.D. Recognized by UNESCO for their architectural and cultural significance, serve as the most important sacred sites and Christian pilgrimage destinations.
Iranian Christian churches play a significant role in the religious diversity of Iran, with Persian Christian communities contributing to the Christian heritage in the country. The Armenian Apostolic Church in Iran is an integral part of this heritage, reflected in the Christian architecture of these churches. Visitors can explore the historical churches in Iran and witness the unique blend of cultures in these sacred sites.

The Most Famous Iran Churches

Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System. Sushtar.Khozestan Province

10- Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System: An Excellent Ancient Irrigation System

The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, located in Khuzestan Province, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that showcases ancient water management and Persian engineering marvels from 2000 years ago. Dating back to the Sassanian era, this system includes a complex network of irrigation channels, water mills, dams, tunnels, and canals designed for efficient water distribution in ancient Iran. The engineering heritage of Iran is exemplified by the Sassanian era technology used in constructing the Shushtar system, highlighting Persian hydraulic engineering expertise. The cultural significance of the Shushtar system lies in its historical irrigation systems and the use of water as a driving force for industrial mills.


Sheikh Safi al-Din Khangah, Shrine, and maosuleum
11-The Sheikh Safi Al-Din Mausoleum: The Most Holly Safavid Shrine

The Sheikh Safi Al-Din Ardabili Mausoleum, known for its intricate Iranian architectural elements, stands as a gem of Ardabil’s architecture. This UNESCO-recognized site boasts stunning tilework, brickwork, diaphoretic, gilded wall painting, inlay, and lattice box graves, decorated halls, and the valuable Chinikhane porcelain museum. It serves as the final resting place of the renowned Safavid founder, Shaykh Abu’l-Fath Ishaq, attracting pilgrims and followers to pay their respects. The Mausoleum of Sheikh Safiuddin Ardabili, part of the Safavid Empire’s legacy, is a testament to the cultural richness of Iran and its spiritual heritage.

Tabriz Bazaar is one of the oldest and historic markets located in downtown Tabriz, Iran
12- Tabriz Bazaar: A Historical Heritage Bazar

Tabriz Bazaar in the heart of Tabriz City, as the first Safavid dynasty capital has a special historical role. This historic market, along with other Tabriz significant sites, offers a glimpse into the rich history of Tabriz. Being one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East and the world’s largest covered bazaar. Tabriz Bazaar has been recorded in the UNESCO World Heritage list. It has served as a hub for cultural exchange and trade along the historic Silk Road for centuries. Recognized for its architectural and historical significance, the bazaar was added to the National Heritage List in 1975 and the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010. Visiting Tabriz Bazaar allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s fascinating history. Strolling through the bazaar, especially the carpet Bazaar(Timche & Caravanserai), chatting with locals, and testing delicious Tabrizi food is a unique and amazing experience.

Iranian Bazaars

Persian Garden
13- Persian Garden

Persian Garden is one of the oldest and most important gardens in the world. Iranian gardens are mentioned in different historical sources like Greek sources, Torah, and others. Agricultural and horticultural is recommended in the old tradition and rituals of Iranians with pride and dignity. After Islam, this social thought became more religious and promoted it among the people. Persian Gardens' architecture has a very close relation with Iranian homes' architecture.

Atigh Great Mosque, the oldest mosque in Isfahan
14- Atigh Great Mosque

The fact is that the Atigh Great Mosque, the oldest mosque in Isfahan, is certainly well-known as one of the Particular historical monuments for either Islamic history or the beginning of civilization. However, it is almost backdated to 1300 years ago (reigning time of Abbasian caliphs), and it can be noticed as a sensible and spiritual structure in many aspects that include the architectural, artistic, scientific, and influential efforts in religious cultural, political, and social fluctuations due to the different eras. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012.

Gonbad-e Qabus (Tower), The world's tallest brick Tower
15- Gonbad-e Qabus (Tower), The world's tallest brick tower

This tall tower is located in Gonbad-e Qabus city, Iran, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since  2012. It has been registered as a World Heritage Site, on the tower's upcoming 1,000th anniversary. It lay at the city center of  Gonbad-e Qabus with 72 meters (236 ft) in height (including the height of the platform). The baked brick tower is a huge decagon building with a conical roof. The inside of the tower is decorated with simple examples of Muqarnas decorative styles. The wall is 3 meters thick and divided into 10 sides, with a diameter of 17 m. This magnificent brick tower was built in 1006 AD on the orders of the Ziyarid Amir Shams Ol-Ma'ali Qabus ibn Wushmgir.

Golestan Museum Palace The oldest of the historical monuments in Tehran
16-  Golestan Museum Palace: The oldest Royal Complex Palace in Tehran

The Golestan Palace (Palace of Flowers) consists of some royal buildings that were built within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran's Historic Arg (citadel). The first structure of Arg was built during the reign of Tahmasb I (1524-1576, corresponding to 930-948 in the lunar calendar) of the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736), and was later renovated by Karim Khan Zand (1750-1779). Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar (1742-1797) chose Tehran as his capital. The Arg became the site of the Qajar (1794-1925). Court and Golestan Palace became the official residence of the royal family. This royal complex with different palaces, eye-catching decorations, delicate tiling, pure Iranian decorations, and charming Iranian architecture displays an important part of Iran's rich history.

Shahr-e Sukhteh (Shahr-e Sookhteh or Burnt City) an ancient city which is belong to bronze age,

16- Shahr-e Sukhteh

 Shahr-e Sukhteh (Shahr-e Sookhteh or Burnt City) an ancient city that belongs to the bronze age, dates to the 4th and 3rd millennium BC and is laid about 60 km from Zabol city and 6 Km from the Rostam Castle. This city has been one of the most civilized and most advanced cities in Iran during its time so the first artificial eye and the first cartoon painting of the world have been discovered in this city. This city was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in June 2014.

Meymand City
17- Meymand City

It is a self-contained, semi-arid area at the end of a valley at the southern extremity of Iran’s central mountains. The villagers are semi-nomadic agro-pastoralists. This cultural landscape is an example of a system that appears to have been more widespread in the past and involves the movement of people rather than animals.

18- Susa or Shush

Susa city was an ancient city of the Proto-Elamite, Elamite, empire of the first Persian, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empire of Iran, and one of the most important cities of the ancient Near East. It is located 140 Km from Ahvaz the capital of Khuzestan province. The modern Iranian city of Shush is located on the site of ancient Susa. Shush is identified as Shushan, mentioned in the Book of Esther and other biblical books.

The Qanats are the largest and longest man-made to sustain life on earth
19- Qanat

The Qanats are the largest and longest man-made to sustain life on earth. Qanat is one of the most important masterpieces of Iranian engineering and architecture and also is one of the most important and valuable inventions of Iran's Hydraulic engineering. The construction of Qanats represents the history of a great civilization that has been living in this area for centuries and has been the source of various developments. Qanat has technical and aesthetic principles. It represents the peak of Iranian art development not only on earth but also underground. This complicated and technical technique is the source of various buildings related to it.

Dasht-e Lut
20- Dasht-e Lut

The Lut desert, usually called the Dasht-e Lut, is a large salt desert located in the Kerman provinces and Sistan and Baluchistan, Iran. It is the 27th largest desert in the world and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 17 July 2016. The highest measured temperature is up to 70 ° C (159 ° F). ), making it one of the driest and hottest places in the world. It also contains extensive stony deserts and dune fields. The property represents an exceptional example of ongoing geological processes.

21- Yazd City

Yazd is one of the oldest cities in Iran, which has historical features, and natural and unique anthropological specifications. This city is known by a different name: the City of Windcatchers, The city of Qanats, the capital of the desert, the city of bicycles, the city of Zoroastrians, The city of mud, and the bride of the desert. It is currently the 15th largest city in Iran. Since 2017, the historical city of Yazd is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region
24- Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region

The eight archaeological sites are situated in three geographical areas in the southeast of Fars Province: Firuzabad, Bishapur, and Sarvestan. The fortified structures, palaces, and city plans date back to the earliest and latest times of the Sassanian Empire, which stretched across the region. Among these sites is the capital built by the founder of the dynasty. Ardashir Papakan, as well as the city and architectural structures of his successor, Shapur I. the archaeological landscape, reflects the optimized utilization of natural topography and bears witness to the influence of Achaemenid and Parthian cultural traditions and of Roman art, which had a significant impact on the architecture of the Islamic era.

Iranian Intangible Cultural Heritage on UNESCO List:
- Art of crafting and playing with Kamancheh/Kamancha (2017)
- Chogān, a horse-riding game accompanied by music and storytelling (2017)
- Flatbread making and sharing culture: Lavash, Katyrma, Jupka, Yufka (2016)
- Nowrouz (2016)
- Qālišuyān rituals of Mašhad-e Ardehāl in Kāšān (2012)
- Naqqāli, Iranian dramatic story-telling (2011)
- Traditional skills of building and sailing Iranian Lenj boats in the Persian Gulf (2011)
- Music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan (2010)
- Pahlevani and Zoorkhanei rituals (2010)
- Ritual dramatic art of Ta‘zīye (2010)
- Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Fars (2010)
- Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan (2010)
- Radif of Iranian music (2009)