Iran: A Record-Holder in Cultural Attractions

Monday, March 28, 2016


Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

‘The most…’ has been always an enticing description to human beings. This description has been the main reason which has made a lot of tourists and travelers put Iran on their itinerary. Being described by “the most” is so attractive that many people are trying to make their country be known by it in various ways.  Iran, however, is a place for many record figures, but a lot of people know nothing about this. The following list encompasses instances of “the most” remarkable records that Iran holds among all countries. It would be certainly a pleasure to read about them.


The World’s Biggest Stone Structure

The construction of Persepolis, or as has been recorded in some tablets “The City of the Persian People,” started on the order of King Darius I in 518 B.C., some 55 kilometers northeast of the city of Shiraz on the opposite of Marvdasht Plain. The building took 120 years to become complete. The huge stone complex with an overall area of 135,000 square meters is the biggest Achaemenid building which is totally made of stone. The interesting point is that no mortar has been used to keep the stones together and big pieces of stone have been hinged together without the use of mortar. Of course, in some cases, iron fittings known as swallowtail have been also used. The Persepolis complex consists of seven halls, bas-relief carvings, staircases, columns and two stone mausoleums.


The First Declaration of Human Rights

What is currently covered by human rights such as freedom, equality and other human concepts according to which the rights of ethnic minorities as well as different nations and races are protected has been mentioned for the first time in the form of the law in the human rights declaration of Cyrus the Great.


The Hottest Point on Earth

In the Lut Desert, just 80 km north of the city of Shahdad, there is a hill made up of volcanic lava with a total area of 480 square kilometers which is known as “Gandom-e Beryan (roasted wheat)” and also “Rig-e Soukhteh (burned sand)” which is the hottest point on earth with a temperature of 67 degrees centigrade in the shade! There is no form of life recognized at Gandom-e Beryan, which covers a space which measures 200 km long and 150 km wide. The environmental conditions are so harsh that not only prevent the survival of all forms of fauna and flora, but even the bacteria cannot remain alive. As a result, dead bodies are not decomposed, but are dried under intense heat of the Sun. Before this place was discovered by Professor Parviz Kordavani, the Libyan Desert in North Africa, where temperature goes as high up as 57.7 degrees Centigrade, was considered the hottest place on earth. That record has been now given to Gandom-e Beryan. If you actually want to visit the hottest point on the planet, you should plan your trip between November and April.


The Tallest Brick Tower in the World

Gonbad-e Qabus Tower was built in 996 AD on the order of Qabus ibn Voshmgir, a king of Al-e Ziyar dynasty, in Jorjan (the present-day city of Gonbad-e Qabus), which was the capital city of their government. The tower stands on the top of Qabus ibn Voshmgir’s tomb. The building has been constructed using bricks and mortar and has been shaped like a multifaceted cylinder, which consist of the foundation, a water reservoir, the body, and a conical dome. Qabus Tower is located on the top of an earthen hill which stands about 15 meters above the ground. The tower is 55 meters high which when added to the height of the hill, increases overall height of the tower from the ground to 70 meters.


The Largest Adobe Building in the World

The Arg-e Bam is the largest adobe building in the world, located in Bam, a city in the Kermān Province of southeastern Iran. It is listed by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site "Bam and its Cultural Landscape". The origin of this enormous citadel on the Silk Road can be traced back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th centuries BC) and even beyond. The heyday of the citadel was from the 7th to 11th centuries, being at the crossroads of important trade routes and known for the production of silk and cotton garments.


The World’s Longest Salt Cave

Namakdan (salt shaker) Cave in Iran's southern Qeshm Island is about 6,580 meters long. Before the cave was discovered, Sodom Salt Cave in Palestine was considered the world’s longest salt cave with an overall length of 5,685 meters. The flow of salty water on the floor of the cave is a pleasant view. The humidity of the island and penetration of water into the cave has led to downpour of saturated salty water over the body of stalagmites continuously changing their outline. Namakdan Cave includes a salty lake with a depth of one meter, which is located 160 meters from the mouth of the cave. There is an underground river which gushes out of the depths of Namakdan Mountain, finds its way out and after solving salt on its way, comes out on the slopes of the mountain. The water flow has created a natural pool in the pit which is located opposite to it whose color is white.


The Biggest Urban Adobe Fabric in the World

The central Iranian city of Yazd is one of the most important historical cities in the country which is also home to a complete collection of buildings related to various periods of time including traditional bazaars, mosques, gardens, buildings, fire temples and so forth. In addition, the city contains the world’s biggest urban adobe fabric with an area of 743 hectares and a perimeter of 5,000 hectares, which is also the most pristine historical fabric in the entire country.


The Biggest Non-Independent Island in the World

Qeshm is the world’s biggest non-independent island which is located in the most strategic location in the Persian Gulf; that is, at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz. The island is about 120 km long with varying width at various points. The widest part of the island is located between the town of Laft and the Long Slope. The average width of the island is about 14 kilometers. A large part of the northern coasts of the island is covered with mangrove forests over an area of 150 square kilometers. Qeshm Island has an area of 1,491 square kilometers and is thus bigger than 23 countries in the world. For example, its area is 2.5 times that of Singapore, Bahrain and San Marino; 1.5 times that of Hong Kong, 5 times that of Maldives, and 70 times that of Macao.


The Biggest Brick Dome in the World

The Dome of Soltaniyeh is the biggest brick dome in the world and the Mausoleum of Ilkhan Oljaytu. The structure is a very exquisite mosque which is well-known in the world from the viewpoint of architecture, interior design and space. The dome is located 30 km east of Zanjan inside the rampart of the old city of Soltaniyeh. It is an octagonal building, each side of which is almost 80 meters. The Soltaniyeh Dome is built in the Arg city or old fortification of Sultaniyeh, the capital of Oljaytu, an Ilkhan ruler.


The Hottest Spring in the World

Qinarjeh hot-water spring in south of the city of Meshkin Shahr, East Azarbaijan Province, is located at a height of 1,240 meters from the sea level on the northern slope of Sabalan Mountain close to four other mineral springs. This spa, whose temperature stands at 86 degrees Centigrade, is the world’s hottest chloride mineral spring and has three mouths. Due to therapeutic effects of minerals present in its water, especially high sulfur, the water of the spring is effective in treating such diseases as rickets and chronic forms of rheumatism. The high temperature of the spring also allays various kinds of pain and inflammation. There is a waterfall close to the spring which has added to the natural beauty and tourism attraction of Qinarjeh spring.


World’s Oldest Cedar Tree

A cedar tree near the city of Abarkouh is believed to be the oldest of its kind in the world as its age has been estimated at about 4,000-4,500 years. The girth of the tree is 11.4 meters on the ground and its height has been estimated at 25-28 meters. According to some local myths, the tree has been planted by the ancient Iranian prophet, Zoroaster.


The Most Ancient Useable Bridge in the World

This bridge is located at the center of the southwestern Iranian city of Dezful, in Khuzestan Province, and connects the eastern and western parts of the city. It has been a crossroads connecting the cities of Shushtar, Andimeshk and Dezful since very old times. According to historical accounts, the Dezful Bridge was built in 260 AD when Shapour I, the powerful Sassanid king, make 70,000 Roman captives to build the strong bridge. The bridge has 14 mouths and the Dez River flows underneath. The structure had been first repaired by the Iranian king, Azed-od-Dowleh Deylami, followed by further reconstructions under Safavid and Pahlavi dynasties. The pillars of the bridge, however, have remained unchanged as they were built by the Sassanid king.


The Oldest Adobe Structure in the World

The beautiful and ancient castle of Narin Qaleh in Meibod, Yazd Province, which is also known by local people as Narenj Qaleh, is the most prominent remaining relic of ancient urban architecture in that part of the country. Narin Qaleh is of high significance from various historical, geographical, architectural, urban, political, military, religious, and mythological viewpoints. The structure has been built on top of a hill which overlooks its surroundings and, therefore, can be seen from a long distance afar. According to some local myths, the castle has been built at the time of the prophet Solomon.


The Highest Ventilator in the World

The octagonal ventilator built at Dowlatabad Garden in Yazd, central Iran, is the tallest ventilator in the world at a height of 33 meters from the ground. The Garden is an authentic Iranian garden that annually attracts thousands of domestic and foreign tourists. This is a complex built according to the original Iranian architectural style and consists of a large garden and some buildings. Looking at the garden and the main entrance of the garden, you will see the long pool in the shade of the tall cypress trees leading to the main entrance. On the way to the mansion, there are beautiful grapes and pomegranates trees behind those tall trees.


The Most Ancient Living Animal in the World

Triops is a species of water creatures that is considered a living fossil because it has been around for the past 220 million years and is, thus, the most ancient animal species known to man. This creature lives in seasonal ponds in Iran's West Azarbaijan Province.


The World’s Highest Natural Arch

The mouth of Espahbod -e- Khorshid Cave (also a mythological fortress) is located on the side of the Firouzkouh road close to Doab bottleneck in Mazandaran Province. It is 19.75 meters long and 14.25 meters wide, which makes it the highest natural arch in the world. It stands about 15 meters above the ground and was discovered by speleologists in 1956.


The Most Ancient Dam in the World

Kebar Dam is located at the 25th km of the old Qom – Kashan road and is considered to belong to Sassanid era. Despite the lapse of over 1,000 years and many quakes in that region, the dam still stands upright.


The Strangest Aqueduct in the World

The two-story Mon aqueduct near the city of Ardestan in central Iran is one of the scientific and engineering feats of ancient times. The water flow in each level of the aqueduct which is 800 years old is quite independent and no water from one level penetrates into the other. The aqueduct is two kilometers long and has an output of 60 liters of water per second.


The Biggest Roofed Marketplace in the World

The traditional bazaar of Tabriz in East Azarbaijan Province has an area of about one million square meters. It is the biggest extended roofed brick structure in the world. Due to its location on the ancient Silk Road, the city of Tabriz has been always a major hub of trade in various junctures of history.


Nowruz, The Only International New Year Celebration

The International Day of Nowruz was registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on February 23, 2010. Originating in Iran’s ancient history, Nowruz is celebrated by more than 300 million people worldwide on March 21, the day of the spring Equinox, which marks the sun’s crossing of the Equator and the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Nowruz is as one of the oldest and most cherished festivities celebrated for at least 3,000


One of The World's Richest Art Heritages and Handicrafts

Iran is home to one of the richest art heritages and handicrafts in world history and distinguished in many disciplines, including architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking and stone masonry. Persians were among the first to use mathematics, geometry, and astronomy in architecture and also have extraordinary skills in making massive domes which can be seen frequently in the structure of bazaars and mosques. Iran, besides being home to a large number of art houses and galleries, also holds one of the largest and valuable jewel collections in the world. 


The Most Beautiful Mosques in the World (Guardian)

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Isfahan, Iran

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque of Isfahan, which is located on the eastern side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square, is among the most famous mosques in the world in terms of architecture. This mosque was built between 1602 and 1619 on the order of Shah Abbas I of Safavid dynasty. Master Mohammad Reza Esfahani has been the chief architect of this monumental building. The mosque has been named after Sheikh Lotfollah Jabal Ameli, the renowned Muslim scholar of Safavid era, who traveled to Iran from Lebanon on the invitation of Shah Abbas I, and taught Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) and principles (Usul). 


Nasir al Molk, Shiraz, Iran

From the outside, the Nasir al-Molk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, seems like a fairly traditional house of worship -- but it's hiding a gorgeously colorful secret. The multitude of stained glass windows turn the inside of the mosque into a riotous wonderland of color that is absolutely breathtaking. You can only see the light through the stained glass in the early morning. It was built to catch the morning sun, so that if you visit at noon it will be too late to catch the light. The sight of the morning sunlight shining through the colorful stained glass, then falling over the tightly woven Persion carpet, is so bewitching that it seems to be from another world. Even if you are the world’s least religious person, you might feel your hands coming together in prayer naturally when you see the brilliance of this light. Perhaps the builders of this mosque wanted to show their “faith” through the morning light shining through this stained glass.


Best Skiing Opportunity in The Middle East

Iran is quite a different country in the region when it comes to the possibilities of skiing in The Middle East! There are lots of huge mountains with high peaks and appropriate slopes for different types of skiing. As a result, ski resorts have been built for the skiers who love this sport. This type of terrain makes Iran a unique location for the people interested in skiing in the Middle East.The highest peak of Iran is Damavand with 5671 m above sea level. It’s located at the North East of Iran on the Alborz range and can be seen from inside Tehran in Sunny days. You will find snow on top of this burned-out volcano almost all year round. Along the same mountain range and close to Tehran, there are possibilities of skiing at different ski runs. Dizin, Tochal, Shemshak and Darbandsar are such places for Iranians as well as foreign enthusiasts.


The Longest Sreet in the Middle East

Valiasr Avenue is Tehran’s longest avenue that connects its southernmost point to the furthest northern end. It is considered one of Tehran's main thoroughfares and commercial centres. It is also the longest street in the Middle East, and was reported as one of the longest in the world by former BBC (now Al Jazeera) journalist Rageh Omaar during the television documentary Welcome to Tehran. It is also considered one of the most historical parts of the city. Along the avenue are located historical houses and sites dating back to different eras. Most of these historical monuments have been registered on the National Heritage List and are functioning as museums.

*Photo Credit: Wikipedia, CHN,, Fars News, Mehr News,,