Soltanieh Dome, An Iranian World Heritage Site

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tamara Ebrahimpour 

Active Image
Active Image
Active Image
Active Image
Active Image

The mausoleum of Oljeitu Khodabandeh, known as the Soltanieh Dome is a unique 700-year-old brick structure located near Iran's western province of Zanjan.

The glorious Ilkhanid structure, built by Sultan Mohammad Oljeitu between 1302 and 1312 BCE, is an outstanding example of Persian and Islamic architecture.

Soltanieh Dome, which was the world's tallest building of its time, currently ranks third after Italy's Saint Mary church in Florence and Turkey's Aya Sofia Mosque in Istanbul.

With its octagonal base and beautiful tile-work, the 54-meter tall Dome towers above many of the fascinating historical sites in Iran.

The building is composed of three parts: the mausoleum, the dome chamber and the vault.

The dome chamber is decorated with Islamic inscriptions and beautiful muqarnas.

Unique Kufic and Thuluth inscriptions, and exquisite arabesque decorations adorn the mausoleum located above the vault where the King's body was laid to rest and two guards protected the gilded royal tombstone at all times.

Although the passage of time has left its mark on the mausoleum, the interior retains its superb mosaics, faience and murals.

Stunning brick patterns and beautiful hexagon tiles decorated the Dome's interior, which was later covered up with plaster, colorful inscriptions and floral patterns.

Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization is currently in charge of the 200-ton Dome's restoration project in which experts are using azure tiles made in traditional kilns to refurbish the exterior.

The Dome's double-shell structure, built of two parallel and completely separate brick layers connected with buttresses, gives it a unique quality turning it into one of the world's most significant architectural examples, inspiring many other Muslim cupola constructions such as the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

The celebrated Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi is said to have been inspired by the Soltanieh Dome when designing the dome of the Santa Maria Del Fiore cathedral in Florence.

The Soltanieh Dome was registered on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2006 after the Naqshe Jahan square, Persepolis, the Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat, Takht-e Soleiman, Pasargadae, and the Bam citadel.