0616 GMT December 10, 2022
Soltaniyeh Dome, a historical monument dating back to the Ilkhanid Era (1256-1353 CE), located in the city of Soltaniyeh, the northwestern province of Zanjan, is one of the architectural masterpieces of Iran, said the research director of the province’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Abolfazl Aali said that the dome, along with other ancient structures of the historical city of Soltaniyeh, are the significant manifestations of the culture, art and architecture of the Ilkhanid Era.
He said that the ancient citadel and Jaame Mosque of the city are among the other important edifices dating back to the Ilkhanid Era. The Soltaniyeh Dome is one of the most outstanding monuments of Iran in terms of size, architecture and decorations.
Aali added that after the Mongol invasion of Iran and during the Ilkanid Period, relative calm reigned over the country.
“Ilkanid rulers were influenced by the Islamic culture of the Iranian people; their characters were very different from those that invaded the country. In fact, their culture was more similar to that of Iranians than Mongols.
“It is true that Soltanieh had its peak of fame and prosperity during the Ilkhanid Era, but archeological evidence shows that the city existed before that period. The results of excavations carried out in Soltanieh revealed that people lived in the region six to seven thousand years ago,” he said.
Aali continued that, with a lot of water resources, Soltaniyeh has been a suitable living area, and that traces of human habitation, dating back to the Copper, Bronze and Iron ages, have been discovered in Soltanieh.
He said that the region maintained its significance during various historical periods, noting that artifacts dating back to Achaemenid, Ashkanid and Sassanid periods were discovered in the region.
“Soltaniyeh, having a large number of meadows, was of great importance during the Mongol Era. The cold and dry climate of the region was very similar to that of Mongolia, thus Mongols used the meadows to keep their horses and sheep,” he said.
He said urban planning in Soltaniyeh began from the time of Arghun Khan, the fourth ruler of the Ilkanid Empire.
“Oljaitu, the son of Arghun Khan, is the founder of Soltanieh Dome. Arghun Khan himself was not a Muslim; he built the only Buddhist temple in Iran 20 kilometers from Soltaniyeh. However, his sons Ghazan Khan and Oljaitu both became Muslim.
Aali observed that by order of Oljaitu, many Iranian artists migrated to the region from all over the country and a large city was established in Soltanieh. At that time, its population was 100,000 while, presently, about 20,000 people live in the city.
He noted that Soltanieh has a large citadel having various sections as well as several fences and towers, adding that all of them have been excavated.
The official noted that the first renovation projects were implemented in Soltanieh Dome by Italian groups 80 years ago.
He said that 17 periods of archeological excavations were carried out in the old city of Soltanieh, the ancient citadel and Jaame Mosque by Iranian archeological groups, headed by Ali-Asqar Mirfatah, during the 1980s and 1990s.
“A number of rural houses located in the area were purchased by the government and destroyed; this helped archeologists to excavate the ancient citadel. The houses, which were built on the citadel, damaged a large part of it,” he said, noting that a renovation project is presently underway in the monument.