The Mausoleum of Oljaytu was constructed in 1302-12 in the city of Soltaniyeh, the capital of Ilkhanid Dynasty, which was founded by the Mongols.
Located 240 km from Tehran in Zanjan province, Soltaniyeh is one of the outstanding examples of Persian architecture and a key monument in the development of Islamic architecture, UNESCO reported.
The octagonal building is crowned with a 50-meter-high dome covered in turquoise-blue faience and surrounded by eight slender minarets.
It is the earliest existing example of the double-shelled dome in Iran. The mausoleum’s interior decoration is also outstanding and scholars have described the building as a precursor to Taj Mahal.
Soltaniyeh represents an exceptional testimony to the history of 13th and 14th centuries.
The Mausoleum of Oljaytu forms an essential link in the development of Islamic architecture in central and western Asia, from the classical Seljuk phase until the Timurid period.
This is particularly relevant to the double-shell structure and the elaborate use of materials and themes in the decoration.
There is archeological evidence that the site had been occupied at least from the 1st millennium BC.
The construction of the settlement was started by the Ilkhanid Dynasty around 1290.
The fourth Mongol ruler in Persia, Arghun Khan, decided to build a summer residence in the region, because it offered good hunting grounds and rich pastures for horse breeding.
His son, Qazan Khan, had a mausoleum built over his tomb, now known as Tappeh Nour. There is little information about the beginnings of the new settlement until Oljaytu came to power in 1304 when he decided to enlarge the city and make it his capital, naming it Soltaniyeh (Imperial).
Together with Tabriz, Soltaniyeh became a major trading center on the route linking Asia to Europe. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Soltaniyeh gradually declined and remained in ruins. Only a rural village was built over the remains.
The Mausoleum of Oljaytu, the principal monument of the city stands in the middle of a rural settlement surrounded by fertile meadows.
The dome has neither buttress nor any additional thickness.
A wide band of square Kufic engraving around the dome makes a transition between the light blue and the lapis lazuli blue of the main stalactite cornice.
The second-story galleries of the mausoleum open outwards.
Structurally, the building is considered a masterpiece. The facade of interior walls was originally built with light golden bricks and dark blue faience tiles to form large inscriptions in Kufic.
However, in 1313, it was redecorated with plaster, using a rich variety of fine decorations, often worked in low relief. The second phase of the decoration belongs to the period when the use of the monument as a Shiite shrine declined. The decoration of the exterior belongs to the first phase.
The immediate surroundings of the mausoleum consist of a stone terrace in the form of an Arg (citadel). Originally, the citadel was surrounded by a 30-meter-wide moat. Today, it is part of the archeological complex.
Mausoleum of Sultan Chelebi Oghlu, a brick structure with an octagonal tower; Mausoleum of Mullah Hassan Kashi, a religious figure and poet in the court of Oljaytu; and the remains of Ghazan’s Tomb at Tappeh Nour, which, together with its adjacent remains, known as Tappeh Nour Kouchak, form the archeological complex.
Other monuments and sites in the World Heritage Site include the old city of Soltaniyeh, which succeeded Tabriz as the capital of Oljaytu.
In historical texts, the area of Soltaniyeh is referred to as Prairie of Alezans or Falcon Hunting Ground.
The special nature of its meadows is due to the soil, which prevents the complete absorption of rainwater. As a result, it developed into a fertile pasture, which was particularly appropriate for horse breeding.
This was also one of the reasons for the establishment of the city in this location.
Iran, Azerbaijan to Expand Cultural Ties
Translated by Leila Imani
Iran and Azerbaijan are two Muslim and neighboring countries with a large number of cultural commonalities, said the deputy head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) for cultural heritage.
Speaking in a meeting with Deputy Azeri Culture and Tourism Minister Nazim Samadov, Masoud Alavian-Sadr said the joint registration of Norouz, (Iranian New Year) on UNESCO’s World Heritage List indicates the close relations between the cultures of the two countries, CHTN reported.
Referring to Hirkani Forest as the common border of Iran and Azerbaijan, he said the forest can be registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Hirkani Forest is one of the unique forests in the world, which extends from the northern mountain ranges of Alborz to the southern shores of Caspian Sea. This green belt continues from Astara in the northwest to Gorgan province in the east.
The official said the two countries can cooperate in various fields, including holding exhibitions of museum and historical objects, renovating ancient monuments and conducting researches.
Alavian-Sadr went on to say that the handmade Tabriz carpet is a valuable cultural heritage and Iran is ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan to prepare a multinational dossier for it.
Referring to the inauguration of Regional Center for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage of West and Central Asia in Tehran, he proposed that Azerbaijan join the center that has 23 members.
Samadov expressed satisfaction over the results of his trip to Iran and appreciated the hospitality of Iranians.
The Azeri deputy minister had traveled to Iran to participate in the International Tourism and Hotel Management Exhibition held in Kish.
Samadov said his visit to the National Museum of Iran helped him recognize the rich culture and civilization of Iran.
The Azeri official said Iranian tourists ranked fourth among those who travel to his country annually, adding that Russia, Georgia and Turkey ranked first to third in this respect.
Welcoming the proposal presented by Alavian-Sadr on the joint registration of a number of cultural heritages, he urged related officials to launch related activities as soon as possible.
“I am really interested in further expansion of cultural ties between Iran and Azerbaijan,” he said, stressing that the cultural commonalities between the two countries will help achieve this objective.
Along the Riverside
By Nima Yushij
Along the riverbank wanders the old turtle
The day’s a sunny day.
The rice-paddy scene is warm.
The old turtle basks in the warm lap of its sun;
Sleep at ease
Along the riverbank.
Along the riverbank, there’s only me
Tired from the pain of desire,
Awaiting my sun.
But my eyes
Cannot see it for an instant.
Has hidden its face from me in the distant waters.
For me, everything is clear everywhere
In my standing,
In my hurrying,
Only my sun is not clear
Along the riverbank.
Yellow split peas, 80 grams
Olive oil, 1/3 cup
Onion, 1 large (finely chopped)
Beef, 400 grams (minced)
Beef stock, 2 cups
Ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon
Green apples, 5 large
Sweet and Sour Sauce
White vinegar, 1/3 cup
Sugar, 75 grams
Butter, 30 grams
Saffron, a pinch
Preheat oven to 200°C. Place split peas in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, skimming any impurities that rise to the surface, for 35 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add onion and cook for three minutes or until soft. Transfer to a bowl and keep aside. Increase heat to high, add one tablespoon of oil, then add beef.
Cook, stirring, until the meat has browned. Remove and stir in the reserved onions, then add the drained split peas, cinnamon and 1/4 tablespoon of salt. Set aside to cool.
Core apples and trim bases slightly so the apples stand up straight. Using a small, sharp knife and a spoon, scoop out the apple flesh, leaving a 1cm wall. Coarsely chop removed flesh and set aside.
Spoon the meat mixture into the cored apples and replace their reserved tops. Place into a lightly greased ovenproof baking dish, large enough to fit all the apples. Place chopped apple flesh in the dish around the apples, then pour stock and 125 ml of water around the apples.
Drizzle remaining one tablespoon of oil over the apples. Cover the dish with baking paper and then foil and bake for 30 minutes or until apples are soft. Remove baking paper and foil, and cook for a further 15 minutes or until apples are browned.
To make the sauce, place all ingredients and two tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook, stirring, for two minutes or until the sugar dissolves.
Remove apples from the oven and pour over the sweet and sour sauce, to serve.
Health Benefits of Apple
An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.
A new study performed on mice shows drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study, which were fed an apple-enhanced diet, showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.
Research has shown that people who eat fruits and other high-fiber foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells.
Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonoid-rich apples can help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 percent.
Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds, including triterpenoids, in the apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast.
Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumors in rats.
Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples.
Iranian Cultural Festival
A cultural festival is being held at Iran’s Consulate in Ethiopia to introduce Persian civilization and heritage during Jan. 28-Feb. 3.