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Geography and History

The province of Golestan with an area of 20,195 square km., is in the southeast of the Caspian Sea. On the basis of the last divisions of the country , the townships of the Golestan province are: Bandar Turkaman, Bandar Gaz, Ali Abad, Kord Kooy, Gorgan, Gonbad Kavoos and Minoo Dasht. The center of Golestan province is Gorgan. The population of the province was 1.6 million in 2006, of which 49.17% were urban dwellers and 50.68 percent resided in rural areas and the other 0.15 percent were non residents. Golestan province is divided into two sections, being the plain and mountainous parts, in the direction of Alborz Mountains, surrounding the shore and Caspian plain like an elevated wall. The ground slope reduces from the heights to the plains towards the Caspian Sea. In the southern and eastern plains of the Caspian Sea, influenced by the movements of earth and local winds, sandy hills have formed and a natural shallow dam has been created between the plain and sea. In the eastern Alborz, the direction of mountains is towards the northeast and gradually reduces in height. Its southern mountains are Abar Kooh Mountains and its highest summit being Shavar, 3,945m. in elevation. The northern range is Shahkooh which confronts the plain of Gorgan like a wall. It’s highest peak being Pirgard, reaching a height of 3,204 m.


In accordance with certain factors such as geographical location, influenced by the latitude and geographical elevation; the Alborz Mountain Ranges, its distance from the sea, the desert areas south of Turkmenistan, local winds and forest density, brings about a variable climate. In the northeast of the province, particularly to the east of the Caspian Sea and the distance between Gorgan Rood till the borders of Turkmenistan, due to non-influential affects of the Caspian Sea, decrease in the elevation of the eastern Alborz, the extension of the coastal plain and its proximity with the Qareh Qoum and Qezel Loun of Central Asia, a warm and dry climate is experienced. Where as this changes to a semi desert type in areas further off. The annual rainfall is scarce in this area and due to this, the affect of the heat is overpowering. Thus bringing about a vast difference not only between daily maximum and minimum temperatures, but also seasonal differences, that is between the hottest and coldest month too. In the southwestern sector of the province, due to the presence of heights, such as in the cities of Kollaleh and Minoo Dasht, other changes in the climate are experienced and with the change of temperature, a moderate and humid climate prevails.

History and Culture

The history of human settlements in the territory of Gorgan dates to a millennium BC. The evidences of the ancient city of Jorjan are near the current city of Gorgan. This was one of the important cities of Iran, located on the Silk Road. The Gorgan of today was known as Astar Abad, one of the archaic cities of Iran. The Turkamans reside in the north of the province, particularly in the cities of Gonbad and Bandar Turkaman. Other communities such as the Baluch, Turks, Afqans and Armenians also reside in this area, and have preserved their traditions and rituals.

Golestan Province Townships

Ali Abad, Bandar Gaz, Bandar Turkaman, Gonbad Kavoos, Gorgan, Kord Kooy, Minoo Dasht.

Ali Abad

The township of Ali Abad is situated in south of the province and is limited by Semnan province in the south, Gonbad Kavoos at the north and Gorgan at the north and west. Ali Abad is at a distance of 45 km. from Gorgan and 420 km. from Tehran. Its climate is a Caspian type or Khazari in the foothills and plains and in the heights and mountains is a mountainous temperate type with cold, long winters and moderate summers. In the past Ali Abad was a village of Katoul in the northeastern Alborz. This village was given due attention because of Ali Mohammad Khan settlement in the original Mazandaran – Mashad route and the fertility of the earth. It expanded and was named Ali Abad. The forest park of Kaboodwall is near this town.

Bandar Gaz

Bandar Gaz is situated in the south eastern fringes of the Gulf of Gorgan and is at a distance of 20 km. south of  Bandar Turkaman and 48 km. from Gorgan. This port before the construction of Bandar Turkaman was the most important commercial port in west of Mazandarn, Semnan and Khorassan. Bandar Gaz became an industrial center due to its location in the commercial high way in north-west of Iran. The oil-extraction, rice-grinding and cotton purifying factories were established, in this town. This coastal town has interesting natural beauty and its wetlands, groves and wildlife are famous.

Bandar Turkaman

This township is situated to the west of Gorgan and limited to the Caspian Sea in the west. Its neighbor is the Republic of Turkmenistan in the north. Its southern part till Gorganroud, has a temperate and damp climate and its northern part due to proximity to the southern desert of Turkmenistan and remoteness from Alborz Mountains, have an almost dry and desert like climate. The distance from Bandar Turkaman and Gorgan is 35 km. The name of Turkaman, for the first time was referred to in a Chinese dictionary of 8th AD. It is also known that Turkaman was the name of a yellow skin nation with a Turkish dialect who used to live in the north of “Isig Goel” lake in north Mongolia,  about a thousand years back. On the victory of the Arab muslims in the Turk territory, along with some of these people called Qazian-e-Islam attacked other territories. A group of these Turkamans resided at the west and the south and later on some of these groups migrated to different eastern and the southeastern regions of the Caspian Sea. The Saljuki government was the most important Turkish government and its formation was the biggest source of change in the Islamic civilization and Iran. Saljuq Ebne Daqayeq was one of the Turkamans chieftains. In the 10th century AD. the Qaz tribes that were ancestors of the Turkamans assaulted Russia and Iran. In the 16th century AD., the Turkamans took possession of all the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea to Gorgan. After Teimoor, the Turkamans dynasties such as the Qara Qoyounlou and Aq Qoyounlou formed powerful governments who governed in the west and north of Iran respectively. Later on they ruled in central and south Iran. To prevent the invasion of Turkamans and Ozbaks, Shah Abbas made the Kurd warriors emigrate from the western parts to this region, and formed five provinces for the Kurds from the frontiers of Astar Abad till Chenaran. But imigration of Kurds did not prevent the Turkaman assaults which savage continued. Due to inter-clan battles from one hand and the horrible savagely invasions of Bokhara and Kheiveh Khans (rulers), the Turkaman regions became turmoil. The above conflicts and the pressures of the Russian Empire increased the Turkamans immigration to the banks of the Gorgan River. The Qajar Dynasty came to power with the aid of the Turkaman tribes. In 1276 AH. , coinciding with the Marv war, the Turkamans with the aid of ruler of Kheiveh defeated the Qajar Army, and this territory, remained under the Turkaman domination. During constitution the Turkamans opposed the constitutional government and plundered cities and villages who supported the government. But after the victory of the constitutional government, the Turkamans returned to their regions. After land reforms in 1962, specific groups of Turkamans, began cultivation and the others went to cities and some Turkaman villages moved to cities like Bandar Turkaman. The present Bandar Turkaman was constructed in 1927 during the reign of Pahlavi I, and coinciding with the beginning of the railway network. Today it has expanded and became an interesting town with tourism attractions.

Gonbad Kavoos

The township of Gonbad Kavoos is the biggest township of this province regarding the area. This township is neighbors with Turkmenistan in the   north and is limited by Khorassan province in the east, Minoo Dasht and Ali Abad at the south, Gorgan and Bandar Turkaman in the west. Its center is the beautiful town of Gonbad Kavoos and its distance from ancient Jorjan is 3 km. Its climate in the southern heights is temperate and at the foot a mountain and the southern plain is temperate and humid, but at the north of Gorgan it changes to a semi-arid and dry type. The name of this town is related to Qabous Ebne Voshmgir, one of the Al-e-Ziar rulers. Jorjan was destroyed by Teimoorian and Mongol attacks, the city of Gonbad was made next to it. In 1937 it was named Gonbad Kavoos. It’s original plan was executed in the early Pahlavi period and is example of a new city of Iran.


The township of Gorgan is situated in the southwest of the province and its neighbors are: Semnan province from south, Kord Kooy and Bandar Turkaman from west, Ali Abad and Gonbad Kavoos from east, and from north it is limited to Gonbad Kavoos. The center of province of Golestan. The distance between Gorgan and Tehran is 397 km. and has a temperate climate. Gorgan (or Jorjan) was important city in the 4th century AH. specially at the time of Shamsolmaali Qabous Ebne Voshmgir. But from the 4th century lost its importance and was destroyed in the Mongol attack. Gorgan (Jorjan) before Islam, was one of the important provinces of Iran that almost had independence but in certain periods was a part of greater Khorassan. Due to the Mongol and Teimoorian attacks, Jorjan was destroyed. This town was known as Astar Abad till the end of the Qajar dynasty. Astar Abad was named Darolmomenin in the Safavid era. At the time of Nader Shah due to the Turkamans attack, a rampart was made around it. After that in the Qajarieh dynasty, it changed to a new and modern town. In recent times it has rapidly expanded.

Kord Kooy

The township of Kord Kooy is situated at the west of province and neighbors Mazandaran province in the west. In the north, this township is limited by the Caspian Sea and Bandar Turkaman. Gorgan is placed at the east, and Semnan province at the south. Its old name was Tamisheh which was also designated to the western part of Gorgan. At the end of Teimoorian dynasty and early Safavid era, a tribe from Kurdestan immigrated to this region, thus at first it was named as “Kord Mahaleh” and later on Kord Kooy.

Minoo Dasht

The township of Minoo Dasht is situated in the east of the province and is limited by Semnan province in the east. Gonbad Kavoos exists at the northwest and to its south is the province of Semnan. Its center is Minoo Dasht, located 98 km. from Gorgan. In Minoo Dasht the climate is a temperate and mountainous type at heights and in plains is temperate and semi-humid. The old name of Minoo Dasht was Hajilar and was constructed by a group of immigrant tribes of Azarbayjan, during the Safavid period. At the same time another group of tribes from Fars had immigrated to this region. Modern Minoo Dasht is a flourishing town and is expanding.

Historical Monuments

Aq Qala Bridge, Gorgan

The Aq Qala Bridge is placed at the distance of 18 km. to the north of Gorgan and at the beginning of Gorgan River and Aq Qala city. This bridge is 74 meters in length and in both sides has refuges with 1.5 meters height and consists of four arches. The Aq Qala Bridge was constructed in the 9th century and repaired during the Safavid period.




Gonbad Qaboos Tower, Gonbad Kavoos

The same is a majestic structure made of brick, with special technicalities and affects of art, related to the 4th century AH. This structure which is located on a hillock amidst the grand park of Gonbad Kavoos city, is the tomb of Shams-ol-Mali Qaboos Ebne Voshmgir Ziyari (the ruler of the times in Gorgan and a famed scholar as well).




The tower is a fortified building, constructed by strong elements, and consists of beautiful ornamental works in proportionate lines adorned with harmony. The said structure consists of three parts – foundation, the main building and the dome which is conical, rising to an elevation of 55m. The actual structure rests on a round base, 2 m of which is above the ground, and the rest lies as an underground base.




The tower is artistically designed with ten triangular patterns at regular intervals. Two simple epigraphs in the cuneiform embossment script can be observed on the construction dating to 397 AH. The tower has been constructed of red brick, but this color has changed to a golden yellow, under effect of sun rays. The conical dome reaches a height of 18 m. with a plain, polished and a steep gradient surface. Vaulted arches can be noted at the entrance of the tower and this adornment dates to the works of art in the early Islamic period. The Gonbad Kavoos Tower was built in the year 397 AH. and is on historical record in Iran.

Radkan Qarbi (Western Radkan) Tower, Kord Kooy

This tower is located near the Radkan village, 24 km. south of Kord Kooy and 54 km. to the southwest of Gorgan. The same is situated on a strategic hillock. Constructed on simple lines, this brick structure rises to a height of 35m. It does display artistic affects and with two Kufic inscriptions on which the name of the founder and date of construction (407-411 AH. ) can be noted. The dome is bi-coated and conical in shape. The internal design of Radkan tower is cicular with simple design. The whole structure has been built of bricks similar to that of the Gonbad Qaboos Tower, and internally the architecture is also simple. It is the resting abode of one of the ancient commanders.




Religious Monuments

Gorgan Jame’ Mosque, Gorgan

The original structure of this mosque is located in the “Na’l Bandan” locality of the city. Most probably, the construction of which coincides with that of the brick minaret of Saljukian period. It was expanded, ornamented and renovated later. The mosque covers an area of 1,600 sq.m. and comprises of a large courtyard, eastern and western porches, nocturnal areas, north and south facing entrances, minarets of the Saljuqian era, epigraphs, cuneiform inscriptions worked on brick and adornments of brick are some of the historical affects noted on the premises. Besides which there is the carved wooden pulpit, and engraved decrees of the Safavid and Afshar eras. The ancient engraved door of the mosque, together with some archaic epigraphs, and endowment documents are currently in the museum. These are the remnants of the Safavid and Qajar period.






Imamzadeh Noor (Eshaq), Gorgan

The tomb of Imamzadeh Eshaq-ebne Musabne Jafar is in Sarcheshmeh of Gorgan. He was Imam Reza’s brother. One of the rituals relevant to this Imamzadeh is that on new year thousands of people collect in this vicinity and at the end of this ceremony, everyone receives cards, sweets and coins.



Imamzadeh Roshan, Gorgan

This tomb is in Roshan Abad of Gorgan in the middle of the cemetery garden. Its original structure belongs to the 9th century AH. There are two valuable doors which belong to the date of 865 AH. The chest on the tomb has a writing which indicates the date of 879 AH. and the name of its maker, in Raqa’ font. Other Mausoleums and Imamzadehs in Golestan province are: Imamzadeh Abdollah and Tayeb in Gorgan and  Khaled Nabi Mausoleum, Makhtoom Qoli Tomb, Imamzadeh Yahyebne Zeid in Gonbad.


Khaled Nabi Mausoleum,  Gonbad Kavoos


Makhtoom Qoli Tomb,  Gonbad Kavoos


Natural Attractions

Aq Qala Wetland Complex, Atrak

This complex is situated in the southern side of the Atrak River and includes Incheh, Almagol, Alagol, Inchehboroun, Bibi Shirvan, Ajigol, Namak and Daneshmand Wet Lands. Their total area is about 1,250 hectares. Some of these wet lands like the Alagol, has been registered and has important biological affects. The distance between the wetlands is short and experiences a warm Mediterranean climate, which has hot-dry summers and mild winters. There are kinds of immigrating birds like swans, geese, heron etc. in these wetlands who spend the winter here. The annual hunting season is from autumn till the end of winter and on Wednesdays and Fridays. Its fish are Kouli, Oranje, Simparak and Shishehmahi. These wetland regions present rest houses in a landscape of vast pastures, wildlife, and other tourist facilities.




Caspian Sea (Khazar Sea), Bandar Turkaman

The shore of Caspian Sea with its verdant plain and high mountains are one of the most attractive parts of the Golestan province and Iran. The Caspian Sea covers an area of 438,000 sq.km., and is the largest lake of the world. Its southern shores from Hossein Qoli Gulf upto Astara in Gilan belongs to the Iran coast line. A part of eastern and southern coasts of the Caspian Sea is limited to the Golestan province.




The sea shore is normally sandy and shallow and in some points it has turned to sandy hills. The Caspian Sea plays an important role in the northern coastal climate of Iran. The natural beauties of the Golestan coastal regions totally depends on the maintenance of biological conditions of the sea. In Golestan province there are two jetties in Gaz and Bandar Turkaman with transportation and recreational facilities.


Fishing (Caviar), Caspian Sea


Gomishan Wetland, Gorgan

The Gomishan Wet Land due to its sparse varieties of hydro-plants is an important and valuable genetic resource for protecting birds, water species and aqueous plants. This wet lands is situated 60 km. to the north west of Gorgan. After passing through Gorgan, Bandar Turkaman, Gomishan and Khajeh Naphas village. Over 20 kinds of fish and 100 kinds of bird species can be found here which is considered to be one of the interesting manifestations of the Gomishan Wet Land. This wet land is a recreational and educational area and annually attracts many visitors in all seasons.




Gorgan Gulf, Gorgan

The Gulf of Gorgan is the largest Gulf in the Caspian Sea. It has been created due to the expansion of Mian Kaleh peninsula in southeast of the Caspian Sea. The Gulf of Gorgan covers an area of about 400 km. and its length is about 70 km. in an east-west direction. Its maximum depth is 4 meters and this depth increases from west to east till the southern side of Ashoura Deh peninsula. In the western part its salinity is more than salinity of the Caspian Sea because of its reducing depth and increase of evaporation. Due to the presence of sweet water of the gushing rivers like Qarah Soo, the salinity of water is reduced and the water becomes muddier. Generally the water entrance capacity is less than its exit and its water shortage is supplemented by the Caspian Sea.




Golestan National Park, Gorgan

The Golestan National Park is the first Iranian National Park that is situated in the jurisdiction of Golestan, Semnan and Khorassan provinces.




This park because of its natural values like verdant and virgin forest and different species of flora and fauna is one of the famous areas in Iran and the world.




This park has been a protected area since 1957 under the name of “Almeh” and “Yashki” and in 1976, these two parts combined and became the Golestan National Park with 91,890 hectares in area. This park is formed of slightly sloping hills and high calcareous rocks. Its climate is very damp and in some places dry. Some important areas around the Golestan National Park are: Loweh, Dasht, Takhteh Iran, Yan Bolaq, Gildaq and the Qorkhoud protected areas. The most important animals of the Golestan National Park are: Rabbit, tiger, golden eagle, wolf, fox, panther, bear, sable wild cat, wild goat, wild pig (bore), gazelle, ram, deer, venison, kinds of snake, kinds of fish, black dall, delijeh, pray birds etc. Most important plants of this park are: fig, mulberry, wild pear, walnut, raspberry, barberry, different medicinal plants etc.


Balaban Hunting Bird, Golestan National Park


The waterfalls of Golestan province are divided into two groups, the mountainous and forest types, each of which has interesting view. Most of them have camping areas and rest houses. The followings are the important waterfalls of the province:

Loweh Waterfall, Minoo Dasht

This waterfall is one of the beautiful Iranian waterfalls that is at a distance of 20 km. from Galikesh and 5 km. from the main Mashad – Gorgan Road near a village named Galikesh. In the neighborhood of this waterfall the Golesan park adds to its tourism values.





Shir Abad Waterfall, Khanbebin, Gonbad Kavoos

This waterfall is situated 7 km. to the south of Khanbebin town and in the slopes of the Alborz mountain in a forested area. On its way, there are some beautiful springs and rivers. This waterfall is in the form of a stairway and includes 12 large and small waterfalls. Its largest waterfall is 30 meters high and its lake is 40-80 meters deep.




Other Waterfalls in Golestan are Baran kooh  Waterfall in Gorgan and Kaboodwall Waterfall in  Ali Abad.


Baran Kooh Waterfall, Gorgan


Kaboodwall Waterfall, Ali Abad


Culture and Art


The Governmental universities in Golestan province

Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Golestan University of Medical Sciences.

The Islamic Azad universities in Golestan province

Islamic Azad University of Azadshahr, Islamic Azad University of Gorgan, Islamic Azad University of Ali Abad katool.

Handicrafts and Souvenirs, Golestan

The most important handicrafts of Golestan province are: silk-weaving, carpet weaving, felt making, carpets and Jajeem weaving, wooden statues and vessels, textile weaving throughout the province and in particular in Turkaman vicinity. Its most important gifts are, Turkaman carpets, cushions, wooden and mat handicrafts that are very interesting for tourists. One of the Turkaman Handmade Carpet as a sample is shown below:



Local and Regional Foods, Golestan

There are many types of delicacies such as soups, many types of roasted meals such as meat, vegetable, cutlet, Shami, Morqetorsh, Tah Beryan, Kadou Qaalyeh, types of fish, Morq Badenjan Pollow, Sir Qalyeh, nargesi, Esphenaj Torshe, Loubiapateh, Shirin Tareh, Badenjan Pateh, Nardoun, Qalyeh, special foods for Sheferd, Fesenjan Aloumosmma, Katteh Chelav, Khoresht Anar, Mirzaqasemi, Torshe Tarreh, Esfenaj Pollow, Local bread, Anarteem Pahlou, Baqali Pollow, types of cookies, sweet meat, many kinds of pickles as well as other dishes…

Local Music and Dances, Golestan

The Turkaman music which has more than 500 melodies, has been basically played according to four main divisions, i.e., “Mokhammas”, “Tashnid”, Qajiqlar” and “Navayee”. These divisions can be played in four different methods in special regions or sects. These four methods are known as “Gorgan Yooli”, which is more simpler than the other methods; “Damana Yooli”, which is more related to the performance style of Khorassan Turkamans (and is more reputed than “Gorgan Yooli”); “Mari Yooli” and “Khiveh Yooli”. The most famous and important Turkaman musical instrument is “Dotar”.