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Geography and History

The province of Kurdestan with the area of 29,137 square kilometers is located in the west of Iran. According to the latest country’s divisions , the townships of Kurdestan are: Baneh, Bijar, Divandareh, Saqez, Sanandaj, Qorveh, Kamyaran and Marivan. Sanandaj is the center of this province. This province is a mountainous region located in the mountainside or scattered plains of the Zagross mountains. Kurdestan is limited to the north by west Azarbayjan and Zanjan, on the east by Hamadan and Zanjan and on the south by the province of Kermanshah and it is neighboring Iraq from the west.The population of this province in 2006 was about 1.44 million out of which 59.42 percent settled in the urban areas and 40.57 percent were the rural settlers.


Kurdestan is generally located in the northwest mountainous temperate zone of Iran. The maximum rainfall is in the western part of this province, being about 800 mm. per year and the least amount of rainfall is in the eastern part being about 400 mm. per year. All parts of this province have a cool and temperate climate in spring and summer.The comparison between the figures of the average temperature in different months of the year in the center of this province shows that the daily average temperature in month of April is 16.1° C and in October is 16.9° C. So, at six months of the year in the center of this province is the best and most suitable period for tourism. The coldest month of the year in Sanandaj is the month February with temperature of at least -1° C.

History and Culture

The history of Kurdestan before Islam is not much clear. The Kurds are of the Aryan race who migrated to this place several thousand years before the birth of Christ. In the years 16-20 AH., the Arabs possessed castles and fortifications of the Kords. The conquest of the cities of ‘Zoor’ and ‘Aradbaz’ took place in the year 22 AH. In 23 AH. when the Arabs conquered the Fars states in Iran, the Kords defended the city of Fasa. Abu Moosa Ash’ari suppressed the revolt of the Kurds in the year 25 AH.In the year 90 AH. the Kurds of Fars revolted but Hajaj Ebne Yousef Saqafi suppressed them. In 224 AH., one of the leaders of the Kords in Mousel city revolted against the Caliph Al Mo’tasam who sent the famous commander ‘Aitakh’ to combat against him. In this war Aitakh proved victorious and killed many of the Kords. In 281 AH., during the period of Almoqtadar, the Kurds revolted again. In the fourth and fifth century, the family of ‘Shadadyan’ who were Kurds formed an independent rule in the region. In 359 AH. Azedodoleh Deilami broke out with the Kurds of Mousel and after conquering them, he destroyed their castles and killed the commanders.
One of the important events during the period of Sharafodoval Deilami (372-379 AH.) is his battle with ‘Badr Ben Hasnaviyeh’ in Kermanshah in 377 AH. that lead to the victory of Badr. Badr Ben Hasnaviyeh’ was killed by one of the Kurd tribes in 405 AH. and Shamsodoleh, the son of Fakhrodoleh Deilami attached all of his possessions to his own realm.The cities of Kurdestan were exposed to plunder during the Mongol attack, and at the time of Teimoor and Turkmans of Qareh Qoyonlu and Aq Qoyonlu , Kurdestan became the battle scene of Teimoor’s army. Shah Esmail I, founder of Safavid dynasty, did not have a good relationship with the Kurds as they differed in religious beliefs. On the other hand, Ottoman rulers tried to gain a hold. When Zand dynasty was formed, the Kurds took hold of the government for the first time in Iran. In 1941 at the time of the occupation of Iran by the allies, and support of the Russian government by them, Qazi Mohammad formed the Peoples Republic of Kurdestan but this republic disintegrated after the evacuation of the allies from Iran and the dispatch of forces by the central government to Azarbayjan and Kurdestan.Today Kurdestan is one of the important and strategic provinces of Iran and is flourishing. From the cultural point of view, Kurdestan province proves to be interesting in respect to other parts. Language, music, dance, poetry or even traditions, in this extensive region of Iran form an exceptional grounding from ancient periods. The Kordish language can be categorized under the Indo-European group, with a distinctive grammatical form. This language has various branches in Iran. Such as the Orami, which is a dialect, having extremely archaic and historical roots. In addition to which is the Sorami branch, being the more important and dominant of the two, in respect to the Kurdish language. However, the Kermanshahi branch is outstanding in the territory of Kermanshah.

Kurdestan Province Townships

Baneh, Bijar, Divandareh, Kamyaran, Marivan, Qorveh, Sanandaj, Saqez.


The township of Baneh is in the extreme western part of this province and is the neighborhood of Iraq. This township is bounded on north and west by west Azarbayjan in the east by Saqez and in the south by Iraq. Its center being the city of Baneh located 728 km. from Tehran. Baneh is covered with forests and is full of various trees. In the pre-Islamic period, a Zoroastrian tribe named “Qeh Qoo” governed this area, but after the Arab invasion, ‘Ekhtiar Diniha’ took over the rule. Till the mid 13th century the actual name of the city of Baneh was Behrojeh.But now the cemetery in the north east of the city is called “Kohneh Baneh” A change in the city’s location is due to a massacre resulting from cholera, plaque, fire and tribal combats. The city of Baneh is located in the altitudes and its route is on a gradient.


The township of Bijar is located in the north east of the province and it is restricted from the north to the provinces of Zanjan and west Azarbayjan; from the east to the provinces of Zanjan and Hamadan; from the south to the township of Qorveh and from the west to the township of Sanandaj. It’s center is Bijar which is at a distance of 518 km. from Tehran. Bijar is one of the fertile areas of Kurdestan. Its climate in winter is cold and dry and is moderate in summer. In the Kurdish language the willow tree is called ‘Bi’ and the area of such trees is called ‘Bijar.’ Thus because of abundance of willow trees, it means the region of willows.


The same is one of the new townships of this province as before it was part of Sanandaj township. This township is located to the north of Sanandaj and is a mountainous region. It is bounded in the north by west Azarbayjan in the east by Bijar and in the west by Saqez. The city of Divandareh is located at a distance of 95 km. north of Sanandaj. Divandareh has developed from a village to a city in the last decade.


The said is one of the latest founded townships of the province, prior to which it was part of the township of Sanandaj. This township is located in the north of Sanandaj and is in a mountainous region. This township is bounded in the north by Sanandaj, in the east by Qorveh and Kermanshah province in the south by Kermanshah and in the north west by the township of Marivan. It is located 65 km. from Sanandaj. This township has a pleasant climate in spring and autumn. The general cultural distinctions in this region are similar to other sectors of the province.


The township of Marivan is located in the west of Iran and in the neighborhood of Iraq. It is bounded on north by Saqez, in the south by Kamyaran and Kermanshah, and in the west by Iraq. Marivan is a cold region and is a century old. Farhad Mirza Qajar who governed just before the constitutional movement constructed a castle in Marivan. This border city was in the neighborhood of the Ottoman government.Naseredin Shah ordered a castle to be built there in 1282 AH. In 1286 AH. , Haj Farhad Mo’tamed-o-Doleh further fortified the structure and named it Shah Abad. After Haj Mohammad Ali Khan Zafar-ol-Molk in the early Pahlavi era built a castle in Moosk Village that is now used as a garrison and it is not far from the city. The Zarivar Lake is to the west of the city of Marivan and has given a special beauty to this city, in addition to being a recreational area.


The township of Qorveh is located to the east of the province. It is restricted from east to the Hamadan province from the north to Bijar, from south to Hamadan and Kermanshah and from west to Sanandaj. It’s center is the city of Qorveh which is located in a large plain 93 km. east of Sanandaj and northwest of Hamadan and has expanded in the direction of the Sanandaj road towards Hamadan. In the past the seat of rule of this city was the Qaslan Village. Here the governor of the times was responsible for the construction of some buildings, a castle, mosque, bath, garden and large groves.Today, due to its distinctive geological characteristics, and mineral water springs, visitors and tourists are attracted to this city.


This township is located in the center of the Kurdestan province. It is limited to Divandareh from the north and to Kamyaran from the south, to the east are Bijar and Qorveh, to the west are the townships of Marivan and Saqez. Sanandaj is the provincial capital of Kurdestan and lies at a distance of 500 km. from Tehran. This city has a beautiful natural environment and pleasant climate specially in autumn and spring.Soleiman Khan Ardalan the governor of Kurdestan constructed the Sahneh Dej (castle) during the Shah Safi period (1038-1052 AH.). In the past, there was the Seer city instead of present Sanandaj. Sanandaj was under the control of the Ardalan household for duration of four centuries. The said are descendant of the Sassanids. In the war between Iran and Ottomans in Safavid period, this family sometimes sided Iran and sometimes the Ottomans. In 1146 AH., Karim Khan Zand destroyed Sanandaj.After a period of chaos, Khosrow Khan Ardalan took over the power. From 1214 to 1240 AH. Emam Allah Khan, son of Khosrow Khan governed in Sanandaj and to some extent he worked for the sake of improvement of Sanandaj. In 1284 AH. due to the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants, Haj Mirza Mo’tamed-o-Doleh the uncle of Naseredin Shah governed in Kurdestan till the year 1291 AH. Now a days Sanandaj is one of the beautiful townships of Iran and Kurdestan province.


The township of Saqez is located in the north west of the province. To the north is the province of west Azarbayjan (Mahabad and Bukan). This township is limited from west to the township of Baneh, from the south to Iraq and Marivan and from the east to Sanandaj. The capital of this township is Saqez city and lies at a distance of 706 km. from Tehran and 181 km. from Sanandaj. This township in spring and summer has a cool and moderate climate.This city during the primary union of the Medes was their capital and was named “Izirta”. On the attack of Sargan II, the ruler of the Assyrian, the Medes were defended and their fortifications destroyed. Thereafter, the Sekaha tried to rebuild this city and they chose Saqez, then named “Eskit” as their capital. The present name of Saqez is derived from the Sekeh (Seka-Eskit-Sakez) tribe. The city of Saqez was formerly in the southwestern plain of the present city and today it is reputedly known as old Saqez. Saqez city is located in the skirts of the attitudes and a river runs through it. It is one of the most beautiful areas in Kurdestan province.

Historical Monuments

Karaftoo Historical Cave in Divandareh and Saqez

The said is located in a castle by the same name between Divandareh and Saqez, 20 km. north of this route. This relic accounts for being a reputed and important one in the province of Kurdestan. The cave structure is related to the Parthian era and about the 3rd century BC. The dwellings of this cave, 2000 years ago were reputed temples of Heraclees (the Grecian deity). In one of the chambers, the name of Heracletus is engraved in the Latin script, whereas, on one of the walls of the third chamber there is an impression of a rider hunting a deer.This is a reminder of the victorious Goodarz the Parthian over the monarch of Armenia. Gaining access to this archaic temple proves difficult today because of its steep gradient. On entering the cave and crossing chambers of stone, there is a large area, connected by dark corridor to two pools of stone. In the third and fourth chambers there are other attractive impressions. In other parts of the cave there are remnants of corridor, porches, chambers of stone and outlets such as windows. Evidences prove that this cave is related to the eras of Mitraism and sun worshippers.




Khosrow Abad Edifice, Sanandaj

This building which is located 3 km. from Sanandaj, is a memorial of the reputed Amanollah Khan. Its construction is related to the beginning of the Qajar period and it was a seat of government. This aggregation has been built in the form of internal and external sections, with a beautiful garden between the two. The external building has got two storeys and its entrance door is in the form of octagonal vestibule. There are two sentry chambers on either side. This building is made of brick and stone and it has beautiful plaster and mirror work.




Moshir Edifice, Sanandaj

This building is located on Shohada Street of Sanandaj and it is one of the famous buildings of the Qajar era. This building has seven courtyards and seven fountains and it also comprises of private, general, formal and hygienic sections. Its doors and sash-windows (Orsi) are of a mixture of wood and colored panes, the same have adorned the rooms.




Salar Saeid Edifice, Sanandaj

This building is one of the historical monuments of the Kurdestan province. The same has been converted into the Sanandaj Museum. This building was constructed in late Naseredin Shah Qajar period. The method and style of its construction was influenced by architecture of the Qajar era. The basement of this building has a pool and it has domed shaped ceiling is beautifully adorned. This building has been built of stone, brick and wood, with a gable roof. The most beautiful and interesting part of the building is the large sash-windows of the hall which has seven doors and is in itself a masterpiece of art.


Sanandaj Museum


Vakilol Molk Edifice, Sanandaj

The same is one of the old and noticeable buildings of the city of Sanandaj. This edifice is an ancestral and private building of the Vakil Family who were always held a seat of power in the history of Kurdestan.




The main structure is related to the Zand period. Various sections were added to it in later periods. It underwent primary renovations in 1310 AH. by Amanollah Khan Vakilol Molk, changing it into an aggregate comprising of several buildings, yard and the present garden. This building has still retained its fortifications.




Qamechoqay Castle, Bijar 

The same is located at a distance of 12 km. from the Qamechoqay village of Bijar, and to the north of the Bijar – Takab Road. This archaic castle can be accounted for as a matchless one in the province, and dates to the 9th or 8th centuries BC. To the west of this structure, there is an area, a hundred meters in depth that adjoins the western platform of the castle by a difficult path. The founders of this construction, in this sector have committed a feat in constructing ramparts with a length of approximately 100 m. and to a height of 15-20 m.
The same has been built of large stones, causing an additional fortification. This style of architecture, being the general trend of the times is related to the first millennium BC. On the northern fringes of the castle, is a crevice skillfully sculptured. Whereas in the northeast, is a long flight of stairs that have witnessed three periods of settlement named as, the Medes, Arsacids and Parthian. During the Mongol period, a small altar with four steps was constructed which is also another interesting remnant. The construction of sun-baked brick dwelling and so too brick ones, in the eastern limits and on the Sassanid structures are yet a typical Mongol characteristic.




Religious Monuments

Darol Ehsan (Sanandaj Jame’) Mosque, Sanandaj

The same is also the Jame’ Mosque of Sanandaj, and was constructed by the late Amanollah Khan in the year 1227 AH. Besides being well fortified, this mosque has a large nocturnal area. On an epigraph in this vicinity holy verses of Qoran have been inscribed. The mosque has two colossal porches. Around its courtyard are 12 chambers and 2 attics. In the center of the yard is a pool constructed of eight slabs of stone.






Natural Attractions 

Zarivar Lake, Marivan

The Zarivar Lake is the most important and unique attraction in the west. This lake is situated at an altitude of 1,285 m. from sea level, and its width and length being 2 and 4.5 km. respectively. It has sweet water and the activity of springs at the bottom of the lake supplies it’s water.




The location of the city of Marivan and the Zarivar Lake bounded in different directions by dense and partly dense forests creates a very beautiful view. On a small hill in the eastern part there is a tourist guesthouse.




Culture and Art

Handicrafts and Souvenirs, Kurdestan


Kurdish Giveh


At present, throughout the rural and urban regions of the province a great number of inhabitants are engaged in producing different handicraft articles. The most important of these are, decorative or simple type of material used by moslems during prayers known as Janamaz. Others are shawls, jajims (or a loosely woven woolen fabric), Kilims and rugs, types of carpets, engravings on wood, wooden chess boards. Besides which there are embroidery pieces, crochet articles, hand woven articles, givehs (local type of foot-ware), dairy products and different local sweets.


Bijar Carpet



The Governmental universities in Kurdestan province

Kurdestan University of Medical Sciences, Tohid Medical Center, University of Kurdestan.

The Islamic Azad universities in Kurdestan province

Islamic Azad University of Sanandaj.

Local Music and Dances, Kurdestan

Kurdish music so to speak spells notes well intermingling with the life, culture, historical, music and religious beliefs of the people. The Hooreh or Ahoura melody is a distinct example of such music. Some of the musical instruments used are named as, the tambourine, drum, kettledrum and flute including others. The method and way of use of such musical instruments is different from one region in Kurdestan to the other but basically they follow the same style and methos. In joyous ceremonies such as weddings and festivities the delightful melodies of Kurdish music bring joy and happiness to guests and hosts. The other type of Kurdish music is religious music which is performed in special religious ceremonies such as Eids. The way of performance of the Kurdish music and dances which has intermingled with tradition and believes of the people of this region is one of the main feature considered in tourist industries. The men perform dances mainly in groups, with rhythmic and proportionate movements. One of the well known local dances is known as “Jarmaq”, which is performed even currently in the various tribes, cities and villages of Kurdestan. Mention must be made of the Sufi sect. They are a type of Dervish and during special ceremonies that are held in the monastery, they dance in rhythmic movements at first, till a frenzy trance takes over. These dances are performed during joyous events.