Home > Iran > Articles
Semnan

Semnan

05/17/13

Geography and History

The province of Semnan covers an area of 97,491 square kilometers, to the east of which is Khorassan province, to the north are the provinces of Golestan and Mazandaran, to the west stand the provinces of Tehran and Qom, and to its south is Esfahan province. The various townships of the said province are, Semnan, Damqan, Shahrood and Garmsar. In the year 2006, the province had a population of about 589,742 of which 74.7 % were in urban areas, and 25.29 % were rural dwellers. In 2006, Semnan city (the capital of the province) had a population of 91,000, and the city of Shahrood, which accounts for being the largest city of this province, had a population of 105,000. Semnan province is located in the southern skirts of the Alborz Mountain Ranges, with a downward gradient from north to south, ending at the deserted plain. The said province is divided into two,i.e., a mountainous region and the plains at the foot of the mountains. The former offers a scope for recreational activities as well as being a source for minerals. Whereas, the latter encompasses ancient cities of Iran.

Climate

The mountainous region of the province experiences a cold climate, whereas the mountain skirts and around the fringes of the desert are temperate and warm respectively. The city of Damqan, has cold weather in winter with moderate summers, being influenced by the strong northern rain bearing winds from Golestan and Mazandaran regions. The city of Semnan experiences warm summers and moderate winters, Shahrood in its northern sector proves to be cold and in the central and southern regions temperate, and warm respectively. Furthermore, the city of Garmsar has extremely hot summers with comparatively cold, rainy winters, as this city is located in a dry and desert-like region.

History and Culture

Semnan province can be said to be divided into sixteen sectors from the olden days dating to the time of Avesta. During the Medes and Achaemenian periods, it accounted for being as one of the largest provinces of the Parthians. Likewise, this region held its importance during the Sassanide period, and thence in the post Islamic era was part of the historical region of Gomess or ‘Komesh’. Needless to say, this province was witness to wars, defeats and victories in the past. The ‘Silk Road’ paved its way from the midst of this region.
Besides which a number of historical relics such as, palaces, buildings, castles, ancient inns or ‘caravansaries’, water reservoirs, towers, rampart and… have created an imprint here. To state a few examples such as, the palaces of Aqa Mohammad Khan and Fathali Shah in Damqan, the palaces of Shah Abbas, Einol Rashid and the Haramsara or special apartments for the women (of the palace) of Soltani in Garmsar. Edifices belonging to the daughters of Naseredin Shah in Damqan, the castles of Saroo, Kushmoqan and Pachenar in Semnan, the castles of Lasjerd and Benkooh in Garmsar and … are interesting historical relics of the province. In addition to the above , there are various religious and sacred places and mosques such as, the Soltani Mosque, the Jame’ Mosque, the Tarikhaneh Mosque of Damqan, the Jame’ Mosque of Bastam and … are such examples.
Semnan province is one of the most attractive regions from the aspect of natural beauty. These picturesque scenes can be viewed alongside the river banks, natural and mineral springs, recreational areas, forests, open spaces, protected areas, summits and peaks, caves, and special desert features account for the numerous natural attractions of the region.
Moreover, the province encompasses various cultural traditions and rituals. These can be related to national or religious festivities, marriage ceremonies and both public and private mourning ceremonies including religious rituals, which hold their own and differ from other parts. This province can boast of scholars and poets such as, Manoochehri Damqani, Ebne-Yameen Forumadi, Forouqi Bastami, Yaqma’ie Jandaqi, and Zowqi Bastami. Regarding scholars and Gnostics of this region, such personalities can be named as, Bayazid Bastami, Sheikh Abol Hassan Kherqani, Sheikh Allaoddoleh Semnani, Sheikh Sakak and Bibi Manjomeh Semnani are worth mentioning. As to the reputed contemporary personalities, Haj Ali Semnani, Feyz Semnani, Zabiollah Safa and Ali Mo’alem can be quoted as examples. One of the outstanding rituals of the region is the refraining from wearing black clothing during mourning ceremonies, thus revealing a basic revulsion towards the ‘black flag’ of the Abbasian dynasty.

Semnan Province Townships

Damqan, Garmsar, Semnan, Shahrood.

Damqan

The township of Damqan is in the center of the province, and lies in a north-south direction. To the north is Mazandaran province, to the south are the desert region and Esfahan province. In the northern sector are the central Alborz Mountain Ranges and the remaining part comprises of desert and waste land. The city of Damqan the center of the said township which is at a distance of 335 km. from Tehran. This city is famous for its pistachio, in the country. In the mountainous area it has a moderate climate, whereas in the southern desert region it is warm. The city is also subjected to dusty, northern winds. The construction of this city is generally related to ‘Hushang’ ( a descendent of Kiomars), and is therefore one of the ancient cities of Iran. In the Islamic era it was the center of the ‘Gomess’ territory and according to some narrations, the primary construction of this city was in the vicinity of Sad Darvazeh.

Garmsar

This township lies in the west of the province. To its north lies Firooz Kooh and Damavand and to its western limits are Varamin and Qom. In the south lies the desert region of Esfahan province and the Salt Lake to the west. The villages of this township are fed by the minor tributaries of the Hableh River. Garmsar is situated on the plains 107 km. from Tehran and the railway line of Tehran – Gorgan and Tehran – Mashad branches off at this point. This city, having a quaint background, was one of the districts of Khar in the past and in the year 1959 become a township.

Semnan

The township of Semnan is confined to the limits of the township of Garmsar from east, to the township of Damqan from west, and to the north are Mazandaran province and the township of Firooz Kooh. The center of the township of Semnan is the city of Semnan which is at a distance of 221 km. from Tehran. This city lies on the route from Tehran to Khorassan province, both on the road and railway network. At the beginning of the 4th century AH., Semnan was the realm of the Al Ziyad dynasty after which the Al Booyeh dynasty ruled. In those periods the cities of Gomess were considered as part of the Daylam territory. In the year 427 AH., the Turks of Qaz, were liable for vast damages in this vicinity, and in the year 618 AH., the city was raised to shambles during the Mongol invasion. Later on, during the Safavid and Qajar eras, the city thrived once again. Today, it is a flourishing and beautiful city. Past historians have made repeated mention of the said in their records.

Shahrood

The said township is situated in the mid-eastern portion of Semnan province. To the south it is in the neighborhood of Khorassan province and Esfahan province and to the north lies Golestan province. In its northern section are the Alborz Mountain Ranges, and to the south is the Salt Desert. Its center is the city of Shahrood which is 400 km. from Tehran. The Taash river flows through this city, ending at the desert region. In the mountainous region it experiences cold weather, but in other areas it is relatively moderate. The city of Shahrood does not have an ancient background. In the times of Fathali Shah Qajar it comprised of two ancient castles and a small meadow by the name of ‘Shabdari’. But the surrounding areas named as, Biarjand, Miami and Bastam have an older history. Bastam is located 6 km. north of Shahrood, and according to narratives has been constructed during the reign of ‘Khosrow Parviz’ and yet another theory states it to be from the times of Shahpour Sassanide II (310 – 379 AD.). Naser Khosrow Qobadiani has mentioned Bastam as the center of the Gomess territory in the year 438 AH. After the Mongol invasion, Bastam was demolished and the current city of Shahrood which is located on the main road and railway net work of Tehran – Mashad gradually gained importance and took the place of the former city of Bastam.

Historical Monuments

Ahowan Shah Soleimani Caravansary, Semnan

The same was constructed in the year 1097 AH. during the reign of Shah Soleiman Safavid. being located in the village of Ahovan which was on the way to Mashad, pilgrims on their way to Mashad used to halt here in olden times. The courtyard of this caravansary is rectangular in shape and is surrounded by 24 rooms.

 

2

 

Lasjerd Shah Abbasi Caravansary, Semnan 

This caravansary is located in the village of Lasjerd of Semnan, and is a structure related to Shah Abbas Safavid I. It has two porches and a large courtyard with 24 rooms or chambers around it. The two porches are situated to the east and west of the structure and these are connected to the corridors.

 

3

 

The ceilings of these porches are intricate in design and are arched or barrel – shaped. This structure has four entrances connecting the courtyard to the corridor. These entrances also have arched ceilings. Opposite this ‘halting places’ were erected. This structure was constructed of a mixture of gypsum and mortar, besides brick and stone, and the same has been brought under repair for several times.

 

4

 

Shah Abbasi Caravansary, Damqan

This is a relic from the Safavid era and is located in the Shaheed Fallahi Avenue in Damqan city. This structure has a tall doorway, vast hall and various rooms.

 

5

 

There is a porch at the top of the entrance door. The walls of this “Rowbat” or inn is made of brick and rises to a height of 5 m. It is in current use of Police Force.

 

6

 

Ali Spring Edifice, Damqan

The province of ‘Gomess’ and the city of Damqan, was favored by the monarchs of the early Qajar dynasty. Thus prompting rulers such as Aqa Mohammad Khan and Fathali Shah to construct beautiful edifices in the vicinity of Ali Spring (Damqan). The said have been brought under repair in the recent years. The Ali spring edifice comprises of two parts, one being the sentry post which has been made of sun baked bricks and the architecture resembles the Safavid era. During the reign of Aqa Mohammad Khan Qajar this was in use. The other was a two storeyed building constructed of bricks with a stone foundation. The same was situated in a natural lake, and is related to the period of Fathali Shah.

 

7

 

Arg Gate (Darvazeh Arg), Semnan 

The said gate-way is located at the cross-roads of Ayatollah Talleqani Ave., and Sheikh Fazlollah Noori Ave., of Semnan. This was constructed during the reign of Naseredin Shah, in the years 1300-1305 AH. The gate-way has been made of brick and stands to an elevation of over 7 m. The ceiling of the chambers resemble a barrel, but the main rooms have ceilings covered with shallow domes. The master-piece of this structure is the door way, worked with pieces of seven-colored tiles depicting a scene from the myth of Rostam and the white monster. The inscriptions of the above mentioned structure are the works of the famous personality of Semnan, by the name of Seyed Mohammad Baqer Tabatabaie Semnani. The doors of the gate-way are of thick planks of wood studded with iron spikes. After the Islamic revolution, this monument was repaired by the Cultural Heritage Organization of the province.

 

8

 

Bayazid Bastami Tomb, Shahrood

This tomb is located north of the mausoleum of Imamzadeh Mohammad in Bastam. The tomb of this great Gnostic is extremely simple in architecture. On the tomb is a slab of marble, engraved with sayings from Hazrat Ali (AS).

 

9

 

Ebne Yamin-e-Forumadi Tomb, Shahrood

The tomb of this great poet lies in the village of Farumad, Shahrood. The structure and tomb are hexagonal, the latter has an engraving on it. The date of birth of this personality being 685 AH.

 

10

 

Sheikh Abol Hassan Kherqani Tomb, Shahrood

The said tomb is situated at a distance of 24 km. from Shahrood, in the village of Kherqani. On the tomb, is a slab of marble with a poetical verse engraved on it. Alongside the tomb was a mosque, of which only the altar with decorative plaster work remains. But in the last decades a mosque has been constructed around the said altar.

 

11

 

Chehel Dokhtar Tower, Semnan

This tower is located in the Hakim Ellahi Avenue of Semnan. The people of Semnan believe that 40 girls who were recluses constructed this tower with sun baked bricks and clay.

 

12

 

The construction of the same is related to the pre- Islamic era. This tower is octagonal and has an elevation of 10 – 12 m. and the thickness of its walls approximately 50-60 cm. Due to the expansion of the city the said tower is now located in the midst of a play-ground of a school.

 

13

 

Kashaneh Bastam Tower, Shahrood 

Located to the south east of the Jame’ Mosque of Bastam in the district of Shahrood, the height of this tower internally is 24 m. and externally rises to an elevation of 20 m. This tower has 30 sides. In the south western side there is an engraving in the ‘Tholth’ script which is extremely beautiful. Some researchers believe that this structure is a relic from the times of ‘Qazan Khan Mongol’ and its former name was ‘Qazaneh’- the passage of time changing the name to ‘Kashaneh’.

 

14

 

Chehel Akhtaran Dome, Damqan

This tower is located in the Fallahi Avenue of Damqan. The same is related to the Saljuqi period, and was constructed in the year 446 AH., under the orders of Abu Shoja. The structure is made of brick, and near the dome is a beautiful engraving in the ‘kufic’ script. On top of the doorway is another engraving with the ‘kufic’ script.

 

15

 

Peer-e-Alamdar Tower, Damqan

This tower is near the Jame’ Mosque and the Fathali Beig School of Damqan. In the year 417 AH., this brick tomb was constructed round in shape, with a conical dome.

 

16

 

The structure rises to a height of 13 m. and because of a beautiful ‘kufic’ engraving which is latticed is famous. This is the tomb of Mohammad Bin Ebrahim (father of Abu Harb Bakhtiar).

 

17

 

Other historical towers in the province are, Mazaj (made of sun baked bricks) in Shahrood and Gonbad-e-Zangooleh in Damqan.

 

18
Zangooleh Dome, Damqan

 

Pahneh and Hazrat Bath, Semnan 

This bath is located between Jame’ Mosque and Imamzadeh Yahya in Semnan. The same was constructed in the year 856 AH. during the reign of Abol Qassem Babar Khan, the Teimoorid monarch. The construction took place under the orders of Babar’s minister Khajeh Qiassedin Bahram Semnani. This structure was repaired in the year 1312 AH. under the orders of Haj Molla Ali Hakim Allahi, a great scholar, during the reign of Mozafaredin Shah Qajar. The structure comprises of three sections, named as the cloak-room, a hot house or garm khaneh and the reservoir of a hot bath or khazaneh. The doorway of this bath has been beautifully adorned with tile works, and on the upper portion is a poetical inscription in the ‘nasta’liq’ script. This bath has been endowed to the Jame’ mosque. After suitable renovations, The Cultural Heritage Organization inaugurated the same as the Museum of Anthropology in the year 1994.

 

19

 

Nasar (Nohesar) Archaeological Hill, Semnan

This hill lies at a distance of 3 km. east of Semnan city. The remnants here are located in a huge mound in the north east of the current Nasar.

 

20

 

It is apparent that the former city was demolished in invasions, and the present village of Nasar has come up on these ruins. In the excavations made, a number of articles have been discovered.

 

21

 

Religious Monuments

Damqan Jame’ Mosque, Damqan 

The said mosque is located opposite the Haj Fath Ali Beig school in the city of Damqan. This structure has a double row of brick columns, supporting the rounded brick laid ceiling, which has plaster amidst the rows of brick. The altar of the mosque is of chalk, and is located in the central porch to the south of the mosque courtyard. Two areas for nocturnal prayers are also present, on the east and western sides respectively. The former was repaired a few decades back, but the latter was completely demolished and was re-built. The founder of this mosque is Mirza Mohammad Khan Sepah Sallar Damqani.

 

22

 

23

 

Hazrat Ali-ebne Ja’far Mausoleum, Semnan

The same is situated in the Shaheed Raja’ie Ave., of Semnan. The structure consists of a dome, porch, two large halls and a huge terrace in front of the porch. The courtyard, hall and corridor and terrace were all places for burial and took the form of a cemetery. Imamzadeh Ja’far is the offspring of Imam Sadeq (PBUH).

 

24

 

Hazrat Yahya-ebne Moosa Mausoleum, Semnan

This mausoleum is situated to the south west of the ‘Tekiyeh’ Pahneh in the southern bazaar of Semnan. Hazrat Yahya is the offspring of Hazrat Moosa Bin Ja’far. The same comprises of a huge dome, a porch with tile work and a large courtyard. The dome is more than 600 years old, and has been repaired in the year 1969 and adorned with inlaid tiles. The dome is onion shaped, and is externally worked with blue tiles.

Imamzadeh Ali Akbar Mausoleum, Garmsar

The same is located in the village of Imamzadeh Ali Akbar, Garmsar, and dates back to about 850 years ago. The original dome dates to the Eilkhani period, but the surrounding porches and the enterance vestibule dates back to the Qajar era. The mausoleum is made of bricks, and devoid of any tile works. The dome has a double covering and is six-sided at the base, changing to a cylindrical form at the top.

Imamzadeh Ja’far and Imamzadeh Mohammad, Damqan

The aggregate of Imamzdeh Ja’far comprises of the mausoleum of Imamzadeh Ja’far, mausoleum of Imamzadeh Mohammad, Shahrokh’s tomb and the structure of Chehel Dokhtaran, located in the city center of Damqan. The said dates back to the Saljuqi period. Imamzadeh Ja’far is the offspring of Imam Sajad and the dome of this mausoleum stands at an higher elevation than normal, and in the recent years has been repaired with ordinary bricks. The structure is square shaped with the tomb in the center with a wooden chest on it, engraved with sacred verses and names of the Imams of the Shiite sect. On the grave, there is a black vertical tomb stone, which is surrounded by the ‘zari’ or a beautifully carved wooden railing. Imamzadeh Mohammad is an offspring of Imam Moosa Kazem (A.S).
The mausoleum is octagonal, with the tomb (constructed of gypsum) in the center, on which is a wooden chest. In the vicinity of the porch is a tablet stating that this property has been endowed. Opposite this slab, is another, engraved with salutations to the Prophet Mohammad and the Twelve Imams. The structure dates to the reign of Mirza Alaoddoleh, offspring of Baisangar Ebne Amir Teimoor Gurgani.

Peer-e-Alamdar Mausoleum, Semnan

This mausoleum is located in the Hakim Ellahi Ave., of Semnan. The same has been constructed of sun baked bricks along with brick; and is cubical shaped externally. The porch is semi circular, and simple in architecture. The tomb is located in a square room, and on the grave which is of limestone is the Zari or a type of railing. The ceiling of the said room is designed with triangles, which are so placed as to form circles, and capped with a dome. According to a tiled inscription in the tholth script, which is on the entrance door, this mausoleum belongs to one of the offsprings of Hazrat Sajad A.S. (The fourth Imam of the Shiite sect).

Payqambaran (Profets) Mausoleum, Semnan

The same is situated on an elevation, 18 km. from Semnan. This mausoleum is that of the offspring or (two sons) of the Prophet Noah (AS). The structure comprises of a tomb, which is square in shape with a latticed worked wooden chest on it. The dome of mausoleum is conical and simple in structure. In one of the two south east facing porches, is a tiled inscription which states that the site was a temple in ancient times, particularly during the Parthian period. In the last decades this mausoleum has been repaired.

Other Mausoleums and Imamzadehs, Semnan  

These are the following: the mausoleums of Seesar, Alavian, Ibrahim and Esmail, Seyed Reza and Seyed Ali Akbar, (village of Lasjerd) Semnan, Imamzadeh Soltan Shah Nazar in Garmsar, Imamzadeh Soltan Morad, east of Garmsar, Imamzadeh Qoosheh, Shah Sefid village of Garmsar, Imamzadeh Ibrahim 8 km. from Damqan, Imamzadeh Noorollah and Bakirin Eiyn in Damqan, Imamzadeh Abdollah and the mausoleum of Sheikh (Sussan-e-Attah) in Shahmirzad, Imamzadeh Mohammad in Bastam.

 

25
Imamzadeh Shah Nazar, Garmsar

 

26
Imamzadeh Motahar, Damqan

 

Tarikhaneh Mosque, Semnan

This mosque can be said to be one of the ancient mosques of the Islamic period, known to preserve and uphold its Sassanide characteristics.

 

27

 

The structure is related to the 2nd century AH. and the architecture of the said is an intermingling of the Arab-Islamic and Sassanide modes. It has an inner courtyard which is almost square in shape and considerably large. Surrounding this are porticos with brick laid barrel-shaped ceilings, founded on thick, rounded pillars. One of these porticos being wider than the rest, has an altar behind its wall, with a pulpit alongside. This structure in general has been constructed of sun baked bricks and a minor portion by brick and wood.

 

28

 

Natural Attractions

Forests and Deserts, Semnan

The forests areas of the province are the natural forests located in the northern fringes which are the continuation of the mountainous forests of the Alborz mountains, the juniper forests on the southern skirts of the Alborz range with tall and dense trees, the desert forests situated in the vicinity of Chah Jam and Khar Tooran with tamarisk trees. Artificial forests that come under the category of parks alongside the cities. In addition to which the entrance and exit routes of the province have also been manually planted for about 160 km.

 

29

 

The most important parks in Semnan are, the Forest Parks of Sookan, Komesh and Mahalat in Semnan , the Forest Parks of Garmsar, Damqan and Shahrood.The major portion of Semnan province is in the desert area. The Kahak Desert, south of Garmsar and the Haj Ali Qoli Desert, south of Damqan can be quoted as good examples worth visiting.

Culture and Art

Shahrood Museum (Baladieh), Shahrood

This museum is located to the north of the Municipality building and the Governor’s Office of Shahrood. The museum is a two storeyed building, architectured to the style of the late Qajar and early Pahlavi reigns. The building covers 306 m. under foundation area. The museum comprises of two sections, named as the archaeology and the anthropology. In the former, evidences from the excavations performed on the Chakhmaq hill of Shahrood, Tappeh Hessar hill of Damqan (5800 B.C.) Khoriyan hillock of Shahrood (7000 BC.) Boulevard hillock of Shahrood (1000 BC.). Relics obtained from these excavations are earthen ware, bronze and glass ware. In the anthropology sector, there are counters displaying objects such as agriculture, animal husbandry, clothing, tools used for burial, official documents and passion plays.

Universities

The Governmental universities in Semnan province

Damqan University, University of Semnan, Semnan University of Medical Sciences, Shahrood University of Medical Sciences, Shahrood University of Technology, Eyvanakey Institute of Higher Education.

The Islamic Azad universities in Semnan province

Islamic Azad University of Semnan, Islamic Azad University of Shahrood, Islamic Azad University of Garmsar, Islamic Azad University of Mehdishahr.

Handicrafts and Souvenirs, Semnan

Handicrafts in this province are the following: Kilims or coarsely woven carpets, a variety of calico or ‘block printed’ articles, earthenware, ceramics, and hand woven articles can be picked up at the handicrafts center and bazaars.

 

30
Ceramic Vase

 

31
Ceramic Vase

 

Local and Regional Foods, Semnan
A colorful array of local dishes are available here, a variety of ‘Aash’ or a traditional kind of soup, many kinds of curries, rice dishes and side dishes, all traditional and worth tasting.