Thursday, May 29, 2008

Iran's Ghainarcha Spa at the foot of the Sabalan Mountain

Iran's Ghainarcha world's hottest spa
Sun, 13 Jan 2008 14:02:29
A view of Iran's Ghainarcha Spa at the foot of the Sabalan Mountain
Iran enjoys significant potentialities in tourism, with the 86-degree Ghainarcha Spa, the world's hottest mineral spa, being a case in point.

86 degree Celsius (187 degree Fahrenheit) is the hottest temperature recorded for a mineral spa and the spot happens to be in Iran. The Ghainarcha Spa, bubbling up at the foot of the beautiful Sabalan Mountain in Ardebil province, is visited by a large number of tourists every year.

The hot temperature of the natural mineral spring refuses to surrender to the cold climate of the area, which could fall as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius.

It keeps boiling even in the freezing winters of the northwestern province, with the steamy bubbles offering a unique sight in the sub-zero temperature.

Owing to its innate chlorinated water, the natural hot mineral water pool is widely known as a tourist attraction of medicinal properties.

The pool gushes out of the ground in the virginal mountainous suburbs of Meshkin Shahr to provide the people with alternative medicine for lymphatic diseases, rachitic, gynecological problems and some other chronic rheumatic conditions.

The water flows through the mineral spring at a rate of 9 liters per second, which makes the spa perfect for an afternoon rest.

The well equipped spa gained ISO 9002 quality certification. The ISO 9002 standard is an emerging global standard for product and process quality, adopted by 91 countries that comprise the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Village-life experience in Meymand

Village-life experience in Meymand
Thu, 24 Apr 2008 12:43:52
Meymand, a village carved out of the mountains in Iran's Kerman Province
Soon tourist traveling to Iran will be offered the unique experience of living like a native in the historical village of Meymand.

Meymand, a village carved out of the mountains in Iran's Kerman Province and one of the most ancient human settlements in the world, is believed to be 2500 years old.

Kiarash Eghtesadi, head of Meymand's Research Center, says the new scheme will allow tourists to live as the native villagers do, learning basket weaving, felt and saddlecloth making and how to harvest almonds and walnuts.

Built thousands of years before Persepolis, Meymand village is one of the few rock settlements in the world still intact and the seventh cultural and historical landscape in the world to win the UNESCO Melina Mercury Award.

Iran's 4500-year Cypress Tree living

Iran's 4500-year cypress tree living
Thu, 24 Apr 2008 12:44:32
The 4500-year-old cypress tree is in Abarkuh, Yazd Province, Iran
A 4500-year-old cypress tree in Iran's southeastern province of Yazd is to be soon protected as one of the world's biggest living organisms.

Department of Environment of Yazd Province hopes to have this colossal tree protected from being damaged or destroyed.

The tree, gracefully standing in the city of Abarku, located in the southwest of the Yazd Province is one of the region's seven historical and natural sites and is nominated to be added to the World Heritage list.

Russian scientist Alexander Rouf has estimated the tree's age to be between 4000 and 4500 years, and with a height of 25 meters and a trunk 11.5 meters around, this massive tree definitely deserves preservation and a chance to shine on the list of world heritage.

Thousands of other historical sites attract tourists to Yazd, home to the largest population of Zoroastrians in Iran. Zoroaster was the ancient prophet of the Persians who preached the peaceful Zoroastrian religion based on humanity and goodwill, still widely practiced today in Iran.

"The Lost Paradise" near Nahavand in Hamedan province

087813.jpg A view of Sarab Giyan also known as "The Lost Paradise" near the Iranian city
of Nahavand in Hamedan province.

Azari Carpet Designers at Domotex

Azari Carpet
Designers at Domotex

Nine Azari carpet designers will take part in the German Exhibit ’Domotex’, which will be held in Hanover on January 13.
According to IRNA, head of East Azarbaijan Commerce Organization Sadeq Najafi said the event will feature a variety of Iranian carpets.
He further stated that 30 Iranian artists will participate in the event, which will also showcase carpets exhibited earlier in Copenhagen.
Noting that 80 percent of Iranian entries at the Copenhagen exhibit belonged to Azari businessmen, he said that such events will provide an opportunity to introduce Azari and Tabriz carpets.
He anticipated that Azari businessmen will take part in 60 exhibits this year.
Najafi recalled that the carpet weaving industry not only has a high status in provincial economy but also provides a living for 400,000 people. He called for all-out efforts to develop export of carpets produced in the province.
East Azarbaijan exports carpets worth over $100 million annually.
According to statistics released by the provincial Carpet Union, some 200,000 people are engaged in the carpet

The Medes of Persia

Medes Civilization
Very little is mentioned about the Medes Civilization in Assyrian and Babylonian history records. The writings of ancient historians and also two chapters of the holy Bible refer to the Medes Civilization.

According to Iranvisitor website, the Medes themselves left no written records from the pre-Achaemenid era or the zenith of the Medes Empire.
It is certain that in the early 1st millennium BC, Indo-Iranian nomads began to settle in the western and northwestern Iran. It was at that time that they intermingled with native Iranians.
The first mention of the Medes Civilizations in Assyrian records associates them with the Scythians with whom they shared tribal names, suggesting a certain link between the two tribes. The borders of their lands were never demarked, but it was in an area which is currently northwestern Iran; bordering Mesopotamia to the east, stretching south to the Persian Gulf (Elam, Parthian) and Caspian Sea and the Caucasus to the north.
Assyrian reliance on the Silk Road trade zone made Medes a target for empire building and military diplomacy. Records tell us that Median tribes paid tribute to their powerful neighbors, but were never completely conquered by them. It is likely that it was this aggression that served to unite the Median tribes, creating a formidable military power that in turn began to threaten the Assyrian lands.
The writings of the 5th century Greek historian ’Herodotus’ mentions four kings named Deioces, Phraortes, Cyaxeres and Astyages who ruled a united Medes from the beginning of the 7th century BC to the middle of the 5th century BC.

However, the nature of his account and inconsistency with other sources throws doubt on this. It is likely that Herodotus simplified a complex oral tradition that was about the origins of the later Achaemenid Empire, confirming a myth about the origins of a civilization as historical fact.
What is certain is that during the reign of Cyaxares, Medes had developed from being a loose confederation of tribal groupings into a nation under a single king who exacted tribute from Persians, Armenians, Parthians and Aryans.

That the name of the Median capital, Ecbatana, meant “place of assembly“ adds further weight to the tribal confederation explanation of the origins of the empire.
Cyaxares defeated the Assyrian Empire badly by destroying their religious capital, Ashur in 614 BC. Two years later, while allied with Babylon, the Assyrian capital Nineveh also fell to the Medes.
The Median Empire was at its zenith at that time, encompassing Armenia, Assyria and Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) in the west and stretching as far as the Oxus River in the east.
However, Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, was to be the last of the Median kings. In response to the growing power of a coalition of tribes under the leadership of King Cyrus of Anshan, Astyages sent an army to Persia (modern-day Fars province). After brief skirmishes, the army deserted their king, captured him and handed him over to Cyrus in 550 BC.

Esther-Mordekhay (Mordechai) Tomb in Hamedan

Esther-Mordekhay Tomb in Hamedan

The Tomb of Esther and Mordekhay is located on Shariati Avenue, in crowded downtown of Hamedan city. Construction materials used in this edifice are stone and bricks. It was built in compliance with the Islamic architectural style.
The tomb was built in the seventh century AH on top of an older building dating back to the third century AH, Tacher website reported.
The tomb’s door, a 6-8 inch thick piece of solid gray granite with a rough surface, opens into a small anteroom. A soot-blackened glass separates visitors from a space designated for candle lighting.
An arch with plaster ornaments directs visitors into a high ceiling square room the walls of which are decorated with Hebrew reliefs describing Esther and Mordekhay origins. In the center, the two beautifully carved coffins stand five feet high, draped in shimmering vibrant color cloth, one reading ’Esther’, the other ’Mordekhay’. The original graves are located deeper below in the ground.
Another surviving treasure is a magnificent 300-year-old Torah that is now housed at the provincial Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department.
A brief description of the biography of Esther and Mordekhay as outlined by the Torah follows:
An ancient king of Persia, Ardeshir married a Jewish woman called Esther, who was the niece of one of the dignitaries of the time called Mordekhay. This way Jews gained a great deal of influence in Ardeshir’s court.
Meanwhile, a person called Haman, who was also another influential dignitary, felt jealous of the mounting influence of Jews and urged Ardeshir to issue the order for the massacre of Jews. However, Mordekhay resorted to Esther to convince Ardeshir to cancel his order. Ardeshir accepted and hence Jews were rescued from being massacred. From then on, toward the beginning of spring, Jews hold a special ritual for praying and fasting called ’Purim’ to commemorate the anniversary of the rescue of Jews from massacre.
Esther’s real name was Hadseh. But, since she was very beautiful, she was called Esther, which means star.

Peacocks at Isfahan’s Birds Garden

Peacocks at Isfahan’s Birds Garden
Isfahan's Birds Garden, covering an area of over 55 square kilometers, is located in Najvan Park along the Zayandeh Roud River. It boasts over 5,000 bird species, including peacocks, pelicans and eagles.
Among the IsfahanÕs most appealing tourist attractions, the garden is unique in the Middle East. (Photo by Reza Milani)

Anahita Temple The Legendary Monument

Anahita Temple The Legendary Monument

On the road from Tehran toward Kermanshah, one passes through the valley of Asadabad . There, in the small town of Kangavar , ruins of a historical site appear in full majesty.
This site is known as the Temple of Anahita, which was built by Achaemenian Emperor Ardeshir II (Artaxerxes II) during 359 BC to 404 BC, the website Vohuman reported.
Kangavar was mentioned by the Greek geographer Isidore of Charax in the first century AD under the name of Konkobar in the ancient province of Ecbatana ; its name may have been derived from the Avestan Kanhavara, “enclosure of Kanha“.
This legendary temple was built in honor of “Ardevisur Anahita,“ the female guardian angel of waters.

The temple’s architecture matches those of palaces and temples built during the Achaemenian period, 330 BC to 550 BC, in western Iran . Large pieces of stone are cut and placed on top of each other; their shape usually causes them to interlock and form a wall or platform by a mountainside.
The Arab geographer Yaqut wrote the following about Kangavar in 1220: he says the place was the meeting-place of bandits, locally called either Qasr-e Shirin ( Castle of Shirin ) after Khosro’s favorite wife, or more often Qasr Al-Lasus (the Robbers’ Castle).

He wrote: “The Robbers’ Castle is a very remarkable monument, and there is a platform some 20 cubits above the ground and on it there are vast portals, palaces and pavilions, remarkable for their solidity and beauty.“
The shapes and carvings of the columns are similar to those found in Persepolis and the Palace of Darius in Susa .
In the 19th century, various Europeans investigated the ruins. Ker Porter in 1818
found them to form the foundations of a single huge platform--a rectangular terrace three hundred yards long, crowned with a colonnade.
Professor Jackson in 1906 found one very well-preserved wall at the northwestern corner of the enclosure, probably part of the foundation of a single building. It was 12 to 15 feet high and lay north to south for more than 70 feet.

Silver and Gold
According to some historians, the Temple of Anahita at Ecbatana was a vast palace, four-fifths of a mile in circumference, built of cedar or cypress wood. In all of it, not a single plank or column stood but was covered by plates of silver or gold. Every tile of the floor was made of silver and the building’s faade was apparently covered with bricks of silver and gold.
It was first plundered by Alexander in 335 BC and further stripped during the reigns of Antigonus (BC 325-301) and Seleucus Nicator (BC 312-280).
But when Antiochus the Great arrived at the city in 210 BC, he found columns covered with gold and silver tiles in the temple, along with gold and silver bricks.
Archeological excavations uncovered the imprints of Sassanid dynasty.

Taq-e Bostan
Continuing on the road to
Kermanshah would take the traveler to another ancient site known as Taq-e Bostan.
At this site, several Taqs (arches) are carved with detailed inscriptions commemorating a major event of the era. The largest and latest Taq was carved to celebrate the coronation of Khosro-II Parviz, also known as Khosro Parviz. In the upper section of the Taq, Khosro’s image is carved receiving his crown from Mobed-e-Mobedan (the topmost priest of his time) under the protection of the guardian angel of waters--Anahita.

Beizaei Producing Persian Carpet Documentary

Beizaei Producing Carpet Documentary
TEHRAN, May 31--Playwright and filmmaker Bahram Beizaei is currently working on a short documentary titled ’Talking Rug’ which deals with the Iranian carpet industry.
According to the Persian daily ’Bonnie Film’, Beizaei shot the documentary in Tehran’s Saadabad Cultural Complex and Carpet Museum.
Asked about what message the film wants to convey to viewers, he simply replied: “I have nothing to tell to anybody.“
Beizaei added, “If you expect me to call for saving the industry, you are mistaken. The industry was destroyed suddenly and it can never be revived.
“I make the film in honor of those who have enthusiastically been engaged in weaving carpets for years.“
Elaborating on the production of the film in the field, he pointed out, “Carpet industry is not new to me and several years ago, I talked about the influence of carpet on my work.“
The film narrates the part of the carpet story that is little known to the public, he said, adding, “I am producing a film on the designs which have been forgotten for six or seven decades and are no longer woven.“
’Talking Rug’ does not make use of words and it just features pictures accompanied by music, he noted.
Mohammad Reza Darvishi, a researcher on regional music, has undertaken the composition of the music for the film.