Takht-e Soleyman (Throne of Soleyman ) is an outstanding ensemle of royal architecture,joining the principal archchitectural elements created by the Sassanids dynasty in harmonious composition .The composition and the architectural elements that created by Sassanids have exerted a strong influence not only in the development of religious architecture in the islamic period ,but also in the cultures.The ensemble represents an outstanding example of a Zoroastrian sanctuary ,integrated with Sassanid palatial architecture . Takht-e soleyman is located in Azerbaijan province ,within mountainous region, about 750Km far from Tehran.An artesian lake and a volcano are essential elements of Takht-e Soleyman as well as the site’s heart is a fortified oval platform rising about 60 metres above the surrounding plain and measuring about 350 m by 550 m. It has a small calcareous artesian well which has formed a lake some 120m deep. from here ,small streams bring water to surrounding lands .This site was inscribed in UNESCO world heritage site in 2003 .
The Sassanids occupied the site in beggining of 5th century and constructing the royal sanctuary there,the sanctuary enclosed by a stonewall 13m high and 38 towers & two entrances (North &South).The main building are on the north side of the lake with Zoroastrian Fire temple(Azaargoshnasb) in the center .To the east of the temple there is another square hall reserved for the everlasting fire,further to the east there is the Anahita temple(dedicated to Anahita)and royal residences are located to the west of the temples.
About three kilometres west is an ancient volcano, Zendan-e Soleyman (prison of Soleyman) which its summit are the remains of shrines and temples dating from the first millennium BC. The site was destroyed at the end ofthe Sassanids period and left to decay but it was revived in the 13 th century under the Mongol occupation and some parts were rebuilt ,such as the Zoroastrian fire temple .new constructions were built around the lake,including two octagonal towers behind the iwan decorated in glazed tiles& ceramics.
As an ancient capital of the Ilkhanid dynasty ,Soltaniyeh represents an exceptional testimony to the history of the 13th and 14th centuries.The Mausoleum of Öljaitü(Mongol ruler) forms an essential link in the development of Islamic architecture in central & western Asia,from the classical Seljuk phase till the Timurid period. This is specially related to the Double-shell structure and the elaborate use of materials and facade in decoration of inner side of shell.It’s outstanding by manner of its innovative engineering structure ,spatial proportions ,architectural design & decorative patterns and techniques.There is archaeological evidence that the site had been occupied at least from the 1st millennium BC.
The fourth Mongol ruler in Persia,Arqun Khan ,decided to built a summer residence in this region,because it offred good hunting grounds &rich pastures for horse breeding . After his death, his son built a mausoleum over his tomb ,Known as Tappeh Nur. There is’nt much information in this period of time until Öljaitü(Muhammad Khodabandeh)came in to power in 1304 AD.He decided to expand the city and selected it as his capital ,changed its name to Soltaniyeh(Imperial).Along with Tabriz ,Soltaniyeh became major trading center on the silk road between Asia and Europe. In the 16th & 17th centuries, Soltaniyeh gradually shrank and remained in ruins. Only rural village was built over the remains.The mausoleum of Öljaitü,the principal monument of the city (constructed in 1302-12) stands in the middle of a rural settlemment,surrounded by fertie meadows.
The building is octagonal in form ,rising to a stunning high profile dome ,covered with turquoise -blue faience tile .This structure represents the earliest existing example of the double dome in Iran .The dome has neither buttresses nor any additional thickness and it surrounded by eight slender minarets as decorative feature .it was considered as masterpiece and largest brick dome monument until Santa Maria del fiore & Hagia Sophia appeared in adoption of this elaborte Dome.The decoration and structure of the mausoleum is in fact a turning point in the architecture of that era ,creatnig a new style in architecture distinct from the Seljuk era.This UNESCO Heritage site was inscribed in 2005 ,located some 240KM far from Tehran ,in way to Takht_e Soleyman .It can be visited both places as tour package in one day .