Old Photos of Pasargadae in Late Qajar Era

Below are photographs of Cyrus the Great’s tomb at Pasargadae in the late 19th or early 20th century.


A rare photo of Cyrus’ Tomb at Pasargadae. Note that the ingress is no longer standing.


Another rare photo of Cyrus’ Tomb at Pasargadae. Note travelers (Source: www.IICHS.org).

For more information on ancient Pasargadae, kindly click on the picture below (image from Persepolis-3D website) :


-سیزدهمین اثر از میراث فرهنگی ایران در فهرست جهانی-Iran’s Thirteenth heritage Site now a UNSECO Heritage Site

The report below in Persian (after the English text and pictures) was issued by the Pasargard Foundation (The International Committe to Save Pasargard).

The site of “Bagh e Shahzadeh”باغ شاهزاده [literally: Garden of the Prince] was listed as yet another World Hertiage site in the 35th meeting  by UNESCO. The Bagh e Shahzadeh”باغ شاهزادهhas now become the 13th site in Iran to become a World Heritage site.  Persian Gardens have been renowned since the days of Cyrus the Great.

The Bagh e Shahzadeh [باغ شاهزاده] is located close the city of Mahan (Kerman province) and was built in .1881. Picture by the Pasargard Foundation. For more pictures of this site by Mehr News Service see Payvand News.

The UNESCO committee has also listed the Gardens below as World Heritage sites:

A top view of a reconstruction of the Persian garden at Pasargard [باغ پاسارگاد،]  built circa 2500 years ago, is located in Fars province, also home to  the site of Persepolis of the Achaemenids. Note water channels at rim of garden (see also History Channel program “Engineering an Empire: The Persians“).

The tower of the Persian Garden of Pahlavan-pour at Yazd [برج باغ پهلوانپور مهریز يزد]. The site was built approximately 100 years ago during the late Qajar era. Picture from the Iran Desert website.

The Persian garden at Dowlat Abad [باغ دولت آباد،]  built in 1747, the very last year of the rule of Nader Shah. Note the tower-like structure with vertical slits – this is a Badgir-the world’s first air-conditioning system invented in ancient Iran. Picture by the Iran Hamshahri Website.

The Persian Garden at Feen [باغ فین،]  of Kashan is generally traced back to the Safavid era (1501-1722). This garden is also host to the bath of Feen, where the great Qajar-era statesman, Amir Kabir (1807-1852), was brutally assassinated in 1852. Picture by the Raya website.

The Persian Garden of Chehel Sotoon [باغ چهل ستون،]  (literally: the forty columns) in Isfahan, built by Shah Abbas II (1632-1666). Picture by the JadidOnline website.

The Persian Garden of Akbariyeh [باغ اکبریه،]  built during the Qajar era (1794-1925), is located in Birjand, in southern Khorasan in northeast Iran. Picture by the Mashadtour.blogspot.com website.

The Persian Garden of Abbas-Abad [باغ عباس آباد]  built by Shah Abbas I (1571-1629) is located near  Behshahr (Mazandaran province in northern Iran). This site is scheduled for excavations and research. Picture by the Memaraninfah blog.

In this year thus far (2011), the Heritage committee of UNESCO has added 25 other natural and cultural sites as World Heritage sites – bringing the grand total of such sites to 936.

Despite the fact that a large number of these UNESCO sites are located in Iran, a larger number remain untabulated due to the negligence of certain authorities today within the Iranian establsihment. This explains why Iran – a nation with civilizational roots stretching back thousands of years – currently has only 13 sites recognized by UNESCO.

Destruction at the ancient site of Susa. At left: Brick wall damaged by bulldozers (Source: Tabnak News in Iran) and at right: Hotel construction at the site of Susa (Source: Tabnak News in Iran) (Read more…)

In addition to the Bagh e Shahzadeh [باغ شاهزاده], UNESCO has in this year (2011) recognized locales in Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Estonia  as World Heritage Sites.


“باغ شاهزاده” یکی از زیباترین آثار فرهنگی ایران در سی و پنجمین کمیته یونسکو، در  فهرست جدید میراث جهانی به ثبت رسید. در این کمیته پرونده 9 باغ که شامل باغ پاسارگاد، باغ پهلوان پور، باغ دولت آباد، باغ فین، باغ چهل ستون، باغ اکبریه، باغ عباس آباد، و باغ شاهزاده ماهان معرفی شد و باغ شاهزاده به عنوان  نمونه ی زیبایی از «باغ های ایرانی» که از دوران باستان شهرت جهانی داشته اند در آثار جهانی به ثبت رسید.

باغ شاهزاده در نزدیکی شهر ماهان قرار دارد و در سال 1260 خورشیدی ساخته شده است.

امسال کمیته میراث جهانی سازمان یونسکو 25 مکان فرهنگی و طبیعی دیگر را به فهرست میراث جهانی اضافه کرد و تعداد این آثار را به 936 رساند. که با وجود تعداد زیادی از این آثار در سرزمین مان، متاسفانه به دلیل کم کاری و بی توجهی سازمان میراث فرهنگی،  از ایران تا کنون بیش از 13 اثر به ثبت نرسیده است.

امسال علاوه بر باغ شاهزاده، آثاری از محوطه های طبیعی اسپانیا، آلمان، سوییس و ایتالیا، اسلونی نیز به فهرست جهانی پیوسته اند.


Persian Gardens Declared as World Heritage Sites

As reported by the United Nations News CService (June 27, 2011) and the Persian-Language Jam e Jaam website (June 27, 2011), Iran’s Persian Gardens have become known as UNESCO World Heritage sites. As reported by the United Nations News CService (June 27, 2011):

The Persian Garden includes nine gardens in as many provinces of Iran. They exemplify the diversity of Persian garden designs that adapted to different climate conditions while retaining principles that have their roots in the times of Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC.

The Tomb of Cyrus at Pasargadae which has been listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

The Pasargardae tomb – a reconstruction by Professor Stronach.

Reconstruction of Pasargadae by the Persepolis-3D website: from left to right –north side, south side, east side and north side of Pasargadae. For more details on the above pictures and the architecture of Pasargadae, see Professors Stronach and Gopnik: Pasargadae.

The initiative was first reported by Iranian news services who noted that since December 2005 UNESCO had been cooperating with experts in Iran to tabulate a list of heritage sites pertaining to Persian Gardens in Iran. Dr. Adel Farhangi (the advisor of the director of the Research Center of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization – ICHTO) had reported that a team of experts compied documents on sites (for submission to UNESCO) in the Fin Garden of Kashan, Shazdeh in Mahan, Fat’habad in Kerman, and Dolatabad in Yazd.


On the second part of the above video, Professor Stronach speaks about the Persian Gardens as part of his decades long research into the domain of Iranian Studies, which earned him the WAALM – Persian Golden Lioness Award of 2010.

The initiative to register the Persian Gardens was first made in a conference in Iran in 2004 which witnessed talks and presentations on the subject. It was also agreed that the submission of a registry for UNESCO would entail the study and classification of the architectural and civil engineering styles utilized in the construction of each of the gardens, as these would vary according to era (i.e. Achaemenid, Partho-Sassanian, Safavid, etc.).

The Persian Gardens have indeed withstood the test of time.

Origin of Persian Gardens at Pasargadae

Pasargadae was the imperial capital of Cyrus the Great and it was here where the “Persian Gardens” were formed. These were in essence an Achaemenid project which further developed, refined and expanded the Babylonian-Assyrian concept of the garden. The end-result of this was Pari-Daeza (Old Iranian: Park, Walled Garden) or the “Persian Garden”. The term Pari-Daeza is of Iranian origin and originally refers to the enclosed hunting grounds of the Median kings.

The Persian Gardens at Pasargadae were built in accordance with mathematically based geometric designs. There were 900 meters of channels constructed of carved limestone; these transported water throughout the garden. This was essentially a sophisticated irrigation system featuring stone water-channels and open ditches that were designed to channel water into small basins at every 15 meters in the garden.


An overall top view of Pasargadae at Cyrus’ time. Note the canal, water channels; the two rectangles are gardens.

The garden itself was planted with a variety of fruit and Cyprus trees, flowers such as roses, lilies, Jasmines and exotic grasses. Arrian has described the gardens as

a grove of all kinds of trees…with steams…” and encompassed by a large area of “…green grass” (Arrian, Expedition of Alexander, VI, 29).


A top view of a reconstruction of the Persian Garden at Pasargadae. Note water channels at rim of garden (see also History Channel program “Engineering an Empire: The Persians“).

The Pasargadae complex was indeed a unique symbiosis of Iranian (Medo-Persian), Anatolian (i.e. Ionian) and Mesopotamian civil engineering techniques. These would be the harbinger of Persopolis city-palace and other Achaemenid sites such as the recently discovered palace at Tang e Bolaghi.

Persian Gardens of the Post-Islamic Era

The Persian Garden has certainly survived into the post-Islamic era. The basis of such a design was built into the pavilion of Shah Abbas the Great (r. 1588 – 1629 AD) of the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736 AD).


The Maydan e Shah in Isfahan dated to the Safavid era.

Many small towns and villages in modern Iran today continue to have gardens that derive their inspiration from the Achaemenids of old.


A Persian garden in Tehran in 1971. 

For more photos of post-Islamic Persian Gardens kindly click on the photo below:

Legacy of the Persian Gardens on Civilization

Cyrus’ gardens have exerted a profound legacy outside the borders of Iran, and especially in Europe. The Greeks adopted the Persian garden after Alexander’s conquests of Persia and most likely during the ensuing Seleucid era. The Persian term Pardis entered the Roman lexicon which facilitated its transmission to other European languages. The Greeks, Romans and succeeding European civilizations were to build parks and gardens on the Persian model. The breathtaking gardens of Versailles France, the baroque gardens of Belvedere Palace of Austria or the Butchard Gardens of Victoria Canada may never have existed today had it not been for Cyrus’ gardens at Pasargardae.  Even the Bible commemorates the word “Paradise” in its lexicon.  


The gardens at Versailles Place in France.

The influence of the Persian Gardens has also spread to the Orient, notably China and then Japan, probably mainly due to the arrival of Sassanian refugees to China after the collapse of the Sassanian Empire in the 650s AD, although earlier influences cannot be ruled out.


A Chinese Garden.

The most notable example of the influence of Persian Gardens in the Indian subcontinenet can be found in India’s Taj Mahal place built by the Moghuls (1526-1707).

The Taj Mahal, completed by 1648, is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The master architect of Taj Mahal was an Iranian named ‘Ostad Isaa Afandi’ from Shiraz. The builders were also Persian stone masons, imported from Iran by Mogul Shah Jahan, as per the request of the aforementioned Chief Master Architect Afandi. The white marble for the Taj Mahal was  imported from Isfahan. The calligraphy was created by the Persian calligrapher Abd ul-Haq, who came to India from Shiraz, Iran, in 1609. Shah Jahan conferred the title of “Amanat Khan” upon him as a reward for his “dazzling virtuosity”. Another striking Iranian influence can be seen in the design of the gardens and waterworks of the locale. Much of the fauna of Taj Mahal’s Persian gardens were directly imported from Iran. The term “Taj Mahal” is Persian for “The Royal Gounds” or more literally “The Crown Locale”. 

Video recreation of the arts and architecture of the Safavid era (1501-1722). Note the  emphasis on the Safavid Persian Gardens featured in the video. 

Kangavar’s Anahita temple Damaged by Construction


See also original report by: The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies

A massive “construction” project at the Anahita Temple in Kangavar in Kermanshah Province in western Iran was finally halted in the last week of January. The damage however has been done.

Thanks to Mehr News Agency of Iran who raised the alarm about the destruction being wrought against the site, the “construction” crews have been forced to stop; hopefully, to never return. 

Who has been responsible for this latest assault on the pre-Islamic sites of ancient Iran? Before exploring this, it is necessary to briefly outline the backgound of the ancient Anahita Temple.

The Ancient Temple of Anahita

The general consensus is that the Anahita Temple was built during the early Parthian era around 200 BC, just over a century after the fall of the Achaemenid Empire. The site has seen continuous rebuiklding over the centuries, but it is generally believed that the Temple of Anahita was built during the Parthian era (248 BC – 224 AD). Nevertheless, definative judgements on the site await more excavations and studies.

The platform covers 4,600 square meters built over a mound 32 meters in height. It is generally believed that this ancient temple was established for the Zoroastrian-Iranic goddess ‘Aredvi Sura Anahita’ (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā). Anahita is the Iranic goddess of wisdom, purity, fertility, healing and Aban (the waters). 

Given its construction in the early Parthian era, Kangavar also shows some Hellenistic characteristics, notably the edifice. The remaining architectural traits, however, can be traced to a the rise of a unique architectural tradition that was underway during this time in ancient Iran.

The Iranian propensity for size and grandeur is seen in the very large dimensions of consturction seen in the foundations at the Anahita Temple. What is especially Achaemenid in chatacter are two lateral stairways ascending the platform- this echoes what is seen in the Apadana Palace of ancient Persepolis of the Achaemenid kings.

“Construction” or Damage? 

The Kangavar site was seriously damaged during an earthquake in 1957. Afterwards, some locals invaded the perimeter of the site, using stones from the temple to rebuild their homes at that location. In early 2010, however, serious damage was inflicted on the site as a result of “construction” activity. 

From what is know through Mehr News in Iran, the responsible parties are the provincial department of the Islamic Republic Endowments and Charity Affairs based in Kangavar. These began to build concrete foundations in December 2009. The objective is to lay the basis for Imamzadeh Ebrahim located on the environs of the Anahita Temple.

Incredibly, the building of a hotel at the Anahita location is another part of the “construction”. This is in fact what happended at the ancient thousands-year old site of Susa in August 2008.

Asadollah Beiranvand, of the Kermanshah Cultural Heritage and Director of the Tourism and Handicrafts Department (KCHTHD) told the Mehr News Agency of Iran that:

The construction project near the Anahita Temple was illegal so it was barred by a court order…the office had begun the project without receiving approval from the KCHTHD.”

In a repeat of the scenario of the disastrous “repairs” that were made on the Tomb of Cyrus at Pasargardae, Mehr News was again challenged, this time by Mohammad Qorbani (Director of KECAO).  

Qorbani has categorically rejected Beiranvand’s warnings. He also claimed that the construction project had been approved, based on an agreement that took place between the KCHTHD and KECAO. Specifically, avers  Qorbani, the development plan had actually been given the green light by the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization as ealry as 1994. Qorbani then notes that for “unknown reasons” the plan had been delayed until ealry 2010.

According to the current version of events, the “construction” plan had been approved by the Governor General’s Office at Kermanshah in 2009. Qorbani then notes that the finalized version of that approval was signed during a meeting between KCHTHD KECAO and the Kermanshah governor general on December 19, 2009.

“Construction” or Damage?  What do the Photos Say?

The foundations for the Imamzade near the Anahita Temple. It is mystery why the builders would come so close to this ancient site. This would be analogous to having modern construction crews build new buildings near ancient Stonehedge in England.



Woman passes by steel frames dumped at the ancient Temple of Anahita.


Graffiti? This action is analogous to vandalism – it is certain that nobody would dare do the same to the columns of the ancient Acropolis in Athens, Greece.


Graffiti once again seen sprayed (or written) on ancient blocks at the Anahita site. It is not clear if this action is an act of deliberate vandalism, or is simply a leisurely action by the “construction” crews.

Petition: Nowruz – Iranian New Year Day on UN Calendars

The Iranian character of legacy of Nowruz and the celebration of its true date would seem to be uncontested, but this as with the historical veracity of the name of the Persian Gulf, is also being challenged.

Kindly sign the petition to support the Iranian New Year Day (Nowruz) on the UN Calendars:


Below is the text of that petition:


To:  United Nations

Excellency Ban Ki-moon
United Nations
New York, New York

Your Excellency,

For several millenniums many nations have celebrated the first day of spring as their new year. Today, nearly 300 million people around the world celebrate the first day of spring as their new year, better known as Norouz (New Day). Nearly all of these celebrants live in UN member nations. Unfortunately, none of the UN calendars or affiliated agencies commemorate this important date as has been done for different celebrations of member nations.

We, the undersigned, request from your Excellency, bearer of the highest office of the United Nations, to kindly authorize the relevant agencies to correct this oversight for the upcoming calendars throughout the UN agencies.

Please accept our best wishes and thanks for your attention to this important request.

Persian Cultural Center, San Diego, California – USA



The Haft-Seen table of Nowruz