Exploring Hamadan, the heart of western Iran, reveals an enchanting city with deep historical roots. This ancient city, dating back over 3,000 years, stands as a testament to the long history of civilization. Hamadan claims a dual title as not only one of Iran’s most venerable cities but also as a site of one of the globe’s oldest civilizations.
Known in bygone eras as Ecbatana, Hamadan presents a compelling mixture of historical treasures, scenic beauty, and Iranian hospitality. This Hamadan Travel Guide will take you through a rich array of the city’s highlights, which include timeless archaeological sites and vibrant cultural spots.
In Hamadan, history aficionados can revel in its legacy, evident in its traditional bazaars, ancient artifacts, and imposing monuments. For nature lovers, the city’s surroundings offer stunning landscapes and outdoor adventures. The warmth of its people adds to the charm, inviting travelers to enjoy Iranian culture in its most genuine form. Join us as we delve into the many wonders that Hamadan has to offer.
In this comprehensive travel guide, we will delve into the following aspects of Hamadan:
Overview of Geography and Climate
Hamadan sits proudly in the western region of Iran, amid the rolling foothills of the Zagros Mountains. This location has historically placed Hamadan at a crossroads, linking central to western Iran. Perched at an elevation of around 1,850 meters (6,070 feet), the city provides breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys.
The Qareh River bisects Hamadan, enhancing its picturesque appeal. Its strategic position serves as a gateway to Iran’s captivating natural scenery. Visitors can explore nearby lush forests, undulating hills, and tranquil lakes. These sites offer not just beauty but also a retreat for those seeking peace in nature’s lap.
Climate of Hamedan
Hamadan features a continental climate with clear weather patterns marking the four seasons. Each one presents a different charm and set of activities suitable for visitors.
Spring: March to May
Spring in Hamadan unfolds with a burst of colorful flowers and a fresh, verdant landscape. The mild temperatures during this time create perfect conditions for outdoor activities and discovering the city’s ancient sites.
Summer: June to August
Summer welcomes warmer days, with the mercury hitting the high 20s to low 30s in Celsius. The influx of tourists makes it the peak time to experience Hamadan’s rich cultural life and sunny mountain vistas.
Autumn: September to November
Autumn casts a cooler, more colorful ambiance over Hamadan. It’s the perfect time for hikes in the mountains and leisurely exploration of the surrounding areas, as the countryside turns into a canvas of autumnal hues.
Winter: December to February
Winter drapes Hamadan in a snowy mantle, with the cold bringing ample opportunities for snow-related sports. Those who favor a picturesque winter setting will find the city a perfect spot to enjoy these colder months.
The Best Time to Visit Hamedan
Deciding when to visit Hamadan depends on your travel preferences. If you’re captivated by vibrant flowers and crisp weather, consider planning your trip during the spring or autumn. For those enchanted by wintry scenes, visiting during the winter months may be more to your liking. Hamadan welcomes guests year-round with its historical charm and cultural warmth.
During the summer, Hamadan transforms into a hub for tourism. The city’s mild summer climate stands out among other mountainous destinations, making it a popular choice for those seeking a retreat from hotter regions.
Early summer sees Hamadan warming up, with temperatures ranging from 23 to 35 degrees Celsius. But come September, the air turns milder, offering a comfortable climate. The period from early September to mid-October is particularly delightful for a visit.
Summer spells out perfect conditions for tourists in Hamadan. The chill of winter and the dampness of spring fade away, paving the way for uninterrupted exploration. With clear skies, you’re free to discover Hamadan’s many wonders, from its historical landmarks to its scenic attractions, without the inconvenience of inclement weather.
History and Heritage
Hamedan stands as a testament to Iran’s rich history, with its origins dating back to over 3,000 years. This city proudly bears the footprints of various eras, particularly the Medes, who set their capital here. The ancient Ecbatana underlines Hamedan’s past importance, which still whispers from the ruins and walls among its modern streets.
Historical landmarks in Hamedan captivate visitors, like the Ganjnameh inscriptions on Mount Alvand. These ancient writings shed light on the grand Achaemenid Empire’s power and achievements under King Darius the Great. They stand as a powerful connection to the region’s imperial legacy.
The Avicenna Mausoleum pays homage to the famed scientist and philosopher Avicenna, showcasing his timeless influence on the medical and philosophical domains.
Hamedan also boasts a rich cultural landscape. The city’s bazaars teem with life, offering exotic spices, exquisite crafts, and a taste of traditional local life. Tourists find a warm welcome from residents, who invite them to share in the city’s living history.
Discover Hamedan and experience a seamless blend of past and present. Every corner of the city offers a story, from its ancient roots to its lively contemporary culture. Hamedan is not just a destination but a chronicle of civilization that continues to thrive and inspire.
From Ecbatana to Hamadan
Hamedan beckons as a historical hub, settled amidst the majestic Zagros Mountains of Iran. Known for over 3,000 years as a cradle of civilization, it stands as one of the planet’s most ancient inhabited areas.
Ecbatana, the city’s former name, traces its glory to the Medes’ era, around 700 BCE. These formidable forerunners of the region’s history elevated Hamedan, making it their ruling seat and leaving a cultural and political legacy of significance.
The city’s resonance extends to the era of the Achaemenid Empire. King Darius the Great’s choice of Ecbatana as his capital casts a spotlight on the city’s regal heritage. The Ganjnameh inscriptions echo the empire’s prestige, revealing the potency and splendor of a bygone epoch.
Dynastic transitions further shaped Hamedan, with the Seleucids, Parthians, and Sassanids all adding chapters to its long narrative. Its strategic role on the Silk Road amplified its status, weaving in layers of trade and cultural diversity.
In its current form, Hamedan still offers a treasure trove of history and culture. Ancient sites, dynamic markets, and the hospitality of locals provide a rich experience for those exploring this eternal city. Visitors are invited to step back in time, walking the paths once trodden by influential kings, erudite scholars, and prolific traders that contributed to Hamedan’s storied past.
Archaeological Discoveries and Significance
Digging deep into Hamedan’s rich history, recent archaeological efforts have brought to light the city’s profound past. These digs have revealed remarkable artifacts dating back to the Median and Achaemenid empires, showcasing Hamedan’s timeless narrative. The unearthed relics, ranging from clay tablets to pottery to metalwork, underline the city’s ancient importance as a hub of cultural fusion and economic vitality.
Researchers have painstakingly excavated parts of Ecbatana, the once thriving capital, revealing its complex layers of history. These findings resonate with both scholars and adventure-seekers, illustrating the bygone era’s innovation and interconnectedness.
As an ever-evolving story, Hamedan continues to echo its ancestral significance through these archaeological finds. These discoveries not only magnify Hamedan’s standing in world heritage but also enrich global understanding of historical progressions. For those drawn to history and heritage, Hamedan emerges as a compelling chapter in Iran’s historical narrative. Enthusiasts can delve into this saga with SURFIRAN’s group and tailor-made tours or deepen their knowledge through the detailed articles available on SURFIRAN’s tourism magazine. This city invites travelers to connect with the milestones of human achievement and be part of the discovery journey.
The Influence of Dynasties and Empires
Hamadan thrives as a significant cultural and historical beacon in Iran. Its past weaves through a succession of civilizations, each adding to its profound legacy. Dating back to 700 BCE, Hamadan, originally known as Ecbatana, was the chosen capital of the Medes civilization. They established a foundation of culture and governance that reverberates through time.
Exploring the archaeological site of Hegmataneh, visitors witness the sophisticated urban planning and skilled craft of the Medes. The site offers precious insights into a time that paved the way for future innovation and growth. The subsequent Achaemenid Empire affirmed Ecbatana’s significance by making it one of its capitals. The Ganjnameh inscriptions etched on Mount Alvand bear the tales of King Darius the Great’s triumphs and attest to the empire’s breadth and administrative acumen.
The city’s journey continued through the hands of the Seleucids, Parthians, and Sassanids, further enriching its urban fabric. As a pivotal station on the Silk Road, Hamadan expanded its role in global trade, cultural dialogues, and the flowering of knowledge.
Hamadan also shone during the Islamic Golden Age, marked by the extraordinary works of scholars such as Avicenna. His monumental influence in multiple knowledge fields is immortalized at the Avicenna Mausoleum. These periods left indelible marks on Hamadan, reflected in its wealth of archaeological finds, architectural excellence, and enduring cultural practices.
For modern explorers, Hamadan serves as a gateway to the past, offering a unique opportunity to trace the mighty steps of dynasties and empires that sculpted its present-day character. The city invites tourists to journey through time and celebrate the storied chapters that compose its magnificent heritage.
Hamadan’s appeal stretches beyond its historical tapestry to include breathtaking natural scenery, creating an impeccable fusion of history and modernity. This guide takes you through Hamadan’s top attractions, celebrating its enchanting mix of past and present.
The Ganjnameh inscriptions stand out as a testament to the Achaemenid Empire’s grandeur. Carved into the mountain, these inscriptions are a gateway to the power and prestige of an era that left a lasting imprint on the world. Nearby, the ancient city of Hegmataneh beckons with its unspoken stories and historical secrets, promising an immersive plunge into the legacy of the Medes.
However, Hamadan’s allure isn’t confined to its ruins. The city’s bazaars brim with life, offering sensory delights with the fragrance of spices and the resonant soundscapes of daily commerce. These markets are not just centers for trade but vibrant hubs of culture, displaying the essence of Hamadan’s spirit through local cuisine and hospitality. They serve as the perfect backdrop for those eager to engage with the city’s pulsating rhythm and gain an authentic taste of its contemporary life.
Ganjnameh: Ancient Inscriptions
Located in the Zagros Mountains, Hamadan’s Ganj Nameh represents an archaeological masterpiece. Here, ancient Persia’s splendor and cultural depth come alive for visitors. The site’s inscriptions, carved into the mountain face, bear witness to the Achaemenid Empire’s strength and splendor.
King Darius the Great commissioned the Ganj Nameh inscriptions in the 5th century BCE, crafting a narrative of victory and rule in cuneiform script. These inscriptions capture the empire’s tales in Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian languages, demonstrating the Achaemenid’s linguistic diversity.
The more extensive “Ganj Nameh of Darius” inscription delves into the empire’s governance and scope. It traces the lineage of Darius and celebrates the accomplishments of his rule, underscoring his commitment to justice and stability.
The smaller “Ganj Nameh of Xerxes” echoes this theme, honoring the succession of Darius’s son, Xerxes. This engraving solidifies the heritage of royal authority and the continuity of their administration.
Ganj Nameh stands out not just for its historical importance but also as a stunning natural site. The area around the inscriptions is perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, picnicking, and photography, offering a scenic escape amidst history.
For those drawn to the confluence of history and nature, Ganj Nameh is an unmissable stop. It invites a journey through history while surrounded by the Zagros’s majestic landscapes. This destination caters to both history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts, echoing ancient grandeur amidst the mountain wilderness.
In the heart of Hamadan, Iran, the Alaviyan Dome stands as a mesmerizing testament to the ingenuity and architectural prowess of the Islamic Golden Age. This remarkable structure, often referred to as the “Gonbad-e Alavian,” is an architectural jewel that has captured the imaginations of visitors for centuries.
Built during the 12th century under the Seljuk dynasty, the Alaviyan Dome is a striking example of the Iranian architectural style known as “gonbad,” characterized by its distinctive dome shape. What makes this dome particularly remarkable is its intricate brickwork and the exquisite geometric patterns that adorn its surface. The interplay of light and shadow on these geometric motifs creates a mesmerizing visual experience, especially during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset.
Originally serving as a mausoleum for the Alavian family, the dome has also been suggested to have had religious or ceremonial significance due to its unique design. Its rich history and the mystery surrounding its purpose add to its allure.
Today, the Alaviyan Dome continues to draw visitors from around the world who are captivated by its architectural beauty and historical significance. It stands as a reminder of the enduring legacy of Islamic art and culture, offering a glimpse into the intellectual and artistic achievements of a bygone era. For those seeking to explore Hamadan’s cultural heritage, the Alaviyan Dome is an essential stop on their journey through time.
Esther and Mordechai’s Tomb: A Jewish Pilgrimage Site
The Tomb of Esther and Mordechai is a place of profound historical and religious significance. This sacred site is believed to be the final resting place of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, central figures in the biblical Book of Esther and revered in both Jewish and Persian traditions.
The story of Esther and Mordechai is a tale of courage and faith, as Esther, a Jewish queen, risked her life to save her people from persecution during the time of the Persian Empire. Their legacy is celebrated annually during the Jewish holiday of Purim, a festival of joy and remembrance.
The tomb itself is a testament to the enduring cultural and religious ties between the Jewish and Persian communities. The architectural style reflects a fusion of Persian and Jewish influences, with a distinct blue dome gracing the structure. Inside, visitors can find an intimate space for prayer and reflection, adorned with inscriptions and motifs that honor the memory of Esther and Mordechai.
The Tomb of Esther and Mordechai has long been a site of pilgrimage and reverence, attracting visitors from both near and far. Its significance extends beyond religious boundaries, serving as a symbol of tolerance and coexistence in a region with a rich history of diverse cultures.
Lion Stone Statue (Shir Sangi)
Shir Sangi involves the carving of intricate designs, often depicting mythological and historical scenes, onto flat stones. These carved stones are then used in architectural details, as decorative elements in buildings, or as standalone pieces of art. The beauty and precision of Shir Sangi craftsmanship are awe-inspiring, showcasing the meticulous attention to detail and the deep artistic heritage of the region.
Walking through the streets of Hamadan, visitors can admire the ornate facades of buildings adorned with Shir Sangi stones, revealing the city’s rich artistic legacy. This traditional craft not only adds to the architectural beauty of Hamadan but also serves as a testament to the pride and dedication of its artisans in preserving the cultural heritage of Iran.
Baba Taher Mausoleum
The Baba Taher Mausoleum, located in the heart of Hamadan, Iran, is a place of reverence for lovers of Persian poetry. It is dedicated to Baba Taher, a renowned 11th-century Persian poet whose verses continue to inspire and resonate with readers to this day.
The mausoleum, with its striking architectural design and tranquil surroundings, pays homage to the enduring legacy of this literary figure. Visitors can explore the beautifully crafted tomb and reflect upon the profound words of Baba Taher, whose poetry often delves into themes of love, spirituality, and the human condition.
Delicacies of Hamadan: A Culinary Journey
A visit to Hamadan, Iran, is not just a journey through time and history but also an exploration of the city’s rich culinary heritage. As you stroll through its bustling bazaars and dine at local eateries, you’ll discover a delightful array of dishes and flavors that encapsulate the essence of Persian cuisine.
This herb-based stew is a staple of Persian cuisine, and Hamadan prepares it to perfection. Tender pieces of meat, often lamb or beef, are simmered with a medley of herbs, including parsley, coriander, and fenugreek. The result is a savory, aromatic delight.
Hamadan is known for its unique version of kufteh, a dish made from minced meat, rice, and aromatic spices. What sets it apart is the artful stuffing, often consisting of dried fruits, nuts, and herbs, creating a delightful surprise in every bite.
This hearty stew is a favorite among locals. It features slow-cooked lamb or beef with a blend of chickpeas, white beans, and tomatoes. The dish is traditionally served in a special pot, and the savory broth is separated from the solid ingredients before being enjoyed separately.
A nourishing noodle soup, ash reshteh is made with a variety of fresh herbs, lentils, beans, and reshteh noodles. The dish is often garnished with fried onions, garlic, and a dollop of tangy yogurt.
A flavorful and rich stew made with ground walnuts and pomegranate paste, often simmered with poultry. Its sweet and tangy flavor profile is a unique and cherished taste of Hamadan.
Accommodations in Hamadan
Azadi Hotel Hamadan
The sublime Azadi Hotel in Hamadan stands as a testament to Iran’s architectural prowess and rich history. This three-star establishment, founded over 40 years ago, embodies a mix of modern comforts intertwined with traditional Persian hospitality. Strategically located near the city’s main attractions, the Azadi Hotel is a favorite among travelers seeking both leisure and business. Many of its rooms offer panoramic views of the city’s skyline and nearby parks, providing guests with a serene backdrop for their stay.
- Address: Imam Khomeini Street, Hamadan, Iran
- View the Azadi Hotel Hamadan on Google Maps
Amiran Hotel Hamadan
For those seeking a touch of luxury in the heart of Hamadan, the Amiran Hotel is the place to be. With a four-star rating, this establishment stands out for its exquisite design, top-notch services, and unparalleled comfort. The hotel, while modern in its offerings, gives a nod to the city’s deep-rooted history through its design elements. Located in a peaceful area, guests can easily retreat to this sanctuary after a day of exploration. The in-house restaurant offers a delectable range of Persian and international cuisines, ensuring that guests have a culinary journey as well.
- Address: Motahhari Street, Hamadan, Iran
- View the Amiran Hotel Hamadan on Google Maps
Katibeh Hotel Hamedan
Katibe Hotel offers an authentic Persian experience in the heart of Hamedan. It’s a lovely establishment that captures the essence of Iranian architecture and hospitality. A favored spot for many tourists, the Katibe ensures its guests are treated to a rich and memorable stay, surrounded by traditional charm and modern amenities.
- Address: Azadi Square, Hamedan, Iran
- View the Katibe Hotel Hamedan on Google Maps
Hegmataneh Hotel Hamedan
Named after the ancient name of Hamedan, the Hegmataneh Hotel is steeped in history and tradition. It provides a wonderful base for travelers wanting to explore the region’s archaeological and historical sites. The rooms offer comfort and elegance, and guests can expect impeccable service throughout their stay.
- Address: Ecbatana Street, Hamedan, Iran
- View the Hegmataneh Hotel Hamedan on Google Maps
Khatam Hotel Hamedan
Khatam Hotel, situated in the heart of Hamedan, stands out with its classic decor and contemporary facilities. It provides a warm and cozy environment for guests, with rooms overlooking the city’s bustling streets. Its proximity to local attractions and shopping centers makes it a favorite pick for many travelers.
â€¢ Address: Shohada Square, Hamedan, Iran
Safir Hotel Hamedan
Elegant and sophisticated, the Safir Hotel promises a luxurious stay in Hamedan. From its plush rooms to the exquisite dining options, every aspect of the hotel is designed with the guest’s comfort in mind. Those staying at the Safir will surely appreciate its world-class amenities and the dedicated staff’s commitment to excellence.
- Address: Emam Street, Hamedan, Iran
- View the Safir Hotel Hamedan on Google Maps
Shopping and Souvenirs
The heart of Hamedan’s shopping scene, the Qeysarieh Bazaar, dating back to the Qajar era, is an architectural marvel. Wandering its labyrinthine alleys reveals stalls teeming with traditional handicrafts, ceramics, and fabrics. The rhythmic chime of copperware being molded and the fragrance of spices being ground fill the air, offering a multisensory shopping experience.
Leather and Leatherworks
Hamedan’s legacy in leatherwork is unparalleled. The city produces some of the finest leather products in Iran, ranging from stylish jackets and bags to intricately embossed wallets. These leather goods, known for their durability, are a must-have souvenir.
Ceramics and Pottery
Inspired by Hamedan’s historical ties, local artisans craft exquisite ceramics and pottery. These pieces, painted with intricate Persian motifs, make for decorative souvenirs and functional homeware.
Handwoven Carpets and Kilims
Iran’s carpet-weaving heritage is renowned worldwide. Hamedan takes pride in its unique carpet patterns, distinguished by their color combinations and artistic designs. A Hamedani carpet or kilim is a prized possession, reflecting hours of meticulous craftsmanship.
Local Delicacies to Take Home
Herbal Teas and Spices: Known for its medicinal plants and herbs, Hamedan offers a plethora of herbal teas, each with its therapeutic benefits. The markets also showcase an array of aromatic spices, perfect for those looking to recreate Persian cuisine back home.
Turquoise of Neyshabur
Hamedan’s jewelry stores flaunt beautiful accessories embedded with the famous Turquoise of Neyshabur, revered for its distinct hue and quality. These adornments, encapsulating the beauty of the Iranian landscape, are timeless keepsakes.
Exploring the Ali Sadr Cave
Discovered during the early 20th century, the Ali Sadr Cave dates back an astounding 190 million years. It’s believed that the cave’s intricate corridors were used by our prehistoric ancestors as shelter during the Paleolithic era, nearly 12,000 years ago.
The beauty of Hamedan isn’t confined to its bustling bazaars, ancient architecture, or the serenity of its landscapes. Beneath the earth’s surface, the province hides one of its most breathtaking wonders: the Ali Sadr Cave, the world’s largest water cave. Embarking on an exploration of this underground marvel is akin to diving into a world frozen in time, where every stalactite and water ripple tells a story thousands of years old.
Discovered during the early 20th century, the Ali Sadr Cave dates back an astounding 190 million years. It’s believed that the cave’s intricate corridors were used by our prehistoric ancestors as shelter during the Paleolithic era, nearly 12,000 years ago.
Unlike most cave explorations, a tour of the Ali Sadr Cave doesn’t involve walking through dimly lit tunnels. Instead, visitors are greeted by vast lakes of crystal-clear water. Guided boat tours navigate the vast, serene waters, winding through tunnels and chambers adorned with spectacular rock formations. The illumination from strategically placed lights accentuates the beauty of the formations, casting mesmerizing reflections on the water’s surface.
The interiors of the cave boast an array of stunning stalactites and stalagmites. These intricate formations, which have taken millennia to form, dangle from the roof and emerge from the ground, resembling cascading waterfalls frozen in time.
Moreover, certain sections of the cave feature ancient rock paintings, which depict hunting scenes and patterns. These age-old artworks provide invaluable insights into the lives and cultures of the cave’s ancient inhabitants.
Recognizing its immense historical and geological significance, steps have been taken to preserve the Ali Sadr Cave’s pristine condition. To ensure its integrity and reduce human impact, specific paths have been designated for boat navigation.
Reaching the cave from Hamedan is relatively straightforward. Located around 75 kilometers to the north of Hamedan city, it’s accessible by road. There’s also a visitor center near the cave entrance, providing tourists with essential information and facilitating guided tours.
How to Get To Hamedan
Hamadan is an accessible travel destination. Whether you’re arriving by air, road, or rail, each mode of transportation offers its unique perspective on the region’s beauty and vast landscapes. Here’s a detailed guide on reaching Hamadan:
Many travelers prefer buying airplane tickets for convenience and time-saving. Hamedan Airport is located 5 kilometers from the city of Hamedan. There are at least two daily flights from Tehran to Hamedan. At least three airlines â€“ Aseman, Homa, and Mahan â€“ transport passengers from Hamedan Airport. Flights are available for routes including Shiraz, Tabriz, Tehran, Ahvaz, Bandar Abbas, and Hamedan.
Another common way to travel is by bus. Hamedan has three bus terminals.
- The largest passenger terminal in Hamedan is located in Ashura Square and provides service to all parts of the country (within and outside the province).
- The Ekbatan terminal, located on Ekbatan Street, serves outside the province.
- The Sefid Abi terminal is located on Badi’ al-Zaman Hamedani Boulevard and offers services within the province.
Passengers who prefer traveling by train disembark at the Malayer railway station and can travel from there to various destinations. Malayer station is the only railway station in Hamedan province, and trains from this station depart every other day to Tehran and vice versa.
But for those travelers who intend to journey towards Hamedan in their personal vehicles, if starting from Tehran, the best route to Hamedan is Tehran-Saveh and Saveh-Hamedan. Other suggested routes include Qazvin-Hamedan and Buin Zahra. Generally, the busiest entry routes to Hamedan province are northern entryways like Saveh-Hamedan and Zanjan-Hamedan.
Public Transportation in Hamedan
There’s no heavy traffic like in Tehran in Hamedan, and there’s even no even-odd traffic scheme. After wandering around the city of Hamedan for a few hours, you’ll realize that the city streets have a special design. Hamedan’s streets, unlike other cities, are drawn in circles around the city center. This interesting design recalls the ancient structure of Hamedan (Ecbatana) that was built like seven interlocking castles. For commuting within Hamedan, you can use public transportation like buses and taxis. There’s no metro in Hamedan.
Hamedan’s bus system is equipped with an electronic ticket card system, and 200 buses operate in the urban bus service. On average, thousands of people commute by bus in Hamedan every day, with a waiting time estimated around 20 minutes.
There are route taxis and roundtrip taxis in Hamedan that you can use for commuting within the city. The taxi fare in Hamedan, compared to major Iranian cities, is reasonably affordable. Also, using online smart taxis is very common these days.