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Iran World Heritage Sites Listed by UNESCO

A Journey Through Persia's Glorious World Heritage Sites

Iran’s rich heritage and history have been etched into the global consciousness through its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These landmarks capture the essence of Iran’s past, from the architectural marvels to the tales of ancient civilizations. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of royalty at Persepolis, witnessing the empire’s grandeur firsthand. In the city of Isfahan, the Jameh Mosque stands as a pinnacle of Islamic architecture, boasting stunning artistry.

The nation’s natural sites are equally striking. The Lut Desert offers vistas of untouched beauty, while the Hyrcanian Forests display biodiversity’s resilience over millennia. Each site serves as a living museum, inviting tourists to understand and appreciate Iran’s contributions to cultural and natural history.

For those seeking to trace the Silk Road’s legacy, the storied city of Bam is a treasure trove of history. The ingenious Persian Qanats demonstrate the ancient ingenuity in water management that has supported life in Iran for centuries.

List Of UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Iran

1Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran2008West Azerbaijan
2Bam and its Cultural Landscape2004Kerman
4Cultural Landscape of Maymand2015Kerman
5Cultural Landscape of Hawraman/Uramanat2021Kurdistan
6Gonbad-e Qābus2012Golestan
7Golestan Palace2013Tehran
8Lut Desert (Natural)2016Kerman and Sistan and Baluchestan
9Sassanid Archaeological Landscape2018Fars (Bishabpur, Firouzabad, Sarvestan)
10Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan2012Isfahan
11Naqsh-e Jahan Square1979Isfahan
14Shahr-e Sukhteh2014Sistan and Baluchestan
15Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble2010Ardabil
16Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System2009Khuzestan
19Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex2010East Azerbaijan
20Takht-e Soleyman2003West Azerbaijan
21Tchogha Zanbil1979Khuzestan
22The Persian Garden2011Fars, Kerman, Razavi Khorasan, Yazd, Mazandaran, and Isfahan
23Trans-Iranian Railway2021Mazandaran, Tehran and Khuzestan
24Persian Qanat2016Razavi Khorasan, South Khorasan, Yazd, Kerman, Markazi and Isfahan
25Historic City of Yazd2017Yazd
26Hyrcanian Forests (Natural)2019Golestan, Mazandaran and Gilan
27Persian Caravanserai2023Iran
List Of World Heritage Sites In Iran

1. Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran


Located in the north-west of Iran, the Armenian Monastic Ensembles are composed of three monastic ensembles that are significant to the Armenian Christian faith: St. Thaddeus, St. Stepanos, and the Chapel of Dzordzor. These structures are excellent examples of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions, with St. Thaddeus dating back to the 7th century. They represent exceptional universal value and bear witness to crucial exchanges with other regional cultures, notably the Byzantine, Orthodox, and Persian.

Situated on the south-eastern edge of the primary area of Armenian cultural influence, the monasteries were once a major hub for disseminating this culture in the region. They are the last remaining regional relics of this culture that remain in a good state of integrity and authenticity.

Moreover, as places of pilgrimage, the monastic ensembles serve as living witnesses of Armenian religious traditions throughout the centuries.

2. Bam and its Cultural Landscape


Bam is located in a desert environment on the southern periphery of the Iranian high plateau. Its origins can be traced back to the Achaemenid era (6th to 4th centuries BC). The city experienced its peak from the 7th to 11th centuries, as it was a crucial point in the intersection of significant trade routes and known for its production of silk and cotton garments.

The existence of life in the oasis was reliant on the underground irrigation canals, known as qanats, of which Bam has some of the oldest surviving examples in Iran. Arg-e Bam is the most prominent representation of a fortified medieval town constructed using vernacular techniques and mud layers (Chineh).

3. Bisotun

Bisotun Relief SURFIRAN

Bisotun is situated along the ancient trade route that connected the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia, showcasing remnants from prehistoric to Median, Achaemenid, Sassanian, and Ilkhanid periods. The site’s primary monument is the bas-relief and cuneiform inscription commissioned by Darius I, The Great, after ascending to the Persian Empire throne in 521 BC.

The bas-relief portrays Darius holding a bow, symbolizing sovereignty, and stepping on the chest of a figure lying on his back in front of him, believed to be Gaumata, the Median Magus and pretender to the throne whose assassination led to Darius’s rise to power. Surrounding the bas-reliefs are roughly 1,200 lines of inscriptions describing Darius’s battles in 521–520 BC against the governors who attempted to dismantle the Empire founded by Cyrus.

The inscription is written in three languages, with the oldest being an Elamite text describing legends of the king and rebellions, followed by a Babylonian version of similar legends. The last phase of the inscription is particularly significant, as it introduces for the first time the Old Persian version of Darius’s res gestae (deeds done). This is the only known monumental text of the Achaemenids that documents the restoration of the Empire by Darius I and shows the exchange of influences in the development of monumental art and writing in the Persian Empire region. Bisotun also contains remains from the Median period (8th to 7th centuries BC), as well as from the Achaemenid (6th to 4th centuries BC) and post-Achaemenid periods.

4. Cultural Landscape of Maymand


Maymand is a unique and self-sustaining cultural landscape located at the southern end of Iran’s central mountains. It is a semi-arid area situated at the end of a valley, and its inhabitants are semi-nomadic agro-pastoralists who practice a way of life that has been passed down for generations.

The villagers raise their animals on mountain pastures, and during the winter months, they move down the valley to live in cave dwellings that are carved out of the soft rock (kamar), an extraordinary form of housing in a dry and desert environment.

This cultural system exemplifies a lifestyle that appears to have been more widespread in the past and is based on the movement of people rather than animals.

5. Golestan Palace


The Golestan Palace in Tehran is a stunning example of Qajar-era architecture, blending traditional Persian crafts with Western influences. The Palace complex, which is one of the oldest in Tehran, served as the seat of government for the Qajar family, who rose to power in 1779 and made Tehran the capital of Iran.

The Palace is surrounded by a beautiful garden featuring pools and landscaped areas, and its rich decorations and distinctive features were added during the 19th century. The Palace became a hub of Qajari arts and architecture and continues to inspire Iranian artists and architects to this day. The Palace’s style incorporates elements of traditional Persian arts and crafts with 18th-century architecture and technology, making it a masterpiece of its time.

6. Gonbad-e Qābus


The Gonbad-e Qābus monument is a testament to the cultural exchange between Central Asia and the ancient civilization of Iran. It was built in AD 1006 for Qābus Ibn Voshmgir, the ruler of the Ziyarid dynasty, near the ruins of the ancient city of Jorjan in northeastern Iran. The tower is the only remaining evidence of Jorjan, a former center of arts and science that was destroyed during the Mongols’ invasion in the 14th and 15th centuries.

The monument is a remarkable example of Islamic architecture and stands at a height of 53 meters. It is an outstanding and technologically innovative example of Islamic architecture that influenced sacral building in Iran, Anatolia, and Central Asia. The monument is built of unglazed fired bricks, and its intricate geometric forms constitute a tapering cylinder with a diameter of 17–15.5 meters, topped by a conical brick roof. It illustrates the development of mathematics and science in the Muslim world at the turn of the first millennium AD.

The monument is also an important example of the Islamic tomb architecture and has served as a prototype for other such structures throughout the region. The geometric patterns and the mathematical precision of its construction reflect the influence of Persian mathematics and science on Islamic art and architecture. Today, the monument remains a source of inspiration for architects and artists alike and continues to attract visitors from all over the world.

7. Historic City of Yazd


The City of Yazd in Iran is a remarkable example of human adaptation to the harsh desert environment. Its unique earthen architecture and the ingenious qanat system for water supply are remarkable features that have allowed the city to thrive for centuries.

The city has been able to preserve its traditional districts, buildings, and cultural heritage, including places of worship for different religions. The historic garden of Dolat-Abad is a beautiful example of traditional Persian gardens, reflecting the art of gardening in Iran. The city is an outstanding testimony to the history of human civilization and the challenges of living in a desert environment.

8. Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan


The Masjed-e Jāmé (‘Friday mosque’) is a mosque located in the historic center of Isfahan, Iran. It was built in AD 841 and is the oldest preserved edifice of its type in Iran. The mosque’s design is a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia.

The complex covers more than 20,000 m2 and is the first Islamic building that adapted the four-courtyard layout of Sassanid palaces to Islamic religious architecture. Its double-shelled ribbed domes represent an architectural innovation that inspired builders throughout the region. The site also features remarkable decorative details representative of stylistic developments over more than a thousand years of Islamic art.

9. Meidan Emam, Esfahan


Naqsh-e Jahan Square is one of the largest public squares in the world and was built during the reign of Shah Abbas I the Great in the early 17th century. The Royal Mosque, also known as the Imam Mosque, is located on the south side of the square and is one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture in the world.

The Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, located on the eastern side of the square, is a masterpiece of Safavid-era architecture and is known for its intricate tilework and unique design. The Portico of Qaysariyyeh, located on the west side of the square, is a two-storeyed bazaar that was once a bustling center of trade and commerce.

Finally, the 15th-century Timurid palace, also known as Ali Qapu, is located on the western side of the square and was once the residence of Shah Abbas I. Together, these buildings represent the rich cultural and architectural heritage of Iran during the Safavid era.

10. Pasargadae


Pasargadae, founded by Cyrus II the Great, was the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC. Located in Pars, the homeland of the Persians, it boasts palaces, gardens, and the mausoleum of Cyrus as exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization and the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture.

The site covers 160 hectares and includes notable features such as the Mausoleum of Cyrus II, Tall-e Takht, a fortified terrace, and a royal ensemble of gatehouse, audience hall, residential palace, and gardens.

Pasargadae was the capital of the first great multicultural empire in Western Asia, stretching from the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the Hindus River. It is considered the first empire to respect cultural diversity, reflected in Achaemenid architecture as a synthetic representation of various cultures.

11. Persepolis


Persepolis, located in present-day Iran, was the magnificent capital of the Achaemenid Empire, one of the most powerful empires of the ancient world. Built by Darius I in 518 B.C., it served as a center of government and ceremonial activities for over two centuries.

The city was known for its grand palaces, impressive public buildings, and magnificent art and architecture. Today, the ruins of Persepolis remain as a testament to the power, wealth, and cultural sophistication of the Achaemenid Empire, and attract visitors from around the world.

The extensive use of symbolism and artistic representations, such as the famous reliefs, demonstrate the cosmopolitan nature of the Achaemenid Empire and the artistic and cultural exchange between different regions and civilizations.

Unfortunately, the grandeur of Persepolis was short-lived. The city was burned and destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., marking the end of the Achaemenid Empire. Today, the site is a reminder of the grandeur and cultural achievements of ancient Persia and a testament to the importance of preserving our shared human heritage.

12. Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region


The Sassanid Archaeological Landscape in Fars Province, encompassing the sites of Bishapur, Firouzabad, and Sarvestan, is a unique testimony to the architectural and cultural achievements of the Sassanian Empire.

The landscape features a series of fortified structures, palaces, and city plans dating back to the earliest and latest periods of the empire, which spanned from 224 to 658 CE.

The sites include the capital city founded by the dynasty’s founder, Ardashir Papakan, as well as the city and architectural structures built by his successor, Shapur I.

The landscape demonstrates the optimized use of natural topography and reflects the influence of Achaemenid and Parthian cultural traditions, as well as the impact of Roman art on Islamic-era architecture.

As a whole, the Sassanid Archaeological Landscape is a remarkable representation of the diverse cultural influences that have shaped the region over the centuries. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of its outstanding universal value.

13. Shahr-e Sokhta


Located at the crossroads of ancient trade routes in eastern Iran, Shahr-i Sokhta is a testament to the emergence of the first complex societies in the region.

The mud-brick city dates back to 3200 BCE and was occupied during four major periods until 1800 BCE. The city includes several distinct areas, including a monumental zone, residential areas, industrial zones, and a graveyard.

The site provides valuable insights into the development of urbanism, technology, and social organization during the Bronze Age in Iran. Shahr-i Sokhta is an exceptional example of the early phase of urbanization in the region and its importance is recognized by its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

14. Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil


Sheikh Safi al-Din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble is located in Ardabil, in the north-west of Iran. It was built by Safavid dynasty in the 16th century to honor Sheikh Safi al-Din, the founder of the Safavid Sufi order.

The complex is composed of a mausoleum, a mosque, a library, a school, and several other buildings.

The buildings are adorned with intricate tile work and calligraphy, and are surrounded by beautiful gardens. The complex is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and reflects the evolution of Persian and Islamic art over several centuries. It is also a testament to the religious and cultural importance of the Sufi order in Iran.

15. Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System


The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, located in the Khuzestan province of Iran, is a complex irrigation system dating back to the 5th century BCE. It includes interconnected canals, tunnels, dams, and watermills that were designed to take advantage of the natural slope of the land to irrigate agricultural lands and provide drinking water to the city of Shushtar.

The hydraulic system is a testament to the ancient engineering skills of the Elamites, Achaemenids, and Sassanids who built and maintained it over the centuries.

The system continued to be used up to the 19th century and remains a valuable resource for the people of the region. In addition to its functional importance, the hydraulic system also has significant cultural and aesthetic value, with several waterfalls, bridges, and other architectural features that make it a popular tourist destination. It is recognized by UNESCO as a masterpiece of creative genius and a remarkable example of human interaction with the environment.

16. Soltaniyeh


The mausoleum of Oljaytu, located in the city of Soltaniyeh, is an exceptional example of Persian architecture and a key monument in the development of Islamic architecture.

Constructed during the Ilkhanid dynasty in 1302–12, the octagonal building is topped with a 50-meter tall dome covered in turquoise-blue faience and surrounded by eight slender minarets.

It is the earliest surviving example of the double-shelled dome in Iran and is a testament to the incredible skill and craftsmanship of its builders. The mausoleum’s interior decoration is equally impressive, featuring intricate tile work and calligraphy. The combination of its magnificent architecture and exquisite decoration has led scholars to describe the building as anticipating the Taj Mahal. Soltaniyeh is located in the province of Zanjan and is a testament to the rich cultural and architectural heritage of Iran.

17. Susa


Susa, also known as Shush, is one of the oldest and most significant ancient cities in the world. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains, in the southwest of Iran, and has a continuous history of urban settlement from the late 5th millennium BCE until the 13th century CE. Due to its historical and cultural significance, Susa was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.

The archaeological mounds in Susa are a group of excavated architectural monuments that include administrative, residential, and palatial structures. The site bears exceptional testimony to the Elamite, Persian, and Parthian cultural traditions, which have largely disappeared. Susa contains several layers of superimposed urban settlements, each representing a different period in the city’s long history.

One of the most significant structures in Susa is Ardeshir’s Palace, located on the opposite bank of the Shavur River. The palace was built during the Sassanian period and is a testimony to the wealth and power of the Persian Empire. The palace is a massive structure with elaborate architectural features, such as the decorative tile work and stucco moldings.

Susa is also famous for its role in biblical history. The city is mentioned in the Old Testament, where it is referred to as Shushan or Susa, and it is believed to have been the capital of the Persian Empire during the time of Queen Esther. According to the Bible, Queen Esther saved the Jews from persecution by Haman, the Prime Minister of Persia, in Susa.

Apart from its historical significance, Susa is also known for its cultural heritage. The city has been home to several religions, including Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Islam, and as a result, the city has a diverse cultural heritage. The city is also famous for its music and dance, which have been an important part of the local culture for centuries.

18. Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex


Tabriz Historic Bazaar is a large covered market in the city of Tabriz, Iran. It has been a hub of trade and cultural exchange for centuries and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bazaar is a complex of interconnected buildings, courtyards, and caravanserais that date back to the 13th century.

It is known for its unique architecture, exquisite handmade crafts, and diverse range of goods including spices, carpets, and jewelry.

The bazaar reflects the rich history of the Silk Road and the cultural exchange between East and West. Its inclusion in the UNESCO list is a recognition of its cultural and historical significance as well as its role as a living monument of Iranian commerce and craftsmanship.

19. Takht-e Soleyman


The archaeological site of Takht-e Soleyman, located in the northwest of Iran, is one of the most significant historical sites in the country. It is an ancient complex that includes a Zoroastrian fire temple, a Sasanian palace, and a series of other structures from different periods of Iranian history.

The site’s importance lies in its historical and religious significance. It was once the center of the Zoroastrian religion, and it is believed to be the birthplace of the prophet Zoroaster. The fire temple at the site was one of the most important places of worship for Zoroastrians, and it continued to be an important site for other religions that came after it, including Islam.

The site’s architecture and engineering also make it a remarkable example of ancient technology. The complex is built around a natural lake, and the architects were able to channel the water from the lake to the palace and the fire temple using a sophisticated system of canals and tunnels. The palace at the site is also a testament to the engineering abilities of the Sasanian Empire, with its intricate arches and domes.

In recognition of its cultural, religious, and historical significance, Takht-e Soleyman was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003. The site provides a unique window into the ancient history and culture of Iran, and it continues to be an important pilgrimage site for Zoroastrians and other religious groups.

20. Tchogha Zanbil


The Tchogha Zanbil is a remarkable ancient site located in the Khuzestan province of Iran. The site, which dates back to the 13th century BCE, was originally built as a religious complex by the Elamite civilization. The complex is composed of a large central temple surrounded by several smaller temples, palaces, and administrative buildings, all surrounded by a wall with impressive brick towers.

The complex was abandoned in the 7th century BCE and was subsequently buried under the earth for thousands of years until its rediscovery in the early 20th century. The excavation of Tchogha Zanbil revealed an impressive and unique example of ancient engineering and architecture.

One of the most striking features of Tchogha Zanbil is its ziggurat, a stepped pyramid-like structure that served as a religious center for the Elamites. The ziggurat was constructed using over 2 million bricks and is the largest of its kind in the world.

The site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, recognizing its exceptional universal value as a unique testimony to the Elamite civilization and its technical and architectural achievements. The site offers a rare glimpse into the lives and beliefs of an ancient civilization that was once a dominant power in the Middle East.

Visitors to Tchogha Zanbil can marvel at the impressive architecture and engineering of the Elamites, explore the remains of their temples and palaces, and gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultural history of the region. The site is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient history, architecture, and engineering.

21. The Persian Garden


The Persian Gardens, also known as Iranian Gardens, are a collection of exceptional garden designs and architectural features that reflect the ancient traditions and philosophies of Persian culture. These gardens have been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site due to their significant cultural value, historical importance, and unique characteristics.

The Persian Gardens are characterized by their intricate design, which is based on a series of principles that have been developed over centuries. These gardens typically feature four quadrants that are separated by water channels and pathways, with a central pavilion or water feature as the focal point. The gardens are often surrounded by walls or hedges to provide privacy and protection from the harsh climate.

The Persian Gardens are more than just decorative spaces; they have served a variety of functions throughout history. They were designed as a place for relaxation and contemplation, as well as for social gatherings and official ceremonies. The gardens also had practical uses, such as providing a source of food and medicinal herbs.

The Persian Gardens date back to the 6th century BC, during the reign of the Achaemenid Empire. Over time, they became an integral part of Persian culture, and their design and features were refined and perfected by subsequent dynasties. The most famous Persian Gardens include the gardens of Pasargadae, Eram, Fin, Chehel Sotoun, and Shazdeh in Iran.

The Persian Gardens are not only an important part of Persian culture but also a valuable contribution to the world’s landscape design. They have influenced the design of gardens in many countries, including India, Spain, and Italy. The gardens have also inspired the creation of new styles, such as the Mughal Gardens in India.

The recognition of the Persian Gardens as a world heritage site by UNESCO highlights the importance of preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Iran. These gardens are not only a testament to the ancient traditions and skills of Persian craftsmen but also a source of inspiration for contemporary landscape architects and designers.

22. The Persian Qanat


The Persian Qanat is an ingenious and ancient system of water management that has been utilized for over 3,000 years in Iran. Qanats are underground channels that tap into groundwater sources and transport water across great distances to the surface. They are a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of ancient Persian engineers, and continue to be used to this day for irrigation and domestic water supply.

The Qanat system is so important to Iranian culture and history that it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2016. The inscription recognized the outstanding universal value of the Qanats as a remarkable engineering achievement, as well as their contribution to the sustainable use of water resources in arid regions.

Qanats were first developed in the arid regions of Iran during the Persian Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BCE). Over the centuries, the technology spread across the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa, and was adapted to local conditions. In Iran alone, there are over 30,000 Qanats, with some still in use after 2,500 years.

The construction of a Qanat is a complex and labor-intensive process that requires skilled workers and careful planning. A Qanat starts with the identification of a reliable groundwater source, usually a mountain aquifer. A shaft is then dug down to the water table and a tunnel is excavated horizontally to intersect the aquifer. The tunnel is then extended downhill to the surface, usually over several kilometers.

23. Trans-Iranian Railway


The Trans-Iranian Railway, a remarkable feat of engineering, spans 1,394 kilometers, connecting the Persian Gulf in the southwest to the Caspian Sea in the northeast. Its construction, which began in 1927 and was completed in 1938, was a collaborative effort between the Iranian government and 43 construction contractors from various nations. Today, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its significance in the history of modern transportation and engineering.

The railway traverses two mountain ranges, rivers, highlands, forests, and plains, as well as four different climatic zones. Its construction was particularly challenging due to the rugged terrain, steep routes, and other obstacles, requiring extensive mountain cutting, the construction of 174 large bridges, 186 small bridges, and 224 tunnels, including 11 spiral tunnels. These engineering works are a testament to the skill and determination of the designers and builders who worked tirelessly to create this impressive infrastructure.

What makes the Trans-Iranian Railway unique is its funding model. Unlike many railway projects of its time, it was funded by national taxes rather than foreign investment, allowing for greater control over the project’s design and construction. This model helped ensure that the railway would serve Iran’s national interests and contribute to the country’s modernization efforts.

The railway’s significance extends beyond its engineering accomplishments. It also played a vital role in shaping Iran’s political and economic landscape during the 20th century. The railway facilitated trade and commerce, connecting Iran’s major ports and industrial centers. It also facilitated the movement of people and goods, contributing to the growth of urban centers and the spread of modernization throughout the country.

24. Cultural Landscape of Hawraman (Uramanat)


The rugged terrain of the Hawraman/Uramanat region in western Iran is a testament to the ancient culture of the Hawrami people, who have lived there since around 3000 BCE. This agropastoral Kurdish tribe has adapted to the challenging environment over thousands of years, developing unique features of their culture and way of life that are evident in the landscape.

The property comprises two valleys: the Central-Eastern Valley (Zhaverud and Takht, in Kurdistan Province) and the Western Valley (Lahun, in Kermanshah Province). The steep-slope planning and architecture, dry-stone terraced gardening, and seasonal vertical migration are among the distinctive features of the local culture and life of the semi-nomadic Hawrami people who dwell in lowlands and highlands during different seasons of each year.

Evidence of the Hawrami people’s continuous presence in the area can be seen in the stone tools, caves, rock shelters, mounds, remnants of permanent and temporary settlement sites, workshops, cemeteries, roads, villages, castles, and more. The 12 villages included in the property illustrate the Hawrami people’s evolving responses to the scarcity of productive land in their mountainous environment.

The Hawraman/Uramanat region is also characterized by exceptional biodiversity and endemism, with a variety of plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth. The landscape is a stunning mix of mountains, valleys, forests, and rivers, making it a unique and important area for conservation.

The property was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2021, recognizing the exceptional cultural and natural value of the Hawraman/Uramanat region. It provides a glimpse into the long history and rich cultural traditions of the Hawrami people, who have developed a unique way of life that has sustained them in the challenging environment of the Zagros Mountains for thousands of years. The designation also highlights the need for continued conservation efforts to preserve the exceptional biodiversity and endemism of the area.

25. Persian Caravanserai


As Iran historically is located between the main ancient civilizations, the historical roads are playing a critical role in Persian civilization. From the beginning of the history to the current time, the role of Iran as a bridge has encouraged the rulers and people to always care about roads and related structures as one of the main financial income resources. For example, Silk Roads is one of this long lasting corridors which played an important role in Persian Empire during the history. One of the famous Persian ancient road which known as Royal Road, during and after Achamenied period, which was connecting the main cities of Persian empire, there were several characteristic network of routes across the Iran that historically are well-known. The Silk Roads have connected civilizations and brought peoples and cultures into contact with each other from across the world for thousands of years, permitting not only an exchange of goods but an interaction of ideas and cultures that have shaped our world today. The historical roads have had several elements related to their functions. Bridges, Caravanserais, checkpoints, castles Bazaars and specifically caravanserais as a main element of historical road in Iran, were not only a simple place for travelers to rest and keeping safe their belongs, also were a meeting point for travelers, merchants, scientists, and many other scholars who wanted to exchange knowledge and ideas, as well as discover new civilizations.

The historic routes mostly were a network of trade routes across land and sea that spanned much of the globe from prehistoric times until the present day, along which people of many different cultures, religions and languages met, exchanged ideas and influenced each other.

The intactness, uniqueness and also the well adaptation with the environment using the vernacular material and technics, choosing the locations are the most significance of selected Caravanserais. From very simple one to the most luxury ones, Caravanserais are built for servicing to travelers and constructed in the middle of roads and far from any settlements. Although large numbers of the Caravanserais now a day are located in the cities and villages, but according to the studies, they were the start point of these settlements, cities and villages. it means that emerging of some cities and settlements beside the roads are because of Caravanserais.

Natural sites

26. Lut Desert


The Lut Desert, also known as Dasht-e Lut, is a vast expanse of desert covering an area of over 50,000 square kilometers in southeastern Iran. The region is characterized by its unique geological features, such as sand dunes, salt flats, and unusual rock formations. The Lut Desert is also one of the hottest and driest places on Earth, with temperatures reaching up to 70 degrees Celsius and an annual rainfall of less than 50 millimeters.

Despite its extreme conditions, the Lut Desert is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including several endemic species. The region is an important habitat for desert-adapted wildlife, such as Asiatic cheetahs, goitered gazelles, and sand cats.

The Lut Desert is not only a natural wonder but also a cultural treasure. The desert has been inhabited by various nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes for centuries, who have developed a unique way of life adapted to the harsh desert conditions. These traditional practices include camel breeding, weaving, and pottery making.

In 2016, the Lut Desert was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its exceptional natural beauty and cultural significance. The site is a testament to the resilience of life in extreme environments and the ingenuity of human adaptation.

27. Caspian Hyrcanian Mixed Forests


Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests are a unique natural treasure located along the southern shores of the Caspian Sea in Iran and Azerbaijan. This vast forest complex covers more than 1.8 million hectares and is home to an incredibly diverse array of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the region.

The Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests are characterized by their incredible biodiversity and the mix of temperate deciduous and semi-evergreen forests that make up the region. This ecosystem is one of the most important forest regions in the world and has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site since 2019.

The region is home to over 150 species of trees and plants, including several endangered species such as the Persian ironwood and the box-tree. The forests are also home to a range of wildlife, including the endangered Caspian tiger, the Caucasian leopard, and the Persian fallow deer. In addition, the forests are a critical habitat for migratory birds that travel along the Caspian Sea flyway.

The Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests have been inhabited by humans for thousands of years, and the region is also rich in cultural heritage. The forests are home to numerous archaeological sites, including ancient temples, fortifications, and settlements, dating back to the pre-Islamic era. The region has also been an important center for silk production and trade since ancient times.

Tentative List

The Tentative List of Iran World Heritage Sites represents potential future additions to this prestigious list. These sites, varying from ancient ruins to natural wonders, reflect Iran’s diverse cultural heritage and natural beauty.

NameLocationDate Added
1Serial Nomination of Tehrans’ Modern Architectural HeritageTehran2021
2Chega Sofla (Ritual Landscape of Chega Sofla)Isfahan2021
3Architecture of the historical settlements across the northern coasts of Persian Gulf (Siraf, Kong, Laft, Kish and Mokran)Various cities along the northern coasts of the Persian Gulf2021
4Cultural Landscape of Kong Historic PortHormozgan2021
5Long-lived trees of IranVarious locations across Iran2021
6Sheikh Ahmad-e Jām Khaneghah and Mausoleum Complex (Mazar-e Jām)Torbat-e Jam2021
7Monastery of St. Amenaprkich (New Julfa Vank)Isfahan2019
8Vali-e Asr StreetTehran2019
9Asbads (windmill) of IranVarious locations across Iran2017
10Natural-Historical Complex / Cave of KaraftooIran’s Kurdistan2017
11Imam Reza Holy ComplexMashhad2017
12Industrial Heritage of textile in the central Plateau of IranVarious cities in the central Plateau of Iran2017
13Salt Domes of IranVarious locations across Iran2017
14The Great Wall of GorganGorgan2017
15The Persian House in Central plateau of IranVarious cities in the central plateau of Iran2017
16University of TehranTehran2017
17Silk Route (Also as Silk Road)Various cities along the Silk Route in Iran2008
18The Natural-Historical Landscape of IzehIzeh2008
19The Zandiyeh Ensemble of Fars ProvinceShiraz2008
20Kerman Historical-Cultural StructureKerman2008
22The Collection of Historical BridgesVarious cities with historical bridges2008
23Touran Biosphere ReserveVarious locations within the Touran Biosphere Reserve2008
24Hamoun LakeSistan and Baluchestan Province2008
25Harra Protected AreaVarious locations within the Harra Protected Area2008
27Kuh-e KhuajaVarious locations with Kuh-e Khuaja2007
28Taq-e BostanKermanshah2007
29Persepolis and other relevant buildingsShiraz2007
30The Historical–Cultural Axis of Fin, Sialk, KashanKashan2007
31Historical Ensemble of Qasr-e ShirinQasr-e Shirin2007
32Historic Monument of KangavarKangavar2007
33The Historical City of MaybodMaybod2007
34The Historical Port of SirafBandar-e Siraf, Bushehr2007
35Bazaar of Qaisariye in LaarLaar2007
36The Historical Village of AbyanehAbyaneh2007
37Bastam and KharghanBastam and Kharghan2007
38The Historical Texture of DamghanDamghan2007
39The Cultural-Natural Landscape of RamsarRamsar2007
40Kaboud MosqueTabriz2007
41Tous Cultural LandscapeTous (near Mashhad)2007
42The Historical City of MasoulehMasouleh2007
43The Complex of IzadkhastIzadkhast2007
44Cultural Landscape of AlamoutAlamout2007
45ZozanVarious locations with Zozan2007
46Khorramabad ValleyKhorramabad2007
48Ghaznavi- Seljukian Axis in KhorasanVarious cities in Khorasan2007
49Qeshm IslandQeshm2007
50Arasbaran Protected AreaArasbaran2007
52Khabr National Park and Ruchun Wildlife RefugeVarious locations within the parks2007
53Alisadr CaveHamedan2007
54Jame’ (Congregational) Mosque of EsfahanIsfahan1997
55Historic ensemble of Qasr-e ShirinQasr-e Shirin1997
56Firuzabad EnsembleFiruzabad1997
58Nasqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e RajabMarvdasht (near Shiraz)1997
59Tape SialkKashan1997
Iran’s Tentative World Heritage Sites

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SURFIRAN Editorial Team

SURFIRAN is an Iranian tour operator and travel agency offering tour packages to those interested in Iran. It provides the tourists with services needed to travel to Iran, offers tours across the country, and assists the tourists in obtaining Iranian visas.

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