TEHRAN. Authorities at the UNESCO-listed Soltania, which maintains the world’s third-largest brick dome, have begun work to build or upgrade facilities at the ancient site.
Meaning “City of the Sultans”, Soltaniye was briefly the capital of the Persian Ilkhanid dynasty (a branch of the Mongol dynasty) in the 14th century. It is located in the Zanjan province in northwestern Iran.
The project aims to change tourist routes, landscaping, electrical equipment, air conditioners, worn bricks and tiles, to name just a few, the provincial tourism chief said on Sunday.
According to Amir Arjmand, the renovation of the access roads and facilities of this World Heritage Site is one of the priorities.
According to him, after the removal of restrictions due to the coronavirus, the number of visitors to the historical monument increased.
The massive dome is the earliest surviving example of its type and became an important reference point for the later development of the Islamic dome. Similarly, the extremely rich interior of the mausoleum, which includes glazed tiles, brickwork, marquetry or patterns in inlaid materials, stucco and frescoes, illustrates an important move towards more complex materials and themes.
The 14th-century building, which is also known as the Oljaytu Mausoleum, is highly regarded as an architectural masterpiece, especially for its innovative double dome and elaborate interior decoration. The very imposing dome stands about 50 meters high from the base.
Its interior has undergone several stages of restoration. However, its decoration is so impressive that scientists, including A.U. Pope described it as “an anticipation of the Taj Mahal”. This is the earliest existing example of a double dome in Iran.
According to UNESCO, the Oljaytu mausoleum is an important link and a key monument in the development of Islamic architecture in Central and Western Asia. Here the Ilkhanids developed ideas that were put forward during the classical Seljuk phase (11th-early 13th centuries), during which the art of Iran rose to prominence in the Islamic world, thus setting the stage for the Timurid period (late 14th-15th centuries). century), one of the brightest periods in Islamic art.
UNESCO reports: “Excavations carried out at the 790-hectare Oljaytu mausoleum have revealed additional remains of the old city, and much of this property has retained its archaeological character. As the ancient capital of the Ilkhanid Dynasty, Soltania represents an exceptional record of 13th and 14th century history in Iran.”
The great-grandson of Hulagu, the founder of the Il-Khanid dynasty, Oljaitu was a Mongol ruler who, having become acquainted with various religions, adopted the Shiite name Mohammed Khodabanda.