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Gonbad-e Qabus Tower; Pride of Golestan Province

Above the earthen hills and on the green zone of Golestan province, lies an imposing khaki building that astonishes the eyes of every passer-by. Gonbad-e Qabus Tower, situated near Gonbad-e Kavus city, is the only surviving structure of the destroyed city of Jorjan.

Famed as the highest pure-brick tower in the world, Gonbad-e Qabus is the reminiscence of the magnificence of Qabus Ibn Voshmgir’s reign, during the Ziyarid dynasty. The world honors the Gonbad-e Qabus Tower as the best work in the history of human engineering with its 53-meter height. Due to this fact, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012. Let’s go up the green hill, overlooking the city, to get more acquainted with this regal structure and its surroundings.

Gonbad-e Qabus Tower
Gonbad-e Qabus – by Lucas KT

The Path towards the Gonbad-e Qabus Tower

In the 4th century AH, by the command of Qabus Ibn Voshmgir, architects decided to build Gonbad-e Qabus Tower on a hill about 17 meters high near the city of Gonbad-e Kavus. Therefore, to reach the tower and visit it in detail, you need to climb several stairs. While climbing, you have the opportunity to watch the historical pictures of the tower through the years on the left side of the stairs.

After standing on the green hill, glance over your surroundings, where the beautiful city of Gonbad-e Kavus lays under your feet and the tower stands firmly behind you. In this situation, you are standing in a circular area in front of the Gonbad-e Qabus Tower that has a wonderful feature.

In case you stand in the center, your voice will be echoed surprisingly. Due to this feature, it is a common scene that some people be there singing and make your visit more enjoyable.

Gonbad Qabus Tower, A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Gonbad-e Qabus – by David J. Patten

The Architecture of Gonbad-e Qabus Tower

Turn to the Gonbad-e Qabus Tower, which constitutes a conical brick roof, serving as a top, and a hollow tapering cylinder. This cylindrical shaft, with its decagon shape, indicates the improvement of mathematics, science, and art of the Muslim world at the 1st millennium AD. By the use of pure unglazed fired bricks, Gonbad-e Qabus has no unique decoration to amaze you.

Gonbad Qabus, A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Gonbad Qabus – by David J. Patten

Considering the strength of the monument, as the priority in its construction, criteria such as decoration and adornment have received less attention. However, the simplicity, height, and greatness of this tower are enough to absorb you completely. Additionally, on the surface of the brick wall, you can see calligraphic inscriptions in Kufic script, that commemorate the time of construction of Gonbad-e Qabus and the burial of Qabus Ibn Voshmgir in this magnificent tower.

Gonbad Qabus, A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Gonbad-e Qabus – by David J. Patten

Art seekers and those who are interested in the history of Iranian art won’t also return empty-handed. At the entrance of this tower, the epitomes of Muqarnas, which are among the first examples in the history of Iran, welcome you warmly to the fearful inner part.

Inside the Gonbad-e Qabus Tower

Suchlike the simple façade of this adorable tower, you won’t see any decorations inside, except for a plaster covering on its walls. Inside this dark monument, which may fill you with fear, look up to see the blue sky through the hole above your head and find the rays of bright light.

In the case of speaking inside the tower, the sound is appealingly echoed. This feature is enough for some singers to sing beautifully in the tower, where the reflection of their voice makes the body tremble. As mentioned earlier, nowadays singers delicately sing in the circular area outside the monument, which has the same feature of echoing.

Inside of Gonbad Qabus Tower
Inside the Gonbad-e Qabus – by Lucas KT

Functions of Gonbad-e Qaboos Tower

Visiting historical attractions is pleasurable for many people. Now, imagine that this attraction is replete with legends and mysteries. It is then that you can no longer ignore and pass by it easily. Gonbad-e Qaboos is one of these attractions that welcomes its guests and visitors with a concoction of wonder and mystery.

Gonbad-e Qaboos Tower, also known as Mil-e Gonbad, functioned as a road guide for travelers. In general, mils refer to buildings with simple appearance and without special decorations, which were the signs of urban texture in the caravan route. At nights, they lit the fire at the top to guide the passengers. Accordingly, experts consider Gonbad-e Qabus as a mil that hosted a fire at the top that never extinguished. Therefore, it prevented the possible loss of travelers in the Gorgan Plain, and was a symbol for the ancient city of Jorjan, as well.

Moreover, there is some evidence in history books that raises the possibility of using Gonbad-e Qabus for astronomical purposes such as an observatory, owing to its height and geometric shape. There is another theory that states the possibility of building this tower as a tomb for Qaboos Ibn Voshmgir. Though, during several excavations, the body of Qaboos Ibn Voshmigir was never found. Anyway, during your visit to this magnificent tower, you may hear different stories about this monument. Thus, flip through its history, and enjoy your visit.

Gonbad Qabus, Golestan, Iran
Gonbad-e Qabus – by David J. Patten

Moreover, you can take a walk in the small park next to the tower, wear local Turkmen clothes, and take beautiful pictures to share with your friends. If these traditional and colorful clothes fascinate you well, you can buy Turkmen scarves from the surrounding shops and take them home as souvenirs from Golestan. Besides, you can take a trip to the colorful fabric of the traditions by visiting the Turkmen Carpet Museum, which is located in proximity to the tower.

On the other hand, local people prefer to watch the sunset from this green hill. So, as Rachel Boston said “there’s nothing like a beautiful sunset to end a healthy day”, I would change it a bit to say there’s nothing like a beautiful sunset to end your enjoyable visit. Thus, visiting Gonbad-e Qabus Tower is a must in your trip to Iran, not only for its historical importance but also for experiencing Turkmen’s culture and traditions.

So, if you are thinking about visiting Iran and visiting this splendid monument, you can find Gonbad-e Qabus on our Iran tour packages or you can simply tailor-make your desired tour to Iran.

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