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Soltaniyeh Dome, A Structural Wonder

A Iran is a large country with a history and civilization of more than thousands of years. Throughout history, it has seen many rulers and has witnessed many wars and bravery. Therefore, many cities in Iran have been the capital of rulers and kings in different periods.

Zanjan is one of the cities that was once the capital of the Mongol rulers, ie the Ilkhanid dynasty. Uljaitu is one of the Mongol rulers who ruled Zanjan and changed his name to Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh after converting to Islam. The Soltaniyeh Dome, built by his order, is one of the largest brick and double-walled domes in the world. It is the third tallest dome in the world after the Church of Santa Maria in Italy and the Hagia Sophia in Turkey.

One of the wonders of this building is the near 1600-ton weight of this dome, which after 700 years of its life has not been harmed and has sat only about 8 cm.

The dome of Soltaniyeh is a unique and surprising building in every way, but apparently, it was inspired by the tomb of Sultan Sanjar in Merv, with the difference that the tomb of Sultan Sanjar is square, while Soltaniyeh has 8 sides. The dome was so famous in its time that 100 years after its construction, the dome of the church of Santa Maria del Fiore Florence was inspired by it.

Soltaniyeh Dome, Zanjan
Soltaniyeh Dome, Zanjan – by Kees de Haan

History of the Dome

The dome of Soltaniyeh was built by order of Mohammad Sultan Khodabandeh, the Mongol ruler of Zanjan. The construction of this dome began in 702 or 703 and continued until 712 AH, and Khajeh Rashid al-Din Fazlullah Hamedani was in charge of supervising its construction.

Sultan Muhammad built this building as his tomb before he converted to Islam. This building was used as the tomb of Sultan Mohammad. After the death of Sultan Mohammad, the city of Zanjan was no longer the capital of the Ilkhans, but the unique architecture of this octagonal and turquoise dome made them travel to the city of Soltaniyeh from all over Iran and the world.

The Architecture of the Soltaniyeh Dome

This octagonal dome is one of the masterpieces of Iranian and Islamic architecture. The dome of this building is 54 meters high and 25 meters in diameter and shines from a distance like a turquoise jewel in a green plain.

Some say that its minarets are meant to be able to say the call to prayer from all sides of the dome, but others believe that these minarets were built to prevent damage to the building and the dome during an earthquake. The main color in the decoration of the building is blue, which can be seen from pale and sky blue to turquoise and even garlic green in its entirety. The building has 3 entrances that are now blocked in the main. It also connects 8 spiral staircases. Above the four main porches of the building, there are four large windows.

Magnificent double-walled domes, artistic tiles, delicate arches, and plasterwork with hand-painted gold and turquoise colors have made the architecture of this historical monument known in the world, and many tourists from all over the world come to Soltaniyeh to see it.

Interior Design of Soltaniyeh Dome
Interior Design of Soltaniyeh Dome – by Sue Fleckney

The building has been restored several times in different periods, in the Safavid and Qajar periods, repairs have been done on it, but the basic restoration of the dome has been underway for several years. Inside the space of the dome and below it, for 35 years, scaffolding has been seen, which was installed by the Italian dome restoration team, and it still exists there without any fundamental change in the restoration. Soltanieh dome was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005. Outside the dome, there is a small museum with photographs and objects to visit.

The first floor and the ground floor of Soltanieh dome have a rectangular space and the second and third floors of this building have an octagonal space, each side of which is 17 meters long. On the other hand, some say that this building was built in the shape of an octagon inspired by the eight in heaven.

The three main parts of the Soltaniyeh Dome

1. Torbat Khaneh is located on the south side of Soltaniyeh Dome, where the body of Imam Ali and his son was supposed to be buried. But after this was not done, the king decided to transfer the land of Najaf and Karbala to the city of Soltaniyeh to be used in the construction of part of the building. The golden and patterned tiles, which are mainly used in the shape of octagons in this building, have added to the astonishment, extraordinariness, and uniqueness of this architectural building. The area of Torbat Khaneh is 17 meters long, 8 meters wide, and 16 meters high.

2. Below Torbat Khaneh, there is a side space for the dome of Soltanieh, which is called the crypt. According to the traditions of their ancestors and following the beliefs and rituals of their ancestors, the Ilkhanids buried the dead in underground crypt tombs and placed tools and ornaments according to the social status of each person.

3. The main and large part of the Soltaniyeh Dome, which is known as the dome of the house, is about 50 meters high and its diameter is about 26 meters. This dome, which is the first example of double-walled or double-walled domes in the world, is 160 cm thick and the distance between its two shells is 60 cm. The dual wall of this dome has been a reason for the intelligence of architects in relation to the static problems of the structure and showing the hollow space between the building for earthquake resistance.

In the space of the dome, there are 8 piers or heavy walls with a width of 8 meters, which transfers the weight of the dome to the foundations and foundations of the building and the cross-section of the building. It is interesting to know that about 200 tons of load are applied to each of these walls.

Ceiling in Soltaniyeh Dome
Ceiling in Soltaniyeh Dome – by Simon & Andrew

We are very proud and pleased that this dome is the largest brick dome in the world and as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, is located in Iran. Preservation of this extraordinary world heritage over time requires the continuation of scientific standards and the protection of this monument during the implementation of conservation and reconstruction projects.

If you are going to Zanjan, it is good to consider the distance to Soltaniyeh so that you do not miss seeing this dome and its walls. Also, you can visit this magnificent structure (among many other ones) by choosing an Iran tour package that you can find below. Or you can easily make your own desired Iran tour package by filling out this form, and our travel experts will get in touch with you shortly!


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