Qazvin has been called the old city "Arsas" or "Arsasia" in the ancient writings of Europe, "Razhya" in the Greek histories and "Ardia" in the era of Ashkanian. Moreover, the Sasanians have called it "kashvin". Some people called it "Qasvin" or the city where people are strong and firm and some historians called it "kaspian" because kapest tribes were migrated from the vicinity of Mazandaran Sea to the plains of Qazvin, lived with the native tribes and others have gone to the center of Iran. Therefore, Khazar Sea is known to Bahr Al-Qazvin or Qazvin Sea.

Historical background

Qazvin is related to Median era, ninth century BC based on historical documents. At that time, south and south west mountainous parts of Qazvin were regarded as Median territories which were invaded by different nations including Ashur and Kasiha. Buin Zahra which is located in the south of Qazvin was the habitat of human communities in the fourth and fifth Millennium BC.

Original buildings of Qazvin are attributed to Shapur Zolektefaf. Shapur founded Qazvin, made forts, conducted defenses and placed his armies there in order to avoid invasion. Over time, Shapur military base was developed and the kernel of Qazvin was created. The location of the city was very important as a passageway of Tabarestan and Mazandaran (Khazar) sea. After Arab's attacks to Iran and the beginning of Islamic conquest era, Bara Ibn Azeb, Arab's famous commander, blockaded Qazvin. In Islamic era, Qazvin was changed into a base of the next operations of Arab's armies. In 192 Hijri "Harun Al-Rashid" came to Qazvin, developed the city and built Jame Mosque.

Naser Khosro Qobadiani has been described Qazvin as follows in his travelogue in 438 Hijri:

“…there were plenty of gardens, without any wall and barrier to enter there and I saw Qazvin as a pleasant city with good Bazaars but the water was little and the head of city was Alavid”.

From the end of fifth century until the attack of Holaku to Sma'ilian castles, Qazvin was affected by the events that were related to Sma'ilian movements including Hassan Sabbah and his deputies. Several buildings and monuments were erected by choosing Qazvin as the capital in Safavid era and during Shah Tahmasb kingship.

Tehran was chosen as the capital in the Qajar era because it was considerably important by being on the Tehran road to Europe and Russia.

Some Facts about Qazvin

- Qazvin was selected as the capital of the Safavid era following the numerous historical challenges during the time of Shah Tahmasb. Moreover, it has been the capital of Iran for 50 to 57 years.

- Qazvin has a climate of both high altitude and vast plains. Therefore, the weather is relatively cool and cold and the humidity is low. The average temperature of Qazvin in warm days is 31 ° C and the average temperature in cold days is - 2° C.

- There are 20 cities in Qazvin Province and Qazvin is located in the center of the province.

- Qazvin has a population of about 600 thousand people.

- The first railway line reached Qazvin in 1939 AD.

- Today, Qazvin is considered as one of the industrialized and developed areas in Iran. The first industrial city of the country was built in 1967 named "Alborz". Major copper, lead, zinc and gypsum are among the exploited mines in this area.

- Qazvin has long been a cradle of cultivating the calligraphers of the Country. This has led Qazvin to be called the "Capital of Calligraphy” of Iran". There are major calligraphy events in this City each year in addition to the permanent Museum of Calligraphy in Qazvin.

- Many historical mansions and monuments can be found in Qazvin. The "Chehelsotun Palace" (the only palace left from Safavid era), the "Sepahdar Garden" and the municipality are considered as historical monuments of Qazvin.

- Qazvin can be considered as the "city of water reservoirs". Due to the geographical location, hundreds cisterns are built in this area. The world's largest single-horned water reservoir named "Sardar Bozorg" is located in Qazvin in the 12th century.

- Sepah Street is the first Iranian designed street which was constructed during Shah Tahmasb Safavid era and was paved in Reza Shah's period in 1967 and became a modern street. In 2008, it became the first modern Iranian street.

- Qazvin has some castles in its suburbs. Alamut is in the northeast of Qazvin. This area is considered as Qazvin's tourist area by its beautiful and historical nature.

- Qazvin has the most historical monuments (more than 1300) in the country and it is famous for the paradise of various architectural styles in Iran.

- Qazvin Province is one of the largest suppliers of food productions and agriculture to the capital and is ranked among the five provinces that bring the most wealth through production to the country's treasury. In one word, Qazvin is one of the richest provinces in the country.

Qazvin, is located in north-central Iran in a wide, fertile plain at the southern foot of the Alburz Mountains. Located in 150 km (93 mi) northwest of Tehran, in the Qazvin Province, it is at an altitude of about 1,800 m (5,900 ft) above sea level. The climate is cold but dry, due to its position south of the rugged Alborz range called KTS Atabakiya.

Agha Moḥammed Khan of the Qajar dynasty established Qazvin about 1796 as a major base for foreign trade with the Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf, and Asia Minor. Luxury goods, Chinese raw silk and Indian goods such as jewels, aromas, opium, and spices delivered were the products mostly delivered to Qazvin. The city is a regional communications centre, connected by road and rail with Tehran and Tabriz and by road with the Caspian Sea and Hamadan.

Qazvin is the largest city and capital of the Province of Qazvin in Iran. Qazvin was a medieval capital in the Safavid dynasty and nowadays is known as the calligraphy capital of Iran. It is famous for its Baghlava, carpet patterns, poets, political newspaper.

The city was a capital of the Persian Empire under Safavids in 1548-1598.

It is a provincial capital today that has been an important cultural center throughout history.

Archeological findings in the Qazvin plain reveal urban agricultural settlements for at least nine millennia. Qazvin geographically connects Tehran, Isfahan, and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian seacoast and Asia Minor. Hence, it has been a strategic location throughout the ages.

In the 19th century Qazvin flourished as a center of trade because the only all-year accessible road from the Caspian Sea to the Highland started here and with enhanced traffic on the Caspian Sea the trade volume grew. Its bazaars were enlarged. Qazvin became a state in 1996.

Main Sights

Qazvin contains several archeological excavations. In the middle of the city lie the ruins of Meimoon Ghal'eh, one of several Sassanid edifices in the area.

Qazvin contains several buildings from the Safavid era, dating to the period in which it was capital of Persia. Perhaps, the most famous of the surviving edifices is the Chehelsotoun, which is a museum in center of Qazvin, today.

  • Jame' Atiq Mosque of Qazvin
  • Heydarieh Mosque
  • Masjed Al-nabi (Soltani Mosque): With an area of 14000 m2, this mosque is one of the most glorious mosques of antiquity, built in the Safavieh's monarchy era.
  • Sanjideh Mosque: Another mosque of Qazvin dating back to pre-Islamic Iran; a former fire temple. Its present-day form is attributed to the Seljukian era.
  • Panjeh Ali Mosque: A former place of worship for royal harem members in the Safavid period.
  • Peighambarieh School-Mosque: Founded in 1644 according to the inscription.
  • Peighambarieh Shrine: Where four Jewish saints who foretold the coming of Christ, are buried.
  • Molla Verdikhani School-Mosque: Founded in 1648.
  • Salehieh Madrasa and Mosque: Founded in 1817 by Mulla Muhammad Salih Baraghani.
  • Sheikhol Islam School-Mosque: Renovated in 1903.
  • Eltefatieh School: Dating back to the Il-Khanid period.
  • Sardar School- Mosque: Made by two brothers Hossein Khan and Hassan Khan Sardar in 1815, as a fulfillment of their promise if they came back victorious from a battle against the Russians.
  • Emamzadeh Hosein Shrine; a c.15C CE shrine to a c.9C CE Shiite saint.
  • Aminiha Hosseiniyeh

Churches and Russian architecture

Qazvin actually contains three buildings built by the Russians in the late 19th/early 20th century. Among these is the current Mayor's office (former Ballet Hall), a water reservoir, and the Cantor church where a Russian pilot is buried.

According to explorers Pietro Della Valle, Jean Baptist Tavenier, Johannes Chardin, and others, there have been many Christians of various sects living in Qazvin for centuries. Qazvin is the location of the Saint Hripsime church, and it is also where four Jewish prophets gave tidings of the arrival of Jesus Christ. Their tomb is now a popular shrine called Peighambariyeh

Castles and forts

These are castles and fortifications left over mostly from the Isma'ili movement of the Middle Ages:

  • Alamout Castle
  • Lambesar Castle
  • Shirkouh Castle
  • Qez Qaleh Castle
  • Shemiran Castle
  • Meimoon Ghal'eh
  • Barajin Qaleh

Cultural Landscape of Alamout

Hassan Sabah's castle has been located in northeastern side of Gazor Khan Village in the environs of Mo'alem Kalayeh, from the environs of Roudbar of Alamout. The relics of castle stand on the cliff of Kanglou-Marazi along with valleys and horrible precipices. The height of this cliff is 220 meters and 2163 meters above the sea level. It is located on the southwestern foothills of Houdkan Mountains, of Alborz Moutains. According to Ata Malak Joveyni, the 7th century historian, this tall cliff from the northeastern side is like a sleeping camel. According to Frya Stark, its upper side looks like a ship that its nose has been extended northwesterly. The relics of walls, towers and lookout posts have been made of stones with gypsum as binding material. The castle is ten thousand square meter in area. The requisite buildings have been constructed on different levels of the steep cliff. All levels and steep places have been optimally utilized.



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