Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gonbad Kavoos Tower


The Gonbad Kavoos Tower is located in Gonbad Kavoos, the province of Golestan in Iran. It reaches 72 meters high (including the height of the platform) and is a majestic structure made of brick, with special technicalities and affects of art, related to the 4th century AH. . While it is not the world's tallest brick tower (it is shorter than the St. Martin's Church in Landshut, Germany and Church of Our Lady, Bruges in Bruges, Belgium and Qutb Minar in Delhi, India) but it is still the world's tallest pure-brick tower. This structure which is located on a hillock amidst the grand park of Gonbad Kavoos city, is the tomb of Shams al-Ma’ali Qaboos ibne Voshmgir Ziyari.


The Tower is an enormous cylinder capped by a conical roof. The circular plan, broken by 10 flanges, is 17 meters in diameter, and with 3 meter thick walls. It is a fortified building, constructed by strong elements, and consists of beautiful ornamental works in proportionate lines adorned with harmony. The said structure consists of three parts - foundation, the main building and the dome which is conical (reaching a height of 18 meters), rising to an elevation of 55 meters. The actual structure rests on a round base, 2 m of which is above the ground, and the rest lies as an underground base. The Tower was built on such a scientific and mathematical design that at the front of the Tower, at an external circle, one can hear one's reflected echo.


Built in 1006 AD upon the orders of the Ziyarid Amir Shams al-Ma’ali Qabus ibn Voshmgir it is located 3 kilometers north of the ancient city of Gorgan, from where the Ziyarid dynasty ruled. Legend has it that the Sultan's body was put in a glass coffin and was suspended from the ceiling of the tower.


A Kufic inscription at the bottom of the tower reads: "This great monument, was built for Amir Shams al-Ma'ali, Amir Qabus ibn Voshmgir, by his command, during his life, in the year 397 of the lunar calendar, and year 375 of the solar calendar." The inscription verifies that the tower was built as a tomb for the named Ziyarid ruler.


The tower is artistically designed with ten triangular patterns at regular intervals. Two simple epigraphs in the cuneiform embossment script can be observed on the construction dating to 397 AH. The tower has been constructed of red brick, but this color has changed to a golden yellow, under effect of sun rays. Vaulted arches can be noted at the entrance of the tower and the interiors contain the earliest examples of Mugharnas decorative styles


Gonbad Kavoos Tower was registered as an Iranian national cultural heritage site in 1931. Today the restoration of the dome is an urgent matter, with humidity threatening many parts of the building. By 2007 much had been done in a general cleanup of the Tower which included cleaning the area from natural moss and cleaning bird waste off of the walls.


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