Friday, December 25, 2009

Chehel Dokhtar Tower

The Chehel Dokhtar Tower (برج چهل دختر) is located in the Hakim Elahi Avenue of Semnan, sandwiched between the neighborhoods of Kooshmoghan and Zavghan. The people of Semnan believe that 40 girls who were recluses constructed this tower with sun baked bricks and clay. Its construction dates back to the pre-Islamic era. Considering the Zoroastrian roots of the names of its surrounding areas (kooshak'e moghan and zavieh moghan) it’s safe to assume that at some point the Tower was a Fire Temple.  

This tower is octagonal and has an elevation of 10-12 meters and the thickness of its walls is approximately 50-60 centimeters. Each of the eight sides measure 4.5 meters on the outside and 2.80 meters on the inside of the Tower. On the top of each sidewall of the structure are curved arcs with a pointed sharp vertex. The roof is open although it is not clear if there ever was a covered roof to begin with.  

The local belief is that the Tower assists young girls in finding their future husband. Girls will enter the Tower and attempt to throw three to seven rocks to the outside. If they succeed in having all of the rocks land outside of the Tower it indicates that they will get married within the year. Failure to achieve this means the girl must wait another year.  

Due to the expansion of the city the said tower is now located in the midst of a playground of a school. Its northern side is in line with the school’s surrounding wall while the remainder of it is actually in the school. Its renovated areas have not been afforded the same care and detail as the original structure. The Tower is now surrounded by pavement while its main entrance has also been covered up by bricks. 


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