Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gor City

Gor City (شهر گور) is located 50 kilometers east of Meymand and 6 kilometers north of Firouzabad in Fars province. As Iran’s first round city it’s considered an ancient wonder. Historically the City is traced back to the Achaemenid Dynasty. Gor has a diameter of 2 kilometers and is surrounded by brick wall and a moat 50 meters across. The City had 4 entrances named Hormoz Gate (north), Ardeshir Gate (south), Mehr or Mithra Gate (east) and Bahram Gate (west). The City conatins an inner circle with a diameter of 450 meters which was separated from the rest of the city by a wall. The inner circle was for government buildings and homes of the upper class. 

At the center of the City a structure 30 meters high and spiral in design existed which is suspected that it was for safekeeping of burning fires. The city contains a number of historical relics such as motifs of a number of Sassanid Princes on the remains of a Castle dating back to the time of Ardeshir Babakan. Ardeshir Babakan is depicted receiving a royal ring from Ahura Mazda. Other regional historical remains in and around the City include a motif of Shapur I (victorious over the Roman Emperor Valerian), Dokhtar Castle, Ardeshir Castle and a number of fire temples. The City is also adorned with many other paintings and artifacts dating back to the Sassanid era. Even after approximately 2,000 years, many of the paintings of the city have retained their original unfaded colors. As recent as 2006 a number of graves of Sassanid Princes in tub like coffins accompanied by paintings were discovered. 

Gor was chosen by Ardeshir Babakan of the Sassanid Dynasty as the capital of their empire. In fact, and perhaps as a result, the City is also known as Khor Ardeshir. The round feature of the City and further renovations are attributed to the Parthian Dynasty although Ardeshir can be credited for repopulating it. During the Sassanid Period, Gor contained one of the largest libraries of the region containing many rare and priceless books. Its importance grew due to its strategic location of being on the commerce routes between China and India towards and Rome.  

The original Gor City was destroyed when Alexander the Great ordered the closing of a dam and the redirecting of the flow of water into the City and ultimately the City being flooded. . The resulting lake he created remained until Ardashir built a tunnel to drain it. Following the collapse of the City and its eventual takeover by the Arabs, it was renamed Jor City. The city's importance was revived again in the reign of Azud al Dowleh of the Daylamite dynasty, who used the city as his frequent residence. It is at this time that the old name of the city had come to mean grave. Azud al Dowleh found it distasteful to reside in a grave and the city's name was changed to Pirouzabad. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Tashkooh (تشکوه) is a mountain in Ramhormoz, Khuzestan on the way to Roodzard and past the village of Gonbad Loran. The mountain is known as Tashkooh, abbreviated from Atashkooh, named as a result of continuous burning slopes since ancient times.  

According to experts, the reason for its burning nature is the presence of sulfur beneath the mountain along with the ascending of natural gas from far below to the Earth’s surface in this particular location. Such gases, consisting of hydrocarbons, pass through the various layers of the earth and eventually break through the surface cracks, combusting on their way out. Such cracks operate exactly as fresh water springs would, except that rather than water they act as an outlet for fire.  

The flames caused as a result of this combustion give the area a very unique look and attracts many curious tourists, especially during the night. As a result of the rise, evaporation and ultimate burning of these gases, no other fire can be lit in the vicinity.  

The mountain is approximately 50 meters off of the main road and very visible for passersby, especially at night. Unfortunately for tourists interested in viewing this natural phenomenon there are no signs or brochures to lead them here and their only guide to Tashkooh’s whereabouts is assistance from the locals. For those interested in paying this site a visit, the best way to access it is to take the Ramhormoz road towards Izeh and follow the signs towards Abolfars. After passing a metal bridge, Tashkooh should be in sight on your left.  

Similar to Tashkooh and its jaw dropping features is another smaller mountain in Aghajari known as the Burnt Mountain. Flames protrude from amongst the Burnt Mountain’s rocks and boulders accompanied by black smoke. Perhaps as a result of this continuous smoke over the years, the mountain itself has taken a black color which sets it aside from its neighboring peaks. At the top of the Burnt Mountain is a noticeable crack, probably the result of past displacement of the Earth, and is the main exit for the gases and sight of the flames.