No trip to Iran would be complete without visiting some of the historical and desert towns of central Iran located in Isfahan Province, like the historic city of Naein, Meybod, and also the ancient city of Ardestan. Apart from the natural wonders of the central deserts of Iran like the picturesque landscapes of desert dunes, and their starry night sky at night, which you enjoy while visiting the Mesr Desert, Varzaneh Desert, etc., you will get amazed by the rich culture and the wonderful architecture of desert towns and their ancient history. The ancient Ardestan Town is one of the must–see towns that you should visit while you visit Iran.
Ardestan Town: Introduction
Ardestan Town is located in the north of Isfahan Province and in the south of the Salt Desert. Ardestan Town meets Semnan Province and Garmsar Town on the north, Kashan city on the west, and the historical city of Naein Town on the south, and the distance between this town and Isfahan city is 118 kilometers. So, besides its amazing attractions, being easily reachable from tourist cities like Kashan, Isfahan, and Yazd, makes Ardestan so worth visiting for history lovers. Ardestan Town has an altitude of about 1200 meters above sea level and has a warm and arid climate with very high temperatures during summer Karkas mountains are scattered in the south of the city.
The History of Ardestan Town
Based on Iranian myths and legends, Ardestan town was the birthplace of Kaveh the Blacksmith a 5000-year-old mythical character of Shahnameh, known for an uprising against Zahak. The historical Kaveh Garden of Kaboudan district is assigned to this heroic character and the two-story Qanat of Moun which is one of the most amazing samples of water engineering and was a vital construction in the life of people living in the desert, is believed to be constructed by him. Also, the construction of another Qanat named Arvaneh which provides the required water for agriculture in 5 different districts, is assigned to Arvan Shah, the first king of the legendary Pishdadian Dynasty.
Before Islam arrived in Iran and reached Ardestan, this town had many Zoroastrian fire temples like the famous Mehr Ardeshir fire temple, which was known as a strong city with a tower and 5 gates. During the fourth Hijri century Estakhri, the famous Iranian historian and cartographer, described Ardestan as a great and resilient city with a glorious Jaame Mosque, where people produced silk textiles and exported them to other countries. During the Buyid Dynasty, this city and Natanz were one governmental center ruled by Deylamian governors.
The historical place to visit in Ardestan Town
Ardestan Jaame Mosque
The Ardestan Jaame mosque which is one of the most significant four-ivani mosques of Iran, and one of the oldest ones, is located in the center of the Mahal district of Ardestan town and was constructed during the third Hijri Ghamari century over the remains of a Zoroastrian fire temple, like some other historical mosques in Iran, like the Jaame Atiq Mosque of Shiraz, and the Tarikhaneh Mosque of Damghan.
Some parts of the fire temple are still available in this Jaame Mosque. Ardestan Jaame Mosque was built based on Arabian mosques and is part of a collection of wonderful city constructions including a religious school, water cistern, bazaar, bathhouse, and city’s fortress. This mosque which was renovated many times during Buyid Dynasty is characterized by its unique feature of not having turquoise tiles and is fully made with clay adobes and bricks, and being the very first two-story mosque that was built in Iran during the Islamic era.
Qanat or aqueduct is a UNESCO listed and a genius invention of Iranians, that is a chain of underground water wells that transfer water from fountains to cities with an arid climate. The Moon Qanat is one of the most amazing Qanats of Iran and is located in one of the oldest districts of Ardestan town. Moon Qanat is a two-story construction with 800 years of antiquity.
This Qanat is 305 to 4 kilometers long with 30 water wells along its route, and the amazing fact that makes it wonderful is that the main water is 30 meters deep. Some historians believe that this Qanat was built during the Sassanid era, and some others say that it was built as a charity during the Islamic era. but what matters more is that this Qanat is still operating as it did on the first day, and the water transferred through the wells is fresh and cool.
Mehr Ardeshir Fire Temple of Ardestan
Islam entered Iran, and Zoroastrianism was the main religion in Iran, however, there is still a big population of Zoroastrians in Iran, especially in Yazd and Kerman. The central regions of Iran are home to heritages left from Zoroastrianism in Iran like fire temples. One of the most important fire temples in Iran is the Mehr Ardeshir Fire Temple of Ardestan that dates back to the Sassanid era and was built by the order of Bahman the son of Ardeshir, the king of the Sassanid Dynasty. Visiting this fire temple needs trekking to the top of a hill.
The brick-made bazaar of Zavareh is another attraction that you should visit around Ardestan. This historical bazaar was built during Seljuk Dynasty and is about 200 meters long with a conic roof. This bazaar is today abandoned however it is available for the visit.