Damghan is a historical town in Semnan Province in northern Iran. This city lies at an elevation of 1200 meters above sea level on the southeast of the Alborz Mountain range and on a vast plain. Today, Damghan town is famous for its pistachio nuts production. According to the last census, the population of this town is about 59,106 and the locals speak with different accents close to neighboring regions like Khurasan, Mazandaran, and Shahrud, and the people are known as the inheritors of Persian literature and culture.
Because of harsh winds from the north of the town that blow from Gorgan and Mazandaran provinces, this city had cold winters however the summers are hot and dry.
Damghan is considered as one of the oldest cities of the Iranian plateau which its history dates back to 7,000 years ago and possess many historic sites. The oldest identified historical place of Damghan is the Tape Hesar which is believed to be related to the prehistoric era and was inhabited until Sassanid Period according to the archeological excavations. Also, the city of Damghan was chosen as the capital of the Parthians Empire and it was called Hecatompylos and today its ruins lie on the southwest of the town. Damghan reached its zenith during the early Islamic period when one of the first mosques of Iran named Tarikhaneh was built in this city, and also much treasure has survived from the Seljuk period in Damghan. Damghan was an important town and capital of the medieval province of Qumis but was destroyed by Afghans in 1723.
The Tarikhaneh Mosque or Tarikhaneh Damghan (meaning: House of God) is believed to be one of the first mosques built in Iran after Islam entered Iran and also the oldest existing mosque in the country. This monument is built based on the simple Arabic architecture of first Islamic mosques and is based on the remains of a Sassanid fire temple. This includes a central courtyard surrounded with roofed corridors with circular columns, a single iwan on the qibla side, and the Shabistan of the mosque which has 18 circular thick columns making it similar to Sassanid palaces. A cylindrical minaret was added to this amazing and visit-worthy mosque during the Seljuk period (1060-1307).
Because being the birth place of Fath Ali Shah the Qajar King, this king was interested in the city of Damghan and therefore he ordered the construction of a small mosque and a mansion named Cheshmeh Ali. This mansion is located by two lakes that are filled by the water of a river and are praised and considered sacred among the people and the king.
Situated on the southern outskirts of Damghan, Tape Hesar is one of the world’s five archaeological hills of the Iron Age, and the hill is also considered as of the oldest prehistorical sites in the Iranian plateau. “The hill dates back to 7,500 years ago and it has three main cultural periods from the late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age.” Identified in 1880, Tape Hesar was excavated in 1925 and 1931-1932 when the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway cuts through the main mound.