Semnan is the capital and the most populous city of Semnan Province which lies 1,138 meters above sea level on a large plain at the southern foot of the Alborz Mountain and is located 216 kilometers east of Tehran in north-central Iran, on the route of Tehran- Mashhad railway. This historical city is home to many historical architectural heritages from mosques to caravanserais and fortresses and is a visit-worthy destination in Iran.
The history of Semnan dates back to the Achaemenid Period (550-330 B.C) but it became an important region during the Parthian Empire (230 B.C -226 AD) when they chose Hecatompyloce as their capital, the ruins of which are located in an area between modern Semnan and Damghan town. The city kept its importance during Sassanid Empire (226-651 AD) and most of its people were converted to Zoroastrianism, the state religion of the Sassanid Empire. After the conquest of Iran by the Moslem Arabs, the people of Semnan changed their religion to Islam. Most of the city’s historical monuments were built during the Seljuk Empire, however, most of the parts of the city were destroyed and burnt to the ground during the invasion of the Mongols and it was not renovated until the rise of the Safavid dynasty in 1501. During the Qajar Period (founded 1789) the city was economically and culturally developed, and then the city was developed in terms of industries during the Pahlavi era.
Located 1130 meters above sea level on the foothills of the southern flank of the Alborz Mountain Range, Semnan has a hot desert climate with very light precipitation (Mostly from December to May) unlike the northern side of the Alburz Mountains which is covered with forests and receives so much precipitation. During winter which lasts about two months in a year, the weather in Semnan is dry and cold, and the temperature falls below freezing during nights. Spring, which is the best time of year for visiting Semnan, is characterized by mild to warm day temperatures and cold to cool nights, and summers in Semnan are often hot during the day and mildly warm at night. Summer months remain extremely dry, while, fall is mostly a transitional season.
Semnan Jame mosque (Friday Mosque) was constructed in the early Islamic period on the ruins of an ancient fire temple related to Zoroastrianism which was the main religion in Iran before the entrance of Islam. The mosque was developed during Seljuk Period (founded in 1037) and the minarets of the mosque which are still standing were built during that era. The Semnan Jaame mosque was severely damaged after the invasion of Mongols, however, It was restored during the Ilkhanate and Timurid dynasties, and it is today one of the main attractions of the city.
Imam mosque or Masjed-e Soltani of Semnan is a 19th-century mosque in Semnan which was constructed during the reign of King Fath- Ali Shah of the Qajar Dynasty based on a typical four Ivan plan. The western Ivan or porch with the height of 19.5 m is the largest Ivan of the Mosque. The Imam Mosque of Semnan is adorned with beautiful tile works and calligraphies.
Rig-e Jenn is one of the most stunning and adventurous deserts of Iran located between Isfahan and Semnan in the heart of Dasht-e Kavir. This vast desert is known for its amazing sand dunes and its mysterious atmosphere because of tales told about evil spirits living there.