Mil-e Gonbad

Top choice in Iran

A Unesco World Heritage site since 2012, this 53m tower in Gonbad's centre looks like a buttressed-brick spaceship with the cross-section of a 10-pointed star. Built in 1006, it's so remarkably well preserved that one can scarcely believe it’s a hundred years old, let alone over a thousand. Paying the entrance fee means you can listen to echoes in the bare interior and, even more spookily, from the marked circular spot some 40 paces in front of the tower.

It was created for poet-artist-prince Qabus ibn Vashmgir (Kavus), the Zeyarid ruler of surrounding Tabarestan who was assassinated just six years after the tower was completed. His glass coffin originally hung from the tower’s dome, but it vanished long ago.

For IR20,000, photographers outside the entry gate will dress you in sheepy Turkmen hats and colourful robes for a souvenir tourist snap.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Iran attractions

1. Carpet Museum

0.05 MILES

This well-presented but very small museum exhibits seventeen 20th-century Turkmen carpets, labelled with dates of production and styles. There are also a…

2. Imamzadeh-ye Yahya


This large, ornate imamzadeh lies 4km southwest of central Gonbad-e Kavus. To the complex's direct west is a ragged area of wasteland that, viewed from…

3. Great Wall Fort #6

13.3 MILES

Of the dozen or so amorphous remains of the former forts that was once used to guard the Sadd-e Eskander wall, this is one of the best preserved. It's 4km…

4. Haji Qoshan

15.66 MILES

Locally known for being a former home of Turkmenistan's 'national poet' Makhtumkuli, the visually forgettable village of Haji Qoshan is one of the points…

5. Great Wall Fort #4

19.23 MILES

Around a dozen square-plan fort sites lie along the course of what was once the so-called Alexander's Wall. All are just muddy shapes rising above the…

6. Sadd-e Eskander

23.35 MILES

This ancient wall once stretched 190km from the Golestan Mountains to the Caspian Sea; like its equivalents in China and England, Alexander’s Wall was…