Mil-e-Radkan Qarbi


Sitting upon an astoundingly lonely knoll with wistful views over the cliff-edged valley, this circular, conical-topped tower was built in 1020 for a military commander of Tabarestan's ruling Bavend dynasty. Along with a small band of Arabic inscriptions it has some stylised Pahlavi letters – virtually the last-known use of that ancient script in Iran. (In English the structure is sometimes called West Radkan Tower to differentiate it from the better-known version near Radkan, northwest of Mashhad.)

Much of the attraction of a visit is getting here via 4WD forest tracks (which can be impassable after snow), especially if you stop en route in some of the timeless local villages, such as Kondab (not to be confused with the town of the same name outside Semnan).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Iran attractions

1. Ziyarat Village

21.35 MILES

In the last 15 years, unfettered building has smothered this once-pretty shepherds' village with the multistorey holiday homes of rich city dwellers, but…

2. Gorgan Tower

21.71 MILES

The three-legged giant folly of a tower that sits on Basij Sq like a child's fantasy spacecraft is actually a jerkily revolving restaurant-coffeeshop that…

3. Nahar Khoran

22.42 MILES

Just beyond Gorgan's southern city limits, Nahor Khoran is an area of woodlands and gurgling streams offering an easy, clean-air escape from the city…

4. Imamzadeh-ye Nur

23.14 MILES

This 12-sided brick tower dating from 1453 overlooks a pretty square in Gorgan’s most interesting area of old alleys. It's surprisingly modest given that…

5. Taqavi House

23.14 MILES

This magnificent complex of historic buildings houses the Golestan Miras cultural-tourist office. Ask to peep inside the ‘eight-wife’ harem building – it…

6. Gorgan Handicrafts Museum

23.24 MILES

This recently restored late-Qajar-era house with tiled roofing and gerehchini (wood-lattice multicoloured windows) contains a well-presented, if somewhat…

7. Masjed-e Jameh

23.24 MILES

Built around a quadrangle in the bustling (but not dome-covered) bazaar, this attractive 15th-century mosque has blue-tiled portals, sections of…

8. Gorgan Palace Museum

23.27 MILES

In the mid 20th-century the Pahlavis swept away a former Safavid precursor to build a two-storey palace that, apart from its two Corinthian columns, is an…