Mil-e-Radkan Qarbi

Monument in Kordkuy

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).