Architecture in Shahrud

Bezayit Bastami Complex

At the heart of ancient Bastam, now a village-suburb of Shahrud (around 7km from centre), is a collection of mostly 13th-century historical buildings. The main group is set around the relatively simple grave of...

Gardens in Damghan

Cheshmeh Ali

Very popular as a picnic place in summer, Cheshmeh Ali's centrepiece is a pair of Qajar-era pavilions facing each other across a reflecting pool. It's almost worth the savari fare for the beauty of the 30km drive...

Bazaar in Semnan

Semnan Bazaar

Semnan's cross-shaped covered-bazaar marks the old heart of the city. While far less extensive than the great bazaars of Kerman or Tabriz, there is plenty of 19th-century vaulting and the north-south section...

Hot Springs in Semnan Province

Badab-e Surt

Badab-e Surt is a series of terraced travertine (limestone) pools – smaller than those at Turkey's Pamukkale, but more colourful and serenely isolated within a mountain-ringed valley, 23km east of the...

Village in Semnan Province

Dehnamak Village

Once the fourth stop on the ancient Rey–Khorasan caravan route, Dehnamak is most interesting for its recently restored Safavid-era caravanserai, now a hotel and restaurant. The nearby village also has a...

Mausoleum in Damghan

Imamzadeh Jafar

Imamzadeh Jafar is a splendid, ancient pale-brick building with round side-towers, arched false-windows and a five-level dome culminating in a brick cone. It looks like a North African castle right off a movie...

Historic Site in Damghan

Tarikhuneh Mosque

This unique, partly ruined mud-brick structure has 18 extraordinarily sturdy rear columns that date from about AD 760 – reputedly making this the second-oldest mosque in Iran (though it may have started life as a...

Mosque in Semnan

Masjed-e Jameh

The extraordinarily high, if austere, west iwan of the Masjed-e Jameh dates from a 1424 rebuild, rising above a bare-brick octagonal prayer hall. But the mosque’s most lovable feature is older: the gorgeous,...

Village in Semnan Province

Padeh Village

Though not one of Semnan's classic caravanserai villages, Padeh's sizeable shattered citadel, dating back at least 1500 years, has been so eroded by water and weather that it seems to be an almost abstract...

Notable Building in Semnan Province

Ahowan Caravanserais

Most motorists whizz by, oblivious of the two large, sturdy caravanserais stranded between the carriageways of the Mashhad Expressway, 42km east of Semnan. Especially impressive is the more easterly of the two,...

Mosque in Semnan

Masjed Imam

Founded under Fath Ali Shah in the 1820s, this mosque is a large courtyard affair with four iwans at the cardinal points – the higher east and west ones offer a measured use of restrained coloured brickwork. On...

Mine in Garmsar

Kuhdasht Salt Mine

A low, arid, red-brown ridge scalloped into corrugated hills follows the Garmsar–Qom Hwy south. Look closely and you'll see it's pocked with giant entry holes that occasionally spit out trucks full of rock salt....

Historic Building in Semnan Province


If you're driving by on the westbound Semnan–Garmsar Hwy, the rest area at Lasjerd makes a popular snack break with the added bonus of two historic buildings within 200m – the newly re-domed Imamzadeh Reza and...

Mausoleum in Semnan

Imamzadeh Yahya

Fronted with splendid blue tiling and filled with dazzling mirror-mosaics, this mostly contemporary imamzadeh just off the bazaar entombs Yahya bin Musa Kazim, one of the brothers of the eighth imam.

Mosque in Damghan

Masjed-e Jameh

With its metallic dome, this mosque looks outwardly new but was actually founded a millennium ago; the fine faceted-brick minaret probably dates mostly from the mid-11th century.Entrance is from a triangle of...

Museum in Semnan

Hazrat Museum

Inside a historic bathhouse, fronted with charmingly naive Qajar-era picture tiles, this museum displays 3000-year-old pottery from the archaeological site of Hissar, plus some pretty photos of Semnan Province.

Gate in Semnan

Darvaza-e Arg

Spiked with blue-tiled baby minarets, Darvaza-e Arg is Semnan’s dinky but iconic Qajar-era city gate, with appealing tile murals adorning the northern facade.

Mausoleum in Damghan

Pir Alamdar

Dating from the 1020s, Pir Alamdar is a circular, Seljuk-era tomb-tower in faceted pale brick, notable for its original band of Kufic inscriptions around the top. It's a short walk northeast of the Jameh Mosque...

Museum in Garmsar

Aghvam Museum

In an early 20th-century 'khan's house', this modest yet well displayed museum includes ancient pottery and mannequin displays – including a barber performing a pudding-bowl haircut. The place is most useful if...

Notable Building in Semnan

Water Cistern

A steep stairway near Mashahir Sq leads down into what was once a water cistern, though it's now blocked off. Behind, what appears to be a fortress tower was actually a decorative element from a since-demolished...