Hegmataneh Hill


The view of distant mountains from the top of this low, open hill is pleasantly rewarding, especially in the late afternoon, but it's what lies below that excites archaeologists: an ancient Median and Achaemenid city. Small sections have been excavated over the last century, most extensively in the 1990s. You can wander above several shed-covered trenches on wobbly plank scaffolding. There's a smart museum nearby, as well as two Armenian churches, now part of Hamadan University.

The ancient walls’ gold and silver coatings are long gone and it’s hard to envisage the lumpy remnants as having once constituted one of the world’s great cities. The museum tries to fill the mental gap, showcasing archaeological finds such as large amphorae, Seljuk fountains, Achaemenid pillar bases and Parthian coffins. The main site entrance is to the north, but there's a handy 'back-door' staircase from the city bus terminal behind the bazaar that climbs directly to the churches.

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