On a high plain, surrounded by stark, eroded hills, the modest city of Zanjan makes the perfect base for wider explorations. The architectural wonder of Soltaniyeh is nearby, while the battered hoodoos of Behestan Castle and the bizarrely striped Colourful Mountains lie further afield. Enticingly scenic roads radiate to Khal Khal and the Caspian, the subterranean delights of the Katale Khor Caves, and the superbly lonely Takht-e Soleiman ruins.
Zanjan's moment of infamy came in 1851 with a bloody siege ordered by Persian prime minister Amir Kabir. The resulting massacre was part of the relatively successful campaign to crush the nascent Baha’i religion. Baha’ism had only broken away from Islam three years before, but it was spreading much too rapidly for Tehran’s liking.
The city lays claim to an excellent covered bazaar, some very attractive mosques, and several quirky museums.