At Large  January 8, 2020  Chandra Noyes

These Sites Could be Destroyed if Trump Bombs Iran

wikimedia commons Bernard Gagnon

Although President Trump has walked back his threat to bomb cultural heritage sites in Iran, there is no telling where the high tensions between America and Iran will lead. If President Trump followed through with his threats to bomb heritage sites, many experts argue it would be a war crime. Art & Object believes that threatening a nation's material culture is an abomination. Iran is home to twenty-two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, places that have been designated as important to the history of humankind. While some are ancient ruins, others are still functioning places that are a part of everyday life in Iran. Here are a few of the Iranian treasures President Trump could have in his crosshairs.

wikimedia commons Patrickringgenberg

The massive Imam Square in Isfahan dates to the early 17th century and includes the Shah Mosque, a masterpiece of Persian architecture and the crowning jewel of Isfahan. Replete with a monumental turqoise dome and massive gateways, all featuring gorgeous mosaic work, this site is still an important place of worship for Shia Muslims.

Wikimedia Commons Hamidespanani

Continually built and rebuilt from 771 through the 20th Century, the Jāmeh Mosque of Isfahān is one of the oldest mosques still standing in Iran. Centered around a courtyard, the buildings’ monumental domes are stunning architectural feats.

wikimedia commons Alen Ištoković

Soltaniyeh, with its grand dome, was a capital for 14th-century Mongol rulers in Iran. The mausoleum of one of these leaders is at the center of a complex of ruins, including the dome, which is one of the largest brick domes in the world. Weighing 200 tons and standing 161 feet tall, this impressive feature has inspired architects throughout Iran and world.

wikimedia commons

Shushtar, an island city in northern Iran, is home to a historical hydraulic system that is both technically impressive and beautiful to behold. Dating back to ancient times, the complex system features water mills, dams, tunnels, canals, and waterfalls, including features built by Romans. Persian qanats, underground tunnels used for irrigation which are found throughout Iran, are a whole category of UNESCO World Heritage sites, and Shushtar is a great place to see the incredible accomplishments in irrigation developed in this part of the world.

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Tehran’s Golestan Palace is a small city in and of itself. With seventeen buildings, including palaces, museums, libraries and halls separated by stunning gardens and courtyards, one could easily get lost exploring its beauty. The Marble Throne Terrace (above), built in 1806, includes paintings, marble-carvings, tile-work, stucco, mirrors, enamel, woodcarvings, and lattice windows, and is a showcase for the incredible handiwork that Islamic architecture is known for.

wikimedia commons Navid Alizadeh Sadighi

The city of Tabriz has been a center of trade since ancient times, and was a major point on the Silk Road. At the heart of this is the Bazaar of Tabriz, the largest covered bazaar in the world. Consisting of several halls, gold and jewelry, carpets, shoes and other goods have traditionally been sold here.

wikimedia commons Bontenbal

The ancient city of Persepolis is a complex of ruins dating back to the 6th century BC. Gray marble ruins of palaces and Zoroastrian temples, many of which have bas relief carvings like the ones pictured above, are important archeological sites that teach us much about Persian history.

wikimedia commons Bernard Gagnon

Nicknamed the "City of Windcatchers," the desert city of Yadz has been a site of important cultural developments in Iran for centuries. With craft traditions, Zoroastrian temples, mosques and ancient plumbing infrastructure, you are surrounded by history in all directions. The Amir Chakhmaq complex dates to the 15th century and includes a mosque, bathhouse, confectionery and more.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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