Travel To Hamedan / Hegmataneh (Travel Guide)
Hegmataneh / Ecbatana: The Capital of Medes Empire
Photographer: Vahid Takro
Published Date: July 2018
5. Stone Lion
In the past, I’ve been to Hamedan more than seven times, but I’ve always been looking for an opportunity to travel there again, but of course with more knowledge. As I wrote in “The Historic Recurrence Of The World and Iran“, the pleasure of travel depends on the knowledge.
I thought how to travel from Tehran to Hamedan, there were some ways, but I am very interested in the train. Two of my friends, who, for about a year, insisted on going on a journey with me, so I remembered and contacted them, and they eagerly agreed. But they wanted to go by car, as I was one and they were two so you know… 🙂 but I think that was a better idea to go with a car, Hamedan has some places that you need a car to be able to go.
(You can also travel to Hamedan by bus or train, depends on you)
very early in the morning we started our journey from Tehran to Hamedan, I mean Hegmataneh, the great capital of Iran during the Medes empire. On the Internet, I could find a friend (Ali), who invited us to his place. This was a great thing, because I always prefer to stay with local people, and if they have a lot of information I will love them.
I was very happy on the road, this could be an exceptional trip for me, a trip that seemed like I had been waiting for years, but now I saw myself on a road that was going to Hegmataneh.
Crossing these roads … I always thought that during the time of Elam, the Medes and the Achaemenid Empire, how were these ways, how they crossed these paths. How did Cyrus the Great go all this way for a particular purpose?
When we arrived in Hamadan, we saw “Hamedan 2018” sign which was like the “I Amsterdam Sign in Amsterdam) on the grass, which later Ali said that Hamedan was chosen by this year’s tourists as the best city of Iran.
When we arrived at Ali’s beautiful house, we saw a great hospitality of his parents, which made my friends to tell me in private later: We can’t believe that there are still such people on earth. They are true, this amount of hospitality in the world is really rare, but you can easily feel that everywhere in Iran.
Ali asked about our plans, and I said that I traveled to Hamedan to see the hills of Hegmataneh, but my friends’ idea was also important to me. Finally we decided to start the trip from the tomb of the great Iranian poet Baba Tabar.
I did not have enough acquaintance with Baba Taher, but later, when I studied, I realized that he was an Iranian poet and mystic who lived around 1063-993 (about 1000 years ago). They named him Baba (father), and he was also nicknamed “Oryan (naked)” because of his lack of interest in this world.
According to L. P. Elwell-Sutton he probably wrote in the local dialect, adding: “Most traditional sources call it Luri, while the name commonly applied from an early date to verses of this kind, Fahlaviyat, presumably implies that they were thought to be in a language related to the Kurdish dialect of Palayaii also known as Pahlavi. Rouben Abrahamian however found a close affinity with the dialect spoken at the present time by the Jews of Hamadan.”
We didn’t visit the tomb because of the time limitation. We had no enough time to visit Hegmataneh hills.
Hegmataneh is a place where many tourists have heard about it, a city that has made many changes in the history. Hegmataneh was the capital of Iran for many kings and witnessed many wars. Hegmataneh has always been in danger of being destroyed since the beginning of the kingdom of the Medes, and Iran’s neighbors have always sought to conquer it, but the Medes and Achaemenid kings have always protected it.
According to Herodotus, Ecbatana was chosen as the Medes’ capital in the late 8th century BC by Deioces. Under the Achaemenid Persian kings, Ecbatana, situated at the foot of Mount Alvand, became a summer residence. Later, it became the capital of the Parthian kings, at which time it became their main mint, producing drachm, tetradrachm, and assorted bronze denominations.
In 330 BC, Ecbatana was the site of the murder of the Macedonian general Parmenion by order of Alexander the Great.
The Greeks thought Ecbatana to be the capital of the Medes empire and credited its foundation to Deioces (the Daiukku of the cuneiform inscriptions). It is alleged that he surrounded his palace in Ecbatana with seven concentric walls of different colours. In the 5th century BC, Herodotus wrote of Ecbatana:
“The Medes built the city now called Ecbatana, the walls of which are of great size and strength, rising in circles one within the other. The plan of the place is, that each of the walls should out-top the one beyond it by the battlements. The nature of the ground, which is a gentle hill, favors this arrangements in some degree but it is mainly effected by art. The number of the circles is seven, the royal palace and the treasuries standing within the last. The circuit of the outer wall is very nearly the same with that of Athens. On this wall the battlements are white, of the next black, of the third scarlet, of the fourth blue, the fifth orange; all these colors with paint. The last two have their battlements coated respectively with silver and gold. All these fortifications Deioces had caused to be raised for himself and his own palace.”
It is interesting to know that the Assyrians had been crimes for about 500 years in the area, and after 500 years they were defeated by the unity of the Iranian tribes and the Medes and were removed from the ground forever.
If you are interested in the history of Iran and would like to know a summary of it, I suggest you to read one of my articles: “The Historic Recurrence Of The World and Iran”
Ali’s information made it much more enjoyable to visit Hegmataneh’s hills. I always wanted to know how is the capital of the great kingdoms. The soil of these hills had a very real smell of Iran, I felt that I was totally in my homeland, I felt that it’s mine! and I was born of these soils! It was a sensation that I always experienced in Shiraz, the Persepolis and Pasargadae.
Hegmataneh has a very long and fascinating history and unfortunately I am afraid that I will make mistakes, as well as not prolonging this post, I would suggest you to read about it on Wikipedia. I’ve read the Wikipedia and it’s really perfect.
As you know, Hamedan’s souvenir is “pottery”, which I can guess that the idea came from this pottery which completely shows Iranian art from 2500 years ago. Of course, this is just my own guess.
The Hegmataneh Museum is full of important things from ancient Iran, you can not believe how many important things are in this museum as long as you go and see by your own eyes. Extremely valuable dishes since the Medes, Achaemenids, and some skeletons which was found around 2016.
Foreigners and even a lot of historians have written that in ancient Iran there was no claws and spoons to eat foods, and the Iranians were eating foods by their hands. For example, the writer in this link made a very big mistake in this regard. But through the spoons found from the Achaemenid era, the world realizes that Iran’s history, culture and civilization are so old and rich that even some now believe that the spoon and fork were originally invented in Iran.
Just in the middle of the museum, a coffin is visible with two skeletons.
“Beginning in November 2017, water and wastewater officials at the time of their drilling for water pipelines in the city, met the historical object and quickly informed the Hamedan Cultural Heritage Organization. During a preliminary study, the experts recognized that this coffin belonged to the Parthian period between 2250 and 1800 years before today. In this coffin, two Iranian lovers are asleep.”
The history of Iran is very pure and beautiful, the up and downs of Iranian history from the time of Elam and Achaemenid to this day is clear. Objects that have been stolen by foreigners in different centuries, some have been destroyed by enemies of Iran and sometimes abandoned as innocent and unprotected like the ancient objects of the Hegmataneh Museum. The objects that all the museums of the world are dreaming of, and are willing to give all what they have to get those, but we, Iranians, have abandoned our objects like this in the sun, we treat them like this, because we do not know the history at all!
After leaving the Hegmataneh Museum on Ekbatan Street, the northeastern side of Hegmataneh Hill is an old church called “Gregory Stefan Church”, and also another church which is called: “Mary’s Church”
The stone lion -one part of the ‘Lions Gate’- sits on a hill where a Parthian era cemetery is said to have been located. When first built, this statue had a twin counterpart for which they both constituted the old gate of the city. During the Islamic conquest of Persia, the victorious Arabs referred to the gate as bâb ul-asad. The gates were demolished in 931CE as the Deylamids took over the city. But one of those lions is still somewhat healthy, and now in the middle of one of the squares in Hamedan, the square has become a place for people to hangout in Hamedan.
The stone lion reminds me the statue of the Medici lions in the Alupka Palace in Yalta, Crimea, Ukraine. I always felt that those lions should be drawn from the rich Iranian architecture. Of course, this is my guess but I think is correct, because in many parts of the Crimea I could see that, like the Chersonesus columns, which are very similar to the columns of Persepolis.
Alvand Mountain, as you know, is one of the biggest mountains in Iran, at the bottom and in the part of Hamadan known as the Abbasabad valley, there are two inscriptions (like same as you see in Persepolis) from the era of Darius and Xerxes called “GanjNameh”. The one on the left was ordered by Darius the Great (521-485 BC) and the one on the right by Xerxes the Great (485-465 BC). Both sections were carved in three ancient languages: Old Persian, Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Elamite. The inscriptions start with praise of the Zoroastrian God (Ahura Mazda) and describe the lineage and deeds of the mentioned kings.
As you see, since that time Iranians were proud to have different races in the country, something that still has not been achieved by other nations, and racism still rages in them. Iranians, however, are still proud of having different breeds in the country.
What I did not like about the Abbasabad valley was it’s crowdedness, surrounding restaurants and picnicking people around the Ganjmanah which made a bad smell as well. This is a little disappointing. Isn’t it?
One of the scientists who not only Iranians are proud of, but also the world, is Avicenna. It is interesting to know that Avicenna is known only as a scientist in Iran, but the world knows him as an alligator, physician, mathematician, astronomer, chemist, psychologist, geographer, poet, logician and philosopher.
If I want to write about this great philosopher, all this post must be written about him, but if I want to write one of my own honors about him, One day I went to the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria for doing my “Third Eye” peace project, I met the statue of Avicenna and three other Iranian scholars in the courtyard of this great and international place! These sculptures, which are known as the “Persian Scholars Pavilion” includes statues of four famous Iranian scientists, Omar Khayyam, Al-Biruni, Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi and Ibn-Sina.
To complete your knowledge of Avicenna, read about him on Wikipedia.
We left the history of Iran and decided to go to Ali Sadr’s cave the next day. Apart from the beauty of this cave that I had also visited in my childhood, the road to the cave was so beautiful and lush that we stopped the car many times to take some photos.
Geologists dates the cave to the Jurassic period from the second geological period (190-136 million years ago), the time of the dinosaurs.
The Ali Sadr Cave originally called Ali Saadr or Ali Saard (meaning cold) is the world’s largest water cave which attracts thousands of visitors every year. It’s located in Ali Sadr Kabudarahang County about 100 kilometers north of Hamadan, western Iran. Because of the cave’s proximity to large cities such as Hamadan, it is a highly recommended destination for tourists from all corners of the world. Tours of the cave are available by pedalos.
The cave walls can extend up to 40 meters high, and it contains several large, deep lakes. The cave has a river flowing through it and most travel through the cave system is done by boat. More than 11 kilometers of the cave’s water canals have been discovered so far. Some routes are 10 to 11 kilometers long and all lead to “The Island”, a centrally located large atrium.
Excavations and archeological studies of the cave have led to the discovery of ancient artworks, jugs and pitchers dating back to 12,000 years ago. Animals, hunting scenes and bows and arrows are depicted on the walls and passages of the exit section. These images suggest primitive man used the cave as their abode. The cave was known during the reign of Darius I (521-485 BC) which can be verified by an old inscription at the entrance of the tunnel. However, the knowledge of the existence of the 70-million-year-old cave was lost, and it was only rediscovered in 1963 by Iranian mountaineers.
To visit the cave, you need to take a boat ticket which is available as a tour, as I remember the price was different for tourists. So we took the boat as well, the leader of the tour said that every 100 years, one millimeter will be added to the length of the cave’s depositions!
What I did not like in the cave was the colorful lights, although the cave is so beautiful for tourists with those lights, but it seems to be a bit hard for scientists to do their research. I think just a normal light is enough.
When we were on the way back to Hamadan, there were a lot of lush green lands on the road. I think so far I have not felt so nice like that on the Iran’s roads, we decided to get off and away from life, politics, love, thoughts, and everything, enjoy the the moment while watching this beautiful view.
Ali from the very beginning of our trip to Hamadan, suggested a visit to the village of Varkaneh. I have to say I did not know anything about this village! But it was really interesting. Specially the road to the village was so cool and lush, and we also saw a dam called “Sadd-e Ekbatan“, which made a real beautiful and unique landscape.
After 30 minutes of driving we arrived. The village was so smaller than I thought, A stone village with some wooden doors. I talked to one of the villagers there, he said: “Here is so old and historical.”
But I was so curious about the village; on the Internet I realized that the village dates back to more than 400 years ago.
The thing that makes it very interesting is its rocky texture that burned in the sunlight and its color became brownish, which reminds us of the Renaissance of Europe.
Varkaneh is one of the six touristy villages in the province and has been registered as a national heritage site.
After visiting Varkaneh, the trip was really completed, we were returning to Ali’s house to get ready to move tomorrow morning to Tehran.
On the way back, I thought so much to myself. We started the journey from the tomb of a poet whose name is known for centuries in the world, and we arrived to the Hegmataneh hills, from the 3000 year history of Iran and from the capital of the powerful and great empire of Medes, while thinking of how this empire defeated the most powerful, ruthless and savage kingdom of Assyria, we set foot in the Hegmataneh Museum, we saw the antiquities of the Hegmataneh Museum, which have a lot of sayings to prove that Iran has the most rich history, culture and civilization; and eventually we went to The Stone Lion which was the result of Iranian artistic architecture. We arrived at Ganjnameh and saw the ancient history of the Achaemenid Empire, we were proud of it; once again, the power of this empire led us to proudly say: “we are Persians, the descendants of Cyrus the Great, the king of the world” wherever we go! In the same thoughts, a great scientist who shook the world, called us, Avicenna, one of the pillars of today’s science of the whole world, the philosopher whose we hear his name everywhere in the world… We slept under the sky of Hamedan and in the morning we woke up in a multimillion-year-old cave, the most unique cave in the world, a cave that still retains its persistence in the ancient and civilized Iran. There was a special village in hamadan that would never forget, the lovely people of this village lived for 400 years in their stone houses, and now we were walking in those 400-year-old alleys… The more we spent in this little corner of Iran, the more we believed that Iran is the most beautiful country in the world. A country full of words to say… And now we have to return, to our own life in big cities, to get to a computer and write this post for you 🙂
And this was the last photo which I took of Hamedan’s sky: