Some historiographers consider Iran as the first historical nation, and the Iranian Empire as the first empire all around the world.

Places must have two major features to be announced as World Heritage Site by UNESCO; firstly, they should have impressing universal value; secondly, they should obtain at least one of the criteria explained by the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

Among thousands of historical and natural sites in Iran 23 of them are included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites by far. However, you can find your own favorite sites.

Let’s take a look at the list:

  1. Meidan Emam (1979)

This fascinating square, also known as Meidan Naghsh-e Jahan, is well-recognized as one of the largest squares in the world. It was built in Isfahan by the Safavid king, Shah Abbas I between 16th and 17th centuries. The square is surrounded by four eye-catching historic sites: Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque to the east and Ali Qapu palace to the west. Shah Mosque is situated in the southern side, and the portico of Qeyssarieh stands in the north. It is a masterpiece of Persian-Islamic architecture.

  1. Persepolis (1979)

Also known as Takht-e Jamshid (literally means thrown of Jamshid), this magnificent monument is located to the northeast of Shiraz, Fars Province. Based on archeological discoveries on the inscriptions, it was founded by Darius I in 6th century B.C., and after him, Xerex I and Artaxerxes I expanded and completed the building of this complex. Ultimately Alexander III, the Macedonian commander of Greece, invaded Persia and set it on fire.

  1. Tchagha Zanbil (1979)

It was an ancient temple that is now situated near Susa, Khusestan province. It was constructed by the Elamite Empire, approximately in 1250 B.C. Back then, it was called ‘Ziggurat Dur-Untash’. Only few of Ziggurates exist outside Mesopotamia and this complex is one of them. UNESCO announced this Ziggurat as the best example of the stepped pyramidal monuments.

  1. Takht-e Soleyman (2003)

Located in West Azarbaijan, Takab, this outstanding site from Sassanian period exists. It is a brilliant example of nature inspiration on architectural style. It was built as a fire temple during Sassanian period and was rebuilt as a mosque during the rule of Ilkhani dynasty. It is well-known as ‘Azar Goshnasb’ among locals.

  1. Pasargadae (2004)

This ancient Persian city was constructed by Cyrus the great in 6th century B.C. as his dynastic capital. It is now located 110 km northeast of Shiraz. This complex consist of the tomb of Cyrus the great, the audience hall, the private palace, the prison of Solomon, caravansary of Mozzafari, and the gateway palace.

  1. Bam and its cultural landscape (2004)

The biggest adobe-built castle of the world, Arg-e Bam, was built in 5th century B.C., and it was used until 1850 B.C. There is no obvious reason why this citadel abandoned after this date. This complex is a great fortress located on the Silk Road Due to Arg’s height (which is considered the highest part of it) the whole building is called Arg-e Bam.

  1. Soltaniyeh Dome (2005)

Soltaniyeh Dome is located in Zanjan. Eight slender minarets surround the Dome. With a height of 50 m, it is known as the largest brick dome and the 3rd largest dome in the world. It is an outstanding example of Persian-Islamic development.

  1. Bistun (2006)

The largest inscription in the world and the most important historical document of Achaemenid Empire is located in Bistun county, Kermanshah province. It is written in Akkadian, Elamite, and Old Persian languages in 6th century B.C. The first year of Darius’s domination is described in the inscription, in his own language. The story of his victories, the magnificence of his kingdom and the greatness of his power are described in Bistun inscription.

  1. Armanian Monastic Ensembles of Iran (2008)

Situated in West Azerbaijan province and East Azerbaijan province, three Armenian churches including the St. Thaddeus Monastery, the Saint Stepanos Monastery, and the Chapel of Dzordzor stand in a total area of 320 acres. They were constructed in with wonderful architecture style during 7th and 14th centuries. Their architecture is a combination of several styles such as Byzantine style, Persian style, Islamic style, etc.

  1. Shustar Historical hydraulic System

Consisting of water mills, dams and bridges, Shustar Historical Hydraulic System is located in Khusestan province. The components of this set work in harmony with each other for more water use. The famous French archeologist, Jane Dieulafory, called this complex the largest industrial set before the Industrial Revolution. It was constructed during the Sassanid Empire.

  1. Tabriz Historic Bazar Complex (2010)

It is the largest covered Bazaar around the world. Playing an essential role in Iran’s commercial growth between 12th and 18th centuries, it was located in one of the most important west-east trade roads. In addition to its commercial aspect, it was used for educational, social and religious activities. It includes several ‘Timcheh’ and ‘Sara’.

  1. Sheikh Safi-od-Din Sufi Shrine (2010)

Situated in the northwest of Iran in Ardabil province, the most perfect Khanegah and the most prominent Sufi Shrine exists. In addition to the Shrine of Sheikh Safi-ad-din Ardabili, Shah Ismail I (the founder of Safavid dynasty) and his wife’s tomb are located there. The other parts of this complex are: Janat Sara, Cheleh Khaneh, Shahidagh, etc. The outstanding architecture of this Khanegah is the result of several architects’ effort for several centuries (from 14th to 18th century).

  1. The Persian Garden (2011)

It consists of nine gardens situated in several regions of Iran, for instance fin garden in Kashan, CheheL Sotoun garden in Esfahan and Shazdeh garden in Kerman. They are all unique in three aspects: the tall walls they are surrounded by, the pavilion and the water poll that exist inside, and the waterway they are located on. They were prevalent in the Iranian Plateau and its periphery.

  1. Masjed-e Jame of Esfahan (2012)

It is a wonderful example of different Islamic architecture styles. Some believe that there has been something like a fire temple of Zoroastrians before it became a mosque. It reflects Byzantine classical art in the form of a traditional Islamic structure.

  1. Gonbad-E Qabus (2012)

Located in Golestan province, the tallest brick-built tower with the height of 55m exists. Its geometrical plan shows achievements of science and mathematics among the Muslims of that period of time.

  1. Golestan palace (2013)

Golestan palace, as one of the oldest monuments of Tehran, was built by Tahmasp I (although it was a citadel those days and was reconstructed to its new form in 1865.) it is a masterpiece of Persian art from Qajar era.

  1. Shahr-I sokhta (2014)

Shahr-I sokhta is the remaining of an ancient great city of Iran 56km south of Zabol. Its construction dates back to 5000 years ago.  The establishment of this settlement coincides with the Bronze Age and the civilization of Jiroft. It is known as one of the most developed ancient cities in the world.

  1. Susa (2014)

It was an ancient city from the Elamite and Sassanian Empires. It includes Apadana mound, the Acropolis mound and the Ville Royale mound. It was a habitant center since four thousand years ago. It is known as one of the oldest civilized centers in the world.

  1. Cultural Landscape of Maymand (2015)

This ancient village consists of rocky houses which were built by local people. According to some archeological document from 12000 years ago, civilians used to live there. This landscape shows the relationship between nature and humanity in the best way.

  1. Persian Qanat (2016)

Qanat or Kariz is an underground irrigation channel used as water supply for gardens or even everyday usage in arid plains. This technology was first utilized by Iranians, and then, was spread to the whole world. Its underground structure prevents the evaporation of water which is common in arid climates.

  1. Lut desert (2016)

It is one of the two greatest deserts in Iran, located at the heart of the country. There exists the hottest surface of the world. (159 degrees Fahrenheit). There are some unique natural phenomena like Aeolian-Yardong and Kaluts that are created by sandstorms and wind power in the desert.

  1. The city of Yazd (2017)

Yazd, the 2nd most historical city in the world, is located between two main deserts of Iran. Owing to its unique Persian architecture, Yazd is world-known as the only adobe-built city that is still standing.

  1. Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region (2018)

These are eight palaces, cities, and structures (including Victory Relief of Ardashir, Palace of Ardashir and the city of Bishapur) that were built between 224 and 658 A.D. under the order of Ardashir Papakan, the founder of Sassanid Empire. They are located in Firuz-Abad, Bishapur, and Sarvestan.