A historical Paradise in the north of Iran
Golestan Province is located northeast of Iran, bordering Turkmenistan to the north. Part of the Alborz Mountain Range stretches to Golestan from south and east. Kahkeshan Peak (3318m) is the highest mountain in the region. Golestan National Park preserves rare collection of wildlife, 1350 herbal species and 302 animal species including Iranian mammals, are being protected there. The Mirza Bayloo Museum of Natural History was built east of Golestan National Park in 1983.

Torkamans reside at the north of Golestan Province in a giant plain called Torkaman Sahra. These nomadic people have lived in this area from the 15th century and its main towns are Gonbad-e! Kavus and Bandar Torkaman.

History Golestan Province was known as the Gorgan region until the 13th century. At the beginning of the 16th century it was called Astarabad, but Arab writers refer to it as Jorjan. Archeologists have discovered monuments dating back to 7000 years BC at Tarang! and Galikesh villages. During Paleothilic and Neolithic ages mankind had settled in Gorgan, and it was the first cradle of human settlement. During the Achaemenid Period, Golestan Province was considered as a satrap. Darius's father was the governor of the region for a few years. Historians say the ancient Astarabad was built by Xerexes in the name of his Jewish wife Esther (meaning star). The governors of the Parthian Dynasty built a strong and tall wall around Gorgan to prevent savage Huns from ravaging the region and the wall was repaired by Anooshirvan, the Sassanid monarch. After Arab Conquest in 642, the province was governed by the Omavi and Alavi tribes. The revolt of Sorkhjamegan (EN: the red-dressed warriors) against Caliph Harun-al-Rashid in Baghdad was a turning point in the history of Golestan. Qabus, son of Voshmgir, a patron of science and literature, made Gorgan safe for famous scientists and scholars like Avicenna and Abu Reyhan Birooni. The Mongols badly ravaged the region, but the province was rehabilitated with the arrival of the Safavid Dynasty. In 1997 Golestan was separated from Mazandaran Province and became an independent province.

-Administrative Divisions
The Province is divided into 14 counties: Agh Ghala, Aliabad, Azadshahr, Bandar Gaz, Galikesh, Gomishan, Gonbad Kavus, Gorgan, Kalaleh, Kordkooy, Maraveh Tappeh, Minoodasht, Ramiyan, and Torkaman Sahra.

-Tourist Attractions
The tomb of Makhtoom Qoli, the famous Torkaman poet, several sacred shrines, and castles have adorned Minoodasht town and the jungle park in Azadshahr is a natural attraction. Loweh waterfall is one of the beautiful Iranian waterfalls, is at a distance of 20 km. from Galikesh and 5 km. from the main Mashad - Gorgan Road near a village named Galikesh. In the neighborhood of this waterfall, Golestan Park adds to its tourism values. Meanwhile, Shirabad Waterfall in Khanbebin inside a pretty jungle is a lovely scene to watch. It is composed of seven waterfalls set like a ladder. Two famous caves are available near the waterfall. Torkaman Sahra preserves many tombs of saints and Kooresoo historical hill. Ashooradeh Village and Gomishan Swamp are glorious landscapes. Alagol. Ajigol and Almagol lagoons have been registered as protected zones.

-Agh Ghala
The Agh Ghala Bridge in a town of the same name is made of stone, brick, plaster, and cement. It is 76 m long and 4.3 m wide. The city is also one of the most important centers for breeding pure-bred Iranian horses and horse racing.

-Aliabad-e Katool
The city is sited on a hillside of the Alborz Mountains between Gorgan and Azad Shahr. The moss-covered Kaboud-wall waterfall is near the city. Nearby are the villages of Kholin Darreh, Chinou, Alestan, Mayan, and several other beautiful villages to visit.
Aliabad Shokhal Tappeh, Kafer Tappeh, shrines of saints and historical Avra Takhteh village are spectacular in Aliabad town.

-Bandar Gaz
Bandar Gaz harbor is the burial place of saints, ancient fire temples and many historical castles. The Gorgan Gulf and the Miankaleh Peninsula (a wildlife resort) and many springs have further beautified Bandar Gaz.

-Bandar Torkaman
In the past, the city was equipped with three big jetties and was used by the Allied Forces during the World War II for the transportation of equipment. However, two jetties have sunk and presently, due to poor equipment and the gradual decline of water, Bandar Torkaman possesses only one jetty, is no longer bustling and is mostly used to communicate with Ashouradeh Island. During Norouz (New Iranian Year) and summers, this jetty is full of seasonal merchants who bring beautiful Turkman fabricated objects to the city for sale.
Ashouradeh Island is a main attraction in the region. Ashūradeh is the only island of the Iranian coast of the Caspian Sea. It is located on the eastern end of the Miankaleh peninsula with all its natural beauties, 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) from Bandar Torkaman. Over 40% of Iran's caviar is produced near Ashuradeh Island. In 2009, Iran was the world's largest producer and exporter of caviar, with annual exports of more than 300 tons. Over-fishing, smuggling and pollution caused by sewage entry into the Caspian Sea have considerably reduced the sea's sturgeon population.

Gonbad-e Kavus 1000 years ago

-Gonbad-e Kavus
Gonbad-e Kavus (Kavus Tower) in a town of the same name is the tallest brick tower in the world, unrivaled in workmanship during post-Islamic period. Kavus Tower was built by Ale Ziyar Dynasty 3 km away from historical Gorgan town, the seat of the Ale-Ziyar Dynasty, and is a remnant of the glory of that family in Iranian history. Bedside housing the tomb of Kavus the lofty and imposing structure served as a watchtower to help travelers and caravans. The Tower was constructed in 1007 with an elevation of 55 m and is divided into a base and conical dome. The outside facing of the body is dented at 10 points and embellished by Kufi script. It was built by Qaboos, the son of Voshmgir. UNESCO has registered Gonbade Kavus as a world heritage monument.

-Historical Jorjan
Historical Dasht Qaleh town is an irregular octagonal castle with a parapet of 4 to 6.75 m height. Historians believe that Jorjan was a famous town during the Parthian and Sassanid periods. Beside Jorjan one must mention Aq Tappeh, Yarim Tappeh, Malek Ali Tappeh and Abadan Tappeh and other castles in this town.

-Kalaleh
Karim Ishan Seminary 45 km north of Kalaleh was built in 1910 by the Qajars with a mixture of Central Asian and Iranian architecture. Two small minarets adorn the outside portal and four bigger minarets stand at the four corners of the seminary.

-Kordkuy
Kordkuy is proud of Sigapol and Bozpol bridges. The first has four arches with Russian architecture and brick reinforcements. Bozpol is equipped with a wide arch of 3.1 m width with an earthen root the shape of egg. Derazno countryside, 40 km from Kordkuy, is upon the Alborz mountains, boasting a wonderful landscape of Gorgan gulf, has two natural caves, springs, waterfalls, and virgin forests to visit.
Radkan Tower south of Kordkuy, faces Neka River. It was known as a Zoroastrian castle and resembles Gonbad-e Kavus, with a brick covered and conical dome.
It is the mausoleum of Ale Bavand and was built in 1030 and decorated by bricks and plaster. In the past Radkan was used as a watchtower to watch the invasion of enemies. Jahan Nama resort covering 30650 hectares of land, two waterfalls, several caves and a jungle park is a real good visit in Kordkuy.

-Ramian
Ramian is famous for its rare natural landscapes and jungle parks. Shirabad waterfall is 7 kilometers south of khanbebin, in the slopes of Alborz Mountains in a forested area. This waterfall is in the form of a stairway and includes 12 large and small waterfalls. Its largest waterfall is 30 meters (98 ft) high and its plunge pool is 40 to 80 metres (130 to 260 ft) deep.

-Gorgan City
Gorgan City, the capital city of Golestan Province. enjoys moderate weather but is warm and damp in the summer. It is composed of mountainous, jingles, meadows, steppes, salty deserts, rivers, swamps and arable lands. Gorgan was known as Estarabad or Astarabad until 1937, but before that it was called Jorjan. In Pahlavi language Gorgan was pronounced Yurkan or Yerkan, deriving its name from Hyrcania.
The relics unearthed from Turang Tappeh east of Gorgan and Shah Tappeh at the west, point to human settlements five thousand years BC during Neolithic Age. The first excavations in 1841 under an artificial hill in Gorgan revealed the famous Astarabad Treasury. Experts say some objects in the Treasury are similar to those belonging to the Third Millennium BC discovered at Tappeh Hessar in Damghan. In 1931 an American team excavated Touran Tappeh, 19 km east of Grogan, and discovered precious antics. Two years later a Swedish team dug the fountain of Qaresoo River and declared that 300 historical hills exist in Gorgan city, In ancient times Gorgan was a province of Parthian Dynasty and sometimes it was called Tabarestan. The ancient Gorgan or Jorjan was demolished by savage Mongols and the capital city of the region was transferred to Astarabad. Astabarad was one of the eight bases of Qajar tribe. Aga Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Qajar Dynasty, was born in Astarabad.

-Tourist Attractions

Nahar Khoran Jungle Park south of Gorgan city attracts many tourists. Qoroq Jungle Park, 21 km east of Gorgan and beside Tehran-Mashhad highway, covers an area of 650 hectares. Alangdareh Park, 6 km south of Gorgan, lies in the jungle. Ziarat Twin Waterfall located 18 km away from Gorgan Ziarat is 16 m high. The falling water gathers in a basin at the base. Tooskestan is a real beautiful jungle 20 km from Grogan at the road to Semnan Province. Rangoo Waterfall southwest of Gorgan has a semicircular base and is 7 m high . Thanks to various plants around it this is a lovely site to see.
Shahkuh Village south of Gorgan city is 2000 m above sea level. Barankuh Waterfall, Ziarat Hot Spring, Shastkola Jungle, Tappeh Hezarpanj and Pirgaredeh Jungle are very interesting scenes for inspection.
Jame' Mosque, only one minaret of it has survived, was built by the Seljuk Turks. The Seljuk brick tablet in Kufi script on the minaret and miniature engravings on the doors and the altar are glorious scenes to see in Jame' Mosque. Golshan Mosque. A marble slab with 33 cm length, 21 cm width and 5 cm thickness is lying in the pulpit with Arabic sentence engraved on it. The wooden pulpit has been perforated in very fine patterns. Noor and Eshaq b. Mousa b. Jafar imamazadehs are religious buildings constructed during the fifteenth century by brick in an octagonal shape. The plaster friezes on the altar at the southern wing is a lovely sight. Brick decorations, two ancient wooden doors, and an exquisite wooden box on the tomb of the saint was engraved in 14th century with holy verses from Quran in Kufi script on the box. A perforated Iron fence protects the wooden box.
Emadiah Seminary was built during the Safavid Period and repaired after that Agha Mohammad Khan's Complex. The land for this complex were purchased by Shah Abbas in the year 1599 but Agha Mohammad Khan converted it to a military stronghold and built a beautiful administrative building in it. Beside this there are the Kolah Farangi, Abbas Khani and Soleyman Khani buildings and the guest hall of the governor of Astarabad.
Na'lbandan Bazaar in the center of the town was constructed in 985 AD. It was not roofed like the bazaars in Isfahan, Tabriz and other cities. There were two rows of malls with folding wooden doors, each mall dedicated to a specific trade such as carpenters' mall, goldsmiths' mall, leather maker mall, etc. There was a mosque, a bath and a Tekiye (religious praying ground) in that bazaar. Sorkhkelateh Tappeh retains prehistoric items, an underground bath of Qajar Period, a private palace, the Mosque of Imam Hassan Askari and tombs of saints and other historical relics.

-Khalid Nabi
The cemetery of Khalid Nabi on the border with Turkmenistan, the Dagh hills of the mausoleum of the Turkmen Sah called "Khaled Nabi" (EN: cemetery of the prophet Khaled) is a cemetery near Turkmenistan, about 40 miles (64 km) to the northeast of Gonbad-e Kavous, in the Gokcheh of Turkmen Sahra. It is mainly located on a mountain ridge about 1 km away from the called "Khaled Nabi" who, according to the oral tradition of the Turkomans Yomut was a pre-Islamic prophet (payghambar) and whose mausoleum is visited by them for the pilgrimage with the neighbor of Ata Chofun ("father shepherd"), his son -in law. Stronach noted two types of tombstones at the site. In both cases, he saw "very stylized representations of people". In popular media, the stones are often described as examples of phallic architecture and a major tourist attraction. Tourists have often perceived the cylindrical wells with the thicker top as representations of male phalluses. This has given rise to popular assumptions about pre-Islamic fertility cults as the background to these perceived representations. Therefore, type 2 rounded stones were attributed to female forms and tombs. The cemetery, according to legend, contains stones from people cursed by God for their sins and belonging to people who believed in fetishism centuries ago. The cemetery is now a national heritage site protected by the Iranian government.

 

-People and Culture
 In Bandar Torkaman, the 'Laleh' singing ceremony has been performed for many centuries. Women assemble and sing 'Laleh' which is a melancholy song. Its composer is unknown, but the song laments the hard life of brides in ancient times among Torkamans, historical events, love of life, and the pain of separation from the tribe and homeland. For five days during Fitr or Qorban (sacrifice) holidays the Torkaman rejoice and feast. They open their house gates to permit any stranger who is passing the town to step into the house and join their feast.
Chekdirmeh and Soozmeh are the daily food of the Torkamans which are normally made of rice and oil. Traditional dress includes a skin cap and a loose red garment called Doon for men, Kooyink a loose skirt for women, Yaliq (worn by women at home instead of chador), and Boorik, a hat worn by girls before marriage, are the only traditional items which have survived in this northern port.
Horse racing is the most important recreation in Bandar Torkaman which takes place in the spring and autumn. The competition is held in the main racing field which is about 100 hectares in size. The horse racing competition in Bandar Torkaman has many admirers in the country, especially in Tehran and Gonbade Kavoos. Even fans from the Persian Gulf States visit Bandar Torkaman to watch the races.

-Souvenirs
The most important souvenirs of Golestan province are carpets, rugs, Turkmen cushion covers, Turkmen needlework, and jajims of the mountainous area of Gorgan, the village handicrafts, fish and caviar.

-Museums
Gorgan Museum is divided into four sections. The basement is dedicated to anthropology and tools and garments used in the past. The first floor exhibits historical and cultural relics unearthed from Toorang Tappeh and old Jorjan starting from Iron Age until the Qajar Period. In the administrative sector, cultural items are being repaired and the roofed courtyard is adorned by semi-cylindrical artificial arches.

-Transportation
The distance between Gorgan and Tehran is 397 km. The town is connected with the railway grid which runs to Tehran from the north. From Gorgan International Airport passengers can fly to Tehran, Mashhad, Zahedan, Kish, Bandar Abbas, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.


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