About Atashgah, the Zoroastrian Fire Temple

Atashgah, the Zoroastrian Fire Temple is a historical structure, one of the impressions from ancient Iran. In other words, in the western part of Isfahan, there is a mountain with the name of Atashgah on top of which a fire temple from Sassanid era has been left. It is the third largest fire temples among seven fire temples left from ancient Iran. The original and ancient name of the place is Mehrebin temple, and some people call it Marbin temple or Atashgah. In this article of Chiyakotravel, we will take a look at this monument.

Atashgah
Atashgah

This mason is on top of Atashgah mountain. Actually, Its location is 8 kilometres from west of Isfahan, near Monar Jonban and Zayanderud river. The building plan is circle, with sun-dried bricks constructed from clay soil. Although it looks circular in exterior view, its interior look is octagonal.

Atashkade
Atashkade

Atashgah | an ancient monument in the heart of Isfahan

Isfahan Fire Temple is one of the 7 surviving and old heritages in Isfahan province. Isfahan Fire House is one of the relics of ancient Iran that has been attributed to the Sassanid era. This magnificent and old building is one of the attractions of domestic and foreign tourists who travel to this province.

Isfahan Zoroastrian Fire Temple which today has become a very historical and attractive monument of Isfahan province, is located 8 km west of Isfahan province. In fact, 2 km after the Monar Jonban, this fire station is located on the north side of the Isfahan-Najafabad highway. Isfahan Fire House is located in a mountain of the same name and many historians have considered this historical place as one of the greatest architectural and cultural monuments of ancient Iran. The brick walls of this building are made of a combination of clay mortar and water and are formed in circular shapes. As mentioned above, this monument is one of the three ancient and remnants of antiquity in Isfahan province. Also, in terms of size, this building is the third largest and vast monument in the province. Isfahan Fire Temple is one of the 7 largest fire temples in Iran, which was built during the reign of Sassanid Kavad. The Sassanid firehouse was nationally registered in 1330 in the list of national monuments of Iran under number 330.

 

Atashgah fire temple
Atashgah fire temple

History of Atashgah

Atashgah main inspiration was the Zoroastrianism, the major religions of the two great dynasties of ancient Persia, the Achaemenids and Sassanids. Surrounding the temple, you can see pre-Islamic decay all of which are from sun-dried bricks. It seems that the structure presumably was used by Zoroastrian priests and pilgrims. Based on the evidence, The Zoroastrian living in Isfahan had used this place for pray.

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There is disagreement among historians and experts about the age and use of the fire temple. The construction of the fire place is considered to be Mesopotamian style architecture due to the use of wood among the texture of the wall bricks as well as its architecture. According to the findings of an archeological group from Italy, led by the famous Italian archaeologist Professor Galdiri, the lifespan of the materials used in the construction of the fire temple belongs to about 1400 BC. But the antiquity and architecture of this building is not only a surprise, but another issue that has caused surprise is that it was made in the third millennium BC in Isfahan province, and Bakhtiari people or ethnic groups lived there at that time. Therefore, Professor Galdiri’s research group has estimated the age of this building to be 7,000 years, and it is possible that a similar building existed in Mesopotamia. Iranian archeological sources say that the most important fire temples of the Sassanid era are; Azar Farnbagh, Azar Gashsb and Azar Barzin Mehr, which were the most important fire temples after Atashgah fire temples.

history of Atashgah

Archaeological Investigations

Examining the surviving artifacts on the top of the mountain which is located on the west side of Atashgah and completely overlooks the Isfahan-Najafabad road, we find that the existing carvings belong to two periods; Sassanids and the Islamic period. In fact, this finding indicates that this temple may have been used in other functions in other periods. The most impressive building left from this fire place is a cylindrical building with 8 sides, and many people including the Italian professor Andre Godar have considered this building with its arched niches to be related to the Islamic era.

Atashgah
Atashgah

On the other hand, it is hypothesized that according to the Batenian domination of Isfahan which occurred in the late 5th century, this tower, despite its 8 sides, was made to see and dominate in 8 different directions, and has been added as a watchtower to this the building. Another historian and historical researcher who is interested in this building and has done various researches about it also points out about this building that this octagonal castle, despite its fortifications could not have been an independent and separate castle because there are no spaces such as a hall, water storage and foyer inside it.

Take a deep look at Atashgah usage

Siro considers Isfahan Fire temple to be initially a temporary and seasonal royal residence, but at the same time there are believes that in Iran, even in pre-Islamic times, such buildings have never been built completely solid and were made of hard and protective materials. Siro points out that Isfahan Fire Complex and the building around it, despite its many fortifications, could not have been a castle. Because  there are not hall-like spaces and a reservoir inside which are the requirements of a palace. In fact, this place is in the category of building structures in which a fire place that is the room for keeping the sacred flame, has been built at the foot of a sacred hill or the same fire temple to hold religious ceremonies. Therefore, it is likely that this place was originally intended for a royal residence and in later centuries was used for religious ceremonies and was intended for religious purposes. The ancient Iranians followed the Zoroastrian religion before converting to Islam. The principles of the Zoroastrian religion state that in order to honor and respect the fire which they consider it to be one of the four sacred principles of the world, religious ceremonies were performed, which, of course, are still common among Iranians who are Azeris.

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Atashgah Isfahan
Atashgah Isfahan

The sacred fire of the Zoroastrians was kept in protected fires and should never be extinguished. Since one of the rituals for fireplaces was to light wooden sticks at certain times. The fire temples were also called quadrupeds because of their architectural style. They performed special religious ceremonies and chanted religious hymns in the fire temples, and all the people who wanted to attend the ceremony gathered around the quadrupeds. Many fire temples became mosques in post-Islamic Iran, but the fire temples, located in remote or sparsely populated areas, remained intact and still exists.

Architecture of Atashgah

The architecture of Atashgah is a wonder of its time. The design is round with eight sides all of which has a large window that enabled people to see the fire from each window. There is also an entrance door. Base on the evidence, Zoroastrian priests made fire inside the temple and started to say prayers. Atashgah and its fire temple on top registered in the list of national monuments of Iran in 1951, with the registration number of 380. It really worth to register in UNESCO’S World Heritage sites too.

Atashgah view
Atashgah view

Materials of the structure

Atashgah hill is a sedimentary rock. The building is a large, circular fireplace with multiple hatchways. The building is made of raw mud bricks 3 cm in length and 5 cm in diameter from materials, bricks, mud and gravel and reed beds.
The large, sun-dried pedestals began almost from the middle of the hill of the fireplace, and at the top became strong columns with rooms in the past. At the top of the hill, there is a round building, with no taller building. The building has eight corners and a window facing each corner.

fire house
fire house

Atashgah maintenance and repairment

Unfortunately, there is not sufficient attendance for this complex today. There are some holes in the texture of the buildings which treasure hunters dug. Visitors also play an important role in keeping the monument. Due to the brick structure of the building and the vulnerability of hill shape, there is more potential for collapse, especially on rainy days.

Considerations

When you reach the top of the mountain ultimately, and after refreshing your breath, you will praise the ancient temple. The amazing view of the city is also eye-capturing especially at night. We do not recommend visiting this place to elderly people or people who are unable of climbing the rocky mountain. One of our passengers said that after passing a hard way, just the time that he felt regretful of choosing this place t visit, he found some stones where a history of Zoroastrian culture and the view of the city started to appear. He claimed that this place really worth a visit.

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Atashgah mountain
Atashgah mountain

How to visit this place?

There are many ways to visit Atashgah. You can reach Sheykh Bahaei street and go down the street through west by taxi or bus. You can merge your visit with Monar Jonban while traveling to Iran traveling to Iran. As the place is a bit far from the city center, we recommend you to let us provide you a local guide in order to have an unforgettable visit. For more Information, please contact us.

reviews about Fire temple

Some of the ancient historians and geographers have written about the Isfahan Fire Temple. Including:

In Marabin village, there is a castle of Tahmourth buildings and there are fire temples in it.

  • In the fourth century AH, Hamzeh Esfahani writes in the Sunni book of the kings of the earth and proohets, after naming the fire temples of Isfahan says:

KayArdashir founded three fire temples in one day in Isfahan. One when the sun rises on the side of “Marbin Castle” (Marbin, Mehrbin or Atashgah) called the fire temple of the city of Ardeshir, the second fire temples called Zarvan Ardeshir at noon in the dark of the villages of Khar (current Borkhar) and the third, the fire temple of Mehr Ardeshir in the village of Ardestan.

  • Sadegh Hedayat writes about it in the book Isfahan Half the World:

Atashgah Mountain, on the day of its settlement, had a special glory. This temple, like the mosque and the church, has no walls around it and does not cover anything from anyone. Like fire; It was clean and tidy. The same eternal fire that represents purity and beauty that stretches to the sky and in the dark nights, from afar, strengthens the depressed hearts and speaks closely, with an enchanting maze, to the human psyche.

Fire temple
Fire temple

The current situation of Atashgah Mountain in Isfahan

Isfahan Fire temple was registered in the list of national monuments of Iran in December 1961 with the number 380. In the 50’s, this building was completely renovated, and in the early 60’s, in order to prevent its damage and destruction, the entrance doors of the building were closed and completely camouflaged, and today few people know where to enter these large buildings.

Today, because this heritage is gradually being destroyed, they are trying to protect it, and by building a fence around it, it has prevented people from entering this place for no reason. Finally, they try to reconstruct it well today, so that this very precious monument will not lost.

Due to the popularity of this heritage and many visits, it has caused many luxurious restaurants and entertainment places to be created along with this old monument, so many visitors can go to the restaurant of their choice after visiting Atashgah Mountain.

Atashgah history
Atashgah history