Asia, Middle East: Iran


Khuzistan Province (2005)

Shoushtar county, with local area of 3538 Sq. Km, is located in the central part of Khuzistan province. Geographically, this county is encircled by counties of Dezfoul and Masjid Soleimanin the north, counties of Ahwaz on the south. The population of 210,108 live mostly in two cities of Shoushtar and Gotwand, as the major cities of this county. The main source of income in this area is from the agricultural activities, particularly the large and extensive sugar-cane farms and also the industrial complex of Caroun, which produces the main bulk of sugar in Iran.

Shoushtar city, with an approximate area of 18 Sq. Km, is the major city of the county and it is located roughly 85 Km away from Ahwaz, the central city of the province. Shoushtar is about 150 meters above the sea level and 850 Km away from Tehran. According to the last population census (1991), its population is 77,900. The temperature varies between 50C in summer and 1C during the winter.

The city is characterized by flow of Caroun river along two major routes, which in fact make the central area of the city looks like an island. Caroun, the largest river in Iran, is divided into two major routes along the northwest of Shoushtar. From one side, the "GarGar" route enters the city from the northwest, and cuts through Mizan Dam, and along its route, it creates many beautiful waterfalls in various parts of Shoushtar. From the other side, the "Shotait" branch cuts through the northwest of the city and then passes through "Shadorvan Dam" and it flows towards the southeast of the city. These two routes rejoin again in Qir Dam and therefore creating the image of an island in the middle.

Congregational Mosque of Shoushtar
The construction of this mosque dated back to 833 AD, during the reign of the Abbasi's Khalifeh. However, this building was repaired and renovated over and over again. The last recorded one was back in 1792. From its arches, its veranda and also its Shabestan (praying quarter), one can easily recognize the dominant architectural style of Sassanid era. Obviously, its construction is belonging to the early post-Islamic Persia. The minaret of the mosque was built in 1400 AD, and its height, up to very recently (1952), was about 26 meters, but since then, just 16 meters of it has remained intact.

The Castle of Salaasel
This castle, which was built on a huge rock, is positioned over the north of Shoushtar. It is said that the ancient castle was constructed during the early years of Sassanid Kingdom (200 AD), and it was mostly used as a major military base of Shapour I and other kings ruling after him. It is also believed that Valerian (the Roman Emperor), after his defeat by Shapour I, spent his captivity in this castle. According to a text, this castle was badly destroyed during the invasion of Persia by Arabs. However, 300 years later, a patron called "Abi-ol-Salaasel" reconstructed a large portion of the castle and ever since then, it was named after him.

Sika Ancient Water Mills
Around the southern edge of GarGar Dam and along both sides of the river banks, there are 16 ancient water mills, with distinguishable Sassanid architectural style. The water was first stored behind the dam, and then it was channeled to a number of deep wells, and from there a constant supply of water for the mills to grind the wheat and other agricultural products. It still is fascinating to see the early water technology in operation and realize how ingenious was this simple process.

Shadorvan Bridge (or Dam)
This bridge, which is also called the Shapouri Bridge, is located about 300 meters away in the western of Mizan Dam. The width of the bridge's piers is around 7 meters and the wide of its channels is nearly 8 meters. Its height from its base up to the crown of the bridge is 10 meters. The material used in the construction are the mixture of local stones, rubbles and ashes mortar. It is believed that the bridge was constructed during the Kingdom of Shapour I. It's amazing that after nearly 18 centuries, the main construction has remained intact despite many heavy floods.

Mizan Dam (or Shapouri Dam or Valerian Dam)
The dam, which is on the northeast of the city, actually divides Caroun river into two main streams. One leading into GarGar on the west side of the city and the other Shotait on the west. The original construction of this dam, according to a number of historical documents goes back to Sassanian Kingdom, when Shapour I defeated the Valerian's army (Roman Emperor in 260 AD) in Epuda Battle. It is said that the defeated and captive soldiers of the Roman's Emperor were forced to construct the dam. The length of this dam is about 520 meters and its main piers were mainly built by granite stone reinforced with steel bar between.

Kolh Farabgui Tower
Along the Shotait river, there is still remains of a small hexagonal tower belongs to Shapour I (241-272 AD).

The Art of Haltering River in Ancient Persia
The ancient Persians understood very well the importance of the water in their every day's life and gradually developed an art for restoring it, redirecting it and applying its pressure by replacing it from one reservoir to the another one, for heavy grinding operation as well as irrigating a very large agricultural land throughout the year. Throughout many centuries, the world famous production of sugar cane in this province has only been possible with the aid of these construction and process of irrigation. The majority of these old constructions and networks still exists around Shoushtar.

Lashkar Dam (or Bridge)
On the west of Imam-zadeh Abdollah Tomb, a dam with a length of 183 meters and wide of 4 meters is constructed. The materials used in this dam is the mixture of the local stones, some rubble stones and lime and ashes mortar.

Darioun Stream
The channel brings part of the Shotait river flow to the little island of Shoushtar. This channel was originally constructed during Darius Kingdom (486-522 BC). It passes through the Lashkar Bridge.

GarGar Dam (or Bridge)
This dam is located after Mizan Dam, over GarGar river. The ancient water mills are located on the beyond of this dam.

Dastova Ancient City (or Mahi-bazan Zone)
The "Mahi-bazan" district or the ancient city of "Dastova" was a city about 3 kilometers away from the east of Shoushtar amd that can not be too untrue since the river, which passes through the area is known with the same name. The actual area, which is a square of 2 kilometers on each side, is surrounded by 2 rivers of GarGar and Darioun. It is also known that the entire city was once completely sank under mud, caused by a heavy flood and for that reason, many archaeologists predict that there must be many interesting constructions and also objects waiting to be excavated from periods of Elamite, Parthian and Sassanian dynasties.

Imam-zadeh Abdollah Mausoleum
This is located on the top of a valley, along the southern edge of the city. Its construction dates back to 1208 AD.

Seyed Mohammad Giah-khar Mausoleum
This building, which was built during Safavid era (1750 AD), is located on the northeast of Shoushtar, along the banks of Caroun Rive

Saheb Zaman Mausoleum
It is actually located inside a cemetery on the top of a valley and it is in fact part of GarGar district on the northeast of Shoushtar. The building's dome is an octagonal type (Roak). It was constructed in the late 19th century, and it was repaired and renovated in 1970.

Bora ebn Malek Mausoleum
This building, which incidentally is considered to be the most ancient Islamic one in Shoushtar and probably in Iran, is located in the north of the city and just opposite to Salaasel Castle. The mausoleum has a dome in the style of Safavid architecture, but the work belongs to Qajar period. The building was renovated by the governor of the province in 1899.

Other Buildings
There are many other ancient buildings in and out Shoushtar, which mostly are either mausoleums or tombs belonging to different religions and sects, as Jew, Sunni, Dervish... One of the characteristic elements of these buildings, which has its root in the vernacular architecture of Khuzistan, is the form of their domes, which are called "Roak".
Jew: Toms of Rubil, Mordekha & Shoaib
Sunni: Tombs of Sad & Said
Dervish: Tombs of Sheikh Shamseddin & Pir Khamsein
Shiite: Tombs of Seyed Mohammad Bazaar, Seyed Saleh

Susa City (Shush)
Shush as the most ancient city of the human civilization was originally built about 4000 BC. There are many interesting and ancient monuments as Daniel Temple, Shapour Palace, Shush Museum and Shush Castle. Shush is about 90 km away from Shoushtar. For more info, visit Shush (Susa) city.

Chogha Zanbil
It is one of the most astonishing archeological wonders of the world, dates back to 1250 BC. Chogha Zanbil is located 45 km away from the southeast of Susa (Shush). This ziggurat shaped building used to be the religious temple of Elamite. It was built by "Untash Gal", one of the kings of the dynasty about 3200 years ago. The wonderful temple was originally built on a square base measuring 105x105 Sq. meters and 53 meters height in five stages.

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