TEHRAN – Local authorities believe the bygone prosperity of Jorjan, an ancient city in northern Iran, should bounce back, this time as a travel destination for modern sightseers.
The ancient city of Jorjan, which has shaped the national, historical, and religious identity of the people of Golestan province, should be promoted to a world-class tourism brand, the provincial tourism chief said on Wednesday.
Mohammad-Javad Saravi said Jorjan was of very high importance as it predates Hegmataneh (Ecbatana), once one of the ancient world’s greatest cities.
Ecbatana was the capital of Media and subsequently a summer residence of the Achaemenid kings who ruled Persia from 553 to 330 BC.
“Jorjan was very prosperous in the early Islamic era… it was wider and older than the historical city of Hegmataneh in Hamadan.”
“We should show our historical, national, and religious heritage to the world so that these factors are the basis for attracting tourists,” the official said.
He made the remarks during a visit to Jorjan, adding, “We seek to establish necessary infrastructure and facilities for the convenience of domestic and foreign tourists.”
The province’s tourism directorate has formulated detailed plans to safeguard the historical core of Jorjan (also known as Astarabad), which lies at the southeastern corner of the Caspian Sea.
Astarabad is situated along a small tributary of the Qareh River, 37 km from the Caspian Sea. The city, in existence since Achaemenian times, long suffered from inroads of the Turkmen tribes who occupied the plain north of the Qareh River, and it was subjected to incessant Qajar-Turkmen tribal conflicts in the 19th century. It was renamed Gorgan in the 1930s after being devastated by an earthquake.
Golestan is reportedly embracing some 2,500 historical and natural sites, with UNESCO-registered Gonbad-e Qabus – a one-millennium-old brick tower – amongst its most famous. Narratives say the tower has influenced various subsequent designers of tomb towers and other cylindrical commemorative structures both in the region and beyond. The UNESCO comments that the tower bears testimony to the cultural exchange between Central Asian nomads and the ancient civilization of Iran.
Furthermore, Gorgan is famed for being home to an ancient defensive wall of the same name (“The Great Wall of Gorgan”) which stretched some 200 km in length and was built to prevent the invasion of the northern tribes.
Also known as the Red Wall or the Red Snake, it is the longest ancient barrier between Central Europe and China, longer than Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall put together, and the third-largest wall in the world after the walls of China and Germany. However, most parts of the gigantic monument are still hidden underneath the surface through some segments that have so far been unearthed and even restored to their former glory.