The Gilan region is one of the few regions in Iran that enjoys significant natural wealth due to its geographical location, and cultural and historical wealth thanks to its people and its tumultuous history. This natural and historical cultural alchemy makes Gilan a privileged destination for tourism.


Tourism attraction of the green land of Gilan


The Gilan region is one of the few regions in Iran that enjoys significant natural wealth due to its geographical location, and cultural and historical wealth thanks to its people and its tumultuous history. This natural and historical cultural alchemy makes Gilan a privileged destination for tourism. The visitor can enjoy the coolness of its pleasantly humid climate, the green mountains of Alborz and Talesh, the calm of the sea, the landscape offered by the tea fields and the orange trees, as well as the Gilanese cuisine. of its varied flavors, and magnificent historical sites within the nature. Besides its natural and cultural attractions, Gilan also attracts many pilgrims thanks to its innumerable mausoleums (Imamzadeh) where are buried the descendants of the Shiite Imams, who died or were martyred under the Abbasid caliphs.

Unfortunately, Gilan is not known enough internationally for lack of sufficient tourist infrastructure, including the poor quality of its hotels. The region nevertheless enjoys a great reputation at the national level, and every year dozens of thousands of Iranian visitors go there to enjoy the sea, the green landscapes or enjoy the delicious cuisine of the north, if not only for one day.

The province of Gilan covers an area of ​​14,711 m² and is located in the north of Iran between the mountain ranges of Alborz and Talesh. These mountains, which form a gigantic wall to the south and east of Gilan, are the main cause of humidity in the region, which is the wettest in Iran with annual rainfall exceeding 2000 mm. Gilan is also located south of the Caspian Sea and borders the province of Ardebil to the west, Mazandaran to the east (whose border is defined by the Tameshk river which passes between Tchaboksar and Ramsar), Zandjan to the south , and the Caspian Sea and the Republic of Azerbaijan to the north. Its largest city is Rasht, but it also has other notable cities such as Astarah, Astana Ashrafieh, Bandar Anzali, Rasht, Rudbar, Roudsar, Fouman, Lajijan and Langaroud. More than forty rivers cross this region, the largest of which is the Sefidroud River (meaning "white river").

According to archaeological excavations, its history goes back more than 150,000 years, that is to say before the last ice age. With the arrival of the Aryans and their cohabitation with the natives of the region, new populations were formed, the majority of which were two major tribes, the Guils and Deylams. Autonomous, these tribes have jealously guarded their freedom and have never yielded to the dictatorship of the various central powers of Persia, especially the Medes. In the 6th century BC BC, these peoples collaborated with Cyrus, Achaemenid king, to overthrow the Medes. Under the Sassanids, they lost their independence following the campaign of Ardéchir Babakan. After the advent of Islam, Gilan was for a time governed by the Alavids, then by the Deylamides, then by the Mongols, especially under Oldjaitu. In the 16th century, the region played a key role in the advent of the Safavids by offering asylum, for more than four years, to Shah Abbas I. In 1650, Gilan was invaded by Russia and remained under Russian rule until 1724. Under the Constitutional Revolution, the Guils were particularly noted, so much so that they managed to conquer the capital, Teheran, in 1865 The Jangali movement led by Mirza Kouchak Khan Jangali is a shining example of their commitment.

Located between the Caspian Sea and the mountain ranges of Alborz, Gilan has no shortage of potential to become the central axis of ecotourism and agrotourism of Iran, not to mention, we have pointed out, its cultural, historical, and folkloric riches. Many villages of Gilan, like Massouleh, attract thousands of tourists each year by the beauty and unique style of their architecture. The foundation of Massouleh goes back more than a thousand years. Since then, its inhabitants continue to preserve their way of life and their common values. No external cultural contribution has so far radically changed their way of life. The unique architecture of this village is the clearest testimony: the houses of the village are built on top of each other, on the steep slope of the mountain. The courtyard of one serves as roof to another. Roofs and courtyards are also used as pedestrian crosswalks. The buildings do not exceed two storeys and the majority of them are wood and raw brick. The main language of the inhabitants of Massouleh is Taşhi, which is one of the oldest languages ​​of western Iran, and was already spoken under the Arsacids. The village is also known for housing Mirza Kuchak Khan Jangali while, pursued by Russian Cossacks, he went to the village of Maklavan. The village also has other tourist attractions, namely, the famous waterfall of Massouleh-Roudkhan, the waterfall of Lar Cheshmeh, the bazaar and the park of Massouleh, the mausoleum of Own ibn Ali and the old part of the village. You can also buy typical products, such as local sweets such as halva kondjedi and halva berendji (sweets prepared with flour, butter and sugar or honey), artisanal knives, guivehs (woven slippers). cotton), kelims (handmade carpets), socks, woolen gloves and puppets.

Another attraction of Gilan is worth mentioning: the Marlik hill which is located on the eastern side of the Sefidroud river, in the Gohar Roud valley. This hill is 3000 years old. Precious objects discovered in 1961 by Ezzattollah Negahban, an Iranian archaeologist who went there at the head of an expedition, attest to this truth. Before that date, the hill had been looted by smugglers who sold the valuable pieces of the hill to collectors. Among the objects found in the hill, some continue to attract attention, including ceramic vessels, decorative buttons, clubs, arrows, daggers, swords, bronze statues, helmets and especially gold, silver, bronze and porcelain cups. Archaeologists believe that these objects belonged to the governors who ruled the region towards the end of the second millennium BC. 25 tombs were also discovered on the flanks of this hill, which provide in particular valuable information on the burial rituals of the dead at that time.

The Rudkhan Fortress (Ghal'eh Roudkhan) in Fouman



A little further, two fortresses recently managed to attract a considerable number of tourists to Gilan. They are located in a dense forest and enhanced by a thick mountain fog. One of these fortresses is the Ghal'eh Roudkhan (or Ghal'eh Hessam) some twenty kilometers southwest of the city of Fouman. It has an area of ​​2.6 hectares and is located on the heights of Roudkhan village. The wall of the fortress is 1500 meters long and includes 65 turrets and inner walls. The date of construction of the fortress dates back to the Sassanid period but was restored under the Seljuqs and served as a military base for the Ishmaelites. On the portal of the fortress, an inscription attests that it was restored at the request of Sultan Hessam-od-Din between 1497 and 1500. It was rediscovered in 1830 by a Polish researcher during his excavations in Gilan, but has only recently aroused the curiosity of tourists. The fortress is composed of two main parts, the citadel and the harem where the king and his wives lived, and the arsenal and the barracks where the soldiers were lodged. The baths, the prison, the cistern, a fountain, houses and octagonal towers with loopholes are among the building blocks of the fortress. It should be added that during its history, no army was able to penetrate the fortress, thanks to its complex defense system. Access to the fortress is only possible by pedestrian way. Cars can not get closer than 500 meters from the fortress. Climbing the mountain towards it, old trees, a beautiful river along the way, and in good weather, sun rays finely traced offer a magnificent view of the surroundings of the fortress. The beauty of the setting is difficult to describe: you have to go there yourself to appreciate the beauty of this fortress asleep in the heart of the forest of Hyrcanie.

There is also another fortress in the region of Ghassem Abad du Gilan which, although not as famous as the Rudhan Fortress, contains however more secrets. The Band Bon Fortress (or Band Ban) all in stone, belongs to the medieval era. It was built for the defense of the city against enemies coming from the sea. It also hides in its soil huge underground tracks whose complexity has not yet allowed the researchers to draw the exact plans. No trace of plaster used to fix the stones has been found until now. Be that as it may, the mortar has forbidden moisture to invest the building, and it is here, it seems, that lies the secret of the solidity of the citadel. This beautiful fortress which has even aroused the interest of Unesco, has been repeatedly destroyed (in part) by gold diggers and smugglers, but it remains standing and continues to welcome tourists.

Alongside the flagship monuments of Gilan Province, there are also many historical and religious sites, including the mausoleum of Seyyed Jalaleddin Ashraf, brother of Imam Reza, which is located in Astaneh Ashrafieh, the tomb of the sister of Imam Reza at Rasht, the shrine of Imamzadeh Hashem on the Tehran-Rasht road, the tomb of Mirza Kushak Khan Jangali at Rasht, the tomb of Professor Moein at Astana Ashrafieh, the mausoleum of Sheikh Zahed at Lahijan, the mausoleum of Bibi-Hourieh in Bandar Anzali, the tomb of Kashefosaltaneh who first discovered tea in Iran, etc. The Tea Museum and Hammam Golshan in Lahijan are also among the historical sites of Gilan.

As for its ecotourism, Gilan is particularly proud of it. Its vast rice fields, tea fields and orange gardens make it a unique region in this area in Iran. Its ponds such as the internationally known Anzali pond, the Khatib Gouran pond, the Kohneh Gourab pond and the Bouchagh marsh host many migratory birds and provide a dream environment for amateurs.

It is not only the wilderness that is unique to Gilan: handicrafts, cuisine and the culture of the land are also unique. Fishing, including caviar, as well as silkworm farming, rice, peanuts, hazelnuts, zucchini, potatoes and tea are highly developed.

The diversity of market gardening, fish and cereals explains that Gilan cuisine is so diverse and colorful. Many recipes from the region, thanks to their taste and smell, have spread throughout Iran and are present on almost all Iranian tables. Some others have remained typical of Gilan. Among all these recipes there may be mentioned the Mirza Ghasemi, the Bhagaghaathath, the Tutsh-Tareh, (Kuh Khoresht) the Zucchini Ragout, the Sir Ghamphah, the Imoo Mossama, Nhah Khattun, Longi, Torsh Shami, & etc.

There is also a wide variety of crafts still practiced today in Gilan. Among other things, we can mention wood turning, straw mats, pottery and porcelain, squash painting, felt, weaving of bedspreads (chador shab), and so on.

The folk culture of Gilan is also unique because it has not been influenced by outside influences. The Ahou Chareh puppet show (which existed twenty years ago, and which was played on the occasion of the Iranian new year (norouz) everywhere in Gilan), pir bubou and lal bazi (game which consists pretending to be dumb), purely traditional sports such as guileh wrestling on Tuesday, varza jang and band bazi (funambulism show) are other Gilan cultural heritages. The whole will certainly not lack of exoticism and interest for the tourist decided to visit and to know this green territory, alive and full of surprises.

The pond of Anzali