The name "Saveh" does not seem to be mentioned as such in pre-Islamic documents, although the existence of vestiges dating from the Sassanid period proves that the region was prosperous before Islam.

The name "Saveh" does not seem to be mentioned as such in pre-Islamic documents, although the existence of vestiges dating from the Sassanid period proves that the region was prosperous before Islam.

In an Islamic narrative related to the triple extraordinary signs of the birth of the Prophet of Islam, the name of the city was nevertheless mentioned: 1) the collapse of the vault of the palace of Ctesiphon, Mesopotamian capital of the Sassanids, 2) l unexpected extinction of fires in the largest Zoroastrian temple at Estakhr (Fars Province); 3) drying up of Lake Saveh.

After the Islamization of Persia, Saveh soon became a center of Shafi'i Sunnism, but from the twelfth century, the Ismaili extended their influence in various regions of Iran including Saveh where the inhabitants gradually converted to Shi'ism. The city was devastated by the Mongol invaders in the twelfth century. According to the historian Yaghout Homavi, the Mongols set fire to the large library of Saveh which was probably equipped with an observatory. Saveh was rebuilt later and the notables of the city Zahireddin Savodji and his son had the fortifications rebuilt in the fifteenth century. The Venetian traveler, Marco Polo, mentioned the name of Saveh in the relation of his travels, Book of Wonders of the World.

Located in the north of Markazi province, Saveh is the capital of a department of the same name, the largest in the province (8855 km²). According to the 1996 national census, the county had 223,429 inhabitants, or 17.5 per cent of the population of Markazi province, although it alone accounted for 30 per cent of its area. The population is 53% urban and is divided in the five cities of the department: Saveh, Zavieh, Gharghabad, Ma'mounieh, Nobaran.

The city of Saveh is located at an altitude of 995 m above sea level, and is 152 km from Arak, capital of the province. However, Saveh is closer to Tehran (142 km) than the provincial capital.

Near the great central desert of the Iranian plateau (kavir), the department of Saveh is characterized in general by a hot and arid climate. The rate of rainfall is low (around 213 mm per year). The department is covered with vast plains. In the southern plains of the department, the soil is more fertile and more favorable to cultivation and gardening. The heights are denser in the west of the department. The culmination of the department is a peak of 2,930 m west of Razeghan.

The department of Saveh is watered by the river Ghara-chai. This river whose sources are in the neighboring province, Hamedan, crosses the department of Saveh from west to east. The new Saveh (Al-Ghadir) water dam was built on this river, on the site of the old dam of the time of the Safavid emperor, Shah Abbas the Great.

1- The Bazaar:

The bazaar of Saveh is a historical complex which gathers within it several elements of the traditional urbanism Iranian: an old mosque (Red Mosque), a cistern, two mausoleums of saints (Imamzadeh Yahya and Imamzadeh Seyed Abou Reza, both descendants Shia Imams). The covered bazaar is a brick construction. It comprises a main corridor and twelve secondary passages. The historic bazaar complex was listed in the Iranian National Heritage Inventory in 1976.


The caravanserai of Abdolghaffar Khan  


2- The Great Mosque:

The Great Mosque of Saveh is one of the oldest and best preserved monuments of the first centuries of the Islamic period in Iran. The monument is, in fact, a collection of ancient arts: architecture, mural painting, calligraphy, ceramics and plaster ornaments. The construction of the Great Mosque dates from the twelfth century, under the empire of the Seljuk, the great builders of the Islamic period in Iran. However, the remains found in the Great Mosque of Saveh have proved that it was built before that date and that the mosque was located on the site of a Zoroastrian temple of pre-Islamic antiquity.

Indeed, archaeologists have discovered a brick building south of the Great Mosque that was part of the building of a Zoroastrian fire temple. After the Arab invasion of the fifth century and the Islamicization of Persia, the populations became Muslim, trying to preserve the ancient holy places by turning them into mosques and Muslim places of worship. In a book devoted to the history of Saveh, M. Morteza Seyfi Tafreshi writes: "The pre-Islamic building was undoubtedly a temple of fire: in the middle, there was the main hall where the hearth of the sacred fire was kept. The room was equipped with fireplaces that were used to evacuate the smoke. The entrance to the hall was south, and on the opposite side, there was a small room for visitors. On the left and right, there were two other rooms where the Magi were gathered for prayer. "

The Seljuk mosque, restored and later developed under the Safavids, is a sumptuous monument: a large turquoise dome, two great iwans, several pieces of meditation to the south, east and west of a central courtyard, the minarets, and finally the main prayer room with these two precious mihrabs indicating the direction of Mecca, one built in the time of the Seljuk and the other later added by the architects of the Safavids.

The turquoise dome of the Great Mosque is visible throughout the city. It is 16 m high and has a diameter of 14 m. The large dome is decorated with brick and ceramic ornaments. Under the Safavids, new magnificent ceramic ornaments were added to this imposing dome, whose brick calligraphy evokes the rapid development of Shiism in Iran at that time. The two iwans of the Great Mosque are the facades of the south and west of the central courtyard. Both facades have simple brick ornaments, which gives the monument its majestic character.


3- The caravanserai of Abdolghaffar Khan:

8 km east of Saveh, on the Saveh-Qom highway, we can distinguish the caravanserai of Abdolghaffar Khan, built two hundred years ago on a 50 × 50 m plot near the village of Bagh- Sheikh. The main facade of the monument was equipped with a ventilation tower. All around the central courtyard, there were many rooms intended to accommodate travelers. Behind these rooms were the stables. Inside each room, an oven was built to heat the room during the cold season and for the inhabitants to cook there. The caravanserai was built of brick, stone and wood. The interior facades of the monument bore simple brick ornaments. This caravanserai was cataloged in the inventory of the Iranian national heritage in 1976.

4- Ghiz-Ghaleh Fortress (Ghal'eh Dokhtar):

The Ghiz-Ghaleh Fortress is undoubtedly one of the most marvelous architectural monuments of the mountainous regions of Iran dating from pre-Islamic antiquity. Ghiz-Ghaleh, located at the top of a very high cliff south of the plain of Saveh, includes a palace and a temple inside the fortress. Located near the road connecting Saveh to Hamedan, Ghiz-Ghaleh dominates the plain of Saveh. The fortress was built on a plot of 3000 m².

Ghiz-Ghaleh Fortress (Ghal'eh Dokhtar)


5- The Sorkhdeh Bridge:

The Sorkhdeh Bridge is located in the south of the department of Saveh, on the road that connects the village of Yal-Abad to the village of Ghara-Ghaleh. It was built entirely of brick in the Safavid era. The bridge that crosses the Ghara-chai River, is built of eight semi-circular arches made of brick. 4.5 to 5 m wide, this bridge is nearly 70 m long.


6- The lake of Al-Ghadir dam:

The Al-Ghadir hydroelectric dam was built on the Ghara-chai river 25 km from Saveh (150 km south-west of Tehran). The large artificial lake of this reservoir has an area of 850 hectares. The water from this dam is used to ensure the drinking water of Saveh, the irrigation of agricultural fields and the production of electricity.


The lake of Al-Ghadir dam