Iranian architecture displays great variety, both structural and aesthetic, from a diversity of traditions and experience. Despite the repeated shock of invasions, it has achieved "an individuality distinct from that of other Muslim countries".

Iranian architecture

Iranian architecture enjoys a particularly ancient heritage among the Iranian arts. It uses abundantly symbolic geometry, using pure forms such as the circle and the square. The plans are often based on symmetrical renderings, whose rectangular courtyards and halls are characterized.

Iranian architecture displays great variety, both structural and aesthetic, from a diversity of traditions and experience. Despite the repeated shock of invasions, it has achieved "an individuality distinct from that of other Muslim countries".Iranian Islamic architecture takes up ideas from its predecessors, and involves geometric, repetitive shapes, as well as richly ornamented surfaces of ceramics, carved stucco and brick, forming decorative, calligraphic, floral iconography, and sometimes of animated forms.

Pre-Islamic Period

The excavations prove that the history of architecture and urban planning in Persia (Iran) goes back more than 10,000 years. The Persians were among the first to use mathematics, geometry and astronomy in architecture. Tepe Sialk, near Kashan city, where there is a large ziggurat built 7,000 years ago, is one of those historic sites in Iran where the inhabitants were the initiators of an advanced construction technique.

Iranian architecture has greatly influenced the architecture of other ancient civilizations. According to Arthur Uphman Pope, architecture in Iran has at least 6,000 years of continuous history, examples of which can be seen from Syria to northern India and the Chinese borders, and from the Caucasus to Zanzibar.

Each of the Elamite, Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanian periods created architectural styles that have spread and been adopted by other cultures. Although Iran suffered destruction, including the decision of Alexander the Great to burn Persepolis, we can get an idea of ​​its classical architecture from what remains.

Existing Achaemenid palaces contain architectural examples. Artisans and artists came with their materials from all corners of the empire, one of the largest at the time. The town of Pasargadae served as a model. It stood in a large park dotted with bridges, gardens, palaces and pavilions open to columns. The architecture of the cities of Pasargadae, Susa and Persepolis strongly expressed the authority of the King of Kings: the Persepolis staircases recalled by their carved bas-reliefs the vast expanse of the empire.


With the emergence of Parthians and Sassanids appeared new forms. Parthian innovations were fully expressed in the Sassanid period, by massive vaulted rooms, solid masonry domes and high columns.


The circularity of the Iraqi city of Baghdad, erected in the Abbasid era, is inspired by older Persian cities such as Firuzabad in Fars. Al-Mansur had entrusted the construction of the city to Naubakht, a former Persian Zoroastrian, and to Mashallah, a former Jew of Khorasan. Naubakht realized the plans of the city and helped to determine the date on which to begin the works so that they happen under good auspices.


The ruins of Persepolis, Ctesiphon, Jiroft, Sialk, Pasargadae, Firouzabad, Arg-e Bam and thousands of others recorded in Iran today testify to the great involvement of the Persians in architecture.

Iran is ranked among the top ten nations with the most ancient architectural ruins and is recognized by UNESCO as one of the cradles of humanity.

Taq-Kasra (Ctesiphon)
Arg-e Bam



Post-Islamic Architecture of Persia

The decline of the Persian Empire in the face of the invasion of the Islamic armies led to the creation of remarkable religious buildings in Iran. Arts such as calligraphy, stucco work, the work of mirrors and mosaics were strongly integrated into the architecture of Iran during this new era. Archaeological excavations have revealed elements that demonstrate the influence of Sassanian architecture on the architecture of the Islamic world. The major types of buildings are the mosque and the palace.

Many experts believe that the period of Persian architecture from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century is the most brilliant of the Islamic era. Several structures such as mosques, mausoleums, bazaars, bridges and various palaces have survived since that time. In Persian architecture, semi-circular or oval-shaped pieces were of great interest, leading Safavid architects to show their extraordinary skill in constructing domes with massive dimensions.

Domes can be seen frequently in the structures of bazaars and mosques, dating especially from the Safavid period in Isfahan. The Iranian domes are distinguished by their height, the proportion of the elements, the beauty of the form and the roundness of the dome itself. The exterior surfaces of the domes are generally covered with ceramics, forming shimmering surfaces.

According to Dr. D. Huff, a German archaeologist, the dome is the dominant element of Iranian architecture. Professor Arthur U. Pope, who conducted extensive studies of ancient and Islamic Persian buildings, said: "Iran's supreme art, in the true sense of the term, has always been architecture. The supremacy of architecture applies to both pre-Islamic and Islamic periods. "

When the major monuments of Persian Islamic architecture are examined, they reveal complex geometrical relations, a studied hierarchy of form and ornaments and a very deep symbolic significance.

An aspect of this architecture was its harmony with the people, their environment and beliefs. It represents what is belief of Iranians. it should be considered that no strict rules were applied to govern this form of Islamic architecture.

The great mosques of Khorasan, Isfahan and Tabriz each used local geometry, local materials and local building methods to express the order, harmony and unity of Islamic architecture.

When the major monuments of Islamic Persian architecture are examined, they reveal complex geometrical relationships, a studied hierarchy of form and ornament and great depths of symbolic meaning.

Tom of Mir Bozorg
The Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque


Vakil Bath

Unesco World Heritage

The following list is a list of UNESCO World Heritage sites built or drawn by Iranians (or Persians), or drawn and constructed in the style of Iranian architecture:

In Iran:
Arg-e Bam and its cultural landscape, Kerman
Naghsh-e Jahan Square, Isfahan
Pasargades, Fars
Persepolis, Fars
Tchogha Zanbil, Khuzestan
Takht-e Soleyman, Azerbaijan-e-gharbi (from the west)
Mir Bozorg Tomb, Amol
Dome of Soltaniyeh, Zanjan

Outside Iran:
Jam Minaret, Afghanistan
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasavi, Kazakhstan
Historic Center of Bukhara
Historic Center of Shahrisabz
Samarkand - Crossroads of Cultures
Citadel, ancient city and fortified buildings of Darband, Daghestan