From Takht-e Suleiman to the Prison
Zanjan, Takkab, Saqez, Bukan, Mahabad
Get ready for one of the most exciting tours around Iran, which is best in Spring and Summer. The list of attractions includes two caves, one lake, one exceptional Cone Mountain, hot springs, and a pond. The trip starts in the city of Zanjan, which itself needs one day of touring.
Zanjan’s Bazaar, the Zulfaqaari Building which has become the Museum of the Saltmen, the Mosque and School of Khanom, and the Rakhtshooy Khaneh Edifice which is the location of the Anthropology Museum of Zanjan as well, and last but not least, Husseinia Azam which during the months of Muharram and Safar is the locus for the greatest religious gatherings and ceremonies. One day suffices to visit all the above. If you start your tour early enough, though, you will have enough time to visit the Qavazang Site before sunset, and therefore complete your tour of the city of Zanjan.
In addition to the historical and natural attractions of the city, you should not miss the local cuisine. Have Zanjan Haggis for breakfast, the local Kefta or Kebab for lunch, and the Sour Stew for dinner. Try their traditional breads - Ardak - too.
Since Zanjan is the capital of a province, there are decent hotels and other facilities for tourists to spend the night in this city of relatively cold weather.
On the lower east side of the Western Azerbaijan province, closer to Zanjan than to Urmia, one of the most important national tourist sites of the country has been registered internationally. The Takht-e Suleiman Complex, with its numerous invaluable belongings, is one of the most attractive attractions of the country, which is at the same time quite underrated.
There are two directions for getting to Takht-e Suleiman; The closer one, which goes through the mountains and is pretty meandrous. It passes through Dandee and gets you to Takht-e Suleiman. The second pass, which is safer, deviates toward Takab before getting to Bijaar. You might be interested to know that the buses don’t have permission to take the first route. Anyway, the two have almost identical traveling time, and the trip from Zanjan normally does not take more than a half-hour.
Most of the attractions of the Suleiman Complex are located around a lake. This international tourist site has public facilities like parking spaces, rest rooms, and stores.
Not 4 kilometers before getting to Takht-e Suleiman lake, if you continue toward Takab, you reach one of the most astonishing natural attractions of the whole country. Park up on the side of the road and climb the steps of the site for approximately 30 minutes. You get to the top of a mountain called Zendan-e Div or Suleiman’s Prison. This mountain is like no other, even if you are not very acro-phobic, chances are that you still hold your breath after grasping the scenery!
A little further down the road there is a Hot Spring Complex where you can relax by soaking your body in the waters for a while.
This path will take you through a Protected Area called Anguran, which is guarded by the Iranian Department of Environment. This is a sign of a naturally-rich area. The biggest lead and zinc resources of the whole Middle-East are said to be located near Anguran. You sometimes see the tele-siege system which carries extracted stones through the area, and sometimes just above your head!
Another thing you do not want to miss is the Movable Grass or Chamanli, an island covered in grass, which does move! To see the Mobile Grass, you must move to the Baderlou route, which is not a very good one.
You must be quite exhausted at this point. You might want to spend the night at the Takab Hotel, or rent up traditional residencies from the local villagers.
The area is so attractive that you can continue from here, in almost any direction, and still end up in great tourist sites. The path I suggest is to move toward Saqez, to visit the Karaftu Cave.
You start from Takab toward Saqez. Karaftu Cave is the destination. It is less than an hour away from Takab, and can already be seen behind the mountains when you get on your way. After the visit, there is no need to get back on the main road. You can keep going forward and get to Saqez in about an hour. Before that, you will see the River Zarrine Roud on your side. There is a lake by the dam on this river, which could serve as your next site-seeing area. Where there is water there is also flying birds, and you might have a good chance to watch them.
From Saqez onward, there are two options. You can go to Baneh and from there to Sardasht. We have already suggested a trip to Sardasht here. The other route will get you to Boukan. When you get there, you should look for Mahabad. The Sahoulan Cave which is on the road from Boukan to Mahabad can serve as a nice ending point for this trip.