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Hamadan (همدان)

Hamadan, the oldest extant Iranian city, is located in west of Iran about 375 kilometers from Tehran. It has a large central with six avenues running into it. Hamadan is linked by roads to Tehran, Qazvin, KermanShah, Malayer, Borujerd, and Saveh. To the southwest and east of the city is a great mountainous area with the Alvands running northwest to southeast. The geography features numerous caves, the largest being the unique nearby cave of A.H. Sadr which contains a lake that can be sailed many miles. At an altitude of 1,800 meters, the climate of Hamadan is temperate mountainous. The city has cold winters and mild temperatures from May to October, the ideal tune for tourism and when many Iranians flock to Hamadan.

The city has a rich history and is credited with being a contributor to human civilization. Its origins date back far into the Iranian past, well before the establishment of the Achaemenid Dynasty founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 B.C. According to legend and the poet Ferdowsi, Hamadan was built by King Jamshid.

Hamadan used to be known as licbatana. This was the capital of the Medes before they were united with the Persians under Cyrus. The name, Ecbatana, meant a place of assembly. The city became the summer capital of the Acaemenid Empire. Hamadan was subject to many invasions over the centuries because of its coveted natural position lying astride the storied "Silk Road" from Baghdad to China. It was a meeting place of many highways and thus instrumental in both trade and politics.

The Assyrians and Mongols both destroyed Hamadan and it was rebuilt both times. The Ottomans tried to take control in the 12th century, but the city held despite heavy damage. The city also served as a political center at various times, not only in Median and Achaemenid times, but in later Islamic periods. It was, for instance, the capital of the Buyids in the 10th and 11 t h centuries under whose patronage the great Persian philosopher and world intellectual Abu Ali Ibn Sina and the important mystic poet Baba Taher flourished. The tombs of both are in Hamadan.

Today, Hamadan is the capital of Hamadan Province which has a population of about 1,650,000 people of various ethnic origins. The province has an almost even distribution of urban and city living with a quarter of the population centered in Hamadan. Almost all the population is Muslim, and the Persian language is dominant. The city once had a significant Jewish population. The tombs of two Old Testament figures, the 118/HAQQANI SCHOOL Achaemenid Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordachai, are situated in Hamadan. Thus, the city retains significance for Judaism as a whole, as well as for Jews in Iran. Economically, the area is well known for handicrafts like leather and ceramic work. Carpet weaving is also an important industry.

A prominent monument is the Stone Lion which was carved out as a Parthian monument in the Arascid era. It stands as the symbol of the city of Hamadan. Early people assigned it magical healing powers. Another famous attraction is the Ganjnameh Tabloids (written in cuneiform and ancient Persian) which contain King Darius's words for the preservation of the country. A famous contemporary native is Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize.

Refrence(s):

Lorentz, H. John. 2007. Historical Dictionary of Iran: Hamadan. Lanham, Maryland, Toronto, Plymouth, UK. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Second Edition. Pp. 116-118

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