Takht-e Soleyman (Takht-e Soleymān, literally "the Throne of Solomon") is an archaeological site in West Azarbaijan, Iran. It lies midway between Urmia and Hamadan, very near the present-day town of Takab, and 400 km (250 mi) west of Tehran.
The site includes the principal Zoroastrian sanctuary partly rebuilt in the Ilkhanid (Mongol) period (13th century) as well as a temple of the Sasanian period (6th and 7th centuries) dedicated to Anahita. The site has important symbolic significance. The designs of the fire temple, the palace and the general layout have strongly influenced the development of Islamic architecture.
The originally fortified site, which is located on a crater rim, was recognized as a World Heritage Site in July 2003. This temple housed one the three "Great Fires" or "Royal Fires" that Sassanid rulers humbled themselves before in order to ascend the throne. The fire at Takht-i Soleiman was called ādur Wishnāsp and was dedicated to the arteshtar or warrior class of the Sasanid.
Folk legend relates that King Solomon used to imprison monsters inside the 100 m deep crater of the nearby Zendan-e Soleyman "Prison of Solomon". Another crater inside the fortification itself ...see more is filled with spring water; Solomon is said to have created a flowing pond that still exists today. Nevertheless, Solomon belongs to Semitic legends and therefore, the lore and namesake (Solomon's Throne) should have been formed following Islamic conquest of Persia. A 4th century Armenian manuscript relating to Jesus and Zarathustra, and various historians of the Islamic period, mention this pond. The foundations of the fire temple around the pond is attributed to that legend.
Archaeological excavations have revealed traces of a 5th century BC occupation during the Achaemenid period, as well as later Parthian settlements in the citadel. Coins belonging to the reign of Sassanid kings, and that of the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II (AD 408-450), have also been discovered there.
The lake is an integral part of the composition and was surrounded by a rectangular 'fence'. In the north-west corner of this once fenced area, there is the so-called Western iwan , 'Khosrow gallery', built as a massive brick vault, characteristic of Sassanian architecture. The surfaces were rendered in lime plaster with decorative features in muqarnas (stalactite ceiling decoration) and stucco. The site was destroyed at the end of the Sassanian period, and left to decay. It was revived in the 13th century under the Mongol occupation, and some parts were rebuilt, such as the Zoroastrian fire temple and the Western iwan . New constructions were built around the lake, including two octagonal towers behind the iwan decorated in glazed tiles and ceramics. A new entrance was opened through the main walls, in the southern axis of the complex. It is noted that the surrounding lands in the valley (included in the buffer zone) contain the remains of the Sassanian town, which has not been excavated. A brick kiln dating from the Mongol period has been found 600 m south of Takht-e Soleyman. The mountain to the east was used by the Sassanians as a quarry for building stone.
Zendan-e Soleyman is a hollow, conical mountain, an ancient volcano, some 3 km to the west of Takht-e Soleyman. It rises about 100 m above the surrounding land, and contains an 80 m deep hole, about 65 m in diameter, formerly filled with water. Around the top of the mountain, there are remains of a series of shrines and temples that have been dated to the 1st millennium BCE.
The Belqeis Mountain (c . 3,200 m), is situated 7.5 km north-east of Takht-e Soleyman. On the highest part there are remains of a citadel (an area of 60 m by 50 m), dating to the Sassanian era, built from yellow sandstone. The explorations that have been carried out so far on the site indicate that the citadel would have contained another fire temple. Its orientation indicates a close relationship with Takht-e Soleyman.
Reference : whc.unesco.org