It's not often that you can say you have visited one of the ancient world's greatest cities. Dubbed the capital of Persian civilisation and culture, the city of Hamadan is one of the oldest centres in Iran and the world. Located at the foot of the Alvand Mountain and once part of the Silk Road, a visit here will take you back in time and let you explore Hamadan's glory days.Top 5 Things To Do in Hamadan
1.Ali Sadr Cave
The Ali Sadr Caves is the world's largest water cave and is an easy day trip from the city of Hamadan. It attracts thousands of visitors every year who want to witness one of Iran's most extraordinary natural sights.
Discovered during the reign of King Darius, the cave's existence was lost until a local shepherd rediscovered them in 1978. You can choose from two routes that will both consist of walking and exploring the caves from a paddle boat, adding to a memorable experience.
2. Ganjnameh Inscriptions
Located 5 kilometres from the city of Hamadan, lies the Ganjnameh Inscriptions. Carved into the rock face of Mount Alvand in three languages (ancient Persian, Elamite and Babylonian) this historic site attracts travellers from all over.
Later generations who could no longer read the three languages, assumed the rock carvings were clues to a hidden treasure and called the site Ganjnameh. The name translates to "treasure epistle".
Besides viewing these ancient inscriptions, the surrounding area is also the start for hikes up to Alvand Kuh, making a stop here perfect for travellers who want to spend a day exploring Hamadan's natural beauty and history.
3.Shir Sangi (Stony Lion)
Shir Sangi or Sang-e Shir is a historical monument in Hamadan steeped in history and lore. The strange looking lump was once a lion that guarded the gates of Ecbatana. Built on the orders of Alexander the Great, local legend says that the eroded statue has magical powers that can make a woman fall pregnant.
Below this unsuspecting hill lies an ancient Median and Achaemenid city. The complex includes the Covered Ruins of Hegmataneh, two Armenian churches and a museum. Relics found at his site has led archaeologists to believe Hegmataneh Hill was a treasury for the Achaemenian monarchs.
If you passionate about early civilisations, it's one of the best places to visit in Hamadan, and you can easily spend two hours exploring the ruins.
5.Tomb of Esther and Mordechai
This 2,500-year-old tomb is believed to be the final resting place of biblical Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai. The shrine is an important pilgrimage site for Jews in Iran, especially during Purim. Inside you'll find a place for meditation and prayer as well as a beautiful courtyard.
The best time to travel to Hamadan
The best time to visit Hamadan is during March to May and September to October. Temperatures are warm but much lower than the summer months. The preferable weather conditions attract crowds of tourists and accommodation is more expensive during these months.
If you do find yourself visiting during the summer months of June to August, on a clear day, you'll be able to catch a glimpse of the snow-capped Mount Alvand.
In winter the temperatures are freezing, and the area is prone to snow. But if you are a skiing enthusiast, this is one of the best times to visit Iran.
Transportation in HamadanHow to get to Hamadan
The fastest way to get to Hamadan is by plane. Tehran has a daily flight to and from the city.
If you don't mind your trip taking a bit longer, there are buses from Tehran, Esfahan, Mashhad and other major cities to Hamadan.
Only a three hours drive from Tehran, a visit to Hamadan can easily be a day or weekend trip from the capital.
Accommodation in Hamadan
Staying at the beautiful Hamadan and the villages around the city is a must. You will not be wrong if you choose, for example, Mazdagard Guest House which is located in a village with the same name 5 km from Hamadan. You will have the opportunity to sleep on traditional mattresses and eat the bread that they make in the yard in an old way
In Varkaneh, 400 years old village 20 km to the south of Hamadan, in which all dwellings and buildings are made of stone and which fits perfectly within its natural habitat within the mountains, you can stay at Varkaneh Guest House and enjoy the beautiful view on the garden and the stone village.
For those who prefer city center, there are lots of accommodations as the Uptown apartment with a nice view of Hamedan that you can stay.
Hotel lovers can stay at the Persian Buali Hamadan 4 star hotel, one of the best Persian Hotels Group in Hamedan city. All rooms have a bathroom with hairdryer, air conditioning, satellite TV, minibar, telephone, etc. This hotel has a big garden and pool and is 30 minutes from the airport.