The province of Zanjan covers an area of 39,370 sq.km. To the east of this province is the province of Hamadan, to the west is the province of West Azarbayjan and to the south is the province of Kurdestan. To the north of the province are the provinces of Ardabil and East Azarbayjan. This province is actually located in the plateau north-west of central Iran. The townships of Abhar, Ijrud, Khoda Bandeh, Khoram Dareh, Zanjan, Tarom and Mah Neshan are the constituents of the said province. In November 1996, the population of this province was approximately 901,000; out of which about 47% resided in urban areas, around 52% were rural dwellers, and a number were non-residents.
Zanjan Province Position
Zanjan province comprises of two regions-plain and mountainous. The former spanning various areas of the province, and the latter is the northern sector, enveloping many high peaks or summits. In the southern territory of Zanjan there is an alluvial plain, to the north of this vast plain are the Soltanieh heights and to the south of which stand the Qeydar heights. These form the limits of the said plain. There are many rivers flowing in this province-the most important of which being the Qezel Ozan River.
Climatically, Zanjan province, being under the influence of indirect air-currents, named as humid north-western ones, enjoys two different types of climate. A mountainous climate with cold and snowy winters, and temperate summers. Whilst the Tarom Olya region experiences a warm and semi-humid climate with warm summers and mild winters. The percentage of rainfall and humidity being higher than in the mountainous terrain, the spring and winter seasons having more rainfall than other periods of the year.
A Natural Landscape of Zanjan Plains, Abhar
There are long spells of 'dry' months in the province and two of the most important air-currents are the 'Sormeh' and 'Garn' or in other words 'Harah' and 'Warm'. The most suitable seasons are spring and summer for spending time in this province regarding sight-seeing.
History and Culture
Zanjan province is said to be one of the regions of Iran, rich in historical background. That is remnants from the pre-historic period (7th millennium BC. till early 3rd millennium BC.), are evident here. Moreover, in the (2nd and 3rd millennium BC.) in the Ijrud (Zanjan) region distinctive elements portraying a thriving and progressive civilization in this central plateau of Iran has come to light. The evaluation of the black colored engravings on the buff or cream colored earthenware, brings to focus a link and continuity between the civilizations of the Damqan Hessar Hill, Sialk Hill (Kashan) and the Ijrud (Zanjan) civilizations.
In most prominent and spectacular historical vestiges of this period is a kind of gray black earthenware which complies to the period of Aryan migration to this region. This type of earthenware discovered can be said to be similar to a teapot with a long spout, found in all the tombs of that age and can be related to the funeral ceremonies.
In accordance with Assyrian documents, this region was called Andya in the 9th century BC. and the inhabitants were probably in communication with the Lulubi and Gouti tribes residing on the slopes of the Zagross Mountain Range. Coins such as Derik and Riton discovered in Khoda Bandeh are the remnants of the Achaemenian era. During the Parthians and Sassanian periods, the valleys of Zanjan Road and Qezel Ozan proved to be flourishing and thriving areas of the region. Here the most important historical remnant that can be pointed out is the Tashvir Fire Temple.
But advancing towards the Islamic period that is from the (7th to 19th century AD.) equivalent to the (1st century to 14th century AH). brought about the Osman conquests in Iran. Existing texts and evidences reveal that during the Islamic period throughout,i.e., during the reigns of the various dynasties such as, the Karganian, Saljuqian and Ilkhanan, specially from the (4th to 8th century AH.) this region thrived from economic, cultural and artistic point of view. One of the reasons that Soltanieh was chosen as the capital was due to the fact that this region was at its economic peak in the (7th and 8th centuries AH.). This territory was disheveled and ruined during the Mongol attack, but regained its importance during the reign of Soltan Mohammad Khoda Bandeh and become a renounced capital for the Ilkhan government.
In accordance to the orders of Oligaito, a rampart was built around Soltanieh in the midst of which a huge fort was created. Oljaito also constructed a large dome which was to house his tomb and this dome is the renounced 'Gonbad ' or dome of Khoda Bandeh. During the reign of Oljaito, Soltanieh was counted as one of the most important cities of the Ilkhanans after the city of Tabriz.
In the 9th century AH and after decline of Ilkhanans, the Sarbedarans came to power. But during the attack of Teimoor the Lame, the Zanjan region fell to ruins and it was only during the reigns of Shah Tahmasb Safavid and earlier in the reign of Mohammad Khan Qajar that this territory made relative advancement both culturally and economically.