When a person fights for land, when the people of an area defend a land with empty hands, whether they choose it or not, they plant a part of their heart in that soil and grow up with it. It is the story of Khuzestan and its folk.
Ahvaz was my hometown, Khuzestan’s centre and the largest city of the province. However, Ahvaz is Khuzestan’s child and does not possess the same historic-cultural legacy Khuzestan does. That is why, in this blog despite the White Bridge, I won’t leave you in Ahvaz long. This story is much greater than just one city. It’s is about a vast land, open stretched wide arms and warm enough to make you feel safe. You could stay in Ahvaz as the facilities are much more comfortable there, and then ride the road to see what Khuzestan is about.
Khuzestan is the richest province of Iran and at the same time the most deprived.
Enrichment can be divided into different categories: History, culture, industry, economy, human resources and, agricultural resources.
The first indigenous civilization of the Iranian plateau that was able to establish its foothold in the ancient world originated in Khuzestan. The Elamites had an amazing place in the historical periods of Iran, and if we are honest, we must say that the Aryans learned from the Elamites how to live in a land, how to municipal or urban engineering, how to be civil and so, make their own culture.
Cities in Khuzestan, such as Chogha Zanbil, Susa, and Shushtar, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Susa was for a long time one of the important capitals of the Achaemenid.
The first prestigious university in Iran, Jondishapur, was built during the Sassanid’s reign in Khuzestan. Khuzestan was the best passage to Ctesiphon and as a result, it became very populated.
It was the first place that the Arabs destroyed and for a long time, due to its proximity to the center of the Abbasid caliphate, it found a Bedouin and Arab culture. This did not weaken Khuzestan, but like a deep ocean that allows any flow of water, it welcomed different people and contrasting cultures.
In contemporary times, two things put Khuzestan back on the map again: one was the discovery of oil and the transformation of Masjed Soleiman, Abadan, and other cities into refineries producing oil and oil products, and the other was the invasion of archaeologists to the historical plains of Khuzestan.
Once again, Khuzestan became the center of attention, and this time the Europeans entered and exploited its resources to their advantage. Colonialism is not a phenomenon whose dirty face could be washed away over time. Colonialism from the past to the present and as long as man lives on this planet is bad, ugly, and disgusting.
Who will ever forgive Hitler? Anyone who can acquit Hitler of his sins also considers the colonialists innocent, and this is stooping so low from humanity.
With the nationalization of the oil industry on March 15, 1951, this huge source of wealth returned to the Iranian people, but what archaeologists stole from Persian history remains still in the world’s leading museums, without naming the original owners.
The calamities of Khuzestan did not end at that point. The longest war in the Middle East since World War II took place between Iran and Iraq. Khuzestan lost parts of its territory at the beginning of the war, but with heavy casualties, men and women, teenagers, and anyone who could help Khuzestan in any way possible, they reclaimed what Saddam took. The effects of the destruction of Khuzestan, especially in the border cities, are still standing and visible.
This war, this acceptance of different cultures, communication with all parts of the world through the international ports of Khuzestan, the harsh weather, and high heat, have softened the hearts of its people. They are very patient, warm-hearted, kind, and loving. Even if you are a stranger, a sudden guest, they are so receptive that you do not feel a bit far away from your family, city and, country.
Khuzestan is not a place to forget. It has so much to give that it will never end, it will never die, and will live forever, as long as the earth stands (or spins in scientific terms).
Khuzestan’s best places to see:
Suspension Bridge is also known as the White Bridge (Ahvaz)
The White Bridge is one of the old bridges in Ahvaz and it is built over the Karun River. Iran’s very first suspension bridge has become a symbol of Ahvaz, Khuzestan’s capital. The construction of this bridge was complete in 1936 by German engineers and was renovated and restored in 2010. Currently, this bridge is used one-way by cars and there are two sidewalks for pedestrians on both sides.
Shush Castle (Shush)
The ancient site of Susa has been repeatedly researched by local and foreign archaeologists. Jean-Jacques de Morgan built up a castle to protect the historical hills and sites of ancient Susa. He also helped himself with what Darius the great left from his grand Apadana, material, and decoration.
Apadana Palace (Shush)
As this Palace is one of UNESCO World’s Heritage sites, we have a full section devoted to it. For more information, read UNESCO World Heritages in Iran on our website, or take a short trip to the Louvre museum!
Again, this great Ziggurat has a dedicated blog in our website’s UNESCO World’s Heritage sites in Iran section. Fortunately, this Ziggurat was so large and grand that the archaeologists couldn’t take it with them. So when you go to Chogha Zanbil, near Shush, you could see it. It is still there.
Tomb of Daniel, the Prophet (Shush)
Not that the building has anything special, but for such a long time, especially when Achaemenid was ruling, this tomb was a central and very important holy shrine for the Jews. Legends have it that Daniel was one of the prophets of Israel who lived in Babylon in the seventh century BC. After the freedom of the Jews by Cyrus the Great, he came and lived in Susa. Its dome is not in the classic style of domes. It is not round but rather conical.
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System (Shushtar)
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System was the largest industrial complex before the Industrial Revolution. Yet another UNESCO World Heritage site of Khuzestan awaits you in Shushtar. So magnificent, large, and this time not the historical events but the brilliance of the engineers’ mind would capture your attention. Don’t forget to read put full documentary and introduction of this site in the section of UNESCO World’s Heritage of Iran.
If you’d like to see what happened exactly when Iraq invaded Khuzestan, Abadan is the place. Not just the war-affected people’s nature, but also because of the refinery, the British government -before the revolution- constructed many things in Abadan. People still use the words “line, time, tomato, and gate” in their common conversation.
Abadan was the first place to serve Pizza, had a disco and club. People who have lived in Abadan at those times say it was the LA of Iran. The church of Christians is side by side an Islamic mosque. Its people are full of life, happy, and fun to hang out with. Plus, they are huge fans of Brazilian football!
There are two costumes mostly seen in Abadan. First the special way they mourn Muharram. They gather up in circles, inside cycles, each man holding the next man’s wrist and as they step forward and back, they move counter-clockwise while stamping onto their chest with the rhythm of the Noha. It may look like an ancient dance, but with a heavy heart.
The second, if from the Arabs who live in Khuzestan. I have seen this in Abadan so I might as well mention it here. Coffee is a traditional drink of these tribes. They have a special ceremony both for making it and serving it. Just remember, if you do not shake your cup they will continue to serve you coffee as long as they don’t see your sign.
Kapu Weaving (Dezful)
Dezful has brilliant weather, large weather, and natural landscapes. This nature has given the people of Dezful the material they need to weave Kapu.
The young stems of the palm tree are wrapped around the stems of the cortex and create different shapes of utensils or baskets to put your clothes, kinds of stuff, and whatever you’d like to be put in something. Various colors, shapes, and decorations are used while weaving Kapu.
Hawizeh Marshes (Hawizeh)
Hawizeh Marshes (Hur al-Azim) is the largest border wetland in Khuzestan province, which is one of the largest wetlands in Iran. This wetland is located on the border of Iran and Iraq.
During the Iran-Iraq war, the city of Dasht-e Azadegan suffered heavy damage and was almost destroyed. This region has witnessed many ups and downs during its life so that no traces of its ancient history remain. Dehlawieh, Hawizeh, Chazabeh, Jafir, Talaieh operational areas are among the tourist attractions of the region.
Sarakhiyeh or the Persian Venice
Sarakhiyeh village is famous for its traditional texture the Venice, Iran because it is located on the water and the only means of transportation in this village is by boat. The villagers speak Arabic but are so welcoming that they would take you on a magnificent tour. Unlike Venice, you will see no sign of modernity there. Most houses are built out of natural materials.
This village is built exactly in the heart of Shadegan wetland. Shadegan International Wetland has rich biodiversity and many tourist attractions.