No matter how many historical facts the experts lie before Persian eyes, Kermanshah will always be that city where Farhad, a young architect so in love with Shirin, an Armenian Princes killed himself after finding out, though falsely, that his beloved beautiful lady had died.
Putting this story aside, Kermanshah is a true visualization and so a constant reminder of Kurdish traditions and life-style, language, literature, cuisine, music, and all. Harmonious beautiful dances and dresses never failed to attract every tourist’s attention.
History has been given a complete role to play on Kermanshah’s stage. From the most ancient times, human has been marking its foot prince in that geographical area till the moment now.
This amazing, strong, and bold city was considered the second capital of all Iran after Ctesiphon in the reign of Sassanid Kings and Queens, though it became a city during the Achaemenid period. Kermanshah was in fact the main and the best link between East and West due to its perfect location.
Kermanshah is a large land between the Iranian plateau and the Mesopotamian plain. because of the high mountains, it possesses a cool and rather dry climate, though it could get very hot during the summer. There are roaring rivers alongside rocky cliffs which have happened to give Kermanshah a reputation of being the city of water and stone.
Kermanshah is the largest Kurdish city in the world and the language of the majority of Kurdish people is Kalhori and Laki. In addition to the Kurds, other ethnic groups such as Turks, Lors, Arabs, and Laks who migrated to this land still live in Kermanshah. Most of the people of Kermanshah are Muslims and Shiites, and in some parts, there are a small number of Sunnis, Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews.
If you are a musician or an instrument maker, do not forget that you can get the best tambourine and fiddle in Kermanshah. Persian music has a special place for Kurdish music in its history as its most famous musician and vocalists are Kurds.
Kermanshah is astonishingly beautiful in all seasons. Despite Kermanshah’s historical sites to visit, its nature provides rock climbing, caving, and mountaineering.
One of the oldest cookies in Kermanshah is Nan-e Berenji or Shirini Berenji. It has a unique taste with rice flour in it and is served in most of the fest. Other than this Shirini Berenji (Berenj means rice), there is also a native dish in Kermanshah that has made it to the list of Iran’s Intangible Cultural Heritage; Kaak. Kaak is a mutual souvenir between Shiraz and Kermanshah though it has a different name in Shiraz.
Kaak is made of thin dough layers with rose and cardamom flavors and decorated with coconut or pistachio powder.
Owning one of the most important UNESCO World Heritage sites, Kermanshah has other quite eye-catching places to visit:
Kermanshah is quite famous for these historical arches and it’s usually the first site anyone visits. Taq-e Bostan dazzles the eyes with its amazing reliefs and is one of the most well-known works left from the Sassanid period.
Built 1500 years ago, Taq-e Bostan with its magnificent air is one of the most valuable historical and artistic monuments of the country, which is located in the northwest of Kermanshah.
Taq-e Bostan consists of two large arches and a small one, each representing a historical event that took place mostly in the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. The large arch with its delicate and astonishing lithograph in a porch with a rectangular space with a width of 7 meters and 85 centimeters, a height of 11 meters and 90 centimeters, and a depth of 7 meters and 65 centimeters are reminiscent of Khosrow Parviz also known as Khosrow II’s coronation. On the left side of Khosrow Parviz stands Anahita the goddess of water and fertility.
Underneath this coronation ceremony lies an armored person riding a horse. Some believe it is Khosrow II himself while others say it is an embodiment of Bahram (Verethragna) the smiting of resistance, the hypostasis of victory, that one true power that never fades. The most sacred fire of Zoroastrians is dedicated to him which never dies, immortal as Ahuramazda is, and defeats the darkness wherever he marches.
The small arch has a rectangular space with a width of 5 meters and 80 centimeters and a height of 5 meters and 30 centimeters, which displays lithographs in the middle Persian language (Pahlavi) and images of the coronation of Shahpour II and III.
On the right side of the small arch, there is a lithograph depicting the coronation of Ardashir II, on the left side of Mithra with a halo of light and on the right side, the Zoroastrian’s Magi is giving a ring (as Mithra is standing near, the ring is a sign of a sacred bond) to Ardeshir II.
Tekyeh Moaven al-Molk
One of the magnificent buildings left from the Qajar dynasty is this Shia mourning site. The place literally is a picture book. It was completed during the time of Moaven al-Molk in 1903 in order to hold religious rituals and ceremonies, mourning the Shia Imams, and resolving ethnic and nomadic disputes.
The whole beauty of this building is due to its unique embossed and semi-embossed tiles, which include religious and historical events such as scenes from the battles of Ali, the events of Karbala, even images of the Achaemenid kings, the ancient sultans of Iran, and scenes from Shahnameh.
UNESCO World Heritage has announced this historical site as one of the most important heritages that has benefited the world’s history due to great Old Persian inscription in cuneiform. Because of the perfect translations, this inscription has the door to decrypt two most commonly used cuneiform in the ancient world, opened and history revealed a new level of information.
Other than this Achaemenid inscription, Bisotun has traces of men from very ancient times. After the Achaemenid, Parthians also left semi-monuments with some inscriptions and something like a figure of a King. It is not yet rather clear what the whole monument was because thanks to their greatest enemy, the Sassanid, it was smashed into pieces.
Remember that Farhad man we mentioned earlier at the beginning of this article? Well according to Nizami Ganjavi the Persian poet who composed the love story of Khosrow and Shirin in verses, Farhad started to build a water canal that would stream fresh milk from the mountains around Bisotun to Shirin’s bath in her palace and while working on that someone paid by Khosrow (who is the same Khosrow II by the way) told him Shirin is dead Farhad sighed from the bottom of his heart and fell to the ground and cried, and from the intense pain of this news, he threw his ax to one side. The ax sank into the ground to the handle. Sobbed harder and while calling Shirin’s name he told that awful messenger that after her, this bitter dark world of pure suffering has no worth to fight to live anymore, now that life has denied him of Shirin he would choose the path of death so that maybe they would meet once again.
As Nizami says, if you want to learn about love look at Farhad, he did everything for Shirin’s sake while he knew Shirin’s heart, though respecting and admiring Farhad, belonged to another man. Farhad still chose love above everything else and happily paid the ultimate price for it.
Kermanshah has the essence of Farhad’s love within its land, as the myths say from where his ax touched the earth grew and evergreen tree, treatment for all kind of heartaches.