How could someone do not want to visit Masuleh?
I often wonder, how do people not count being able to travel as their greatest capital. As one wise person said, travel is the only thing that would make you richer. Just look at the ones who always travel, they have so much to say!
If I could close my eyes, disappear and appear someplace right now, it would be at the peak of Masuleh.
This small village is built into the side of a mountain in the northern part of Iran. Masuleh has got to be an architectural wonder.
This small village which is only 60 kilometers from Rasht, the center of Gilan province, has a population of almost 600 people. You can see small houses built into the mist of the mountain in between the lush greenery, making this place very picturesque.
The locals build their houses not very close to the ground where there is always a danger of flooding due to the closeness to the rivers, and not too high up in the mountain so it will not be very cold to live in during winter.
As they say ‘One house’s yard is another house’s roof,’ these houses are all stunningly connected. The houses are beautifully adorned with flowers and plants. One cannot take enough photos of this scenic stepped village.
This village dates back to almost 1000 years ago, the existence of numerous graveyards proves this. Masuleh was an ironwork trading center in the olden days, but attacks from neighboring villages, a plague epidemic that killed most of the population and, a disastrous earthquake pushed the villagers a few kilometers away from the original village to make a new one. Not much of the old village is left nowadays but some stone ruins.
The current architecture of the village houses is very special. Most of the houses are two stories high, with an extrovert architecture, meaning there are many balconies and windows. This architecture also helps with air conditioning, putting the air currents to very good use during the warmer months.
One can walk up the mountain and view the village from up close. The houses are colored bright yellow which makes them visible through the fog. Each year the yellow color and mud covering the exterior of the houses are renewed. A river passes through the village called ‘Masuleh-Rood-Khan’ and a waterfall just a few hundred meters away from the village. A beautiful fog is always present on the upper part of the mountain which has become a special feature of this small village. Are you a writer, a poet, or someone suffering from creativity-block? These mystical mountains, the houses, and the view will help you with the inspiration you need.
Masuleh is a great place to relax away from the crowd and pollution of the bigger cities. It is worthy to mention that motor vehicles are not allowed to enter this village.
The beauty of Masuleh is not only limited to houses and architecture. Here you can see a vast number of natural beauties such as waterfalls, forests, rivers, and mountains.
If you are interested in mountain climbing, you can hike to the peak of ‘Shah Moallem’ mountain with a height of 3050 meters, the highest peak of the Gilan Province, and spend a night in the mountain. There is also another famous peak close to Masuleh called the ‘Trishum’ peak, with a height of 2470 meters.
The nature of this zone is very unique. Once you move slightly away from the village you can see abundant rivers and springs. All of these make Masuleh a wonder to visit. Other than the natural beauties of Masuleh, there are several other places one can visit. Masuleh is listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Once in Masuleh village, one can also visit the museum and get a chance to learn more about this region and its culture. The anthropology museum of Masuleh opened in the year 2002, consisting of three parts: the first part consists of documents and materials belonging to the village from the past century. The second part shows objects dating back almost two centuries ago. And the third part of the museum displays present century objects and handicrafts such as glass and pottery.
One of the attractions of Masuleh village is the traditional bazaar. In this bazaar, one can see the locals selling their products. The bazaar is also a great place to buy souvenirs. Straw handicrafts, clay containers, hand-woven woolen socks, and handmade shoes are amongst the popular souvenirs.
Another souvenir one can buy are the large and small hand-knitted dolls made by the local women. Also, there are so many different kinds of food and snacks sold at the bazaar. So, don’t miss it!
The waterfalls of Masuleh are beautiful sites to see. If you are a mountaineer, you can take the gentle slope in the path to the waterfall and visit the “Khusham” waterfall. This waterfall is 30 meters high.
If you visit Masuleh, do not forget to visit the forest park. This beautiful forest park is one of a kind in all of the middle east. There is a huge variety of trees, plants, and herbs in this forest park. One can spend a few hours in this forest park and let his eyes feast on this incomparable natural beauty.
Who says it has to be all about sitting there and admiring mother nature’s gift? If it were Joey from “Friends” he’d never go that far with no sign or talk of food!
One of the most fun and interesting activities for a tourist is eating local and traditional food! The north of Iran has a rich cuisine. If you are a vegetarian, northern cuisine is for you! There are many meatless recipes, one more delicious than the other. Some are very popular all-around Iran such as “Mirza Ghassemi”, which consists of barbecued aubergine, tomatoes, garlic, and spices.
There is also a soup called “Ashe Doogh” which is quite popular in this region. A trip to the north will not be complete without trying these traditional foods! Make the Joey in you proud.
The people of Masuleh who speak Talysh, a northern dialect, have always been very welcoming and hardly ever complain about the abundant visitors in their village. If you decide to pay a visit to this beauty, have in mind that the winters can be cold and snowy with a temperature of zero degrees. The optimal time to visit is usually in the summer. The humidity would bother you though! I’d rather freeze than boil!
As some final word before sending you off with true Gilaki (people of Gilan) blessing “Ti jane urban” (you are my sweetheart, or you are so dear to me are the best and closest translations for that term), Masuleh is the jewel of Gilan and a must-see. With very close proximity to Rasht, it can be a day trip. If you decide to stay overnight, you can reside in a traditional hotel or residence. Just don’t cross it out of your visiting list. That same wise person said what you regret the most are the thing you did not do and this humble travel-blogger adds, the places you don’t go to see yourself there.