Hamadan province Iran
- Hamadan city population over 420, 000
- area of ancient history
- located at over 1800m above sea level
- numerous archeological sites
- ancient Ecbatana - one of the oldest sites in Iran
Hamadan (Hamedan) province is situated in a mountainous area in the centre of western Iran. Mt. Alvand is tallest peak in the province at 3574m and with much of the area located well over 1700m above sea level, it has the coldest and longest winters in the whole of Iran. A cool and pleasant summer climate does however attract tourists escaping from the intense heat elsewhere.
One of the most famous natural attractions in Iran, the Ali Sadr Cave, is situated approximately 100km north of Hamadan City. The cave is in fact a sealed underground lake of crystal clear water, quite unlike river caves whose water flows out through an exit. Thus the cave is completely devoid of plant or animal life.
Discovered by chance by a shepherd around 40 years ago, 14km of caves have now been explored with 4km now arranged for tourists to explore by boat and on foot. The main chamber is 100m across at its widest and has a ceiling 40m high with the second largest not much smaller than this one.
With numerous stalactites and stalagmites (some over10m tall) and walls covered with mineral deposits unique to this cave, visitors are surrounded by scenes of magic and splendour. An artificial entranceway which once guided water out of the cave to the surface bears an inscription dating back to the reign of Darius I (521-485 BC).
Assyrian inscriptions dating back to 1100 BC mention, Hangmatana, the ancient name of Hamadan but the city had almost certainly been populated since the 3rd millennium BC making it the oldest city in Iran and one of the oldest in the world. It was here in 673 BC that the first Median capital was established under the name of Ecbatana, meaning "place of assembly".
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