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Guilan; the province of four seasons
Tue, 29 Jun 2010 12:09:04 GMT
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By Kourosh Ziabari

On the southern coast of Caspian Sea tranquilly lies a magnificent land considered by many Iranians as a rendezvous where they can turn the ordinariness and boredom of tedious holidays into memorable and unforgettable moments: Guilan.

Guilan is one of Iran's three Northern provinces adjacent to the Caspian Sea. It's conventionally referred to as "North" by many Iranian citizens, especially those who live in giant, polluted cities such as Tehran where people hardly have the chance to behold the marvelous beauty of rain, forest and nightingales.

The archeological excavations reveal that the history of habitation in Guilan dates back to the age of Medes, an ancient Iranian tribe who lived in the northwestern parts of the present day Iran some 3700 years ago. Medes first resided in these parts in the late second millennium BC during the Bronze Age collapse.

Archaeologists believe the inhabitants of Caspian Sea's littoral districts were historically skillful in hunting animals such as cows, deer, swine and gazelles. The splendid artifacts and remnants of handicrafts found during the excavations of Guilan signify that the early Guilanis were also dexterous and competent in arts.

Renowned historians such as Henry Field and Arthur Keith believe the civilization of Caspian Sea's southern coastline dates back to 5,000 years; however, some scholars have gone so far to assert the civilization of Guilan is more than 7,000 years old and has affected the neighboring civilizations such as that of Assyrians. According to Arnold Wilson and Henry Filed, the early inhabitants of the Iranian Plateau were the people who resided in what is now considered to be the province of Guilan.

The ancient site of Marlik is a historical, royal cemetery in the proximity of Rudbar city in which the Golden Cup of Marlik has been unearthed. It depicts a fascinating griffin moving in various directions and is approximately 3,000 years old. The golden cup is now being restored in the National Museum of Iran.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Guilan acquired a reputation as the "Gate of Europe" since the majority of Iran's cultural and economic transactions with the European countries and the Soviet Union would be handled through Guilan.

Because of its immense annual precipitation, Guilan's central city of Rasht is nationally known as the "City of Silver Rains". The climate of Guilan is mainly humid and sultry throughout the year; however, the abundance of annual rainfall has turned the province into a favorable and beloved place for the Iranians who live in the desert cities. It's widely believed that April, May and June are the best months of the year to visit Guilan.

Jungles and rainforests constitute some 38% of Guilan's area. The combination of natural and historical magnets has rendered Guilan a complex of unparalleled beauties. Traveling throughout Guilan, one can enjoy the calmness of Caspian Sea, the robustness and greenness of Alborz Mountains, the attractiveness of Saravan Jungles and splendor of rice farms which are spanned throughout the whole province.

If you once decided to take a visit of Rasht, you're highly recommended to come over to the Mirza Kuchak Khan's mausoleum. Mirza Kuchak Khan was a prominent freedom fighter from Guilan who played a vital role in the fate of Iran's Constitutional Revolution. He passed away in 1941. Mirza Kuchak Khan's mausoleum is a beautiful oriental-style building in the construction of which a number of Iranian decorative elements have been used.

Rasht is also distinguished for its Municipality Square. The historical buildings of the Municipality Square including the former headquarters of Rasht's post office and the former building of Iran Hotel were constructed by the German architects 60 years ago. The motif of buildings located in this complex was inspired by the patterns of Russian architecture.

However, Rasht should not be your final destination while surfing Guilan. It's a must for every tourist who comes to Guilan to stop by the historical village of Masuleh internationally noted for its exceptional and fantastic architecture. Homes in the "staircase village" of Masuleh are designed in a way that the roof of each home is the yard of the upper home, so there's a hierarchy of buildings throughout the whole village which generally looks like a set of staircases put together.

Your next destination for a comprehensive exploration of Guilan can be Lahijan, one of the largest cities in the province. Lahijan is the city of "tea" and "cookies". Iran's father of tea is buried in Lahijan. Haj Mohammad Mirza Ghovanlou was born in 1865 in the Khorasan province. He was employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when he was 16. He set off for France to serve as the Second Secretary of Iranian Embassy in Paris. In 1893, he embarked on a mission to India to serve as the Iranian console in Delhi where he inquired the essentials of tea industry and brought the first seeds of tea to Iran to be cultivated and produced. The first tea company of Iran was established upon the proposal which he submitted to the parliament.

The tomb of Mirza Ghovanlou is located in the Museum of Iran's Tea History in Lahijan. The documents and certificates related to the father of Iranian tea, antique kettles, teapots, goblets, schooners, tumblers and other accessories related to tea-drinking are being kept in this museum.

To complete your travel with a superb ending, bear in mind the magnificent forests and jungles of Talesh. Talesh is unique for its culture and trilingual status. The citizens of Talesh speak three different languages: Gilaki, Azeri and Taleshi. The vast plains of red tulips and jungles of pine, poplar and spruce put before your eyes the most beautiful and attractive portraits of nature and provide you with the opportunity to fill your lungs with the most unsullied, untainted oxygen which cannot be found anywhere else.

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