Covering an area of 2441 square kilometers, Savadkooh is located at the center of Mazandaran province. It is limited northward by Qaemshahr, westward by Babol, eastward by Sari, southward by the Alborz mountain range and Tehran, and southeast by Semnan province. The main part of this city is located in a valley, in the central Alborz region, where Talar river passes.
The tallest summit of Savadkooh, is Arfa‘- Kooh, with a height of 3500 meters. The most important rivers flowing in this city are Talar and Babol-rood, which originate from the Alborz mountain range standing southeast and southwest of Savadkooh. These rivers irrigate the farmlands in Babol, Babolsar and Qaemshahr.Including two areas of mountain in the north and foothill in the south, the mountainous area has a temperate and humid climate, and the weather in the south is dry and cold.
Savadkooh consists of 4 cities: Pol-Sefid, Zir-Ab, Shirgah and Alasht; 2 districts: Central and Shirgah; and 6 hamlets: Sharq o Gharb-e Shirgah, Lafoor, Sorkh-kola, Valoopei, Rastopei and Kassiliyan.Having 250 seasonal and permanent villages, the language spoken in Savadkooh is Mazandarani. Its native inhabitants are Shi‘ite Muslims.
The farmlands in Savadkooh are limited because of its large forests and mountainous areas. So the farmers use their crops themselves, including rice, wheat, barley and sugar cane. According to geographical features, the economy of this city is based on apiculture and animal husbandry, more than agriculture.
Historical Background :
Darius I, the great Achaemenian monarch in his famous inscription in Bistoon, mentioned the name of Pātišvāreš as one of his ruled areas. Later, this name changed into Patešxārgar, in Pahlavi language and Faršavādjar in Arabic one, following the Arab invasion. Strabo, the old Greek geographer, in his book records this name as Prāxovātrās.
Shapur I, the Sassanid monarch, in Ka‘beh Zardosht inscription, in Naqsh-e Rostam, in Fars province, refers to an area as Pādešxār. In Sassanid sources, such as Karnameh Ardeshir-e Babakan, the name of Patešxār appears. Ebn-e Esfandiar and Mir Zahirod-Din-e Mara‘shi – the old geographers of Mazandaran – give its name as Patešxārgar as a large area in present-day Mazandaran, including Azarbaijan, Gilan, Tabarestan, Koomesh and Damghan.
Mohammad Hassan Khan E‘temad Saltaneh’s Tadvin Fi Ahval Jebal Shervin (History of Savadkooh) mentions it as the old name of the ancient area of Savadkooh. They believe that the word “Savad” was distorted and changed to Faršavāt. Savadkooh enjoyed great importance in the history of Tabarestan and even in Iran.
Its tall mountains were the seats of government of the Qaran-Vands, Bavands – famous as “Malek-ol-Jebal”(King of Mountains) – Shervin, Vandad Hormoz and Maziyar rulers. They defended the area against the invasions of Arabs (Amawid and ‘Abbasid monarchs) and tried to preserve their ceremonies and culture. The existence of numerous fortresses and military fortifications vindicate this claim. In addition, Lajim tower with a brick inscription (413 AH) in Pahlavi script, shows the attention of Savadkooh inhabitants to the script, language and customs of their ancestors.The population of this region composed many poems, describing the heroic efforts and bravery of their notables
1. Espahbod Khorshid Cave :
This cave is located at the beginning of Khatirkooh road, 2km away from Ravat-sar village. Measuring 80x100 meters, its arched entrance is the largest natural one in the world. On the left side of the cave, a four-story-high castle was built. Made of stones and mortar, it is the masterpiece of architecture of its time.
On the right side of the cave, numerous trenches and defensive buildings were built, all of which remained firm and intact after centuries.
These two parts were connected through a road made of stones and mortar. 2 meters wide, this road was built 50 meters above earth level. Today only traces of it remain. The existence of some foundations, confirm that this cave was surrounded by a raw wall. The remains of a cistern, several silos and numerous defensive monuments are located outside the cave.
Dating back to the end of the Sassanid period, it was regarded as a fortified garrison and a fortress of Tabarestan in the early Islamic centuries. According to chronicles, this cave was used as a shelter by Khorshid, the last ruler of Tabarestan. But other evidences indicate that it was used until 3rd-4th centuries AH.
2. Ravat-sar Castle :
Located on a mountain, at the junction of Khatirkooh road (the Semnan-Tabarestan road) and Firoozkooh road (the historic road from Rey to Tabarestan), overlooking Ravat-sar village, this castle has an irregular base and covers approximately 500 square meters. Made of stones and mortar, it was built according to the shape of the mountain. Its walls measure 34, 15,36 and 13 meters. Today only 4.5 meters of its walls remain.
Its L-shaped entrance is connected to a quadrilateral chamber through a corridor. 5 watchtowers stood inside the castle. It was used as a landmark for caravans, from the end of the Sassanid period to the 6-7th centuries AH.
3. Kangeloo Castle:
Registration No. : 2754
Located on an isolated mountain, in Rassto-pei hamlet, and made of stones and mortar, the castle is surrounded by tall walls. On the northern and southern sides of the wall, two solid towers were symmetrically built.Facing to the north and south, the walls are 18.80 meters long and the towers are 7 meters high.Housing several rooms, the central tower features two arches, which show that it was a two-story-high building. The inner and exterior walls are covered by mortar.According to features of the architecture and the potteries found in it, the castle dates back to the end of the Sassanid period and the early Islamic period.
4. Hassan Boor (Kassiliyan) Castle :
With an altitude of 850 meters above free sea level, it is located in Hassan Boor forest, on a conical wooded mountain. The name of this castle appears in Ebn-e Esfandiyar’s Tarikh-e Tabarestan and Seyyed Zahirod-Din Mar‘ashi’s Tarikh-e Tabarestan, Royan Va Mazandaran. Having a hexagonal plan, it was built according to the shape of the mountain. The length of its sides ranges from 15 to 23.5 meters.
Covering an area of 1000 square meters, the castle features 7 towers. 5 of them are circular constructions and the 2 others have rectangular plans located on both sides of the main entrance. Its 8 meter-thick wall consists of two parts, 6 meters of it, was made of cut stone and mortar, and the other part was made of fired bricks measuring 37x37x8 centimeters. Access to the building is gained from the south. The entrance houses two square vestibules, connected through a corridor. Housing a cistern, the monument was used from the end of the Sassanid period to the 5-6th century AH.
5. Maziyar Castle, Lafoor :
Located on a wooded mountain, near Lafoorak village and covering an area of 1000 square meters, it is some 200 meters long and 50 meters wide. The plan of the castle follows the shape of the mountain. Its 4 meter-thick walls are made of stone, fired bricks and mortar. With a width of 3 meters, the entrance is located on the southern edge of the building. The castle features a small pool decorated with turquoise tile-work; and numerous barrel-drains allowed water of a spring to enter it and exit through a sewage. The castle was habitable from early 6th to 7th century AH.
6. Chehel-Dar Castle :
Overlooking Veresk bridge, near the village by the same name, atop a mountain leading to the precipices from three sides and having a rectangular plan, it is 450 meters long and 110 meters wide. The construction is made of stone and mortar. Several fired bricks were found inside the castle, indicating that it had many brick buildings in the past. Covering an area of 100 square meters, its entrance is located on the southern edge of the monument. The remains of the planks resting on the walls, indicate that the castle had several stories. Facing southward, there are numerous windows, used for shooting. Several stone cylindrical towers stood in the building, strengthening its structure. This castle and many others in Savadkooh, belonged to the Bavand family. According to the found pieces of pottery, it was in use from the end of the Sassanid period to 6-7th centuries AH.
7. Watchtower of Professor Shervin Bavand :
Located on the Firoozkooh road, at the beginning of Vassi-sar village road, near a stream, atop a rock. Having an octagonal plan, each of its sides is 1.50 meters long. Access to the tower is gained from the north and several windows are located on its eastern, southern and northern sides. Housing numerous battlements, it was made of stone, mortar and cement. Dating back to the end of the Sassanid period, the monument was restored several times in the Islamic period, especially during the reign of the Bavand dynasty. This watchtower was destroyed by an earthquake in 1957 AD and was later restored by professor Shervin Bavand, after whom it was named.
8. Lajim Tower :
Registration No. : 185
Located in Lajim village, in Savadkooh, it is called Emamzadeh ‘Abdollah by the native inhabitants. Dating back to 413 AH, it is the burial place of Abol-Favaress Shahryar Ebn-e ‘Abbas. It is a cylindrical brick construction crowned by a twin-shelled octagonal conical dome. Access to this tomb tower is gained from the east. The exterior facade is decorated with simple moqarnas (stalactites), which was unique in its time.
Two bands of brick inscriptions in Kufic and Pahlavi-Sassanid scripts adorn the tomb tower.
9. Tomb Tower of Pir Shahryar, Lamzar Village :
According to chronicles, this monument features a carved wooden door and a funerary case. The inscription of the case bears the poems of two poets from the Alborz mountain range, by the names of Sheikh Soltan Baloo Kia Soltan – one of the dervishes of Tabarestan – and Darvish Mohammad Shahryar, the devoted dervish. They lived in an interval of 170 to 200 years. In addition it gives the date of construction (Moharram, 880 AH, when Darvish Mohammad Shahryar ruled in this area). He was one of the grandsons of the Bavand dynasty in Shahryar- Kooh. Built on a rock, this tomb tower is a cylindrical construction with a twin-shelled dome. Dating back to the 9th century AH, its inner walls are adorned with stucco carvings. The tower is 3.20 meters thick and 2.20 meters high. The grave of this monument was carved in a rock. The remains of some tiles indicate that the dome was probably decorated with tile-work.
10. Tomb Tower of Aqa Shahbaloo Zahed :
Registration No. : 1642
Located in an old graveyard near Dehmiyan village, overlooking a branch of Talar river, it is called Shahbaloo, “Kheneh-vā” or “Khaneqa”. It is an octagonal construction crowned by an octagonal conical and twin-shelled dome inspired from the architecture of the 9th century AH. According to written sources and its inscription, it is the burial place of Sheikh-ol-Jalil Motabe‘-ol-Khalil Qotb-ol Maleh Vaddin-ol Hassan Ebn-e Mohammad, famous as Balooyeh. Its gravestone and case was rebuilt upon the order of ‘Emad-ol-Molook Sohrab Mazandarani and Rostam Ebn-e Shahr Velash in 633 AH. A mosque exists near the tomb tower which was built at a later date. Housing two panels, its inscription bears the date of construction (907 AH) and gives the name of the commissioner (Shoja‘-oddin Aqa Sohrab Ebn-e Aqa Rostam Rooz-Afrooz) and carpenter (Mohammad Ebn-e Ostad Hossein Najjar Sareni).
11. Shirgah Bridge :
Registration No. : 3662
Located on the Shah ‘Abbasi historic road, which connected Ashraf (Behshahr) to Esfahan, and dating back to the Safavid period, this bridge spans Kassiliyan river. With a height of 57 meters and a width of 6 meters, it is a two-spanned bridge made of fired brick, mortar and plaster. It features a big arch on the northern side and a herring-bone-shaped one on the southern side.
12. Shapur Bridge:
Registration No. : 3661
Erected on the Shirgah-Qaemshahr road, it features two herring-bone-shaped arches of different sizes and numerous triangular wave-breakers, strengthening its structure. The bridge was made of stone and mortar. Dating back to the Safavid period, it is 29.70 meters long and 7 meters wide.
13. Javarem Bridge:
Located along the Shirgah-Zirab road, near the forest, it spans a branch of Talar river. With a height of 14 meters, this bridge features a herring-bone-shaped arch. It is made of stone and mortar. The exterior facade is decorated with quadrangular cut stones. There are 6 bridges across the Shah ‘Abbasi road, between two villages of Veresk and Beshel, all of which date back to the Safavid period.
14. Shah ‘Abbasi Bridge, Veresk Village :
Erected approximately under the Veresk railway bridge, in the village by the same name, it consists of two parts connected completely. Made of stone and mortar, the earlier one dates back to the Safavid period. Lying north and south, this bridge was widened in the Pahlavi I period. Facing eastward, the Safavid bridge features two water breakers. It was 6.20 meters wide and now, it is 10.20 meters wide including the new one. The bridge is 10.20 meters long and 7.70 meters high. Both of two bridges house a herring-bone-shaped arch and bear features of Pahlavi and Safavid architecture.
15. Historic Road of Sar-Tangeh :
Located along the Khatirkooh-Shahmirzad road, near Talar river, it was carved in a mountain and was made of stone and mortar. This road is 1.80 meters wide and 4 meters high. Dating back to the Islamic period, it was built on the remains of an older road. Today, approximately 50 meters of this road has remained intact.
16. Okhovvat Graveyard :
Located along the Firoozkooh road, between Do-Ab and Pol Sefid, the northern railway was built from 1927 to 1940. Following the construction of tunnel No. 6, located in Do-Ab, some of the workers died and were buried in this place. A commemorative stone tower was built by Mr. Loncher, the German engineer. Its inscription bears this text: “To the workers of railway, Iran, Do-Ab…… as a souvenir, by Loncher.”
17. Veresk Bridge :
Registration No. : 1534
Spanning the Veresk valley, it is located in the ‘Abbasabad district, in the Savadkooh area. With a height of 110 meters, the bridge features a 66-meter long arch. Having a length of 73.20 meters, it is one of the most important technical-engineering constructions in the northern Iranian railway..
18. Urim Railway Bridge :
Located near Urim village, it is one of the most important railway bridges after Veresk bridge. It features 11 spans with a length of 5 meters and a 60- meter long arch.
19. Baloo Bridge :
Located along the Shirgah-Zirab road, near Talar river, it was made of fired bricks and mortar. The main part of this bridge was destroyed because of breaking, and now two herring-bone-shaped arches remained intact. One of them is 3 meters wide and 4.75 meters high and another is 4.5 meters wide and 5.50 meters high. According to its architectural features, it probably dates back to before the Safavid period.
20. Urim Roodbar Church :
This monument was built, following the erection of the northern Iranian railway. It was used for religious ceremonies by foreign personnel. The church consists of a chamber, measuring 4.20x5.20 meters. With a height of 4 meters, it houses a prayer niche and four cement candlesticks. The construction was made of stone and cement.
The languages spoken in Savadkooh are Mazandarani, Farsi-Mazandarani and Farsi, for the major part; and Mazandarani and Farsi-Mazandarani for the inhabitants of the villages.
Natural Attractions :
The most important natural attractions of Savadkooh are: Shoor-Mast lake, near a village by the same name, Gazoo waterfall in Lafoor hamlet, waterfalls of Shirgah and Gadook, the mountains of Arfa‘-Kooh, Sangar and Qadam-gah, in Rassto-pei hamlet and Shervin mountain in Valoo-pei hamlet; and Alasht city.