archaeologists have discovered part of the gate and entrance to
the Sultaniyeh Citadel, the biggest brick dome in the whole
“While experts were digging the ground to build a duct, they
stumbled upon part of the entrance and gate, dating back to Il-Khanid
dynasty (1256-1336), beneath the floor of a mosque,” said
Mohammad Reza Ghorbanzadeh, project manager.
The 1.35-meter-high gate is made of wood and has a metal,
probably bronze, cover whose patterns indicate it was built
during the reign of Il-Khanids. It weighs over 9 kg.
The mausoleum of Uljaytu Khodabande was built in Sultaniyeh,
near Zanjan, in 1304-13 (A.H. 703-13). The basic structure is an
octagon about 80 feet (24.5 m.) across on the inside. At the
base the walls are almost 23 feet (7 m.) thick, giving a total
width of approximately 126 feet (39m). The interior height of
the single dome is about 175 feet (about 53 m.).
Andre Godard has described this monument as “... the skillful,
confident work of a great builder, a consummate technician who
was at the same times an artist. Here is a dome with a span of
80 feet built solely of bricks, without any buttresses,
pinnacles, or shoulders of any kind, which stands simply by
virtue of a perfectly conceived and constructed profile.”
Details of the original glazed tile and fine, carved stucco in
the main chamber evoke speculation as to why blue was so much
preferred by the early Iranian artists. This is the earliest
major monument in Iran in which color has been used for massive
effects. The dome was covered with tiles of turquoise, while the
facade was decorated in shades of deep blue. Stalactites adorn
the cornice and increase the play of light and shadow. Through
the arch the elaborate patterns on the walls of the upper
galleries can be seen.
The upper galleries of the mausoleum of Uljaytu present vistas
of painted and carved stucco designs that glow in shades of red.
The brick walls were covered with a smooth surface of hard
plaster into which the patterns were cut to a depth of about
three-eighths of an inch (about a centimeter) and then painted
with distemper. It is extremely likely that decorative details
from illuminated manuscripts were used in the ornamentation of