Tourist & Resident Guide to Iran

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Masuleh Gilan Province Iran

Masuleh, Gilan Province
Though Masuleh is one of Iran’s most valued architectural treasures it is also one of its humblest. Here it is not the sweeping vision of a master architect or the glory of a great king that tourists flock to appreciate, but the simplicity of a traditional village in a spectacular location untouched by the modern age.

Masuleh is located about a one and a half hour drive away from the city of Rasht, less than an hour away from Fumn, in the foothills of Mount Talesh. In fact, the village literally grips the mountainside, hanging on as if it were in danger of plunging into the river at its foot.

The architectural style that makes Masuleh special can be seen elsewhere in Iran but not so perfectly preserved. In order to accommodate houses, a bazaar, 18 mosques and all the facilities of a village of just under 2,000 inhabitants, the roofs of many buildings double up as the streets of the level above.

The height difference between the lowest and the highest points of this stepped village is about 100 metres. The car park at river level is as far up as motor vehicles can go – this being the only village in Iran in which automobiles are completely banned.

Much is being done in Masuleh to maintain buildings in the old ways. Every year walls get a fresh coating of mud, giving the whole village an organic feel – as if the buildings have grown out of the earth of the streets.

At the heart of the town is the bazaar which is a lively nest of alleys and stairways with cubby-hole shops selling a wide variety of handicrafts, freshly-baked sweets, a worrying preponderance of knives and all weaves and colours of silk scarves. One level above the bazaar are a number of restaurants and teahouses where you can lunch on kabab followed by tea and gheliyoon.

Masuleh, Gilan Province
Stray up further and your chances increase of having a grumpy local chide you for not sticking to the "tourist areas". Not everybody here is glad of the attention that their picturesque little town brings. However, most of Masuleh’s inhabitants welcome the interest in their village and some even open their homes to guests for meals or overnight stays.

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