Masuleh the Tiny Terraced Town

Masuleh the Tiny  Terraced Town
Masuleh the Tiny  Terraced Town

Masuleh is undoubtedly one of the most scenic mountain towns in Iran. Inscribed as a national natural and cultural heritage, the likes of this old terraced town are rare to find elsewhere in the world.

Located 60 km from Rasht and 32 km west of Fouman, in Gilan Province, it is home to a varying population living in houses, spread across a hill. The population rises in spring and summer to 1,000; while this figure dwindles to 300 in winter, when it is hard to make the rooms warm enough.    

Masuleh dates back to between 800 and 1000 years ago, but further away from the town, approximately 12 km north, there is a somewhat desolate town, called Old Masuleh.  Residents of the old Masuleh, it is thought, migrated to the current town to flee epidemic diseases or invasions many years ago.

  What the Town Is Like

For nearly two-thirds of the year, the mountainous town is shrouded under thick blanket of fog, however if one were able to see anything, it would be the town’s yellow houses. The mustard yellow color makes the houses just about visible through the mist.

The buildings are usually two storied, and are ornamental, with old wooden doors and window frames and lush hanging geranium from flower boxes. The houses are mostly made from stone and wood, but in more recent times they are gradually being replaced by cement buildings and iron roofs.

The town enjoys a thriving river, named Masuleh Rudkhan, which turns into a waterfall farther away. There are also several springs that provide drinking water.  

Winters are cold and summers are moderate in Masuleh, which makes the humid weather more tolerable. In summers no air conditioning is needed, but in the frosty winters gas or wooden heaters come in handy.

  Market and Business

The mostly uncovered local bazaar, winds up the hill, and is a collection of shops with a thriving business dealing with tourists. The handicrafts shops, restaurants, bakery, and confectionary store are among the most popular.

Existence of several historical caravanserais and mosques in the vicinity is an indication that this town had seen better days and must have had a thriving past.  It lost its fervor with the migration of towners to the bigger cities. What remains today is a quaint town whose main livelihood is from tourism.

  When and How to Go

Visiting Masuleh is always a treat! However, from April to November are considered the high season for visitors.

Although it must be noted, that during the high season, such as summer time and weekends, accommodation can be hard to find.

Getting there is easy. Visitors should head to Fouman City or Rasht and from there buses and taxis are available for Masuleh.

To get there by car, Fouman can be reached direct without needing to go to Rasht first.

Petrol and CNG stations are available in Fouman. When going from Fouman to Masuleh however; drivers should make sure they have enough tank in the gas for a 70 km round trip.

 Upon Arrival

Fees are charged per car entering the town. During the high season, there may not be enough space to park.

 There are not much tourist information or brochures available, but foreign visitors will not have trouble navigating their way.

Several types of restaurants and accommodations are available at reasonable prices. Amenities can be bought at the retail stores.

As a souvenir one should make sure they buy one of those little dolls woven by the local women. Aside from dolls, knitted warm socks are good options especially for winter. Masuleh people bake their own confectionaries which can be fun to taste.