Iran's Zanjan Attractions

Zanjan BeckonsZanjan Beckons

The mountainous Zanjan Province is surrounded by seven other provinces: Qazvin, Gilan, Ardebil, East and West Azerbaijans, Kurdistan, and Hamedan. It is less than a 4-hour drive from Tehran. Situated on the slopes of the Alborz mountains,  Zanjan enjoys a brisk, characteristic winter, according to an article by tourism marketing expert Seyed Mohammad Hassan Hosseini, published by CHTN.

  Katalehkor Cave

Travelers who come to Zanjan in winter should definitely pay a visit to Katalekhor cave, 120 km south of the capital city.  The cave feels so ancient, that one envisages it as a safe hideout from the age of the dinosaurs during Jurassic period. Even if not a cave dweller, Katalekhor feels warm and cozy in winter. The inside temperature is several degrees higher than the outside. Even in the name of the cave, radiates warmth which means ‘mount of the sun’. The dark depths of the cave are said to be connected to Alisadr cave in Hamedan Province.

On the road from Zanjan to Katalekhor cave, is Gonbad-Soltanieh, the largest brick dome in the world.

The laundry house of Zanjan is world famous, only dating back to Qajar era, while the salt men who should certainly not be missed have been there since 2,750 years ago.

  How to Get There

The 320 km ride from Tehran to Zanjan is all highway. There are two highways: the Tehran-Qazvin, and the Qazvin-Zanjan highways. The main cities on the way are Karaj, Qazvin, and Abhar.

One can choose to visit Soltanieh Dome on the way to Zanjan; there is an access road to the monument, 40 km outside the city. It is just a 10 minute ride, and one reaches the magnificent dome, standing proud and lonely on a snow-covered plain.


Zanjan is home to a few mummies preserved in salt. The salt men belong to the first millennium BC. To visit the mummies, go to Zolfaqari house, behind Sabze-Meydan ‘green grocers market’. The associated museum is at the junction of Taleqani and Zeynabie. It is also where Achaemenid and Sassanid artifacts are displayed. Among the artifacts, the golden Qur’an box, adorned with carvings, is most memorable along with the wooden comb and silver earrings belonging to ‘salt man number 4’.

  Laundry House

About 90 years ago, a forward thinking mayor Ali Akbar Khan Tofiqi, established a public place for laundering. It has a unique architecture, and was a place where women gathered to launder and socialize with each other. Men were not allowed in the laundry house, but the building is now open for all. It is located on Rakhtshuykhane ‘laundry house’ alley, Sa’di street, Enqelab square.


The dynamic, semi-traditional environment of the bazaar provides a pleasant walk in winter. The bazaar is at a walking distance from Zolfaqari house and the  laundry house. It can be accessed from the southern side of Enqelab square; there is also a way by the western side of Masjid Seyed ‘Seyed mosque’.

 Papayi Ski Resort

Skiers will not be disappointed in Zanjan. Papayi ski resort is 45 km from Zanjan city and 3 km from Ijrud county. The resort can accommodate 5000 people. In addition to the usual services and facilities, such as parking, chairlift, and equipment, the resort features a ski school with 20 instructors.


One cannot come back from Zanjan empty-handed. To see the souvenirs, tourists can visit the stands in the laundry house, or the shops around Sabze-Meydan. Cutleries of Zanjan are backed with quality and a long tradition. Malileh is another metalwork done with fine filaments of silver. Charoq, the traditional sandal of Zanjan can be both practical and decorative.

 What to Eat

If not put-off by red meat, tourists are recommended to try dizi and kebab, 2 dishes for the cold. If one happens to be in the bazaar or around at lunch time, Haj Dadash restaurant should not be missed. The building follows the architecture style of a Qajar era bath house. If one has the stomach for a dizi, which is a meat stew cooked in stone pots, bozbash dizi is recommended. It is a stew made with black-eyed peas, a generous handful of parsley, chives and some fenugreek. Bozbash will warm diners up and lifts the spirit. Kebabs are agreeable in winter.

The sour potage (Persian: ash-torsh) of Zanjan is worth a try. It is a good starter in winter, when the main course is yet to come.

Zanjan hosts National Potage Festival in May. It is a rare opportunity where visitors can have all Persian potages at their disposal.