Gilan Rural Heritage Museum

Gilan Rural Heritage Museum Gilan Rural Heritage Museum

Gilan Rural Heritage Museum, located in Saravan Forest Park, 18 km south of Rasht, 2 km off the Qazvin – Rasht highway is near completion.  With work on two sections still outstanding, it is open to the public on Fridays only.  Developers are working tirelessly to finalize the museum in time for the upcoming Nowruz holidays, starting March 20, 2015, according to IRNA.  

  A Lost History Preserved

Gilan Rural Heritage Museum, is a replica model, in honor of the villages and life destroyed by the massive earthquake that hit the region in June 1991.

The Rudbar-Tarom earthquake in northwest Iran, along with its aftershocks, claimed more than 40,000 lives (according to official reports), left more than 500,000 homeless, and destroyed three cities (Rudbar, Manjil, and Lowshan). It also completely destroyed 700 villages, slightly damaged 300 more, and caused $7 million worth of damage in Gilan and Zanjan provinces, southwest of the Caspian Sea. The strongest earthquake to hit a densely populated urban area of Iran this century, the shock disrupted virtually every aspect of urban life.

Nearly 100,000 adobe houses sustained major damage or collapsed resulting in 40,000 fatalities, and 60,000 injured; 500,000 people were left homeless.

The reconstruction that followed gave way to urbanization and modernity, replacing the adobe-style architecture and a way of life that had endured hundreds if not thousands of years.

The replica village, originally conceived in 2002, is an attempt to create a record of the enormous lost rural heritage. It is an aim to preserve both the ‘tangible heritage’, such as the architecture, handicrafts, tools, local clothes, and foods, as well as ‘intangible heritage’, such as the traditions, rituals, beliefs, and values.

The village shows examples of the thatched roofs, knitted mats, and woven cloths, typical of the region, as well as construction techniques and the unwritten knowledge existent in the villages.

After much deliberation, Saravan Forest Park was selected as the most appropriate site for the museum due to its topography, easy access, and favorable infrastructures.


The replica village has been divided into nine zones, each depicting one region and the architectural construction typical of the area.

The different zones aim respectively to depict village life and architecture typical of the Gilan planes, mountains, highlands and coast; each village distinct, and different in response to the different terrain.

To ensure the heritage museum preserved a true and accurate record of the villages and village life, a group of experts were sent to the various regions to identify representative buildings. Buildings still standing in each area were selected from anthropological and architectural points of view, then disassembled, transferred to Saravan Forest Park, and again reassembled.


Set across 45 hectares of land, the Gilan Rural Heritage Museum site includes restaurants, tea-houses, a children’s recreational area, a camp site, markets, tea farms, rice fields, a square for local games and sports, a botanic garden, as well as a research center dedicated to the study of local agriculture techniques, animal husbandry, architecture, and anthropology.

The site also features handicrafts workshops teaching local crafts of pottery, mat weaving, and sewing.

Two residential complexes, inspired by rural architecture, provide lodging for the visitors. Each complex includes 150 units, where between three and five people can stay and enjoy the vast museum.

The museum is still under construction. Due to heavy rains, dampness in the air, and the high number of visits, restoration will need to be continuous.

Of 80 structures displayed in the museum, 36 were registered on the national heritage list.

Thus far, seven zones have been reconstructed; seven homesteads with rice barns have been reassembled on the site. On average, the buildings date back to 150 years ago.