If you ever travel to the north of Iran, make sure you go to Masuleh historical village. It is within an area of 100 hectares in the southwestern highlands of Gilan Province. You can easily drive through the Caspian Forests and get there from Rasht, Fouman and Makvan cities. Its beautiful nature and unique architectural style attract many domestic and foreign tourists every year.
In addition to its attractive nature and mountainous climate, the model of urbanization and architecture is impressive. The terraced style of the houses in this village is quite common in some other parts of Iran. The roofs of the lower houses are the courtyard of the upper ones.
You can see terraced architecture in other parts of Iran like in Kurdistan Province (Paveh) and also the historic village of Abyaneh in Isfahan Province. Some of those settlements date back to pre-Islam Iran.
The terraced style has kept the societies safe from invasion and sudden attack of the enemies. Thus, we can see this style in certain areas of Iran. The style has become common as one of the architectural styles in Iranian culture and tradition.
History of Masuleh Historical Village
To know more about the history of Masuleh village, we need to divide the history of this city into two different periods:
The first part refers to Old Masuleh, “Kohneh Masuleh” in Persian, which was the origin of the local people of Masuleh. It is located on the 10th-kilometer distance on Masuleh-Khalkhal Road. The second part is the current Masuleh that is the tourist destination we discuss here. Many visit it today to further learn about Iranian culture and tradition.
According to the archaeological excavations carried out in this area in 1995, Masuleh was one of the most prominent communities in Gilan between the 5th and 8th centuries. The metalworking industry in this region had a significant reputation. Meanwhile, various surveys and numerous excavations found some glazed pottery and metal objects in this region dating back to the Seljuk period.
There are different narrations about the immigration of local people from the old village to the current village, but they are not very reliable documents to refer to.
In the meantime, Masuleh historical village has become known as an important commercial and economic area in Gilan Province. During the construction of new connecting roads between the northern and southern provinces (Azerbaijan, Gilan, and Zanjan), Masuleh lost a part of its economic prosperity and its important role decreased gradually.
The lack of an attractive job market and the transfer of power from Masuleh to other cities led the people of this city to move to other parts of the country. As a result, the population of Masuleh decreased noticeably.
The architecture of Masuleh Historical Village
The architectural style of Masuleh is the main reason why it attracts several visitors every year. According to this style, architects have designed and constructed the buildings in 2 stories.
Due to the mountainous climate and cold winters, in most of Masuleh houses, there is a section called “Sumeh”. They are some closed spaces without a window located on the backside of the houses. The lack of a window and the terrace above made the inhabitants warm enough during the cold months and protected them against cold weather and rain. On the other hand, the presence of a chimney in Sumeh provided the necessary heat in the cold months of the year.
In addition, there is a section in Masuleh residential houses dedicated to summer. This section, which also includes the front facade of the houses, is made up of several windows and spring terraces.
Wood is the main construction material of the windows in these houses. It makes the façade beautiful and impresses the village visitors with an eye-catching appearance.
Given that Masuleh historical village is mountainous and land lots are scarce, architects used the space in the best way for building by adopting the terraced style. Thus, they have designed the roofs as passageways as well as the courtyard of the upper houses. Therefore, the use of this method has simplified the access to connecting pathways and, to a certain extent, compensates for the lack of space.
Currently, the bazaar of Masuleh, designed in 4 stories, is a unique charm of this village architecture that attracts lots of visitors. Among all the handicrafts you find in this village, the handmade dolls catch your eyes more. You can find them everywhere.
On top of the exclusive structure, people enjoy sitting is its cafes and tasting local dishes or sipping tasty local tea with cookies while looking at the breathtaking scenery.
Aoun bin Muhammad Shrine
The shrine of Aoun bin Muhammad is a religious-historical site in Masuleh. The structure of the shrine is octagonal with two domes. The inscription on the tomb is in Naskh script and dates back to 1606. The tombstones of this shrine date back to the Qajar era and are remarkable in their kind.
Over the centuries, Masuleh historical village has been one of the most influential cities in Gilan Province playing a key role in its economy. It has presented Iranian culture and traditions in the best way to international and domestic travelers.
As today the authorities have prevented new construction in this region and preserved the architecture and old texture of Masuleh historical village, it is still possible to see how attractiveness this area is and enjoy its traditional settings.