The tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili is located in Ardabil, Iran. Sheikh Safi, an eminent leader of an Islamic Sufi established by the Safavid, was born in Ardabil where this complex is located. The tomb of Sheikh Safi, in Ardabil, was first built by his son Sheikh Sadr al-Din Musa, after Sheikh Safi's death in 1334. The tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din in Ardabil is of Outstanding Universal Value as an artistic and architectural masterpiece and an outstanding representation of the fundamental principles of Sufism. Sheikh Safi al-Din Khanegah was built as a small microcosmic city with bazaars, public baths, squares, religious buildings, houses, and offices. It was the largest and most complete khanegah and the most prominent Sufi shrine since it also hosts the tomb of the founder of the Safavid Dynasty. For these reasons, it has evolved into a display of sacred works of art and architecture from the 14th to the 18th century and a centre of Sufi religious pilgrimage.
The conception of the entire ensemble layout, the proportions of the internal and external spaces and of the buildings, their design and refined decoration, together with the climax created by the sequenced path to Sheikh Safi al-Din’s shrine, all combined, have concurred to create a unique complex in which aesthetics and spirituality are in a harmonious dialogue. This place of spiritual retreat in the Sufi tradition uses Iranian traditional architectural forms to maximize use of available space to accommodate a variety of functions (including a library, a mosque, a school, mausoleum, a cistern, a hospital, kitchens, a bakery, and some offices). It incorporates a route to reach the shrine of the Sheikh divided into seven segments, which mirror the seven stages of Sufi mysticism, separated by eight gates, which represent the eight attitudes of Sufism. The ensemble includes well-preserved and richly ornamented facades and interiors, with a remarkable collection of antique artifacts. It constitutes a rare ensemble of elements of medieval Islamic architecture.
The Safavids valued the tomb-mosque form, and the tomb with its mausoleum and prayer hall is located at a right angle to the mosque. The buildings in the complex surround a small inner courtyard (31 by 16 meters). The complex is entered through a long garden. The mausoleum, a tall, domed circular tower decorated with blue tile and about 17 meters in height; besides, it is the 17th century Porcelain House preserving the sanctuary's ceremonial wares. Several parts were gradually added to the main structure during the Safavid dynasty. A number of Safavid sheikhs and harems and victims of the Safavids’ battles, including the Battle of Chaldiran, have been buried at the site. Ilkhanid and Timurid architectural languages, influenced by Sufi philosophy, have created new special forms and decorative patterns. The layout of the ensemble became a prototype for innovative architectural expressions and a reference for other khanegahs. As the shrine of a prominent Sufi master, who also was the founder of the Safavid Dynasty, the property has remained sacred in Iran up to the present day.
In 2010, it was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The nominated property has been protected under the Iranian legislation since 1932. According to the law currently in force, special protection provisions are in place for the property, the buffer zone and for a wider area called the ‘landscape zone.’ These provisions, already in place, are also being incorporated into the revised Master Plan for Ardabil, final approval of which is scheduled for September 2010.
My wife and I spent two weeks in Iran on tour with Ahmad in May this year. We so enjoyed his knowledge and company and driving us around to suit our interests. We also went to places like Kerman, Yazd, Shiraz, Isfahan and Tehran. One...More
Kerman, Yazd, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kashan and Qom: for two weeks we were regaled with many insights into the fabulous centuries-old history of Iran. From the roots of the Zoroastrianism to the splendors of Persepolis, a journey through the country’s history is given more meaning when...More
The tour with Ahmad was part of a three week tour around ( part ) of the country. We have been in many places and met nice people. I have enjoyed my time. He knows the country and want to share it. Great ! I...More
At the beginning we were scared to have a guide driving the two of us for two weeks. What if we don't like each other? It turned out that Ahmad is an excellent guide not because he possesses a lot of knowledge about his country...More
Thank you for the best trip of my life, Ahmad and Iran!! Iran was at once everything I had hoped and not at all what I expected. It is an exceptionally beautiful country with an equally warm and inviting population. The delicious food doesn't hurt...More
I visited Iran with a slovenian agency and Ahmad Janati was our tour guide. I would definitely recommend him, as he possesses a huge amount of knowledge in history, politics, culture,... His English is very good, which makes things a lot easier for you when...More