Zanjan | Dome
Uljaytu, the blessed king, in imitation of his brother, Ghazan Khan who had built Shanb Ghazan in Tabriz, decided to set up a citadel and shrine.
He came to Soltaniyeh in 1304 A.D., the city which his father had left incomplete on the meadows of Soltaniyeh and had longed its prosperity and development. In fact, the imperial citadel was founded by Arghun Khan, Uljaytu’s father but he could not complete it because of his death. Thus, Uljaytu built a wall around the city and forced the inhabitants of Maragheh, Tabriz, Ardabil and other cities to migrate to this area. People started constructing various buildings and in ten years the Royal Citadel and the eye-catching structure of Soltaniyeh or Uljaytu Dome with eight minarets were built.
Uljaytu followed his brother’s footsteps and built schools, monasteries, hospitals, guest houses and various mosques around the dome and devoted many properties to it. Thus, not only did Uljaytu moved the capital from Maragheh, his grandfather’s Hulagu Khan Capital and Tabriz, Ghazan Khan’s capital, to Soltaniyeh but also by changing it to the real centre of politics and business, he entitled it as the centre of Iran.
But the most fabulous building of the royal citadel was the Uljaytu dome. Uljaytu wished to build a structure which was unique throughout the world. Pietro San Paolozzi wrote in his book that a hundred years later Santa Maria Del Fiore was erected based on Soltaniyeh.
Soltaniyeh dome is octagonal inside. Uljaytu thoroughly decorated the inner and outer parts of the building with turquoise tiles which had been unprecedented up to that time and it was the start of copying the building style of Timurid and Safavid eras. One of the typical features of this building is the creamy and white colour of its square-shaped tiles. The diameter of its base is 25.5 meters and it has a double-shell dome which was designed parallel for the first time and it was the biggest brick-dome in the world.
According to reliable sources, the Soltaniyeh were established to serve as a mausoleum for Ilkhanid kings especially Uljaytu himself. With the death of Uljaytu, the city began to deteriorate and his son Abu Saeed who was called Alishah could not restore its prosperity. When Amir Timur Gorgani captured the city, he demolished the whole city and its monuments. The only structure Timur the Lame’s successors left untouched out of respect for Sultan Khoda-bandeh was Soltaniyeh dome and the tomb under it.
The building does not deserve what has happened to it in history. In Safavid era, the dome was renovated but the renovations were not standard and according to its original shape. During the war with Russians, Abbas Mirza used it as a food warehouse and barn. Fath-Ali Shah Qajar used Soltaniyeh and camped across from it in the summer. In fact, Soltaniyeh was his hunting field. He had even built a palace overlooking it and removed a lot of its tiles and transferred to the new palace for decoration. The locals used to empty their sewage next to it and there was even an earthquake in 1881 but Soltaniyeh has survived so far. It is interesting to know that Soltaniyeh with the height of 48 meters is the third highest dome in the world after Santa Maria Del Fiore (86m) and the dome of Hagia Sophia (56m). Soltaniyeh must be seen to understand its magnificence and indescribable beauty. In 2005, UNESCO listed Soltaniyeh as one of the World Heritage Sites.