The ancient Niasar Fire Temple is located on a high 1,700 meter cliff bed named Talar-e Niasar. It also happens to be right next to a natural water spring with the same name.
The structure of the Niasar Fire Temple is made is from stone blocks, held by plaster and mortar. The stones are known to have been quarried from the nearby Niasar Caves, some 400 meters away.
The use of stones from various time periods indicate that it’s probably not as old the caves, however this is not the only thing that remains in question! Come along with goingIRAN to learn and discover more about this ancient fire temple neighboring Kashan City!
Zoroastrianism and Persian History
Fire temples in Iran have a multi-thousand year old history of being used for the prayers and ceremonies of the Zoroastrian faith. Prior to Islam, Mithraism and subsequently Zoroastrianism were the major staples of Iranian culture.
Most of these ancient structures have been built in plain sight and easily accessible to visitors and common people. However, a seldom number of these divine sites have been built, especially, for the monks and priesthood to keep the sacred fire alight.
Albeit being destroyed in the hands of the invading Arabs many ages ago, it was rebuilt by the local Zoroastrians and has been since untouched. Taking roots in the Zoroastrian religion of the Sassanid Era, the Niasar Fire Temple is, indeed, one of the oldest structures in Iran!
The Niasar Fire Temple’s Antiquated Structure
The once egg-shaped dome at the Niasar Fire Temple is now an Islamic style semi-sphere. As it finally fell apart through the years of weathering, cultural preservationists renovated it; failing to retain its original style and shape.
The overall composition of the Fire Temple’s structure is truly captivating. The dome is held up by four thick 14 meter by 14 meter arched columns. The balance and symmetry of this simple, yet ancient, structure is what give its observer energy.
Unlike other conventional fire temples, this one is not enclosed, meaning it is open from all four sides. Although this is what’s left of it.
Archeologists have found many structural remains around what’s left of the Niasar Fire Temple. They believe that there was much more to the glorious place of worship, than what meets the eye, today.
Right below the center of the dome, is a shallow dugout where the sacred fire was kept aflame. Although the temple itself was not very easily accessible, the spiritual flame could be seen glowing from many kilometers away.
Unique Aspects and Speculations of the Ancient Temple
One of the most interesting features of the fire temple’s structure is that, aside from housing the flame, it functions as acalendar. Persian scholar, Reza Moradi Ghiasabadi, realized this function of the Niasar Fire Temple and brought it to light (pun intended) in the year 2000.
The angles of which the sunrays at sunrise and sunset protrude through the structure give exact markings of the season. Such calculations were observed to be within 3o precision in accuracy!
As with many ancient Persian historical sites, there is some speculation among archeologists and historians. Currently, there are two main theories on what the Niasar Fire Temple truly was.
One group of scholars claims that the structure has been mistakenly labelled as a ‘fire temple’. They say that it had only one use and that was as a calendar (a function confirmed by Reza Moradi Ghiasabadi).
The second group, very rightfully, pleads that many religious sites and structures in ancient Persian culture served multi-functional purposes. They go on to present that accounting for the remains of additional structures that used to exist around the main dome and arches adds more weight to this theory.
If you are reading this article, then it’s quite likely that you have an interest in archeology and ancient sites. Maybe you should take your own eco-tourism leap in your travels to Iran and check out the Niasar Fire Temple and Caves for yourself. Maybe you will be able to put the pieces together!
The where and Whens of the Niasar Fire Temple
This scared destination is just 30kms North-west of Kashan City and can be reached by local taxi’s or tour providers.
It is open to the public 24 hours a day.
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Main photo by Aidin Alizadeh