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Only a few ziggurats exist outside Mesopotamia and you will get a chance to visit approximately the most crucial one of them if you visit Iran.

Chogha Zanbil ziggurat is located near the city of Ahvaz, Khuzestan province and has great value and importance to the Iran tourism industry. Many believe that it dated back to the Elamite times and was built by Untash Napirisha, an Elam king.

Ziggurat or in English “to build on a raised area” is a massive temple complex that has the form of a terraced compound of successively receding stories or levels. The core and outside of a ziggurat are built by bricks but the bricks on the core were sun-backed and the outside bricks were made with fire. Making the shape of the bottom part of a pyramid, each step was a little bit smaller than the one at the bottom.

So what was the purpose of these ziggurats?

There are many different stories, some say there was a shrine on top of every ziggurat that used when the priests wanted to escape the rising water or flood that happened almost yearly and some others believe they were built a secure place since the ziggurats had only three entries and could be easily protected by guards from the non-priests spies.


Other than the shrine a ziggurat included a courtyard, storage rooms, bathrooms, and living quarters, around which a city was built.

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Chogha Zanbil ziggurat in on Iran UNESCO world heritage site list

Chogha Zanbil ziggurat was the first Iranian historical sight that was added to the Iran UNESCO world heritage sites list in 1979 under the cultural criteria making it a must-visit sight on your Iran tour.

chogha zanbil ziggurat

The history of Chogha Zanbil ziggurat

Chogha Zanbil itself means basket mound in English and the ziggurat dates back to 1250 BC. Being almost 3000 years old it wasn't always called Chogha Zanbil and its original name was "Dur Untash" meaning the city of Untash, though except priests and servants no one has ever lived there.  As mentioned above ziggurats were mainly temple complexes and this ziggurat was built to honor the great Elamite god Inshushinak.

War and the destruction of Chogha Zanbil ziggurat

At the war of Assyrians and Elamites, the son of Esarhaddon, Assurbanipal who considered being the last strong king of Assyrians destroyed Chogha Zanbil ziggurat. Well, it didn't get completely destroyed but the effects are considerable.

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Where are the nearest visiting sites?

Since Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat is very close to Ahvaz city, many Iran tour operators would arrange your accommodation in this city. In Ahvaz, you can also visit Haft Tepe, Shushtar, and Shush (ruins of the ancient city of Susa).

You can also enjoy the view of the most abundant river in Iran, Karoun River.

Chogha Zanbil ziggurat opening hours and entrance fees

Chogha Zanbil ziggurat is open every day from 7:30 am till 7 pm but for special events like Iran holidays you should contact your Iran travel company.

The Chogha Zanbil ziggurat entrance fee for Iranians is 30,000 Rials and for foreigners, it is 200,000 Rials.