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Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili’s Shrine

The tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili is one of the historical and archaeological sites of the city of Ardabil in the northwest of Iran. It is one of the ensembles registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011.

In addition to Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili’s Shrine, the ensemble contains the tombs of king Ismail I (the first Safavid king), the wife of Ismail I (mother of king Tahmasp I), as well as some elders and officials of Safavid dynasty and martyrs of the Battle of Chaldiran.

The tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili Shrine

The tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili is one of the most important historical buildings of Ardabil and an exceptional Iranian monument in terms of architecture and tiling, a masterpiece from the 14th century AD and afterwards. His son founded it after the death of the Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili in 1334 AD. Shah Abbas also added important works to the collection then, some reforms was put in place in a way that the significance of this historical monument appears in a relation to the Safavid dynasty.

Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili’s Shrine

The house and the Khanqah (a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood or tariqa and is a place for spiritual retreat and character reformation.) of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili were placed in the same location and according to his will, his corpse was buried in a room next to the praying room, garden, and the Howzkhane. A structure was then built on his grave in order to be the burial place for King Ismail I and other Safavid princes in addition to his descendants and martyrs. During the reign of Shah Abbas I, who was greatly interested in the tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili and used to go on a pilgrimage to there, many works had been done on the tomb for completing and adorning.

What about its features? 

Firstly, the present complex, called the tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili  includes many parts. These parts are:

The outside of the tomb (Ali-Ghapu area)

The portal

The great courtyard

The portico

The grave of Sheikh Safi al-Din itself

The Women-only space (Andaruni, a term used in Iranian architecture)

The grave of King Ismail I

Chini-house which has beautiful Stuccos and several precious wooden and silver doors

The Janatsara Mosque

Khanqah, cheraqkhaneh (house of lights)

Chellehkhaneh (a praying room)

The burial ground of the martyrs and other belongings.

Secondly, The building of the main entrance is decorated with tiles and epigraphs in Reqa and Kufic calligraphic form. Besides, the enclosure of 3 Domes has the same decorations and the whole building is covering with glory and grandeur.

Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili’s Shrine
Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili’s Shrine

The tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili is a cylindrical tower topped off with a short dome. Beneath the dome, there is a vault that is one of the valuable works of the tomb. And around the edge of it, there is an inscription carved in the Reqa style calligraphy.

One of the unique features of the tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili is that it contains several valuable works of art on different themes of art, including the perfect type of mosaic tiles, vaulted tiling with painting, Stuccos, beautiful precious inscriptions, and the wonderful calligraphy of the greatest calligraphers of Safavid era (Mir Emad Hassani, Mir Qavamoddin, Mohammad Ismail, etc), precious wood-carvings, silversmithing, illuminated manuscripts and goldsmithing, paintings, using a different style of stonework, etc.

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