The city of Shushtar is home to a number of interconnected bridges, dams, mills, waterfalls, canals, and tunnels, for guidance of water current, which have been constructed throughout the Achaemenian and Sassanid eras for optimal utilization of water. The complex, which consists of a number of water mills and hand-made waterfalls, en route River Gargar, is considered as one of the technical and engineering feats of the ancient times. River Gargar is a man-made water channel; the construction of which has been attributed to Sassanid King, Ardeshir Babakan. This group of interconnected dams, tunnels, sub-canals, and water mills has been in the form of an industrial and economic complex, which has been repeatedly mentioned in books on history.
Meanwhile, Gargar Dam blocks the river’s route, thereby raising the water level in order to feed three dug tunnels.
These three tunnels direct the water current toward this complex. This water current is guided to a number of channels which after revolving the wheels of water mills, form waterfalls which pour into a pond.
The French archeologist, Madam Jane Dieulafoy, in her travelogue, has referred to this water complex as the largest industrial complex prior to the Industrial Revolution.
The most important elements of this complex include Mizan Dam, the Gargar watermills and waterfalls, the Bridge of Shadravan Dam, and Salasel Castle.
For instance, one can name Mizan Dam. This dam is situated in the northeastern corner of the city of Shushtar and divides the water current of River Karoon into two sections. The structure of this dam belongs to the era of Sassanid King, Shapour the First, and has been built after victory over the Roman Emperor, Valerian. This dam has been repaired and renovated on several occasions.
The Shadravan Bridge is also another historical work that dates back to the era of Sassanid King, Shapour. This bridge is located 300 meters west of Mizan Dam. The height of the dam from the river’s bedding is roughly ten meters and the remains of the bridge’s arches are currently evident.
The Salasel Castle is one of the other historical monuments of Shushtar which is in fact a large fortification belonging to Sassanid era. In the past, this castle consisted of large courtyards, military installations, bathrooms, bridges, and a garrison; and a trench was dug in its surroundings, which has been partly ruined throughout the course of history.
One of the other features of the group of waterfalls and watermills of the city of Shushtar is their adjacency to the historical district of the city. In addition to the industrial uses of this water complex, it provided the water consumed by residents, in case of reduction of rainfalls. One of the unique aspects of this water complex is that the water used by watermills later forms man-made waterfalls which pour into a pond, creating a spectacular scene that captures the attention of every viewer. Also, the dug tunnels behind the dam have created a scenic landscape. These tunnels transfer a certain volume of water to revolve the wheels of the watermills.
The fact of the matter is that this engineering complex is rather unique worldwide.
There are a number of sites of pilgrimage and sacred shrines in the city of Shushtar. Every alley, district, and/or street in this city is home to mosques and sites of pilgrimage, which is rooted in the religious beliefs of the people of this city. This has in turn earned this city the title of “House of the Faithful”. The Jam’eh Mosque is one of the best known mosques of Shushtar.
This mosque has been constructed in 254 AH. The ayahs of Holy Quran in Kofi language are evident on the walls of this mosque, which is also decorated with plasterworks. There are twelve pillars to the north of this mosque, and eight pillars are evident in its southern corner. These pillars are nearly five meters in height, each. The arches of the mosque, its tall balcony, and roofed section show that this historical monument belongs to the early years of the Islamic era. The mosque has a large courtyard and thick and solid pillars, such that the diameter of each of these pillars stands at roughly over 1.5 meters. There is an ancient podium in the mosque which dates back to 700 years ago. The initial height of the mosque’s minaret was 26 meters. However, the upper section of this minaret has been destroyed and it currently stands at 18 meters in height.
The last group of the valuable historical monuments of the city of Shushtar is its ancient homes, buildings, and guest houses; which maintain significant history and architectural styles. The best known among these ancient homes, are the houses of “Mostofi”, and ‘Moin ul-Tojjar”. The architectural style of these two homes belongs to the Qajarid era, and they are decorated with plasterworks and brickworks. Given that these two homes look over River Karoon, they have created a startling scene for the viewers. The house of Mostofi maintains two inner and outer sections. The outer section currently is the premises of Shushtar Cultural Heritage Department, and includes a number of chambers, a dining room, and a façade which looms over Shadravan Bridge.
The house of Moin ul-Tojjar is a two-story building with one balcony. It has wooden doors and windows, which have partly remained to this day. In the previous years, the building was separated into three sections. The house is decorated with plasterworks and brickworks.
These two buildings have been registered among Iran’s national historical monuments.
The historical city of Shushtar is home to several historical monuments, religious sites, and a historical water complex, in addition to scenic landscapes, consisting of orchards and recreational centers, capturing the attention of domestic and foreign tourists, all year long.
One of the distinctive features of this city is the presence of orchards and farmlands within the boundaries of Shushtar. The most important reason for presence of orchards and farmlands in this city is the existence of ample water sources as the result of River Karoon, which has engulfed this city.
The historical Khan Orchard belongs to the Qajarid era and is one of the most important orchards of this city. It is located on the banks of Gargar Creek, and is one of the most beautiful inner-city orchards across Iran.
This orchard covers an area of 20500 square meters, and is covered with palm, lemon, orange, banana, sour orange, fig, pomegranate, and mulberry trees. This orchard is irrigated in a traditional manner.