Kermanshah Province استان كرمانشاه Ostān-e Kermānshāh is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. The province was known from 1969 to 1986 as Kermanshahan and from 1986 to 1995 as Bakhtaran.
The province's capital is Kermanshah located in the middle of the western part of Iran. The population of the city is 822,921.The city is built on the slopes of Mt.Sefid Kooh and extended toward south during last two decades. The builtup areas run alongside Sarab River and Valley. City's elevation average about 1350 meters above sea level.
The distance between Kermanshah and Teheran is 525 km. It is the trade center of rich agricultural region that produces grain, rice, vegetable, fruits, and oilseeds, and there are many industrial centers, oil and sugar refineries, and cement, textile and flour factories, etc. The airport (Shahid Ashrafi Esfahani Airport) is located in north east of the city, and the distance from Tehran is 413 km by air.
The province has a rich Paleolithic heritage. Many caves with Paleolithic remains have been surveyed or excavated there. some of these cave sites are located in Bisetun and north of Kermanshah. The first known physical remains of Neanderthal man in Iran was discovered in Bisitun Cave. Do-Ashkaft, Kobeh, Warwasi, and Mar Tarik are some of the Middle Paleolithic sites in the region.
Kermanshah also has many Neolithic sites, of which the most famous are Ganj Dareh, Sarab, and Asiab. At Ganj Dareh, the earliest evidence for goat domestication have been documented. In May 2009, based on a research conducted by the University of Hamedan and UCL, the head of Archeology Research Center of Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization announced that the oldest prehistoric village in the Middle East dating back to 9800 B.C., was discovered in Sahneh, located in west of Kermanshah.
The monuments found in Kermanshah show two glorious periods, the Achaemenid and Sassanid eras. The mythical ruler of the Pishdadian is described as founding the city while Tahmores Divband built it. An alternative narrative is that the construction was by Bahram IV of the Sassanid dynasty during the 4th century CE. Kermanshah reached a peak during the reign of Hormizd IV and Khosrau I of Sassanids, before being demoted to a secondary royal residence.
The city suffered major damage during the Arab invasions but recovered in the Safavid period to make great progress. Concurrent with the Afghan attack and the fall of Isfahan, Kermanshah was almost completely destroyed by the Ottoman invasion.During the Iran–Iraq War the province suffered heavy fighting. Most towns and cities were badly damaged and some like Sar-e Pol-e Zahab and Qhasr-e-Shirin were almost completely destroyed.
Various attractions exist that date from the pre-Islamic era, such as the Kohneh Bridge, to contemporary parks and museums. Some of the more popular sites are:
Darius the Great's inscription at Bisotun, which dates to 522 BCE, lies some 1300 meters high in the mountains, and counts as one of the most famous sites in Near Eastern archeology. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been attracting visitors for centuries. The Behistun inscription is to Old Persian cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the trilingual inscription (in Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian) was crucial in the decipherment of the script.
The relief above the inscription depicts Darius facing nine rebels who objected to his crowning. At the king's feet lies Gaumata. The location of this important historical document is not coincidental: Gaumata, a usurper who is depicted as lying at Darius' feet, was a Medean and in Achaemenid times Behistun lay on the Medea-Parsa highway.
Behistun is also notable for three reliefs at the foot of the hill that date from the Parthian era. Among them is a Hellenistic-era depiction of the divinity Bahram as the Greek hero Hercules, who reclines with a goblet in his hand, a club at his feet and a lion-skin beneath him. Because it lies on the route of an ancient highway, this life-size rock sculpture may reflect Bahram's status as patron divinity of travelers.
The rock reliefs at Taq-e Bostan lie four miles northeast of Kermanshah, where a spring gushes from a mountain cliff and empties into a large reflecting pool. One of the more impressive reliefs, inside the largest grotto (ivan), is the oversized depiction of Sassanid king Khosrau II (591-628 CE), who appears mounted on his favorite charger, Shabdiz. Both the horse and the rider are arrayed in full battle armor.
There are two hunting scenes on complementary sides of the ivan: one depicts an imperial boar hunt and the other depicting the king stalking deer. Elephants flush out the boar from a marshy lake for the king who stands poised with bow and arrow in hand while he is serenaded by female musicians following in other boats. These royal hunting scenes are narrative murals in stone are count among the most vivid of all Iranian rock reliefs.The Taq-e Bostan reliefs are not limited to the Sassanid era. An upper relief depicts the 19th century Qajar king Fath-Ali shah holding court.
The Kangavar archaeological complex:
Kangavar is the site of the archaeological remains of a vast Hellenic-style edifice on a raised platform. The visible remains at the site date to early Sassanid times, but the platform of the complex may be several centuries older. By the time excavation began in 1968, the complex had been preemptorily associated with a comment by Isidore of Charax who referred to a temple of Anahita at Concobar (the Greek name of Kangavar, which was then in Lower Medea).
Despite archaeological findings to the contrary, the association with the divinity of fertility, healing, and wisdom has made the site a popular tourist attraction. The vast edifice was built of enormous blocks of dressed stone with an imposing entrance of opposed staircases that may have been inspired by the Apadana in Persepolis.