Semnan Travel Guide
Semnan is the capital city of Semnan Province which is located 206 km east of Tehran, capital of Iran. The province is located on the road of Tehran to Mashhad and also the road to the provinces in the north of Iran, such as Golestan and Mazandaran. Some might think that the Semnan is a desert land, but it’s not true. You can find desert, mountains and forests in this province and the city of Semnan also has climate diversity.
Semnan Weather and Climate
Semnan has a hot desert climate, but it also has all four seasons with diverse weather. The best time to visit Semnan is spring because the weather is mild and bearable. During this season days are mild to warm and nights are cool. Summer might not be the best time to visit this province if you can’t endure hot weather. But there are yaylak cities which you can visit during summer, such as Shahmirzad. Winter and autumn also depend on the cities you want to visit. Since the weather of Semnan province is so diverse, you should check the weather of the special city you are going to visit. Some might face with rainfall during winter and autumn and some others might be mild during this period.
History of Semnan
Semnan had always been a special state in history. The city of Semnan has historically been one of the fourteen civil establishments of the ancient province of “Vern.” It stayed and important city during the kingdom of Achaemenid Empire. When Alexander the Great invaded Iran and conquered the empire of Achaemenid, the name of the province changed to Komesh. It was the time of the Seleucid Empire establishment. However, the golden times of this city were after the rising of the Ashkanid era.
Semnan during Islamic Era
After the Muslim conquest of Persia, the people of the city of Semnan became Muslims mostly Sunni. But the institution of Sunni Islam didn’t last very long because the Alavids established a Shia Islamic in this city. Then the Seljuq Turks invaded the city. However, they build many of the historical monuments of medieval Semnan which can still be seen in some parts of the city.
Semnan during the Qajar Era
The Qajar dynasty had a great impact on the city of Semnan. During this time, the city became developed economically, culturally and politically. Since the whole province of Semnan was between the road of Tehran to the religious city of Mashhad, it was so important to the Qajars. Therefore, they turned it into a civil fortress, from which they controlled the major trade between two cities of Tehran and Mashhad.
Semnan during the Pahlavi Era
During this time the city of Semnan became more industrial. Reza Shah Pahlavi’s government tried to make the infrastructure of the city more modern. Therefore, many paved roads constructed throughout the city. However, to do this modernization, they had to destroy some of the artistic monuments of the Qajar, such as the Semnan Gate.
Demographics and Cultures
Like any other provinces and cities around Iran, people of Semnan also have special traditions and cultures. They also have local clothes which generally consist of cotton and woollen clothes, which is mostly because of the cold climate of different areas. Men always wear a special hat which had different textiles during different seasons. Both men and women usually wear a scarf or shawl on their waist. The traditional clothes for women is a dress called “Shooy”.
People of Semnan also had a special ceremony for funerals. They gathered in front of the deceased person’s house and turned on fire to lighten up his/her way. Then after 40 days, they went to the house of the deceased person and brought new clothes to them which means the funeral is over. However, it is still common in other cities of Iran.
Semnan Local Foods
No travel to Iran is completed without tasting the local foods in each province. Semnan also has great local foods such as:
- Pistachio and carrot stew is a special food in Semnan which has lots of fans. It is a mix of carrot, pistachio slices, onion, chicken, saffron, sugar, salt and pepper. The stew is served with boiled rice.
- Almond rice is a type of food which is cooked by mixing almond slices with rice. This cuisine is so popular in Semnan and the ingredients are rice, almond slices, carrot slices, orange slices (mostly its peel), onion, saffron, sugar, salt, pepper, and minced meat.
- Mani Polo is a special food in the city of Damqan which consists of rice, split peas, raisins, black barberry, saffron, meat, onion, oil, and spices.
- Raisin Tahchin is another delicious cuisine from Semnan which is cooked by mixing raisins, rice, chicken, onion, turmeric, full-fat yoghurt, yolk, saffron, and different spices.
Semnan has different types of attractions. Here you can find beautiful natural attractions and historical attractions. Therefore, no matter you are the fan of which type of attraction, Semnan has all of them for you.
One of the popular Semnan attractions is Cloud Forest which is located in Shahroud. This place is one of the most unique forests in Iran where you can watch the ocean cloud phenomenon. Therefore, it is so popular among nature lovers. It has cool weather and a great destination for spring and summer.
Shahmirzad is the paradise of Semnan province which is like a gem in the heart of the desert. Shahmirzad has cool weather, green nature, beautiful rivers and is a great recreational site for the warmer months of the year.
This national park and one of the oldest preserved areas in Iran, has both natural and historical attractions. Ecotourists come to this place each year to see the clear and stellar nights of desert.
The Gate of the Semnan Fortress
The gate dates back to the Qajar era. At first, there were four gates at this site but three of them had been destroyed during the Pahlavi dynasty.
Darband Cave is one of the popular Semnan attractions which is located in Mehdishahr. It is one of the biggest limestone caves in Iran which was the settlement for people in the past. It is located at the skirt of Mount Alborz.
The main souvenirs of the city of Semnan are some kind of cookies which is called Koluce. The shirmal pastry is also a special kind of bread which tastes a bit sweet. It is so common to buy these two local comestibles as a souvenir. However, kilim rugs, tiles, and shortbread are among other special things in this area which is so popular between tourists.
How to Travel to Semnan
The city of Semnan is 226 km away from Tehran. It will take almost 3 hours to get to this city by car. However, Semnan has a railway which is very close to the centre of the city. You can easily travel to Semnan by train from any cities in Iran. It also has an international airport which is almost 20 minutes away from the city centre. However, it still doesn’t have much arrival flights. Hence, it will be a better idea to start your trip from Tehran. Additionally, since most of the tourist attractions of Semnan province located outside the capital, we recommend you to take a tour to visit the beautiful natural attractions in this province such as Shahroud Cloud Forest and Sangesar Darband Cave.
Find the Best Hotels in Semnan
You have many options inside and outside the city of Semnan. If you prefer to stay inside the city, the Jahangardi Hotel (Semnan Tourism Hotel) will be a good option for you. It is a 3-star budget hotel close to the centre of the city. If you are coming to Semnan to do mountain climbing or caving, you can find the best hotels very close to the well-known Sangesar Darband Cave in Mehdishahr. By choosing Sangesar Hotel or Darband Hotel Semnan you are very close to the most popular natural attraction of the area and only 20 minutes away from the city of Semnan. You can always consult us before booking any hotels or tours in Iran.