Tarik Khana Mosque

its round squat pillars recall an English village church of the Norman period The last monument Robert Byron visits in Damghan on the 13th of November 1933 is the Tarik Khana Mosque, that he compares to an English village church. Byron loves comparing Iranian buildings to more familiar architectural forms: it already happened, for instance,…

Gunbad-i Pir-i ‘Alamdar

inscribed and dated as built in the eleventh century On the 13th of November 1933, while taking a photo of the Gundab-i Pir-i ‘Alamdar in Damghan, Robert Byron probably did not realize he was in front of the oldest monument of Damghan. He recorded this tomb tower together with the Gunbad-i Chihil Dukhtaran, devoting to…

Gunbad-i Chihil Dukhtaran

  constructed of fine but loosely mortared café-au-lait brick On the 13th of November 1933, Robert Byron visited a bunch of monuments in the area of Damghan. One of these is the Gunbad-i Chihil Dukhtaran, that he records in his travelogue together with the other tomb tower he sees, the Gunbad-i Pir-i ‘Alamdar. Reading the…

The Minaret of Semnan

I heard of an old minaret, which I found before the police found me. We cannot say that Robert Byron visited the Friday Mosque of Semnan. It is more correct to say that he passed by and took a photo, at least as long as we trust what’s written in his travelogue. Also, he does not…

Gunbad-i Surkh

  Such classic, cubic perfection, so lyrical and yet so strong, reveals a new architectural world to the European. In Maragha, on the 17th of October 1933, Byron visits three monuments: the observatory, a cave with altars (not better identified), and, last but certainly not the least, the Gunbad-i Surkh. Robert Byron’s fascination for tomb…

Rasatkhana: the Observatory of Maragha

the Rasatkhana, which means ‘star-house’ or observatory; but none had ever seen it On the 17th of October 1933, Robert Byron visited the Rasatkhana, or better, the place where the Rasatkhana used to be. His visit was brief, presumably, since nothing of the once famous observatory remains. Apparently, he did not take even one photo….

The Making of the Islamic Heritage

Every time I start a book review I ask myself why I bought the book. In this case, I think I had been intrigued by the name, and I decided to ‘buy’ it once I realized it could be downloaded for free (legally), without me chasing the publisher to have a review copy. The full…

The story of the book: The Road to Oxiana

  The Road to Oxiana is considered Byron’s masterpiece. In the form of a travelogue, the book is an accurate reportage of the long, exotic journey of Byron and his friend Christopher Sykes. It is extremely romantic thinking of Robert Byron, on those snowy days blocked in Qala i Now, writing the diary at length, writing down…

Gunbad-i Qabud

built of plum-red brick […] transferred as it were from an English kitchen garden to the service of Koranic texts Robert Byron arrives in Maragha on the 16th of October 1933 where he visits and takes pictures of one of the three tombs that are to be found there: the Gundab-i Qabus. Byron himself recognizes the…

Arg-i Tabriz

it had once been a mosque, […] one of the biggest ever built During his visit to Tabriz on the 15th of October 1933, Byron records two monuments: one is the despised Blue Mosque, the other one is the Arg-e Tabriz, literally the Forterss of Tabriz. The short description that Byron gives of the building is quite…

The Blue Mosque in Tabriz

the wreck of the famous Blue Mosque When Robert Byron, on the 15th of October 1933, arrives in Tabriz, he records two monuments: the Blue Mosque and the Ark. In the case of the Blue Mosque no description is provided, at all. The author simply records in about 10 words that in Tabriz there was the…

The Tomb of Uljaytu or the Dome of Sultaniyya

One thinks of Brunelleschi The Tomb of Uljaytu is the first great monument Robert Byron saw in Persia as he would recall 6 months later his first visit, on the 12th of October 1933. On that occasion, Byron praise the monument as an example of Central Asian greatness and virility [sic!]. The ‘gigantic memorial’, in…