The manager of the Reza Hotel in Orumiyeh suggests that I visit Takht-e-Soleyman. I had never heard of the place but it sounds nice enough and wasn’t that far away. I had enough Iranian Rials left from my last visit to pay for the hotel and gas but I need to exchange some Euros before leaving town. The bazaar is across the street and I knew from my last visit that a money changer is usually nearby, which is the much faster option compared to banks. Well, that one was easy to spot!
With a map drawn by the hotel manager I find the gas station and my way out of the city easily.
I ride next to the Orumiyeh salt lake for a few kilometers.
I get gas once more in Miyandoab. I have a few phrases of Farsi written down and one is asking for the next gas station. I stop a teenager on a bike and he leads the way. I also learn what you do when you ride over one of the many hidden Iranian speed bumps: nothing, just hold on to your baseball cap! From Miyandoab it is a very scenic ride on a road with very little traffic. At some point there is a guy at the side of the road waving a little flag. I hit the breaks and discover that they just “tared” the road with what basically looks like some every thick oil. There is a dirt road right next to the road. Guess which one I take? That stuff would have been a very nasty mess.
I keep moving, admiring the views along the way
Before I left Turkey I downloaded the GPS coordinates of all the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Iran. Takht-e-Soleyman is one of them. Although I only have the Garmin World map for Iran it is easy to find, just heading in the general direction on the Zumo, using the paper map, and asking for directions quite often.
In the 3rd century Takht-e-Soleyman was the spiritual center of a then Zoroastrian Persia. Since then it has been modified and added to by the various powers occupying the area but today it is just ruins in a magnificent setting around a crater lake.
After having a stroll around the ruins I decide to stay for the night. I ride 4km back to climb Zendan-e-Soleyman, an about 100m conical mountain that sticks out like a tooth from the surrounding area. I just tried to kill some time and get a good look at Takht-e-Soleyman from a distance but once I reach the top I’m surprised to discover a huge pit. It is basically a hollow tooth. It won’t look good in a picture but is actually quite impressive to look at in person.
I pitch my tent just outside the ruins and I’m later joined by a German couple in a huge truck on their way back from India. The lone soldier guarding the site comes down for a chat and although his English is limited we have a good time. We tell him that we might attack the place in the middle of the night. So he better be ready.
It is a cold night (it’s above 2700m) and I get up for the sunset and climb a hill to have a look at Takht-e-Soleyman in the first light of the day.
When I come back to break down my campsite a group of pretty rowdy teenagers surrounds me. They all want me to start the bike, sit on it and keep touching everything on the bike. I have none of it and have my hands full stopping them from touching my stuff. They hang around for 30min, just to be followed by some better behaved Iranians. All this makes for a late start despite getting up so early.