Geographical Position, Semnan
The province of Semnan covers an area of 96,816 square kilometers, to the east of which is Khorassan province, to the north are the provinces of Golestan and Mazandaran, to the west stand the provinces of Tehran and Qom, and to its south is Esfahan province. The various townships of the said province are, Semnan, Damqan, Shahrood and Garmsar. In the year 1996, the province had a population of about 501,000 of which 68.3 % were in urban areas, and 31.7 were rural dwellers. In 1996, Semnan city (the capital of the province) had a population of 91,000, and the city of Shahrood, which accounts for being the largest city of this province, had a population of 105,000.
Semnan province is located in the southern skirts of the Alborz Mountain Ranges, with a downward gradient from north to south, ending at the deserted plain. The said province is divided into two,i.e., a mountainous region and the plains at the foot of the mountains. The former offers a scope for recreational activities as well as being a source for minerals. Whereas, the latter encompasses ancient cities of Iran.
The mountainous region of the province experiences a cold climate, whereas the mountain skirts and around the fringes of the desert are temperate and warm respectively. The city of Damqan, has cold weather in winter with moderate summers, being influenced by the strong northern rain bearing winds from Golestan and Mazandaran regions. The city of Semnan experiences warm summers and moderate winters, Shahrood in its northern sector proves to be cold and in the central and southern regions temperate, and warm respectively. Furthermore, the city of Garmsar has extremely hot summers with comparatively cold, rainy winters, as this city is located in a dry and desert-like region.
History and Culture, Semnan
Semnan province can be said to be divided into sixteen sectors from the olden days dating to the time of Avesta. During the Medes and Achaemenian periods, it accounted for being as one of the largest provinces of the Parthians. Likewise, this region held its importance during the Sassanide period, and thence in the post Islamic era was part of the historical region of Gomess or 'Komesh'. Needless to say, this province was witness to wars, defeats and victories in the past. The 'Silk Road' paved its way from the midst of this region.
Besides which a number of historical relics such as, palaces, buildings, castles, ancient inns or 'caravansaries', water reservoirs, towers, rampart and… have created an imprint here. To state a few examples such as, the palaces of Aqa Mohammad Khan and Fathali Shah in Damqan, the palaces of Shah Abbas, Einol Rashid and the Haramsara or special apartments for the women (of the palace) of Soltani in Garmsar. Edifices belonging to the daughters of Naseredin Shah in Damqan, the castles of Saroo, Kushmoqan and Pachenar in Semnan, the castles of Lasjerd and Benkooh in Garmsar and ... are interesting historical relics of the province.
In addition to the above , there are various religious and sacred places and mosques such as, the Soltani Mosque, the Jame' Mosque, the Tarikhaneh Mosque of Damqan, the Jame' Mosque of Bastam and ... are such examples.
Semnan province is one of the most attractive regions from the aspect of natural beauty. These picturesque scenes can be viewed alongside the river banks, natural and mineral springs, recreational areas, forests, open spaces, protected areas, summits and peaks, caves, and special desert features account for the numerous natural attractions of the region.
Moreover, the province encompasses various cultural traditions and rituals. These can be related to national or religious festivities, marriage ceremonies and both public and private mourning ceremonies including religious rituals, which hold their own and differ from other parts. This province can boast of scholars and poets such as, Manoochehri Damqani, Ebne-Yameen Forumadi, Forouqi Bastami, Yaqma'ie Jandaqi, and Zowqi Bastami. Regarding scholars and Gnostics of this region, such personalities can be named as, Bayazid Bastami, Sheikh Abol Hassan Kherqani, Sheikh Allaoddoleh Semnani, Sheikh Sakak and Bibi Manjomeh Semnani are worth mentioning.
As to the reputed contemporary personalities, Haj Ali Semnani, Feyz Semnani, Zabiollah Safa and Ali Mo'alem can be quoted as examples. One of the outstanding rituals of the region is the refraining from wearing black clothing during mourning ceremonies, thus revealing a basic revulsion towards the 'black flag' of the Abbasian dynasty.
Bastam Jame' Mosque, Semnan
The said mosque is located at a distance of 200 m. from the tomb of Bayazid to the south of Bastam. The same comprises of two sections. One is the square courtyard with an altar which is intricately and artistically adorned with a master-piece of plaster works. Sacred phrases, beautifully engraved with plaster can be noted here.
Aradan Mourning Place (Tekieh), Garmsar
This site is close to the mausoleum of Imamzadeh Soltan Shah in Garmsar. This place comprises of a large courtyard, in the center of which is the section to do with the religious mourning rituals. Besides which there are chambers and other rooms. Two porches also stand to the eastern and western sides. The same is a remnant from the Qajar period.
Other Archaeological Hills, Semnan
Other historical hillocks of the province are named as, Kohan Tal hillock in Cheshmeh Malek village of Garmsar, Qul Abad hillock in Qiyas Abad village of Garmsar, Qareh Tappeh or hillock, Seh Tappeh, Atta Beig and Taleh Gol in Deh Soltan village of Garmsar, Tappeh Khajeh Mohammad Abad 8 km. south of Semnan, Tappeh Eid-e-Alla' 11 km. south east of Semnan, and Tappeh Khajeh Rokn Abad 5 km. south of Semnan
Sang-e-Chakhmaq Hill, Shahrood
This hillock or hill is located 8 km. to the north of Shahrood and is related to the pre and post Islamic periods. The layers excavated in the eastern hillock are related to the period much before the revelation of earthenware. In this site evidences such as , mineral pitch, incense, oyster shells, articles made of bone, clay statues, articles made of stone such as, axes, a type of stone grinder, trowels, hammers and a kind of knife sharpener also of stone.