Qazvin is the capital of the Province of Qazvin in Iran. Qazvin was an ancient capital in the Persian Empire and nowadays is known as the calligraphy capital of Iran. It is famous for its Baghlava, carpet patterns, poets, political newspaper and pahlavi (Middle Persian) influence on its accent. At the 2011 census, its population was 381,598.
Located in 150km (93mi) northwest of Tehran and south of the Alborz, it is at an altitude of about 1,800m (5,900ft) above sea level.
The most famous Qazvini calligrapher was Mir Emad (Qazvini) Hassani. Ubayd Zakani was a famous 8th-century poet noted for his satire and obscene verses. Dehkhoda was a prominent Iranian linguist and author of the most extensive dictionary of the Persian language ever published.
Archeological findings in the Qazvin plain reveal the existence of urban agricultural settlements as far back as 7000BCE. The name “Qazvin” or “Kasbin” is derived from Cas, an ancient tribe that lived south of the Caspian Sea millennia ago.
Qazvin has been a hotbed of historical developments in Iranian history. In the early years of the Islamic era Qazvin served as a base for the Arab invaders. Destroyed by Genghis Khan (13th century), the Safavids monarchs made Qazvin the capital of the Safavid Empire in 1548 only to have it moved to Isfahan in 1598.
Bombed and occupied by Russian forces in both World Wars, Qazvin is also where the famous coup d’etat was launched from that led to the rise of Reza Shah of Pahlavi dynasty in 1921. Qazvin is also situated near Alamut, where the famous Hasan-e Sabbah, founder of the Ismaili order of the Assassins, operated from.
In the middle of the city lie the ruins of Meimoon Ghal’eh, one of several Sassanid buildings in the area. The most famous of the surviving edifices of the Safavid era is the Chehelsotoon mansion. The Caravanserai of Sa’d al-Saltaneh is one of Iran’s best preserved urban caravanserais.
About 100 km (62 mi) south-west of Qazvin are the tombs of two Saljuki era princes — Abu Saeed Bijar, son of Sa’d, and Abu Mansur Iltai, son of Takin. — located in two separate towers known as the Kharraqan twin towers. Constructed in 1067 CE, these were the first monuments in Islamic architecture to include a non-conic two-layered dome. Both towers were severely damaged by a devastating earthquake in March 2003.
Qazvin has three buildings built by Russians in the late 19th/early 20th century. Among these is the current Mayor’s office (former Ballet Hall) and a water reservoir. St. Nicholas church was built in 1904 by the Russian Company for Roads in Persia which had its headquarter here.