Dashkasan Dragon Temple – Viyar, Iran - Atlas Obscura

Dashkasan Dragon Temple

Viyar, Iran

Two Chinese dragons guard the caves of this medieval temple in Iran. 


You won’t find many temples like this in Iran. Two fierce dragons guard the rock, and they’re unique architectural additions within this part of Asia.

The Mongol king Öljaitü had the Dashkasan Dragon Temple constructed in the early 14th century. Three caves were quarried into the mountain to create the sacred space.

Four Chinese craftsmen built the rectangular temple and carved the striking dragon sculptures that sprawl across both sides. The dragons, which stretch to nearly 10 feet (three meters) in height, are surrounded by more traditional Islamic designs such as flowers. A mihrab, a niche in the wall that marks the direction of Mecca, was also added within the temple.

Some researchers believe this temple was initially used by the Zora-Astrian followers of Mithras (God of Light and Truth) in the Sassanid period (224 to 651).

Today, excavations of the temple remain half finished. Columns and debris have been moved to the area outside of the temple. The space looks a bit like a toddlers’ playground, with hundreds of fallen blocks scattered around.

Know Before You Go

You can get to the temple by taking a taxi from the city of Soltaniyeh, which is about 11 miles (18 kilometers) away.

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