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Sari, Iran

Sari (/Sārī/ , ساری) is the provincial capital of Mazandaran, located in the north of Iran, between the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains and southern coast of Caspian (Mazandaran) Sea. Its population is estimated to be 261,293, as of 2006. It has a land area of 5,089 square kilometers . The city was founded during the Sasanids period. Sari is one of the entertainment and sports centers of Iran.


The Mazandaran Sea is north of Sari; northeast of the city is Neka. Qa'emshahr (Formerly known as Shahi) is to its southwest, Juybar is to its northwest, and Kiyasar, Damghan, and Semnan are south of Sari.


Early history

Excavations in Hutto cave present evidence for the existence of settlements around Sari as far back as the 70th millennium BC. The Muslim historian Hamdollah Mostowfi attributes the foundation of Sari to king Tahmoures Divband of the Pishdadi dynasty. Also native people of Sari have a folklore that the city was populated at about 4th millennium BC when Smith Kaveh (native of this city) revolted against the tyranny of Arab Zahak. After that success, Fereydun of Pishdadi feeling indebted to Kaveh, chose this city so as to live near him until his death. For this reason, when Touraj and Salam murdered Iraj (son of Fereydun), they buried him here. Most people consider that Espahbod Tous-e Nouzar (great-grandson of Fereidun) systematically founded it as a city. However, recognition by Greek historians goes back to at least the 6th century BC (Achaemenid dynasty) when they recorded it as Zadrakarta which then destroyed by Alexander of Macedonia. After this, he directed the construction of a new city called "Syrinx" named after his lieutenant general. The city was again a regional capital in the Sassanid dynasty.

Capital of Tabristan local rulers

In the seventh century, the great Farxan reconstructed the city, and because his son's name was "Sarouyeh", he called it by this name. Sari became the capital of Tabaristan in that century.

After invasions by the Mongols, Turks, Uzbeks, Turcoman, and Tatars the city lost its high status and was periodically burnt to ashes.

Integration into the national administration

Because Shah Abbas I's mother was from Behshahr(Ashraf), he merged Mazandaran into his empire, and founded Farahabad as his alternate capital of Persia in the north of the city and created the gardens in Ashrafi.
After the Safavid dynasty, there is no evidence of any notable events in Sari.

Former Capital of Iran

On March 21, 1782, Agha Mohammad Shah proclaimed Sari as his imperial capital. Sari was the site of local wars in those years, which led to the transfer of the capital from Sari to Tehran by Fath Ali Shah.

Early 20th Century

Boasting of developments found after the Qajar dynasty, Reza Shah Pahlavi systematically changed Sari as Sari Train Station. Most of the streets and governmental buildings date from that era. During World War II the Soviet army occupied the city, but left it after the war.

After the Iranian Revolution

During the Iran–Iraq War, the city was host to refugees, many of whom remained there afterward.

About Sari

The Clock Tower, in the Clock Square (Meydan-e-Sa'at) located in downtown Sari, attracts many visitors and has become its most famous landmark. Sari also contains the tombs of the Muslim leaders Yahya and Zayn Al-Abedin, Emamzade-ye Abbas, and Shazdeh Hussein from the 15th century.


The economy of Sari is based on food production such as cakes, milled rice, yogurt, doogh (a yogurt drink), canned meat, oilseed and exporting fruits especially oranges, lemons, etc.
Some companies in Sari (e.g., the wood and paper company Sanaie Choub Kaqaz and Pishraneh Electronics ) are famous in the Middle East.
Sari's property prices are quite variable. This allows most residents to own their homes, but most neighborhoods are quite expensive because of the pleasant climate. Land prices vary between $220 USD per square meter to more than $11,000 USD per square meter.


Rainfall Statistics in 2005*
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
70.2 38.7 64.3 62.6 49.9 41.9 33.9 34.8 62.2 68.8 126.8 121.9

Sari's 2005-2006 statistical weather information, in comparison with that of other Mazandaran cities, shows that Sari has an average climate, but it is somewhat sunnier and has more spring rain. However, recent rainfall in Sari has declined.

City districts

Sari contains the following major sections:
Azad Goleh, Bagher Abad,Booali & Posht-e-Hotel(both located in Pasdaran Blvd.), Barbari Mahalleh, Bazaar-e Nargesiyeh, Bazaar-e Rooz, Chenar-Bon, Gol-Afshan, Golma, Kooy-e Azadi, Kooy-e DadGostari, Kooy-e Daneshgah, Kooy-e Djahad, Kooy-e Golha, Kooy-e-Karmandan, Kooy-e Mahyar, Kooy-e MirSarorozeh, Kooy-e Qelich, Lesani, Mehdi-Abad, Mirza-Zamani, Na'l-Bandan, No-Tekiyeh, Peyvandi, Pir Tekiyeh, Pol-e Gardan, Posht-e Nim-e Shaban, Posht-e Zendan, Rahband-e Dokhaniyat, Rahband-e Sangtarashan, Sang, Sari Kenar, Sarvineh Bagh, Seyyed AlShohada, Shafa, Shahband, Shazdeh Hossein, Shekar Abad, Tabaristan, Tavakkoli, Torki Mahalleh, Torkmen Mahalleh, etc.

Previous districts

Sari's old city structure changed in the first Pahlavi era, as new avenues and streets in the city center date from that era. In the Qajar dynasty, Sari had famous neighborhoods identified as follows:
Afghoun Mahalleh, Bahar Abad, Balouchi Kheyl, Balouchi Mahalleh, Birameter (Bahram-Ottor), Chaleh Bagh, Dar Masdjed, Isfahouni Mahalleh, Kohneh Baq Shah,Kurd Mahalleh, Mir Mashad Mahalleh, Mir Sar Rozeh, Na'l Bandan, Naqareh Khaneh, Ossanlou Mahalleh, Paay-e Chenar, QelichLi Mahalleh, Sabzeh Meydan, Shazdeh Hossein, Shepesh Koshan, Shishehgar Mahalleh

Telephone area codes

Sari's area code is 151 (+98151 outside of Iran). Also Sari has the internal area codes as shown below, three digits are the beginning of seven-digit numbers (e.g., 221-xxxx):

22 System 23 System 24 System 32 System 34 - 37 System 38 System
221 Downtown (2003)D 233 243 321 North of Downtown (2004)A 340 Northeast of Downtown (2006)D 381
222 Downtown (First)D 234 244 322 Far South (2005)D 382
225 Northwest of Downtown (2005)D 235 245 323 South of Downtown (2002)D 383 Sari's Primary Industrial Area D
223 Southwest of Downtown (2000)D 236 246 324 North of Downtown (1997)D 384 Dangesarak, Koula A
227 Far West (2002)D 237 247 325 North of Downtown (1998)D 385
238 248 326 West of Downtown (2003)D 387
328 Far East (2000)A 388 Wood Industries
* Numbers in parentheses show the year the phone office was established.
D = Digital System, A = Analog System


The population density of some neighborhoods in downtown (for example: Mirza-zamani, Peyvandi, Sang) is greater than 20,000 per square kilometer. Note that before 1950, the population of the city during the summer was less than in winter. This influenced estimations, such that an estimate done in summer might be inaccurate.

  • 1808 = 21,000 est.
  • 1827 = 19,000 est.
  • 1832 = 20,000 est.
  • 1850 = 15,000 est.
  • 1856 = 9,000 est.
  • 1872 = 15,500 est.
  • 1874 = 16,000 est.
  • 1883 = 16,100 est.
  • 1905 = 25,000 est.
  • 1923 = 35,000 est.
  • 1956 = 26,278 cen.
  • 1966 = 44,547 cen.
  • 1976 = 70,753 cen.
  • 1986 = 141,020 cen.
  • 1996 = 195,882 cen.
  • 2006 = 262,627 est.
  • 2008 = 300,000 est.

People and culture

Residents are known as Saravis or Sariyan. The population is a mixture of native Mazandaranis, Persians, Turks, Kurds, Afghans, Balochis, and Turcomans. There are many foreign inhabitants, including Germans, Japanese, Russians, and Arabs. Whereas neighborhoods were identified during the Qajar dynasty by the ethnicity of their inhabitants, this is no longer so. Historically, some areas were labeled as being home to immigrants from Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Balochistan. Sari, as well as other regions in northern Iran, is well known for its hospitality. Most residents speak Mazandarani and the Saravi dialect. Sari used to be the home of Georgians, Armenians, and Zoroastrians, but today their percentage of the population is low. Local languages are spoken in some neighborhoods, but almost everyone understands and uses Persian as second language.



By air

Sari is served by Dasht-e Naz International Airport, which is located in the northeast of the city. it has four daily flights in summer and six weekly flights in other seasons scheduled to and from Tehran (cost: $20 USD). Also, it has weekly flight destinations to Mashhad and Jeddah. Seasonal destinations include Isfahan, Kish Island, and sometimes other cities, depending on demand. Tickets should be reserved one week in advance.

By train

The city is connected to Gorgan and Tehran by Shomal Railways, since it is on a major branch of the Iran's Railroad. The Sari train station is the city's first modern rail station and it dates from the Pahlavi dynasty. Currently, there are three major passenger trains (Sari Exclusive Train, No. 220, and No. 221) everyday to Sari. If you travel to Sari from Tehran, you may use the Gorgan train, which runs in the evening. Only some major express trains have announcements in English, but this train does. The fare is $3.5 USD, and the trip takes either 7 hours (Tehran-Sari) or 71/2 hours (Sari-Tehran), because the trip is through mountains. For more than 60 years, Sari's exclusive train has been arriving about 4 PM.

By boat

The port of Amir Abad is located on the southern coast of the Mazandaran Sea.

By car

Local highways have been well developed after the Iran–Iraq War. Sari area contains highway 62w, which has the Qa'emshahr exit and 62e, which has the Neka exit.

By bus

There are five bus terminals, but just one, Terminal-e Dowlat, is popular. The others serve cities that are located within 150 kilometers of Sari: Gorgan, Nowshahr and Chaloos, Kiyasar, etc.
By Train
Gorgan 153 Kilometers* 138 Kilometers Neka, Behshahr, Gaz, Nokandeh, Gorgan
Bojnourd ----- Behshahr, Gorgan, Minoodasht, Ashkhaneh, Bojnourd
Mashad 1152 Kilometers* 730 Kilometers Behshahr, Gorgan, Bonjnourd, Quchan, Mashad
Babol 45 Kilometers* Qa'emshahr, Babol
Nowshahr 170 Kilometers Jouybar, Babolsar, Fereydoon Kenar, Nour, Royan, Nowshahr
Lahidjan Babolsar, Nour, Nowshahr, Shahsavar, Ramsar, Chaboksar, Lahidjan
By Train Via Savadkooh Road Via Kiasar Road Via Azadshahr Road Via Haraz Road
Tehran 354 Kilometers* 270 Kilometers* ----- ----- 245 Kilometers
Semnan 354 Kilometers* ----- -----
Shahroud 555 Kilometers* -----
* indicates that destination is actually nearer than the kilometers shown

Getting around

The layout of the city lends itself to using taxis. There is a wide choice of taxi systems including ceremony taxis, wireless taxis, airport or rail station taxis, and telephone taxis. City buses are also popular because they connect Sari's suburbs to the center of city, and most of the population lives in the suburbs. Although pedestrians must take care crossing busy streets, Sari is safe for pedestrians even at night.


Sari is balmy and pleasant. Most major places of interest are listed below:

  • Farah Abad Coast
  • Gohar Baran Coast
  • Darya Kenar Coast
  • Khezer Shahr Coast
  • Dehkadeh Aramesh Tourist Village
  • Tajan River Park
  • Zare' Forest Park
  • Salardareh Forest Park
  • Dasht-E-Naaz National Park
  • Pol-e-Gardan hiking trail
  • Nemashoun Lake
  • Lak-Dasht Lake
  • Soleyman-Tangeh Lake
  • Bam-e-Shahr Hill (offers a great panoramic view of the city)
  • Qor-Maraz (natural spa, Neka)

Colleges and universities

Unlike today, Sari was once one of the most cultured cities in the history of Iran. The scientific knowledge of Saravis was noted throughout history and recorded by Pietro Della Valle and other famous visitors. Today, the universities are as follows:


Many complexes feature sports in Sari, but most do not have complete facilities. Most popular are Jahan-Pahlavan Takhti Sports Complex, which is located on Farhang Street; Hashemi-Nassab Sports Complex, which is located on the railway side of the autobahn; and Montazeri Sports complex, which is located in Shahband. Sari has the Mottaqi football stadium as well, but it is seldom used.


Sari is the birthplace of many popular wrestlers and athletes, and it was the host of 2006 Wrestling World Cup Competitions.
It has a major fieldhouse, Seyyed Rasoul Hosseyni Coliseum, which is known throughout Iran as an outstanding venue for wrestling.
The Saravis wrestlers below have won numerous world titles and are known internationally.

Cultural attractions

Although Sari is the most important cultural place in the north of Iran, earthquakes and other causes destroyed most of its cultural buildings. Still, Sari has been described as Safa City (City of Curvet).
Notable are Famous Houses such as Kolbadi House, Archeological sites including Hutto Cave (70th millennium BC), Kamarband Cave (70th-millennium BC); also the Resket Tower from the Qaran era and the Farrah-Abad Complex Place from the Safavid era.

Religious sites

  • Emamzadeh Yahya (son of Imam Moosa-ebn Jafar)
  • Emamzadeh Abbas (son of Imam Moosa-ebn Jafar)
  • Emamzadeh Abdollah, Koula
  • Masjed-e-Jaame' Mosque (constructed before Islam by Zoroastrians, where many important kings and heroes of Persia such as Iraj,

Touraj, Salam, Fereidun, Sohrab (son of Rostam) that Ferdowsi remind them in shahnama are buried near this place).

  • Emam-Sajjad Mosque (formerly Shah-Qazi, first was Marqad-'Ala-Adolleh School but Rostam Shah Qazi reconstructed it in 1169 and renamed it Shah-Qazi during the Qaznavi era)
  • Haaj Mostafa Khan Mosque (Sourteci)
  • Reza Khan Mosque (Hozeh Elmiyeh)
  • Molla-Majd-Addin Place
  • Shazdeh-Hossein Place
  • Pahneh-Kalla Place.

Mayor of city

  • Mohammad Ghanbarpour




  • Sari, My Lovely City, Author: Ali Hessami, Year: 2006, 23965 Sari Primary Library

Some of the important people from Sari are Haj Ali Akbar Nikbakht, Musa Vafayan, and Sheikh Nazari.

External links

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