QAṢRĀN, a historical region located north of present-day Tehran, consisting of the upper Jājrud river valley (Inner Qaṣrān) and Šemirānāt as well as Tehran itself (Outer Qaṣrān). 

Qaṣrān has been populated since pre-historical times. Artifacts dated from three to six thousand years ago have been excavated from its ancient burials and other sites.  The invading Muslims conquered Ray (q.v.) and Damāvand in the early Omayyad period.  Nevertheless, the habitants of the mountainous Inner Qaṣrān paid tribute tax and remained Zoroastrian. It was only in the first half of the 8th century that they converted into Islam (Awliāʾ-Allāh, pp. 45-51). At the time when Ray was a political center, Qaṣrān was one of its famous rural districts (Eṣṭaḵri, p. 209), located north of Ray and south of Māzandarān, with Damāvand on its eastern border and Kan and Aranga on its western frontier (Mostawfi, p. 53; Karimān, 1978, I, pp. 13-27).  Qaṣrān, due to its location like a bridge between Ray and Ṭabarestān, became the scene of many events during the wars and other disturbances that took place in the following centuries and also turned into a mountainous asylum for warrior groups as well as the regional habitants (Karimān, 1978, I, p. 13).

From early times on, the southern half of Qaṣrān was called Outer Qaṣrān (Qaṣrān al-Ḵārej) and its northern half Inner Qaṣrān (Qaṣrān al-Dāḵel), apparently the original designations of the two areas (Eṣṭaḵri, p. 209; Moqaddasi, p. 386).  Inner Qaṣrān, because of its fine summer climate, has always been the desirable residential area in summer for the inhabitants of the southern regions.

Remains of historical significance in Qaṣrān provide another point of attraction.  They comprise Zoroastrian buildings such as temples and altars, including the historical sites of Qalʿa-ye Haft doḵtar in Lār, Ḵātun Bārgāh in Garmābdar, and Qaṣr-e doḵtar in Āhār.  Besides, there are also strategic fortresses, such as the fortresses of Amāma, Lowrā, and Šemirān (Karimān, 1978, I, pp. 189-204).  In Inner Qaṣrān, there are seasonal edifices belonging to rulers of various dynasties, such as the palace (kušk) of ʿAli b. Kāma, a military commander of the Buyids, the villa of one of the Abbasid caliphs (jawsaq al-ḵalifa), and the palace of the Il-khanid Arḡun Khan (Karimān, 1970, II, p. 651).  Qajar kings had also built seasonal palaces, the remains of which still exist, including the palaces of Fatḥ-ʿAli Shah, Nāṣer-al-Din Shah, and Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah (Karimān, 1978, I, pp. 134-44).

Contemporary position. The toponym Qaṣrān has fallen out of use for centuries (cf. Razmārā, map). Inner Qaṣrān, except for a small portion, now belongs to the sub-province (šahrestān) of Šemirānāt with the following geographical divisions: the district of Lavāsān (q.v.); the district of Rudbār-e Qaṣrān; the village of Siāhrud, which today belongs to the Damāvand sub-province; and a part of the village of Šahrestānak, which presently belongs to the Alborz province, centered at Karaj. The former Outer Qaṣrān now contains a part of the sub-province of Šemirānāt, the city of Tehran, the district of Kan, and a part of the district of Varāmin (Karimān, 1978, I, p. 27).

Inner Qaṣrān is a mountainous region, with the Alborz running through its northern section.  In the northern part of this region is placed Kolumbastak mountain, which is divided by three river valleys: (a) the mountains of Lavāsānāt between the valleys of the Jājrud and the Lār; (b) the mountains of Šemirānāt between the Jājrud and Karaj rivers and divided into Talharz and Towčāl chains; (c) the mountains of Šahrestānak and Lowrā with the Karaj River flowing beside them.  Each one of these three sections is joined together by the means of sharp passes, namely Afjevaš, Ḵarsang, and Qoččak (Keyhān, II, p. 352). Several rivers flow through Inner Qaṣrān (Lavāsānāt), including rivers Jājrud, Lār, and Karaj; a dam is constructed on each one of these.

Outer Qaṣrān (Šemirān and Tehran) has no major rivers.  There exist, however, small rivers that spring up from the southern foot of the Towčāl range and supply the water needs of Šemirān and Tehran as well as their subterranean water table. The current streams are the Daraka river, the Šemirān or Darband river, the floodway of Faraḥzād and the streams of Firuzābād.

The traditional occupation of the majority of the people of Inner Qaṣrān was transportation of its products and those of Māzandarān (coal, rice, and citrus fruits) to Ray and Tehran.  Since its fine climate in summer turns Qaṣrān into an ideal area of summer resorts, the residents would rent out their homes and gardens for summer months to the people of Tehran, thus providing an additional source of income (Karimān, 1978, I, pp. 180-81).  Some of the residents earn their living by the cultivation of fruit trees and summer crops as well as herding cattle (cf. Hourcade).  In the recent past, the price of land has risen and, therefore, numerous people have sold their lands and invested the money in businesses in the new established cities in the area.  Many of the younger generation have been employed by offices and businesses in Tehran.  Currently (2017), affluent residents of Tehran have villas in Inner Qaṣrān, where they spend their summer time, and their presence in the area has boosted the economy of the local population.

Language. The region is host to numerous, mostly kindred, dialects. A linguistic atlas of Inner Qaṣrān was published by Giti Deyhim (2009), based on which, along with other sources, a thorough linguistic analysis of both Inner and Outer Qaṣrān was published (Borjian, 2013a). Accordingly, the region can be divided into two linguistic zones: (1) The vernaculars of the north and southeast of Inner Qaṣrān show high degrees of affinity with Ṭabari (Māzandarāni) but with a substantial blend of Persian vocabulary and grammar; they are thus coined as ‘Ṭabaroid’ (Borjian, 1913b). (2) The southern dialects, from Ušān in the middle course of the Upper Jājrud southward to Tajriš in Šemirān, are given the appellation ‘Perso-Tabaric’ on the grounds that they are akin to Persian, while carrying a thick Caspian stratum (Borjian, 1913c). Additionally, there exist at least three Lori speaking villages south of the Latiān dam near Lavāsān.


Awliāʾ-Allāh Āmoli, Tāriḵ-e Ruyān, ed. Manučehr Sotuda, Tehran, 1969. 

V. V. Barthold, Joḡrāfiā-ye tāriḵi-e Irān, tr. Ḥ. Sardādvar, Tehran, 1929.

H. Borjian, Is There Continuity between Persian and Caspian?: Linguistic Relationships in the South-Central Alborz, American Oriental Society, New Haven, 2013a.

Idem, “The Tabaroid Dialects of South-Central Alborz,” Acta Orientalia 66/4, 2013b, pp. 427-441.

Idem, “Perso-Tabaric Dialects in the Language Transition Zone Bordering Mazandaran,” Studia Iranica 42/2, 2013c, pp. 195-225.

G. Deyhim, Aṭlas-e guyeš-šenāḵti-e Qaṣrān-e dāḵel, Tehran, 2009.

Ebn Esfandiār, Tāriḵ-e Ṭabarestān I, ed. ʿAbbās Eqbāl, Tehran, 1941.

Abu Esḥāq Eṣṭaḵri, Ketāb masālek al-mamālek, ed. M. J. de Goeje, Leiden, 1870.

M.-Ḥ. Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Merʾāt al-boldān, 4 vols. in 3, Tehran, 1973-78.

M. Habibi and B. Hourcade, Atlas of Tehran Metropolis I, Tehran, 2005.

B. Hourcade, “Migrations de travail et migrations de loisir dans l’Elbourz de Téhéran,” Revue de géographie de Lyon 3, 1978, pp. 229-40.

Ḥ. Karimān, Ray-e bāstān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1970.

Idem, Qaṣrān (Kuhsaran): Mabāḥeṯ-e tāriḵi o joḡrāfiāʾi o ejtemāʿi o maẕhabi va vaṣf-e ātašgāh-e manṭaqa-ye kuhestāni-e Ray-e bāstān va Ṭehrān-e konuni, 2 vols., Tehran, 1978; 2nd ed., Tehran, 2007.

M. Keyhān, Joḡrāfiā-ye mofaṣṣal-e Irān, 3 vols., Tehran, 1931-32.

Abu ʿAbd-Allāh Moḥammad Moqaddasi (Maqdesi), Aḥsan al-taqāsim fi maʿrefat al-aqālim, ed. M. J. de Goeje, I Leiden, 1877.

Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi, Nozhat al-qolub, ed. and tr. Guy Le Strange, 2 vols., Leiden, 1916-19.

Ḥ.-ʿA. Razmārā, Farhang-e joḡrāfiāʾi-e Irān I, Tehran, 1949.

(Giti Deyhim and EIr.)

Originally Published: May 30, 2017

Last Updated: May 30, 2017

Cite this entry:

Giti Deyhim and EIr., “QAṢRĀN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at (accessed on 30 May 2017).