12. Sheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil (2010)

12.Sheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil (2010)

Sheikh Safi al-Din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble was built as as microcosmic city with bazaars, public baths, Squares, religious buildings, houses, and offices. It was the largest and most complete khanegah and the most prominent Sufi shrine since it also hosts the tomb of the founder of the Safavid Dynasty. For these reasons, it has evolved into a display of sacred works of art and architecture from the 14th to the 18th century and a center of Sufi religious pilgrimage.

The Sheikh Safi al-Din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil is of outstanding universal value as an artistic and architectural masterpiece and an outstanding representation of the fundamental principles of Sufism ILkhanid and Timurid architectural languages, influenced by Sufi philosophy, have created new spatial forms and decorative patterns The layout of the ensemble became a prototype for innovative architectural expressions and a reference for other khanegahs. As the shrine of a prominent Sufi master, who also was the founder of the Safavid Dynasty, the property has remained sacred in Iran up to the present day.

Justification for Inscription:
Criterion (i): The conception of the entire ensemble layout, the proportions of the internal and external spaces and of the buildings their design and refined decoration, together with the climax created by the sequenced path to Sheikh Safi al-Din's shrine, all combined have concurred to create a unique complex in which Aesthetics and spirituality are in a harmonious dialogue.
criterion (ii): The architectural spaces and features of the nominated property have integrated influences of the Ilkhanid and Timurid periods with the religious message of Sufism and the taste for exquisite mentation and interior spaciousness, thus giving rise to fresh architectural and artistic forms.
Criterion (iv): The Sheikh Safi al-Din ensemble is a prototype and an outstanding example of a 16th century religious complex, combined with social, charitable, cultural, and educational functions, which contains all the significant elements that since came to characterize Safavid architecture and became a prototype for other khanegah and shrines.

Integrity and Authenticity
The property contains all the elements that convey its Outstanding Universal Value. Most of the elements of the property are in good condition and, despite several transformations; the site continues to present an image of harmonious composition, in which the material realization of the spiritual path through the architectural design is still clearly legible. The design form of the entire complex and of individual buildings has been retained and their religious functions have been maintained in most cases. Where they have changed, the new uses are appropriate to the architectural structure in general, and the material and technical authenticity has been retained, as well as the spiritual character of the place. It is, however, important to reduce the tendency to go too far in conservation work.

Historical Description
Sufism (tasawwuf, from suf wool in Arabic or safari purity) is generally considered to be the inner mystical dimension of Islam rather than a distinct sect. It began to develop into a spiritual movement in the 9th and loth centuries. Sufism is claimed to have been a definitive factor in the spread of Islam and in the creation of an integrated Islamic culture in Africa and Asia. Sufism flourished between the 13th and 16th centuries throughout the Islamic world as a vigorous religious and intellectual culture with specific directions given by the different tariqats or orders founded by Sufi teachers. Sufism has left a number of physical artistic manifestations, particularly in central Asia. When Iran underwent the Islamic conquest, Ardabil was the largest city in northwestern Iran, and it remained so until the Mongol invasions, which left the town shattered for three centuries until the advent of the Safavid Dynasty, of which Sheikh Safi al-Din (1252-1334) is the epOnym.

Sheikh Safi al-Din followed Sheikh Zahed e-Gilani's Teachings and after his master's death took his place and developed his own tariqat, which acquired its name and from which Safavi Sufism originated. He founded a khanegah In Ardabil, which was later to become his shrine. The ensemble functioned initially as a small, self-contained city with bazaars, public baths and “meydans”, religious facilities, houses, and Offices. During the reign of the Safavi rulers, the role and function - Of the nominated property changed to one of political and national importance as the Important shrine of the founder of the Safavid Dynasty. Shah Ismail, Sheikh Safī al-Din's successor as Sufi leader of the khanegah, became the first shah of the Safavid Dynasty and declared Shi'ism the state religion. The Safavids spared no expense in enriching and decorating the Structure of the shrine of their ancestor with many works of art. The shrine became a focus for pilgrims from around the world and a religious ensemble containing outstanding works of art, ornamentation, and archaeology from the 14th to the 18th centuries. The nominated property has maintained its role as a place of worship and pilgrimage.


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