22 images of UNESCO heritage sites

President Donald Trump has threatened to target Iranian cultural sites if the country retaliates in the wake of the U.S. drone strike that killed top military leader Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Although other Trump administration officials have contradicted the president and said the United States would “behave lawfully,” Trump has repeated threats to target sites “at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture.”

The 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict makes it a war crime to target cultural sites. 

The threat has drawn sharp criticism from Iranian officials. “He doesn’t know international law. He doesn’t recognize U.N. resolutions either. Basically he is a veritable gangster and a gambler,” Iranian Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, a senior military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, told CNN. 

In Iran, there are two dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 22 of them cultural ones. The sites represent religious, economic, architectural and social achievements and history throughout Iran.

More on Iranian cultural sites:Trump again threatens to target Iranian cultural sites amid mounting tensions over Qasem Soleimani killing

Here’s a look at the 22 cultural UNESCO sites within Iran:

Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

Saint Thaddeus Monastery

Located in the north-west of the country, these three monastic ensembles “are examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions,” according to UNESCO. The buildings – the oldest of which, St. Thaddeus, dates back to the 7th century – are places of pilgrimage for the Armenian Church.

Bam and its Cultural Landscape

Bam and its Cultural Landscape

Bam and its Cultural Landscape represents an outstanding example of an ancient fortified settlement that developed around the Iranian central plateau and is an exceptional testimony to the development of a trading settlement in the desert environment of the Central Asian region,” according to UNESCO. Dating back to the Achaemenid period in the 6th to 4th centuries BC, the site later became a crossroads for trade routes and silk and cotton garment production.



Bisotun, in western Iran’s Kermanshah province, is notable for its inscription carved on a limestone cliff. “It is unique, being the only known monumental text of the Achaemenids to document a specific historic event, that of the re-establishment of the empire by Darius I the Great,” according to UNESCO.

Cultural Landscape of Maymand


Semi-nomadic villagers live in this valley within Iran’s central mountains. “This cultural landscape is an example of a system that appears to have been more widespread in the past and involves the movement of people rather than animals,” according to UNESCO.

Golestan Palace

Golestan Palace

“The lavish Golestan Palace is a masterpiece of the Qajar era, embodying the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with Western influences,” according to UNESCO. The palace is one of the oldest building complexes in Tehran, located in the historic center of the city.

Gonbad-e Qābus

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