Jump to content


Coordinates: 35°57′20″N 52°06′36″E / 35.95556°N 52.11000°E / 35.95556; 52.11000
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mount Damavand, Iran's highest mountain
Highest point
Coordinates35°57′20″N 52°06′36″E / 35.95556°N 52.11000°E / 35.95556; 52.11000
Alborz is located in Iran

The Alborz (listen Persian: البرز) range, also spelled as Alburz, Elburz or Elborz, is a mountain range in northern Iran that stretches from the border of Azerbaijan along the western and entire southern coast of the Caspian Sea and finally runs northeast and merges into the smaller Aladagh Mountains and borders in the northeast on the parallel mountain ridge Kopet Dag in the northern parts of Khorasan. All these mountains are part of the much larger Alpide belt. The Alborz range is divided into the Western, Central, and Eastern Alborz Mountains. The Western Alborz Range (usually called the Talysh) runs south-southeastward almost along the western coast of the Caspian Sea. The Central Alborz (the Alborz Mountains in the strictest sense) runs from west to east along the entire southern coast of the Caspian Sea, while the Eastern Alborz Range runs in a northeasterly direction, toward the northern parts of the Khorasan region, southeast of the Caspian Sea. Mount Damavand, the highest mountain in Iran measuring 5,610.0 m (18,405.5 ft), is located in the Central Alborz Mountains. Mount Damavand is the 12th most prominent peak in the world and the second most prominent in Asia after Mount Everest.

Alborz on a geographic map of Iran
Damavand, the highest summit of Alborz


The name Alborz is derived from Harā Barazaitī, a legendary mountain in the Avesta, the main text of Zoroastrianism. Harā Barazaitī is from a Proto-Iranian name, Harā Bṛzatī, meaning "Mountain Rampart." Bṛzatī is the feminine form of the adjective bṛzant- "high", the ancestor of modern Persian bouland and BarzBerazandeh, cognate with Sanskrit Brihat. Harā may be interpreted as "watch" or "guard", from an Indo-European root *ser- "protect". In Middle Persian, Harā Barazaitī became Harborz, Modern Persian Alborz, which is a cognate with Elbrus, the highest peak of the Caucasus.[1]

Alborz Mountain range seen from Tehran
Milad Tower's view to the city and mountains


Zoroastrians seem to identify the range with the dwelling place of the Peshyotan, and the Zoroastrian Ilm-e-Kshnoom sect identifies Mount Damavand as the home of the Saheb-e-Dilan ('Masters of the Heart'). In his epic Shahnameh, the poet Ferdowsi speaks of the mountains "as though they lay in India."[1] This could reflect older usage, for numerous high peaks were given the name, and some even reflect it to this day, including Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains and Mount Elbariz (Albariz, Jebal Barez) in the Kerman area above the Strait of Hormuz. All these names reflect the same Iranian language compound, and have been speculatively identified, at one time or another, as the legendary mountain Hara Berezaiti of the Avesta.


The Alborz mountain range forms a barrier between the south Caspian and the Iranian plateau. It is only 60–130 km wide and consists of sedimentary series dating from Upper Devonian to Oligocene, prevalently Jurassic limestone over a granite core. Continental conditions regarding sedimentation are reflected by thick Devonian sandstones and by Jurassic shales containing coal seams. Marine conditions are reflected by Carboniferous and Permian strata that are composed mainly of limestones. In the Eastern Alborz Range, the far eastern section is formed by Mesozoic (chiefly Triassic and Jurassic) rocks, while the western part of the Eastern Alborz Range is made primarily of Paleozoic rocks. Precambrian rocks can be found chiefly south of the city of Gorgan situated in the southeast of the Caspian Sea and, in much smaller amounts, in the central and western parts of the Central Alborz Range. The central part of the Central Alborz Range is formed mainly of Triassic and Jurassic rocks, while the northwestern section of the range is mainly composed of Jurassic rocks. Very thick beds of Tertiary (mostly Eocene) green volcanic tuffs and lavas are found mainly in the southwestern and south-central parts of the range. The far northwestern part of the Alborz, that constitutes the Western Alborz Range or the Talish Mountains, is mainly made up of Upper Cretaceous volcano-sedimentary deposits, with a strip of Paleozoic rocks and a band of Triassic and Jurassic rocks in the southern parts, both in a northwest–southeast direction. As the Tethys Sea was closed and the Arabian Plate collided with the Iranian Plate, and was pushed against it, and with the clockwise movement of the Eurasian Plate towards the Iranian Plate and their final collision, the Iranian Plate was pressed from both sides. The collisions finally caused the folding of the Upper Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Paleogene rocks and the Cenozoic (chiefly the Eocene) volcanism, to form the Alborz Mountains, primarily during the Miocene. The Alpine orogeny began, therefore, with Eocene volcanism in southwestern and south-central parts of the Alborz, and continued with the uplift and folding of the older sedimentary rocks in the northwestern, central and eastern parts of the range, during the most important orogenic phases, which date from the Miocene and Pliocene epochs.

Ecoregions, flora and fauna[edit]

While the southern slopes of the Alborz Mountains are usually semiarid or arid, with irregular and low precipitation, the northern slopes of the range are usually humid, especially in the western parts of the Central Alborz. The Alborz is the easternmost extent of many European plant species. In the southern slopes or the Elburz Range forest steppe ecoregion, the higher elevations are arid with few trees. Juniper is the most common tree in inaccessible areas and at high elevation, while common shrubs are pistachio, maple, and almond. But in the northern slopes, the Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests ecoregion is lush and forested. The natural vegetation of this region grows in distinct zones:

  • Hyrcanian forests on the lowest levels,
  • beech forests in the middle zone,
  • oak forests in higher regions.

The wild cypress is the dominant form of vegetation in some valleys, while olive trees grow in the western valleys of the Central Alborz near the Sefidrud. The bezoar ibex, Blanford's fox, Rüppell's fox, red fox, Persian fallow deer, wild boar, Syrian brown bear, Persian leopard, Indian wolf, buzzard, goose, woodpecker, griffon vulture, and eagle are among important animals and birds found in the Alborz Mountains. The extinct Caspian tiger also lived in the Alborz Mountains.


Alborz mountains in Amol county, Mazandaran, Iran. taken from Haraz road

Archaeological evidence from Alborz indicates that early human groups were present in the region since at least late Lower Paleolithic. The Darband Cave located at the Gilan Province contains evidence for late Lower Paleolithic. Stone artifacts and animal fossils were discovered by a group of archaeologists of the Department of Paleolithic of the National Museum of Iran and ICHTO of Gilan. The presence of large numbers of cave bear and brown bear remains and sparse stone artifacts at the site indicates that Darband primarily represents a bear den. The co-occurrence of artifacts and bear bones does not imply human predation or scavenging. Because there are no clear cut marks, except a few burning signs on the bear bones, they probably accumulated through natural processes.[2] During Middle Paleolithic period, Neanderthals were most probably were present in the region as their fossil have been found at northwest of Alborz, in the Azykh Cave. Their stone tools found in the Buzeir Cave and Kiaram cave and number of other surveyed sites.[3] Evidence for Modern human comes from a river side site called Garm Roud in the Mazandaran Province which dates back to about 30,000 years ago.[4]

Ski resorts[edit]

Due to the snowy winters of the Alborz Mountains, there are several ski resorts in different places across the range. Some of them, according to ski enthusiasts, are among the best in the world.[5]

Mounts, summits, alpine lakes and attractions[edit]

The Alborz four-thousanders with at least 300 meters of topographic prominence:

Name Height (m) Prominence (m)
1 Damavand 5610 4661
2 Alam-Kuh 4828 1848
3 Kalahoo 4412 345
4 Azad Kuh 4398 980
5 Kholeno 4375 746
6 Do Khaharan 4310 644
7 Avidar 4286 503
8 Great Nazer 4260 510
9 Kaman-Kuh 4234 533
10 Zarrin-Kuh 4198 451
11 Sarakchal 4194 317
12 Sialan 4160 1160
13 Kolunbastak 4156 359
14 Shah Alborz 4125 931
15 Naz 4108 1018
16 Do Berar 4082 1352
17 Kahoun 4075 342
18 Varavašt 4025 852
19 Korma-Kuh 4020 359
20 Parchenan 4015 1144
21 Saat 4003 428

The peaks with altitude of 3800 m - 4000 m, with at least 300 meters of topographic prominence:

Name Height (m) Prominence (m)
1 Mishineh Marg 3990 562
2 Tochal 3964 1164
3 Karkas Neshin 3950 537
4 Khashechal 3945 645
5 Vantar 3944 544
South Kharsang 3940 293
6 Sechal 3936 436
7 Sineza 3933 336
8 Shahvar 3932 1923
9 Mehrchal 3912 759
10 Keyoonchal 3910 390
11 Pashooreh 3896 814
12 Small Nazer 3881 444
13 Gavingchal 3880 344
14 Deev Asiab (Alarm) 3880 421
15 Zarrin-Kuh 3850 858
Kushgak (Sorkhak) 3843 299
16 Gavkoshan 3840 1160
17 Khozanak 3840 402
18 Asemankuh 3819 499

The peaks with at least 1000 meters of topographic prominence:

Name Height (m) Prominence (m)
1 Damavand 5610 4661
2 Shahvar 3932 1923
3 Alam-Kuh 4828 1848
4 Neyzeva 3730 1510
5 Do Berar 4082 1352
6 Tochal 3964 1164
7 Sialan 4160 1160
8 Gavkoshan 3840 1160
9 Parchenan 4015 1144
10 Shahdar Kuh 3252 1107
11 Ghadamgah 3563 1057
12 Badleh Kuh 3203 1036
13 Naz 4108 1018
Map of central Alborz Peaks: 1 Alam-Kuh
  −25 to 500 m (−82 to 1,640 ft)
  500 to 1,500 m (1,600 to 4,900 ft)
  1,500 to 2,500 m (4,900 to 8,200 ft)
  2,500 to 3,500 m (8,200 to 11,500 ft)
  3,500 to 4,500 m (11,500 to 14,800 ft)
  4,500 to 5,610 m (14,760 to 18,410 ft)
2 Azad Kuh 3 Damavand
4 Do Berar 5 Do Khaharan
6 Ghal'eh Gardan 7 Gorg
8 Kholeno 9 Mehr Chal
10 Mishineh Marg 11 Naz
12 Shah Alborz 13 Sialan
14 Tochal 15 Varavašt
Rivers: 0
1 Alamut 2 Chalus
3 Do Hezar 4 Haraz
5 Jajrood 6 Karaj
7 Kojoor 8 Lar
9 Noor 10 Sardab
11 Seh Hazar 12 Shahrood
Cities: 1 Amol
2 Chalus 3 Karaj
Other: D Dizin
E Emamzadeh Hashem K Kandovan Tunnel
* Latyan Dam ** Lar Dam

See also[edit]


  • North, S.J.R., Guide to Biblical Iran, Rome 1956, p. 50


  1. ^ a b electricpulp.com. "ALBORZ". Archived from the original on 2019-09-03. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  2. ^ Biglari, F., V. Jahani 2011 The Pleistocene Human Settlement in Gilan, Southwest Caspian Sea: Recent Research, Eurasian Prehistory 8 (1-2): 3-28
  3. ^ Biglari, F. (2019). Lower and Middle Paleolithic Occupation of the Northern Alborz and Talesh, South of the Caspian Sea. Tourism Research, 1(3), 90-106 (access: http://journal.richt.ir/browse.php?a_id=76&sid=7&slc_lang=en Archived 2020-10-10 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Berillon G., Asgari Khaneghah A. (dir.) 2016. Garm Roud : une halte de chasse en Iran, Paléolithique supérieur, Garm Roud : Hunting place in Iran, Upper Paleolithic. Prigonrieux : @rchéo-éditions, IFRI,
  5. ^ Dom Joly (24 February 2008). "Iran's biggest secret: the skiing's great". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 February 2021. Retrieved 16 December 2016.

External links[edit]