Masouleh Village, Rooftops Redefined

Masouleh village is a village in Fuman County of Gilan Province. The stepped village is 1,050 meters above sea level in the Alborz  mountain range, near the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. It has been one of the most popular tourist destinations of Iran, for its unique architectural layout, picturesque location and refreshing weather. Here, you can have an overview of Masouleh village architecture, Masouleh weather and its history.

While annually hosting thousands of visitors, Masouleh village, inscribed in the National Heritage list  of Iran in 1975, this 1000-year-old village’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list is still underway.

Famed for its unique organic layout, likes of Masouleh village are Abyaneh in central Iran, Kandovan Village in northerwestern Iran, and Uraman Takht in western Iran can equally amaze you with their distinct features. Learn more about unique villages of Iran.


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#1 Masouleh Weather and Location

Masouleh Weather and Location : Situated on the seaward face of Alborz mountain range in Gilan Province, at an altitude of 1050 m, the village itself is spread vertically for 100 meters. Facing scenic valleys on the east, Masouleh village is surrounded by mountains on other three directions, in the heart of luxuriant forests.

Being at such high altitude in the mountain, lending weight to the cold, and at the same time facing the Caspian Sea, humidity, fog and precipitation are the predominant features of Masouleh weather.

Hence, Masouleh weather is a combination of mountainous and coastal climate throughout the year: cold and snowy winters, cool and moist summers.

Masouleh-Roudkhan river passes through the village with a scenic waterfall 200 meters away from Masouleh village.

masouleh village - masouleh village architecture - masouleh weather


#2 Masouleh Village Architecture

Masouleh Village Architecture : Most popular for its unique organic layout, the historical village is  cascaded on the slope of the mountain, yielding the famed layout of “rooftops of the houses below are the pedestrian area and yards of the houses above”!

The choice of location,height and the layout is a genius adaptation to the regional climate, where building at lower altitudes would have exposed the village to the lurking threat of flooding, and too cold winters. Houses are built out of a combination of wood, adobe, and stone, on a slope of 60 degrees, with natural rock at the foundation, and support by the mountain at the back, the stepped Masouleh village is built to be earthquake resistant.

Owing to the organic development, stairways through different levels of the village, along with narrow ramps help this interconnected village rise on the slope. Due to this spatial layout, Masouleh village is the only one in Iran where passage of motorcycles and automobiles are prohibited!

masouleh village - masouleh village architecture - masouleh weather

masouleh village – masouleh village architecture – masouleh weather

Typical of northern Iran’s extroverted architecture, porticoes and multiple windows – adorned by intricate wood latticework, tinted glass and colorful plants (esp. Geranium), are common in the village; contrary to the desert regions where architecture is visibly introverted, with windows and terraces facing the central courtyard.

Houses are usually double-floored: with a small living room, large guest room, winter and summer rooms and balcony found on the 1st floor. A cold closet, barn and stable are located on the floor below.

masouleh village - masouleh village architecture - masouleh weather


#3 History and Economy of Masouleh Village

Archaeological excavations has led to discovery of the relics of the “Old Masouleh”, about 6 km northwest of the current Masouleh village, establishment of which dates back to 1000 years ago, having found ceramic artifacts of the Seljuk era. No definite consensus on the motives to leave the Old Masouleh for the current location (in circa 14th century) can be determined, but an earthquake and a plague epidemic have been mentioned.

Once situated on one the main trade routes of northern Iran, being rich in iron, quartz and zinc mines, existence of numerous caravanserais in the area, and excavated artefacts all point to the economic power of the historical Masouleh village as a major commercial hub with trade revolving around metalworking in the past centuries. However, today, the economy relies heavily on tourism.

In the past decades, due to emigration, the population of Masouleh village has remarkably declined to 568 people (in 2015).

masouleh village - masouleh village architecture - masouleh weather


#4 Attractions of Masouleh Village

  • Traditional Bazaar of Masouleh counts as one of the top attractions of Masouleh village, where one can witness the vivacious culture of the native community, the fascinating simplicity of the local handicrafts and products, and a unique architecture of the bazaar. The bazaar is built in 4 levels (concordant to the layout of the village), wherein, stores on the lower 2 levels, are single-floored and on the top 2 levels, double-floored.
  • Anthropology Museum of Masouleh showcasing the  cultural heritage and artefacts in 3 chronological sections since the 10th century up to now.
  • Natural attractions : Forest Park of Masouleh, equipped with tourist facilities; waterfalls in the vicinity of the village and Peak of Shah Moalem

masouleh village - masouleh village architecture - masouleh weather


#5 Handicrafts of Masouleh Village

Among the handicrafts and souvenirs of Masouleh are:

  • Hand-knit dolls and footwear :  you can find local women in the bazaar or at doorsteps, knitting colorful products such as dolls, socks, etc..
  • Metalware : such as hand-made knives
  • Traditional Shoes (Giveh and Charogh)
  • Weave Products (such as Kilim)
  • Delicious local edibles

masouleh village - masouleh village architecture - masouleh weather


How To Get to Masouleh Village in Gilan

Being a popular destination, access to Masouleh is quite convenient by personal cars or taxis and buses from neighbouring cities such as Fouman, Rasht, etc.

5/5 - (3 votes)


I had never loved my country more before I serendipitously found myself in tourism and took a sharp turn from my soulless job to give in to the magic of my home, Iran!

1 Comment

Chris.m · July 6, 2019 at 4:55 pm

When is the best time to visit this village?

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