Kermanshah (Persian: Kirmānshāh; also known as Bakhtaran, Bākhtarān, Kermānshāhān and Qahremānshahr), the capital of Kermanshah Province, is located 525 kilometres (326 miles) from Tehran in the western part of Iran. According to the 2011 census, its population is 851,405. People mostly speak Southern Kurdish and Persian. Kermanshah has a moderate and mountainous climate.
Because of its antiquity, attractive landscapes, rich culture and Neolithic villages, Kermanshah is considered one of the cradles of prehistoric cultures. According to archaeological surveys and excavation, the Kermanshah area has been occupied by prehistoric people since the Lower Paleolithic period, and continued to later Paleolithic periods till late Pleistocene period. The Lower Paleolithic evidence consists of some handaxes found in the Gakia area to the east of the city. The Middle Paleolithic remains have been found in the northern vicinity of the city in Tang-e Kenesht and near Taqwasan. Neanderthal Man existed in the Kermanshah region during this period. The known Paleolithic caves in this area are Warwasi, Qobeh,Malaverd and Do-Ashkaft Cave. The region was also one of the first places in which human settlements including Asiab, Qazanchi, Tappeh Sarab, Chia Jani, and Ganj-Darreh were established between 8,000-10,000 years ago. This is about the same time that the first potteries pertaining to Iran were made in Ganj-Darreh, near present-day Harsin. In May 2009, based on a research conducted by the University of Hamedan and UCL, the head of Archeology Research Center of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization announced that the one of the oldest prehistorian village in the Middle East dating back to 9800 B.P., was discovered in Sahneh, located west of Kermanshah. Remains of later village occupations and early Bronze Age are found in a number of mound sites in the city itself.
In ancient Iranian mythology, construction of the city is attributed to Tahmuras, the third king of Pishdadian dynasty. It is believed that the Sassanids have constructed Kermanshah and Bahram IV (he was called Kermanshah, meaning king of Kerman) gave his name to this city. It was a glorious city in Sassanid period about the 4th century AD when it became the capital city of Persian Empire and a significant health center serving as the summer resort for Sassanid kings. In AD 226, following a two-year war led by the Persian Emperor, Ardashir I, against Kurdish tribes in the region, the empire reinstated a local Kurdish prince, Kayus of Medya, to rule Kermanshah. Within the dynasty known as the House of Kayus (also Kâvusakân) remained a semi-independent Kurdish kingdom lasting until AD 380 before Ardashir II removed the dynasty’s last ruling member.
Kermanshah was conquered by the Arabs in AD 640. Under Seljuk rule in the eleventh century, it became the major cultural and commercial center in western Iran and the southern Kurdish region as a whole. The Safavids fortified the town, and the Qajars repulsed an attack by the Ottomans during Fath Ali Shah’s rule (1797–1834). Kermanshah was occupied by Ottomans between 1723–1729 and 1731-1732.
Occupied by the Ottoman army in 1915 during World War I, it was evacuated in 1917. Kermanshah played an important role in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution during the Qajar dynasty period and the Republic Movement in Pahlavi dynasty period. The city was harshly damaged during the Iran–Iraq War, and although it was rebuilt, it has not yet fully recovered.
After the revolution in 1979, the city was named Ghahramanshahr for a short period of time, and later the name of the city as well as the province changed to Bakhtaran, apparently due to the presence of the word “Shah” in the original name. Bakhtaran means western, which refers to the location of the city and the province within Iran. After the Iran–Iraq War, however, the city was renamed Kermanshah, as it resonated more with the desire of its residents, the Persian literature, and the collective memory of the Iranians.
Kermanshah sights include Kohneh Bridge, Behistun Inscription, Taghbostan, Temple of Anahita, Dinavar, Ganj Dareh, Essaqwand Rock Tombs, Sorkh Deh chamber tomb, Malek Tomb, Hulwan, Median dakhmeh (Darbad, Sahneh), Parav cave, Do-Ashkaft Cave, Tekyeh Moavenalmolk, Dokan Davood Inscription, Sar Pol-e-Zahab, Tagh e gara, Patagh pass, Sarab Niloufar, Ghoori Ghale Cave, Khaja Barookh’s House, Chiyajani Tappe, Statue of Herakles in Behistun complex, Emad al doleh Mosque, Tekyeh-e Beglarbagi, Hunters cave, Jamé Mosque of Kermanshah, Godin Tepe, Bas relief of Gotarzes II of Parthia, and Anobanini bas relief.