Semnan  is the capital city ofSemnan Province, Iran. Its population was 153,680 people and 36,298 families as of the 2011 census. Semnan is located 216 kilometers east of Tehran in north central Iran. It is home to Semnani languages and is known asSeman locally.

The city offer various recreational activities, historical and religious sites, festivals, gardens and parks, colleges and universities, and Semnani culture. The city serves as the cultural and political capital of the Semnan Province. The city's main souvenirs are daffodil flowers, Shirmal pastry, Kolüçe cookies, kilim rugs, and shortbread.

Etymology:

There are several theories which seek to explain the origin of the name Semnan.

  • According to the first theory, Semnan was an ancient pre-zoroastrian city in which the locals practiced idol-worshipping. Their religion was called samīna, hence the name Semnan.
  • According to the second theory, Semnan was an ancient civil establishment by the Scythians, an Iranian people who named their settlement Sakanān.
  • According to the third theory produced by the local people themselves, the first settlers of Semnan were two of the Prophet Noah's children, Sim An-Nabi and Lam An-Nabi, and that their settlement became known as Simlam; the local people believe that over time the name Simlam turned into "Semnan."
  • According to the fourth theory, Semnan was established by the mythical character Tahmuras, and that he named his city Saminā.
  • The fifth known theory simply states that the ancient regional language was known as Sa ma nān, and that the city of these people took on the name of their language.
  • According to the sixth known theory, the name Semnan comes from the phrase "sa ma nān", which is supposed to be a corrupted Persian way of saying "Three Months of Bread." This phrase traces back to the Semnani women's tradition of cooking three months worth of bread in one day.


Geography and climate:

Geography:

The city of Semnan is situated at 1,138 metres above sea level just south of the foothills of the Alborz Mountains, bordering the Kavir Desert to the south of the city. However, the Golrudbar river, which begins to the north of Shahmirzad, and other creeks have historically provided a reliable supply of water for a civil establishment; irregation methods since ancient times have allowed the people of Semnan to drink clean water, to raise livestock such as cattle and sheep, and to adopt agricultural practices. Unlike modern day Tehran, the city of Semnan is relatively flat.

Climate:

The city of Semnan enjoys the traditional four seasons of spring, summer, winter, and autumn each year.

The rain season starts in December and lasts all the way into May, however, precipitation throughout the winter months generally falls in the form of light snow, and the rest of the precipitation throughout the rain season is generally very light to moderate. During some winters, moisture-abundant blizzards make their way down from the Alborz mountains from the north of the city and dump several centimeters of snow in a single twenty-four-hour period. These blizzards force the closure of the airport, schools, small streets, and alleyways. As a result of the city's position in a semi-arid plain, many winter days are dominated by a cold and gusty wind that often produces a potent windchill factor which makes the city feel much colder than the actual air temperature. According to Iranian Meteorology reports, Semnan experiences around 48 days in which the temperature falls below freezing each year.

Spring is characterized by mild to warm day temperatures and cold to cool nights along with a reduction in precipitation as the season transitions into Summer.

Summer is often characterized by hot daily temperatures and warm nights. Summer months remain dry with trace amounts of rainfall. Occasionally, moisture from the Caspian Sea files through the Alborz mountains; the updraft of warm and moist air up the high mountain sides produces partly cloudy skies dominated by cumulus clouds. With the right amounts of heat and moisture, thunderstorms may develop during the afternoon and evening hours. Though the amount of precipitation is light, these thunderstorms often produce strong and gusty winds with frequent lightning strikes.

Autumn is also a transitional season in which the daily temperatures range from hot to cool along with cool nights.


History:

Pre-Islamic Era

The city of Semnan has historically been one of the fourteen civil establishments of the ancient, Avesta-era province of "Vern." Semnan remained an important city throughout the era of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. After the invasion ofAlexander the Great, which resulted in the fall of the Achaemenid Empire, and the establishment of the Seleucid Empire, the region which hosts the city of Semnan became known as Komesh. The beginning of the prosperous era of the city arrived with the rise of the Arsacid Dynasty of Parthia. The Parthians are an Iranian people. The Arsacid Dynasty of Parthia was very interested in the importing of Hellenism, or Greek culture. This resulted in the pioneering of sculpting and other forms ofWestern art in the city of Semnan. One of the capital cities of the Parthian Empire was Hecatompylos, and its ruins and numerous historical sites remain between the modern day city of Semnan and Damghan. With the fall of the Parthian Empire, and the rise of the Persian Sassanid Empire, Zoroastrianism was chosen as the state religion, and the city of Semnan was once again brought under the reign of Persian customs and traditions.

Post-Islamic Era

After the Muslim conquest of Persia, the religion of Islam was established within the city of Semnan. Though, unlike modern day Semnan, the people of the city originally practiced Sunni Islam, similar to the rest of early Islamic Persia. However, the institution of Sunni Islam did not last very long. The Alavids of Tabaristan had established a Shi'a Islamic emirate and upon conquering Semnan, brought the Zaidi Shi'a sect of Islam. Then, in the year 427 AH, the Seljuq Turks invaded and devastated the city. Nevertheless, it was the very Seljuq Turks that built many of the historical monuments and infrastructure of medieval Semnan. As the Seljuq Empire grew weak, the Abbasids managed to reconquer and assert their sovereignty over Persia. The people of Semnan suffered severely under the Abbasid Caliphate. It is possible that the years of Abbasid rule traumatized the people of Semnan, and even to this day, the Semnani people despise the color black because of its utilization for the black flags of the Abbasid Caliphate. The Abbasid rule was ended by the brutal, devastating invasion of the Mongols in the year of 618 AH. The Mongol hordes massacred the people and burnt much of the city to the ground. Semnan would not recover until the rise of the Turco-Persian Safavid Dynasty. The Safavids brought the Twelver Shi'ism sect of Islam to Semnan, and contributed to the reconstruction of the city.

Qajar Era

With the rise of the Qajar dynasty, historical Semnan witnessed great strides of progress in her economical, cultural, infrastructural, and political sectors. The very tribe that rose into becoming the Qajar dynasty was based in the mountainous terrain between the modern day provinces of Semnan, Mazandaran, and Golestan. The Qajars turned Semnan into a civil fortress, from which they controlled the major trade route to their capital in Tehran and the holy city of Mashad. Semnan was proclaimed as Darol Hokumeh, or The Dominion of Government for the historical state of Qomess, roughly occupying the same boundaries as the modern day Semnan Province. In addition to infrastructural growth, some Qajar royals built their castles in the city. Semnan was also an important medical center for members of the Qajar Imperial Family and was home to many notable physicians and doctors of the era. Throughout much of the Qajar era, Semnan operated under a feudalistic model organized as listed below:

Qajar Prince
Nobility & Clergy
Merchants, Skilled Craftsmen, Herbalists & Medical Physicians
Soldiers
House Servants
Farmers & General Labor Force
Social Misfits (the insane, mentally-ill, criminals, physically maimed or deformed)

Pahlavi Era

The Pahlavi era marked the transition of Semnan into the industrial era. Semnan's original loyalty to the Qajar dynasty and the city's importance under the Qajars prompted a lot of anti-Pahlavi sentiment with the rise of Reza Shah. Reza Shah Pahlavi's government began the immediate construction of modern infrastructure and paved roads throughout the city, however, this called for the destruction of the citadel of Semnan and the artistic monuments of the Qajars. Upon attempting to destroy the Gate of Semnan, the locals chained themselves to the building and stopped its destruction. Many prominent families in Semnan were also restricted from attaining high political posts as a result of their previous connection with and service to the Qajar Imperial Family. This resulted in the exodus of many prominent Semnani families to Tehran during the early Pahlavi era. Despite the tension and confrontation, the Pahlavi dynasty was successful in transforming Semnan into a more modern city. Throughout the early Pahlavi era, Semnan experienced several rounds of extreme drought, famine, crop devastation, and poverty. Prominent Semnani language poets such as Nosratollah Nouhian encouraged the Farmers and General Labor class to rise up and demand their rights from the unjust, well-fed landlords who were carelessly watching the very farmers who grew the food starve and deteriorate into ruin and agony:

بییما فصلی بهاری... ماکره دل بیقراری
دو وچش دشت و بیابون... سوزه چی مخملی واری

The Season of Spring has arrived... It sways the (the emotions) of the heart,
It spreads across the meadows and the desert... A velvet-like green.
-Rahim Me`marian

Language:

Persian language

The Persian language is the official language of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and thus within the city of Semnan. Every literate person in Semnan knows how to communicate in the Persian language.

Semnani language

Main article: Semnani language

The city also has its own language known as "Zaban e Semnani" in Persian or "Semani Zefön" in the Semnani language of the locals. The Iranian Constitutionrecognizes the use of regional dialects and languages, and permits their usage second to the Persian language.

According to the book Dictionary of Semnan Ancient Dialect, Semnan traditionally has had its own language. The book collected more than 12,000 words belonging to this language. The local people call their language Semani. Most of the older generations and some among the younger generations of the city still know and maintain communication in this language. However, the majority of the younger generations do not communicate in Semani as a result of schooling and education inPersian.

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