Facts and Data

Official Unesco Page

Basis Data:
Unesco World heritage since: 2009
Size of heritage: 240 ha
- Buffer zone: 1,572 ha

Longitude: 48,836°
Latitude: 32,019°


Shushtar, Historical Hydraulic System, inscribed as a masterpiece of creative genius, can be traced back to Darius the Great in the 5th century B.C. It involved the creation of two main diversion canals on the river Kârun one of which, Gargar canal, is still in use providing water to the city of Shushtar via a series of tunnels that supply water to mills. It forms a spectacular cliff from which water cascades into a downstream basin. It then enters the plain situated south of the city where it has enabled the planting of orchards and farming over an area of 40,000 ha. known as Mianâb (Paradise). The property has an ensemble of remarkable sites including the Salâsel Castel, the operation centre of the entire hydraulic system, the tower where the water level is measured, damns, bridges, basins and mills. It bears witness to the know-how of the Elamites and Mesopotamians as well as more recent Nabatean expertise and Roman building influence.

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Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System: A Marvel of Ancient Engineering

The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, located in southwestern Iran at coordinates N32 1 7 E48 50 9, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that showcases the ingenuity and advanced engineering skills of ancient civilizations. This remarkable system, dating back to the 5th century BCE, is a testament to the mastery of water management and irrigation techniques in the region.


The origins of the Shushtar Hydraulic System can be traced back to the time of the Achaemenid Empire, under the rule of Darius the Great. Recognizing the importance of water for agriculture and the prosperity of the region, Darius commissioned the construction of a complex hydraulic network.

The system was further expanded during the Sassanian era, between the 3rd and 7th centuries CE, and reached its peak during the Islamic period. The city of Shushtar became a hub of hydraulic engineering, with the construction of numerous canals, dams, bridges, and mills.

One of the most remarkable features of the system is the Band-e Kaisar, or Caesar's Bridge, which was built during the reign of Roman Emperor Valerian in the 3rd century CE. This bridge served as a dam, regulating the flow of water and providing irrigation for the surrounding agricultural lands.

Current State

Today, the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System stands as a testament to the ancient engineering marvels of Iran. The system is still in use, providing water for irrigation and powering mills in the region. It continues to play a vital role in sustaining the local agricultural economy.

The hydraulic system consists of a network of canals, tunnels, dams, and watermills. The water is diverted from the Karun River through a series of canals, which distribute it to various parts of the city. The watermills, powered by the force of the flowing water, were used for grinding grain and producing flour.

The system also includes a unique underground canal known as the Gargar Canal. This canal, with its intricate network of tunnels and chambers, was designed to control the flow of water and prevent flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.

The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System has been meticulously preserved and restored over the years, ensuring its continued functionality and historical significance. The site attracts visitors from around the world, who marvel at the ancient engineering techniques employed by the inhabitants of Shushtar.

Recognizing its cultural and historical importance, the site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009. This designation has helped raise awareness about the significance of the Shushtar Hydraulic System and has contributed to its ongoing preservation and maintenance.

The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System stands as a testament to the remarkable engineering achievements of ancient civilizations. Its continued use and preservation serve as a reminder of the importance of sustainable water management and the enduring legacy of human ingenuity.