Masouleh Village (c. 10th century onward)
Masouleh village is perched high on a densely forested mountainside about 60 kilometers inland from the Caspian Sea. Due to its location, the climate of Masouleh village is different from much of Iran. Warm, moist air blowing southwest from the Caspian is blocked by the Alborz Mountains, creating heavy precipitation and fog on the seaward side of the mountains (this ecoregion is known as the Caspian and Hyrcanian Mixed Forests). Further inland, the landward side of the Alborz receives very little rainfall and rapidly becomes arid.
Masouleh is located about 1,050 meters above sea level, but the range of elevation varies by over a hundred meters in the village. The roofs of houses on lower tiers are used as courtyards for houses on the tiers above them. In some cases, public streets are laid out along interconnected roofs. The organic layout and steep stairs have made motor vehicles impractical, so they are banned in the village. About 800 people currently live in the village.
The native language of Masouleh's inhabitants is Talysh, a language spoken by fewer than a million people around the western and southern shores of the Caspian Sea.
All images copyright 2009 Sanaz Shirshekar. Photographed April 2009.
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