National Geographic | GULNAZ KHAN: Iran is home to one of the oldest civilisations on Earth, where turquoise-domed mosques, glittering palaces, and the tombs of long gone poets reveal the mysteries and intrigues of the ancients. Yet beneath the footprints of man lies an even lesser known, wilder Iran, brimming with remarkable geologic formations, ancient forests, and overgrown monuments that nature has reclaimed as its own.
In the northern Mazandaran Province, a striking panorama of rust-colored travertine terraces cuts across the mountains. The stepped, limestone formations were created over thousands of years by the flowing and cooling of water from two mineral hot springs. While travertine terraces are found in other places—like Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone and Pamukkale in Turkey—Badab-e Surt’s distinctive colouring results from a high concentration of iron oxide sediments. MOUNT DAMAVAND