Menar Jonban - Isfahan, Iran (Persia)

Menar Jonban, meaning Shaking Minaret, is a masterpiece of Iranian architecture in Isfahan’s Karladan neighborhood. The history of this monument goes back to the Ilkhanid era (1259–1355 CE) during the end of Oljeitu’s reign when it was built as a shrine for Amoo Abdollah, a famous 14th-century mystic. The tomb of the shrine consists of a marble stone ornamented with bas-reliefs and Sols inscriptions in Arabic letters reflecting the Yassin Surah of the Quran.

The inscriptions of the construction, in particular, have remained from the 14th century during the time of Muhammad Khudai Bandeh who was the eighth Ilkhanid king. This building is also ornamented with Azure tiles in the form of Four-Feather Stars and also turquois polygon-shapes. The structure consisted of a 10-meter tall brick Iwan adorned with tile works, above the tomb.

A spiral staircase leading up to the roof where there are two minarets are other main parts of the shrine. These minarets with a height of 7.5 meters as the main feature of the structure were added at the time of the Safavid Dynasty (1501-1736). Interestingly, when one of the minarets is shaken by the human force, the other is affected and starts shaking as well. The reason behind this swinging feature has remained an enigma and it has yet to be answered. However, a couple of theories have been presented, one in particular referring to the Doppler Effect.

This theory known also as Resonance theory is introduced by Christian Doppler, an Austrian mathematician and physicist who believes the change in frequency of a wave affects the observer. In this case, the observer is one of the minarets that is affected by the other one. Given that the minarets are light and similar to each other, when one of them is shaken, the other is influenced accordingly. There are architectural structures in other countries that have the ability to shake but in contrast to Menar Jonban, in none of them, the shaking effect can be transferred from one architectural part to another part.