Sanandaj: Historical and Cultural
It is obvious from historical records that the ruler, Shah Soleiman Khan Ardalan, transferred the centre of government from Hasanabad and Palangan forts in the south to the modern day city of Sanandaj in the year 1046 AH. Prior to that, Sanandaj was a small but ancient village which was probably destroyed by an earthquake or Mongol invasions. This is evident in the ancient hill of Tooshnawzar running along the river and Hasanabad Fort which are of archaeological significance. Many graves have also been found in Sanandaj dating back to more than a thousand years.
Suleiman Khan Ardalan after the transfer of sovereignty to Sanandaj, built a castle on top of a hill establishing a government with full strength. Mansions, baths, mosques and markets were built outside of the castle building in the Safavid and Qajar eras, remains of which are still evident in the present era.
Sanandaj has a distinct place culturally, artistically and religiously in Kurdish populated regions. It has famous artists in the various cultural and artistic fields such as music, theater, visual / performing arts. The city is also famed for its Sufi mysticism and mystical ceremonies held in Takyas or Khanaqahs (Sufi dwelling places belonging to Dervish Orders) weekly. Mysticism is a deep-rooted tradition in Kurdistan province and since the third century Kurdish people have been followers of this tradition. Sanandaj boasts 60 Khanaqahs where dervishes or disciples congregate to perform Sama and dhikr (meaning "listening" and "remembrance", respectively) which are part of the Sufi ceremony of meditation and prayer practice. There are two main branches of mysticism in Kurdistan province:
Sanandaj is a city of mosques as it has over 141 mosques and therefore has the highest ratio of Mosques to city population in the Islamic world. It is also a city with many higher educational institutes (47 HEIs in Kurdistan Province including University of Kurdistan which not only the main state university but has the responsibility of overseeing all the other HEIs in the city and the province a high student population of 20,000 (total province student population is just under 60,000).