Sari is the capital of Mazandaran province in the north of Iran, between the Alborz mountains and the Caspian sea coasts.
Excavations in the Hutto cave present evidence for the existence of settlements around Sari as far back as the 70th millennium BCE. The Muslim historian Hamdollah Mostowfi attributes the foundation of Sari to king Tahmoures Divband of the Pishdadian Dynasty. Ferdowsi mentions the name of the city in Shahnameh, at the time of Fereydun and Manuchehr, when Manuchehr is returning to Fereydun’s capital, Tamisheh in Mazandaran, after the victory over Salm and Tur.
the city’s name was also Zadracarta between 658 B.C and 225 A.D.
Coming from this and other similar evidence in the Shahnameh, native people of Sari have folklore that the city was populated when the blacksmith Kaveh (a native of the city) revolted against the tyranny of Zahak. After that success, Fereydun of Pishdadi (from Tamishan) feeling indebted to Kaveh, chose this city so as to live near him until his death. For this reason, when Touraj and Salam murdered Iraj (son of Fereydun), they buried him here. Espahbod Tous-e Nouzar (great-grandson of Fereydun) systematically founded it to remain as a family monument.
Sari may be synonymous with the city of Zadracarta (Persian: Sadrakarta) mentioned by Ancient Greek sources as early as the 6th century BCE (Achaemenid dynasty).
According to Arrian, this was the largest city of Hyrcania. The term means “the yellow city” and it was given to it because of the great number of orange, lemon, and other fruit trees that grew in the outskirts of that city. Hence it is by D’Anville, Rochette, and other geographers identified Saru, which Pietro Della Valle says in his “Travels” means “the yellow city”. It is probable that Zadracarta and Saru are the same as the Syringis of Polybius, taken from Arsaces II by Antiochus the Great, in his vain attempt to reunite the revolted provinces of Hyrcania and Parthia to the Syrian crown. Han Way, who visited Saru in 1734, makes mention of four ancient Magian temples as still standing then, built in the form of several rotundas, every thirty feet in diameter, and about 120 in height. However, Sir William Ouseley, who had travelled to the site in 1811, has speculated that these to be masses of brick masonry of the Mohammedan age. Out of four, one of the rotundas is still standing since the rest were overturned by an earthquake. This and other remains of similar buildings, bear the names of Fereydun, Salm, Tur, and other mythical figures, whose celebrity had been established about 2000 years prior to their erection. One of them Avas called the tomb of Kaus and was supposed to contain the ashes of Cyrus the Great. Sir William Ouseley thinks it was that of Kabus, or Kaus, the son of Washmakin, who governed Mazandaran in the fourth century of the Hejira. It was at Saru that the ashes of the youthful hero, Sohrab, were deposited by his father, Rostam, after he had unwittingly slain Sohrab in a hand-to-hand battle. Saru is celebrated for its abundance of gardens, which emit a pleasing fragrance in the vernal and summer months. An oriental proverb declares that the “gates of paradise derive sweetness from the air of Sari and the flowers of Eden receive their fragrance from its soil”. The city was again a regional capital in the Sassanid dynasty era.
In the seventh century, Farrukhan the Great of the Dabuyid dynasty reconstructed the city, and because his son’s name was “Saruyeh”, he called it by this name. Sari once again became the capital of Tabaristan during that century (Amol was the capital previously ).
After invasions by the successors of Mongols, Timur of Uzbeks, Turcoman, and Tatars the city lost its high status and was periodically burnt to ashes.
Because the Safavid Shah Abbas I’s mother was from Behshahr (Ashraf), a city near Sari, he founded Farahabad as his alternate capital of Persia in the north of the city and created the gardens in Ashraf. Mazandaran alongside neighbouring Gilan was subsequently settled during Abbas’ reign by large amounts of Georgians, Circassians, Armenians and other peoples of the Caucasus, whose descendants still live across Mazandaran. Still many towns, villages and neighbourhoods in Mazandaran bear the name “Gorji” (i.e. Georgian) in them, although most of the Georgians are already assimilated into the mainstream Mazanderanis. After the Safavid dynasty fell and until the rise of Agha Mohammad Khan to power there is no evidence of any notable events in Sari.
Major developments took place after the Qajar dynasty. During the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the face of the town was changed drastically. Sari Rail Station and most of the streets and governmental buildings date from that era. During World War II the Soviet army occupied the city but left it after the war.
The Clock Tower, in the Clock Square (Meydan-e-Sa’at) located in downtown Sari, attracts visitors and has become a local landmark. Sari also contains the tombs of the Muslim cleric leaders Yahya and Zayn Al-Abedin, Emamzade-ye Abbas, and Shazdeh Hussein the architecture of which are from the 15th century.