All the nations living around Iran coveted the prominent natural position of Hamadan from the times immemorial until recent centuries; and have invaded the city several times. First, the Assyrians destroyed Hamadan. It was ruined again and again during the invasion of Mongols and Tamerlane. Finally, in the recent centuries the Ottomans attacked the city several times; but Hamadan heroically stood against the enemies and courageously withstood all the losses it had sustained.
The city, although certainly founded earlier, has been recorded only from the 1st millennium B.C Hamadan has had many names: it was possibly the Bit Daiukki of the Assyrians, Hagmatana, or Agbatana, to the Medes, and Ecbatana to the Greeks.
Before reviewing historical monuments of Hamadan, and looking back the towns rather prolonged history, the reader is reminded of two hills on which some of the most ancient remains can be seen even today,: first Hagmatana Hill, with ruins of the walls and ramparts of the Median and Achaemenian periods. and second Mosalla Hill (now a park), which is said to be the ancient site of Anahita Temple. According to some archaeologists, the site had been a Parthian stronghold, the remains of which could be seen until a few years ago, with parts of its ramparts visible even today.
Discovery of over 660 ancient hills which hold remnants of human activity throughout different times, confirms the above. Excavations in Gian Hill have shown that the relatively advanced civilizations which existed in this region go back to 4000 B.C. Moreover, ancient Assyrian stone carvings mention Hamadan under the name of City of Cassian’s and this shows existence of a city here at about 4000 B.C. Medians’ immigration to west of Iran and the vicinity of current Hamadan, started about 1000 B.C. and their cultural mixing with inhabitants of the city gradually lead to the first central government in Iranian flat.
One of the Median capitals, then under Cyrus II (the Great; died 529B.C) and later Achaemenian rulers, it was the site of a royal summer palace. A little east of Hamadan is the Moṣṣala (Musalla), a natural mound the debris of which includes the remains of ancient Ecbatana. The modern city is built partly on this mound.
The peak of Median Empire, was at about 650 B.C. when it conquered the Assyrian empire and extended its kingdom to Turkey (today) in the west and to eastern parts of Iran (today) in the east. According to Herodotus, the famous Greek historian, the first Median king Dia-Eko had very big castles built around the city. Today most researchers and historians believe that Hegmataneh Hill in the heart of Hamadan is a remnant of these castles.
This hill has undergone various excavations in the recent years and the findings have been made available to public; Also, the excavations in Godin hills near Kangavar and Nooshijan in Malayer have revealed some parts of Median civilization and culture to us, including primal forms of writing, ancient coins and architecture. From Achaemenian era, stone carvings in arrowhead writing, lots of gold and silver tools and remains of stone castles have been found and are available through National Museum and Hegmataneh Museum.
Hamadan is mentioned in the biblical book of Ezra as the place where a scroll was found giving the Jews permission from King Darius to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. (Ezra 6:2). Its ancient name of Ecbatana is used in the Ezra text. Because it was a mile above sea level, it was a good place to preserve leather documents.
From the Seleucid and Parthian eras there is the statue of Stone Lion and the Parthian cemetery and remains of a temple in Nahavand. One of the main mints in the Sassanid era was located in Hamadan and various coins of this era have been found. Nahavand, too, was a very important city for the Sassanid and contained a very strong fortress and one of the seven Sassanid generals resided in this city. Arabs, during their attack on Iran, named conquering Nahavand “the victory of victories” and considered the fall of Hamadan in 645 A.D, their second most difficult victory. The Qal’eJooq cave in Famenin and ruins of a castle in the same area, now remain.
Islamic thoughts and beliefs resulted in profound changes in arts and architecture. Various buildings and monuments remains from this era.
In about 1220 Hamadan was destroyed by the Mongols; in 1386 it was sacked by r Tamerlane, and the inhabitants were massacred. It was partly restored in the 17th century and subsequently changed hands often between Iranian ruling houses and the Ottomans. In modern times its strategic position caused a revival. The city was damaged during the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88).
Moreover, Hamadan has always been a stronghold of great men of science, art, religion and politics, some of the most prominent ones are: the great philosopher and physician Abu’ Ali Sina - the famous poet and gnostic Baba Taher - the great judge and gnostic Ein-ol-Qozat-e-Hamadani and political figures like Khajeh Rashid-ed-Din Fazl-el-Lah-e-Hamadani the well-known vizier in Ilkhani era and poets and scholars like MirzadehEshqi andMaftoon-e-Hamadani. Islamic art lovers can both visit the monuments made in remembrance of some of these great figures (e.g. shrines of Abu Ali Sina and Baba Taher) and other historical and cultural heritage.
In the modern Hamedan, which is built on the plans prepared by the German architect Karl Fritsch in 1928 A.D, nothing is left to be seen of ancient Ecbatana or the Medes capital. The city is stretched around a star-shaped square (Imam Khomeini), which divided the city into six main avenues.
Attractions and historical places
Ganjnameh is an ancient inscription, 5 kilometers southwest of Hamedan, into a rock face on the side of Alvand Mountain in Hamedan province. It sits along the ancient Imperial Road, connecting the Achaemenid capital Ecbatana to Babylonia. It was thus a safe and frequently traveled road and had much visibility during the Achaemenid period. The inscriptions were first studied in detail by the French painter and archaeologist Eugene Flandin during the 19th century. Subsequently Sir Henry Rawlinson, a British explorer, used the inscriptions to decipher the cuneiform characters of the era. This ancient site is in the vicinity of a natural waterfall, adding to the beauty of the scene.
The inscription, which has been carved in granite, is composed of two sections which describe the conquests of two Achaemenid Kings, Darius (521-485 BC) on the left and his son Xerxes (485-65 BC) on the right. Both sections have been carved in three ancient languages of Old Persian, Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Elamite and consist of three columns of twenty lines. They start with praise of Ahura Mazda and describe the lineage and deeds of the mentioned Kings.
The two inscriptions are almost identical other than the fact that the name of Xerxes has replaced that of Darius and some other slight revisions. The left plate, attributed to Darius, is positioned slightly higher than the right plate and measures 290 centimeters across and 190 centimeters tall. The right plate is just as tall but slightly shorter in width, spanning 270 centimeters. Its translation reads:
"The Great God [is]Ahuramazda, greatest of all the gods, who created the earth and the sky and the people; who made Xerxes king, and outstanding king as outstanding ruler among innumerable rulers; I [am] the great king Xerxes, king of kings, king of lands with numerous inhabitants, king of this vast kingdom with far-away territories, son of the Achaemenid monarch Darius."
The later generations who could not read the Cuneiform alphabets of the ancient Persian assumed that they contained the guide to an uncovered treasure; hence they called it Ganjnameh which literally means "treasure book", but it has also been called Jangnameh meaning "war book", possibly due to the wrong assumption that the inscriptions described ancient wars of the Achaemenid era. Surrounding the inscriptions are small holes, possibly indicating that there used to be some form of covering to protect the inscriptions from natural elements such as wind and rain. Today two new carved tablets have been placed in the site's parking lot with Persian explanation and its English translation. Unfortunately, this archeological site is in danger while no protection is sought.
AlisadrWater Cave (World Heritage Conventions)
One of the most beautiful and most unique natural phenomena in the world is the Alisadr cave, views of which attract visitors' interest and attention. This huge cave is located 75Km due northeast of city of Hamadan in the heart of mountains nearKaboudarAhang town. It is the longest and the biggest water cave in the world (from the point of the boating course - about 2400 m - inside the cave) also it is one of the most visited cave of the world. Most of the trip is done by boat. But the cave is not a typical river cave with a flowing river, the water is more like a very long lake and crystal clear. In the summer of 2001, a German/British expedition surveyed the cave, finding to be 11 kilometers long. The main chamber of the cave is 100 meters by 50 meters and 40 meters high.Beside the natural significance of this unique phenomenon, it should be pointed out that the discovery of historical tools and works of art aging thousands of years, including jugs and pitchers, indicates that humans lived in this place since 12000 years ago. Furthermore, the paintings of deer, gazelles and stags, the hunting scenes and the image of bow and arrow on the walls and passages of the exit section and prove the point that at the primitive historical ages and in the hunting era man was living in this cave.
The age of this cave is 70 million years and now more than 16Km of its water and land routs have been explored, yet not all the routs are known and the exploration is continuing. The efforts have been somehow successful and in some cases new passages and water routs with lengths of about 10 to 11 Km have been found, some of these canals have even led to dry land finally ending in a lake, after long distances.
Avicenna Mausoleum and Museum
Abu ‘Ali al-Husayn ibn Sina is better known in Europe by the Latinized name “Avicenna.” He is probably the most significant Persian philosopher in the Islamic tradition and arguably the most influential philosopher of the pre-modern era. Born in Afshana near Bukhara in Central Asia in about 980, he is best known as a polymath, as a physician whose major work the Canon (al-Qanunfi’l-Tibb) continued to be taught as a medical textbook in Europe and in the Islamic world until the early modern period, and as a philosopher whose major summa the Cure (al-Shifa’) had a decisive impact upon European scholasticism and especially upon Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274). Primarily a metaphysical philosopher of being who was concerned with understanding the self’s existence in this world in relation to its contingency, Ibn Sina’s philosophy is an attempt to construct a coherent and comprehensive system that accords with the religious exigencies of Muslim culture. Apart from philosophy, Avicenna’s other contributions lie in the fields of medicine, the natural sciences, musical theory, and mathematics. In the Islamic sciences (‘ulum), he wrote a series of short commentaries on selected Qur’anic verses and chapters that reveal a trained philosopher’s hermeneutical method and attempt to come to terms with revelation. He also wrote some literary allegories about whose philosophical value recent scholarship is vehemently at odds.
His influence in medieval Europe spread through the translations of his works first undertaken in Spain. In the Islamic world, his impact was immediate and led to what Michot has called “la pandémieavicennienne.” He died in 1037.
The Mausoleum of Avicenna was built in 1953 by the Iranian Monuments Society on the occasion of the philosopher's millennial birth anniversary. It was intentionally built to resemble the Gunbad-i-Qabus tomb tower in northern Iran (built in 1006), though with an empty, open interior made possible by modern building materials. His mausoleum is located in BualiSina Square, central Hamadan also has a small museum with displays of ancient artifacts from the region including the 3rd millennium tripod vase This Mausoleum has also a library (which contains approximately 8,000 volumes of books). The small museum devoted to his works are visited by most local and foreign tourists. A magnificent view of the city and the Mount Alvand can be seen from the roof of this museum.
On the left side gallery of the mausoleum there is a grave which is attributed to Abu Said Dakhdukh. The grave of Aref-e Qazvini, a famous early-twentieth century Iranian poet is also situated in an open yard close to the entrance of the building.
Actually, mausoleums are the best historical monuments of Hamadan for a tourist to visit. Like the whole city, the exterior of historic sites and mausoleums have been renewed in most cases by constructions inspired by spindle-shaped structure of Mongol towers, to the exclusion of all other features of these towers.
The ruins of ancient Hagmatana, on the site of which the present Hamadan stands, date from the period of Median monarchs (7th and early 6th centuries B.C) who had made the city their capital. Hagmatana was further developed under the Achaemenian and Parthian rulers and was known as the first capital of the ancient Persian Empire. Scientific excavations and accidental diggings for construction works have resulted in the discovery of numerous objects, including some gold and silver tablets, in the region. This indicates that the treasury of the Achaemenian monarchs was kept in Hagmatana and that the present Hamadan has been constructed upon a part of the site of the ancient city. In the old SarQaleh, Qaleh Shah, and Darab quarters, one could see the remains of a thick wall that once enclosed the Achaemenian Darius palace (521-486 BC). Some traces of the Haft Hissar Palace and the historic ancient rampart, sparsely found in the old citadel of Hagmatana bear witness to the grandeur of this capital of the Median and the Achaemenian periods. However, an adequate appreciation of this grandeur will only be possible when systematic scientific excavations are carried out in this area. So far, the discovery of the heads of a stone statue in the hillock Mosalla has proved the earlier existence of an Parthian fort on that hill. At all events, Hagmatana has been one of the important military centers of the Sassanid period and has retained the same position in the Islamic era. There exists ample evidence in the history of Islamic period concerning its prosperity.
Esther and Mordechai Tomb
Esther and MordechaiTomb in a small walled is traditionally believed to be the place where Esther, the Jewish Queen of Susa and Xerxes wife, and Mordechai, her uncle, have been buried. Although some historians believe there is no historical evidence to prove Xerxes has a Jewish wife or even someone named Esther others believe it is real. Whoever, it is used to be visited by Jewishfrom all over the world. Inside the brick dome and upon the plaster work of the walls there are some Hebrew inscriptions. Some experts believe that Esther was in fact buried in Susa, and this tomb probably belongs to another Jewish queen, the wife of Sassanid king Yazdgird I (339-420 AD), ShushanDokht.
There has been a Jewish colony that the simple brick building, constructed in the 13th century on the site of an earlier (probably a 5th-century tomb), is entered through a rough stone door, which swings open into a large assembly room, a vestibule, an elevation, and a Shah Neshin. In fact, it has nothing to speak about from the architectural point of view. The exterior form of this mausoleum, built of brick and stone, resembles Islamic constructions. Another smaller chamber facing the twin tombs is used for prayers aided by an ancient Torah on vellum. The two ebony tombs are covered with a striking collection of colorful clothes, and covering.
The stone lion of Hamedan (Shir-e Sangi) is a historical monument in Hamedan. The stone lion, one part of the 'Lion’s Gate', sits on a hill where a Parthian era cemetery is said to have been located. When first built, this statue had a twin counterpart for which they both constituted the old gate of the city. The gates were demolished in 931CE as the Daylamids took over the city. Currently this statue is located in the park and square of Sang Shir and is held in great respect by the people. It is 2.5 meters long, 1.15 meters wide, and 2.2 meters high in its front part and its present form, represents the battered image of a legless, couchant lion carved out of yellow sandstone.
There are various theories as to the history of this statue. While some accounts denote the statue to the first Iranian dynasty, the Medes, others attribute it to the Parthian dynasty since it was found over a mound which consisted of a Parthian cemetery. Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization reports that the lions were first thought to have been built by the orders of Alexander the Great to commemorate the death of his close companion Hephaestion.
Mardavij, the founder of Iranian Ziyarid dynasty, unsuccessfully tried transporting one of the lions to Rey. Angered by the failure to move them, he ordered them to be demolished. One lion was completely destroyed, while the other had its arm broken and pulled to the ground. The half demolished lion lay on its side on the ground until 1949, when the Shah commissioned the renowned Iranian painter and architect HushangSeyhun to build the former platform for the statue. It was thus raised again, using a supplemental arm that was built into it.
There was a belief amongst the people of Hamedan long ago, and perhaps still today, that if a girl was ready to get married, she should be brought up to the lion statue along with a potion made of honey, vinegar and milk. The potion would be poured on the statue and then the girl would place a small stone on the potion. If the stone stayed on the lion it indicated that she would get married soon. Also if a woman gave birth to a baby boy they would bring the newborn to this statue and pass him under the lion’s legs for good luck. Obviously this goes back to when the lion actually had legs.
The ancient statue, which was located on a low platform in Sang Shir Square, has become dilapidated over years. Remains of the stone lion have recently been placed on a high plinth to protect it from further destruction. A team of experts have used appropriate cleansers to strip the wax off the statue and afterwards, it was installed on a two-meter high platform to keep it safe from visitors’ touch. Vandals have cut scratches and grooves into the body of the statue, whose surface has also been eroded by visitors’ touch. In addition, the rare artifacts has been further contaminated by wax dripping from candles, which some local residents, following an old tradition light on the stone lion’s head. The Hamedan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department plans to make a covering over the statue in order to safeguard it against rainfall and sunlight.
Nooshijan historical monument is almost 20 km away from the north western part of Malayer and 60 km away from the southern section of Hamedan on a natural hill which is approximately 37 meters high. It was at first an ancient knoll has been archeologically studied since 1967 and 3 historical eras were recognized there due to the excavations. This fortress-temple is situated in a plain by the name of ShooshAb or vernacularly called Shishoo. There is a village in the vicinity of the aforementioned fortress by the same name. When rainfalls occur in the spring shallow attractive lake covers the surface of the knolls. Nooshijan consists of the following sections:
* The old building on the west wing (the first temple)
* The hall with pillars (Apadana)
* The central temple (the second temple)
* Rooms and storages
* The walls and the fort
Excavations of archeologists have brought to light three layers on this ancient hill: the first layer (construction) was built by the Medes, the second layer by the Achaemenian and the 3rd layer by the Sassanid dynasty.
The first layer was built by the Medes (starting from the second half of the 8th century until the first half of the 6th century BC). In this layer an ancient building in the west wing has been found which is considered to be the first fire temple. An 'atashdan' (fireplace) in the south wing shows that ceremonies related to fire were held in this section. The room in the temple is built in the south/north system and in the cone shaped structure on the northern side three ledges (not very clear) can be seen, one of which looks like a ventilator. Towards the south side of the temple, remains of a platform exists which seems to be the base of a pillar of the temple.
The next remains discovered on this layer is the main temple, in the form of a semi cruciferous and built with the same material as the fort is built and it seems that after destruction have been filled up with slabs of flat stones, to protect it. In the north angle of the corridor, in the main structure, the base of the 'atashdan' and the altar of the temple can be seen, and some ash has also been found, from remains of fire that was lit during ceremonies.
The rooms and the storages are the important parts of the first layer of Nooshijan Hill, situated on the farther most eastern section of the Hill and consists of walls, tower, living rooms and storages. According to the assumption of many archaeologists, the ceiling of the rooms and the storages were built of wood, but the ceiling of some of the corridors and inner rooms were built in arch shape and with large bricks, which are of very high archaeological value.
The following story is what indigenous people of Nooshijan Temple and fortress recount about its portmanteau. As the story goes, there used to be a golden cup concealed inside knoll. When people drank the water inside, it would say: Noosh-e jan! Which is the Persian word meaning: enjoy your drink! Patriarchs say this cup accompanied a golden wing-bearing horse which was conveyed abroad by the Englishmen as some excavations were carried out.
This monument was registered in the list of the Iranian nation monuments in 2005.
BORJ-E GHORBAN (GHORBAN TOWER)
This tower is one of monument of 10th or 11th century (A.D.), it Is located In Zandi-ha district In Hamadan between MadaniBulevard and Taleghani street, beside Ibn-e Sinn high school. Sheikh Ol-Islam Hassan Ibn-e Attar Hafez Abu A'iaHamadani and some Seljuk commanders were buried there.
'Askal, his grand gl1lnd father was Arab but he and his ancestors were from Hamadan. It is assumed that he was born in March 1037 A.D. YaghutHomavi wrote in the eighth volum of "Mo'jamol-Odaba": Hafez travelled to Baghdad, Isfahan and Khorasan in order to learn syntax. Lexicon, narration and koranic sciences and HasseinVabas, Abu Ali Haddad Abulghasem Ibn-e Bayan and Abu Abdullah Gharavi were among his teachers. For this reasons, narration scholars rely on him in their narrations.
He was a devoted man, a narrator and knew the Koran by heart and all his life with it and led the people to the rightfulness.
Then he returned to Hamadan and lived in a place where called Bab ol-Asad and now its name was is Borj-e Ghorban. He passed away in 79 years of age in 1146 A.D. and was buried in the cellar of the lower. "AI-Hadi" and "Zad-olMosaferin" in 50 volumes are some of his books. KhaghaniShervani and Mo'afagh Ibn-e Ahmad Maki composed some poems about his rank. Ibn-e MamaniHamadani was one of his students who achieved martyrdom with his son during a fighting against Mongols in 1146. This tower is so called because during the Afa'neh raid near the end of Safavid era, a person whose name was Ghorban. Made this place his trench and defended his district. So the mosque and mausoleum were called in this name.
In 1931 during rebuilding of the tower a cellar was found there in which the foregoing persons were buried.
The city of Lalejin in Hamedan Province lies 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial city of Hamedan and is one of Iran's two most important centers for the production of pottery and ceramics. Pottery making is the main source of the livelihood of the 55,000 inhabitants of Lalejin. A total of 925 modern and traditional workshops are currently producing pottery and ceramics for 280 small and large shops that exclusively offer such handicraftsIn recent years, Lalejin, has been invaded by shoddy and cheap ceramic imports from China.
The people of Lalejin have called on central government and provincial officials to stop the imports of inferior ceramic ware from China, the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency reported on Friday. In addition, Lalejin Mayor AbolfazlDehleii has warned the Iranian government about the unnecessary importation of Chinese ceramics.
Dehleii said the Chinese products have seriously undermined the city's pottery industry.
Hamedan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department Director AsadollahBayat has also asked Iranian cultural officials to organize exhibits and workshops on the pottery of Lalejin in order to inform people about the high quality of the handicrafts created in the city. According to archaeologists and historians, the people of Lalejin have been making pottery for several millennia.
Based on a story that has been handed down from generation to generation, the craft of pottery making was almost entirely wiped out during the Mongol invasion of the area in the 13th century.
Only seven craftsmen survived the invasion and these artisans managed to revive the city's ceramics industry. Meybod, located in the south central province of Yazd, is Iran's other important center for pottery making.
Over the past decade, Chinese goods have infiltrated into the Iranian market, leading to many bankruptcies in the agricultural sector and in various industries, such as the textiles, shoe-making, and handicrafts industries.
Haaj Agha Torab bath
This bath was constructed in the year 1342 AH. During the reign of Naseredin Shah. The structure is rectangular in shape and is divided into two by a wall. One section containing hot water, and the other cold water pool. In the latter part there are four stone columns and a private cloak-room. This area has a domed ceiling. The first one has four pillars and a ceiling.In the central portion of this bath is a beautiful pool with chambers surrounding it.
Mausoleum of Baba Taher
Baba Taherwas an 11th-century poets in Persian literature.Most of his life is clouded in mystery. He probably lived in Hamadan. His byname, ʿOryan (“The Naked”), suggests that he was a wandering dervish, or mystic. Legend tells that the poet, an illiterate woodcutter, attended lectures at a religious college, where he was ridiculed by the scholars and students because of his lack of education and sophistication. After experiencing a vision in which philosophic truths were revealed to him, he returned to the school and spoke of what he had seen, astounding those present by his wisdom. His poetry is written in a dialect of Persian, and he is most famous for his du-baytī (double distichs), exhibiting in melodious and flowing language a sincerity and spirituality with profound philosophical undertones. BabaṬaher is highly revered even now in Iran, and a mausoleum whichis a rocket-like monument to a mystic poet contemporary of Avicenna reconstructed in 1965 (restored 2004).The Mausoleum of Baba Taher, is located on a hill in the north west of Hamadan, on the basis of an octagon. Eight pillars of the tower, stone slabs of the tomb and its base, together with the steps and the surrounding paved area are all of sculptured granite. The main structure is to the dimensions of 10 m by 10 m and has entrances along with light sutures. The facade and flooring of the structure is of stone, and inscriptions are worked with tiles. At least more interesting than the monument are the magnificent flowers and winding paths that surround it at the center of a rather large hilltop square.
Gonbad-e Alavian (Dome of Alavian)
Gonbad-e Alavian (or Masjid-e Alavian) is a four-sided interesting 12th century mausoleum belonging to the late Seljuq period. On the exterior, it resembles the Gonbad-e Sorkh of Maragheh. Inside this Dervish Monastery, taken over by the powerful Alavi Family ruling Hamadan for two centuries, is decorated by the same type of gypsum moldings of Heydarieh Mosque of Qazvin. The Alavi Family tombs (two in all) are in the crypt and can be reached by a spiral staircase inside the tower. As regards its architectural merits, the stucco ornamentation of its mihrab with intricate geometric designs and whirling floral motifs on the exterior walls and several inscriptions in Kuffic and Thulth styles, this monument ranks among the most beautiful in its kind in Iran.
The most noteworthy monument in Hamadan, the dome may at one time have been intended as a mosque. It is notable for the outstanding quality of its stucco ornamentation, with whirling floral motifs on the exterior walls and intricate geometric designs on its mihrab.
Hamadan in vicinity of Alvand Mountain has mild and delightful weather in summers which makes Hamadan a resort, but the winters are long and severe with snowy winters. In fact, it is one of the coldest cities in Iran.Early spring and late autumn are the rainy seasons for the region. In this way Hamadan is a very popular retreat with Iranians during the warmer months when the climate in autumn and spring is one of the most pleasant in the country, but winters are long and sever. The province is influenced by strong winds, that almost last throughout the year.
Climate data for Hamedan
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Source: NOAA (1961-1990)