Good times…when the Zand Dynasty made Shiraz Persia’s Capital

The fortress known as Karim Khani Citadel today shows signs of age.  There’s a tilting tower, missing columns and a Qu’ran missing.  It’s almost 300 years old so all of this isn’t unexpected.  The structure was the main residential palace of Karim Khan-e-Zand and his dynasty and later in the mid 20th century home to prisoners beginning in 1936.  It closed in 1971 and is slowly getting much needed repairs after centuries of misuse and vandalism.

Arg of Karim Khan
Friendly locals we met outside the Arg…the statue looks like a Brit but not sure who it represents

The Citadel was looks like a medieval castle complete with a dry mount surrounding the tall thick outer walls.  The outside is simple but the inside contains traditional Persian gardens and rooms enclosed with colorful red, blue, yellow and green pained windows. Karim Khan-e-Zand made Persia’s capital Shiraz and built this complex for himself and his militia in 1766-7 AD. The humble leader decided to loose the title of king and decided to be known as a regent or Vakil in Farsi.  He hired the best designers and builders to make his fortress and they used the highest quality materials.

Arg of Karim Khan
Simple exterior walls of the Arg Karim Khan..easy to see additions made in both high and design
Arg of Karim Khan
The leaning tower of Arg of Karim Khan up close
Arg of Karim Khan
Large tile image of the killing of the white devil by Rustam made during Qajar dynasty

When the Qajars gained power over the weaken Zand dynasty the capital and most of it’s Notice the columns made of wood that support one end of the inside pavilion. The originals were made of marble and were stolen. They were at least replaced with the simple wooden ones that remain here today.

The elephant in the room of this castle is the noticeable leaning in the tower at the far southeastern corner. The Khan constructed an underground septic system and his bathhouse resided inside this 14 meters tall tower.

Bath inside the Arg of Karim Khan
Bath inside the leaning tower of the Arg of Karim Khan

The water table has lowered substantially over the decades and hopefully something will be done about the obvious separation of it and the supporting walls attached to it.  It will probably just take a minor earthquake to release the tower from the rest of the fortress.  Let’s hope this doesn’t happen before it’s given a proper patch job.  Right now, it looks as if someone just took a bit of gum and filled in the open wedge.

Arg of Karim Khan
Southwestern observation tower which contains bath house responsable for the lean

Inside the Arg of Karim Khan is simple because much of its treasures were stolen or removed after the Zand Dynasty was conquered by the Qajar. The marble pillars were removed by the Qajar conquers and brought to Tehran where they made the new capital of Persia.

Wooden Columns of Arg of Karim Khan
Wooden Columns left behind by the Qajars after the Zand Dynasty was sacked

The floor of the inner courtyard is made of large stones brought in from the surrounding mountains of Shiraz. The workers were paid for the amount of stone they laid down. The way that they kept track of which stones the individual brought in was by a symbol that was carved into the top of the stone. These can still be seen today if you look at the stones on the near right corner of the main entrance.  This information can’t be confirmed online and is something our guide pointed out to us when we entered the courtyard.  I was too much in awe of the interior that I forgot to get a picture of it. I guess you’ll have to see for yourselves.

Published by farflungistan

I'm a curious traveler who enjoys sharing street, architectural and landscape images that capture daily life and represent how history has made its mark on the present.

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