Iran is home to a rich history of castles, fortresses, and citadels, strategically built along significant routes and cities. From Sassanian strongholds to medieval wonders, these fortifications showcase the country’s diverse architectural heritage. Here are 12 outstanding examples, listed in no particular order.
- Qa’leh Dokhtar Located in Kerman province, Qa’leh Dokhtar, or Maiden Castle, was built in 209 CE by Ardashir I, the founder of the Sassanid Empire. The fortress, named after the goddess Anahita, features Sasanian architectural elements.
- Falak-ol-Aflak Castle Dominating Khorramabad, Falak-ol-Aflak Castle dates back to the Sassanid era. Its eight towers create a dramatic skyline, especially when illuminated at night.
- Qaleh Babak Perched on a peak in northwest Iran, Qaleh Babak is named after the national hero Babak Khorramdin. Dating back to the Sassanid era, this fortress offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
- Izadkhast Castle Located in Fars province, Izadkhast is the world’s second-largest adobe building. Built on the ancient Silk Road, it dates back to the Sassanid era and is currently a UNESCO World Heritage nominee.
- Alamut Castle Nestled in the Alborz Mountains, Alamut Castle served as a stronghold for the followers of Hasan-e Sabbah. Today, it is a popular destination, offering historical insights into the Assassins.
- Shush Castle Resembling medieval French monuments, Shush Castle is situated in the ancient city of Shush. Constructed in 1897 by French archaeologist Jacques Jean-Marie de Morgan, it used bricks from ancient sites.
- Rudkhan Castle Covering 50,000 square meters, Rudkhan Castle in Gilan province has Sasanian origins and was rebuilt during the Seljuk era. Accessible through a forested route, it offers a picturesque setting.
- Seb Castle Standing in Sistan-Baluchestan province, Seb Castle served as a Qajar-era surveillance base. Built with a clay and mortar blend, it incorporates wooden slabs for durability.
- Arg-e Bam The Bam Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Kerman province, was devastated by an earthquake in 2003. Originally built during the Achaemenid period, it served as a fortified settlement.
- Portuguese Castle of Hormuz Built in the early 16th century, the Portuguese Castle of Hormuz on Hormuz Island is a colonial-era monument. It provides a glimpse into the island’s history and strategic importance.
- Narin Castle Rising above Meybod, Narin Castle dates back to the Sassanian era. Used as a fortress along the Silk Route, it showcases unique architectural features.
- Iraj Fortress Located in Pishva near Tehran, Iraj Fortress is believed to belong to the Sassanid or Kayanian dynasty era. Despite erosion, its lengthy clay ramparts stand as a testament to its historical significance.
Exploring these fortresses offers a captivating journey through Iran’s diverse cultural and architectural history.