While reading and preparing to take a trip to Iran, you will easily notice there are a lot of historical sights and monuments to visit in all parts of Iran. Shiraz is also an ancient city with several old monuments still standing in good condition. What you read here is an introduction to one of the most outstanding structures remaining from the Zand Dynasty, 2nd half of the 18th century, Arg-e Karimkhani.
Arg-e Karimkhani (Karim Khan Citadel)
This building can be easily found in the corner of Shahrdary Sq close to Shiraz bazaar. The appearance of building resembles a solid fortress entirely made of bricks and has a military and residential function. The construction of the Karimkhan Citadel goes back to the second half of the 18th century when Karimkhan-e-Zand was ruling in Iran from Shiraz, his capital city.
The structure reminds you of the plain brick-made buildings of the 11th and 12th centuries when Seljuks were ruling in Iran. The corner bastions are very robust and decorated with bricks. One won’t realize how delicate some of the details inside the building could be without exploring it.
General Familiarity with Different Parts of Karim Khani Citadel
At the southeastern corner of the citadel, a bastion is leaning like it’s going to fall down! It’s been like that for years and has been reinforced to stand in its place.
Above the entrance gate, you will notice a sizable tile-worked scene of Rostam’s battle against a demon, which is the symbol of Ahriman, the head of Evil forces in Zoroastrianism. Rostam is the protagonist character of Shahnameh, the epic poem book of Ferdowsy, the most well-known Iranian poet of the 10th and 11th centuries.
After entering the vestibule a corridor leads you into the large courtyard with an astonishing orange garden! The garden inside the large courtyard of Arg-e Karimkhani occupies approximately up 80% of the area. The rest of the courtyard floor is all covered by marble stone from the time of construction.
A pathway from the center of the garden leads to the middle of each side of the courtyard opposite a portico leading to some of the rooms of the building.
Main Rooms of Karimkhan Citadel
As you enter the courtyard from the vestibule, at the opposite side of the courtyard, under the large wind catcher, there’s a portico that could be seen right away. Inside the beautifully decorated rooms of this section, attractive wax statues revive the setting inside the court of Karim Khan where he met with officials and ruled over the territories from there.
The fresco embellishment of the walls and ceilings are fabulous examples of how beautifully Zand art vitalized official and non-official buildings of that period. A combination of gold leaves with relatively dark red colors was used to give an elegant taste to the interior walls of the royal buildings.
In the vicinity of the main room, sometimes a couple of other rooms are opened to the public to see the local costumes of Iranian women of various ethnic groups. Here you can see colorful clothes that are still worn by different Iranian tribes.
Bathhouse of Arg-e Karimkhani
On the very southeastern part corner of the courtyard, there’s a door that leads to the Arg-e Karimkhani’s bathhouse, Hammam. This handsome bathhouse has got all the architectural sections of similar structures, which makes it worth a visit. The simple yet likable plasterwork decorations on the walls of this hammam, imply the love of flowers and nature, which Shirazi artists have always been inspired by.
What can be seen in Arg-e Karimkhani’s bath today are marble seats and floors, insulated pools for hot and cold water, clay pipes for heating the floor, water transfer, etc.
The sound that echoes your voice inside the large hall of this bathroom brings to life the lively atmosphere of old bathrooms. Probably, the royal family used to meet each other here, bathe and get massages from the servants in this part of the Karim Khani Citadel of Shiraz.
Do not Miss Visiting This Historical Monument
Shiraz is one of the cities that every Iranian should visit, see its historical monuments, and become familiar with a major part of Iranian identity. If you are traveling to this city personally or as a family, or if you buy domestic tour packages from travel agencies and go to Shiraz, be sure to see Arg-e Karimkhani.
This strong and stable building, contrary to its rough and harsh appearance, has a pleasant garden and eye-catching decorations that indicate the delicacy of Iranian nature.