0616 GMT October 17, 2021
An official from Shiraz Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Department described Arg-e Karim Khan, or Karim Khan Citadel, as one of the most valuable historical monuments in the southern Iranian city, saying that the process of the citadel’s global registration is underway in a dossier dubbed Zand Axis.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Head of Shiraz Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Department Rasul Moshtaqian said the global registration process of other monuments of Karim Khan Zand Complex, comprising Karim Khan Bathhouse and Vakil Bazaar, as well as Nazar Garden, Kolah Farangi Mansion, and Divankhaneh Mansion are included in the same dossier.
Karim Khan Bathhouse is located in the southwest corner of the citadel.
A view of Karim Khan Citadel at night, Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Karim Khan Citadel was registered on Iran’s National Heritage List in 1972 with the number 918.
The monument is located in downtown Shiraz, the capital city of Fars Province. It was built as part of a complex during the Zand Dynasty, founded by Karim Khan Zand (1751–1779). Named after Karim Khan, it served as his living quarters.
Elaborating on the details of the citadel, Moshtaqian said it is rectangular and resembles a medieval fortress, with an area of 12,800 square meters. There are four circular security towers in the four corners of this building.
The dominant material used in this structure is stone and stucco, wood, brick and mortar, he said, adding that the walls of the citadel are decorated with simple, beautiful paintings, and on the entrance of the citadel, the scene of “Rostam killing the White Demon,” mentioned in the Persian poet Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (Book of Kings), has been illustrated with seven-color tiles.
Referring to the water supply system of Karim Khan Citadel, the official explained that the water required for the citadel was supplied through an aqueduct known as Roknabad Qanat, or Rokni Qanat.
In terms of minerals, the aqueduct’s water was high in quality in those days in Shiraz but, with the destruction of this aqueduct, the traditional irrigation system of the citadel has been disrupted, Moshtaqian said.
The door and windows of the main royal hall are decorated with khatam-kari (an ancient Persian technique of wood inlaying) and monabat-kari (wood carving), he said, adding that the monolithic stone pillars of the royal hall had been gilded, and that Aqa Mohammad Khan Qajar (the founder of the Qajar Dynasty) transferred these two columns and many doors and windows to Tehran for use in Golestan Palace.
According to Moshtaqian, after the collapse of the Zand Dynasty, the citadel was the seat of the local rulers in the Qajar Dynasty, and was used as a prison in the Pahlavi Dynasty. In 1966, the renovation process of the monument began for changing the usage.
Today, Arg-e Karim Khan is one of the historical monuments of Shiraz, attracting many tourists every year.
For the time being, parts of the building have been turned into a museum while other parts are used for training courses and presenting handicrafts, Moshtaqian said.
Belonging to the tribe of Zand, Karim Khan was one of the famous generals of his predecessor, Nader Shah Afshar (1736-1747), the founder of the Afsharid Dynasty, and one of the most powerful Iranian rulers in history.
Karim Khan began his reign in Tehran’s Golestan Palace.
When Karim Khan Zand selected Shiraz as the capital city, significant changes were made. He invited the most professional architects and artisans to Shiraz and asked them to build this amazing structure.
A view of Karim Khan Bathhouse, Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
In the vast area that was called Shahi (Kingly) Square, by the order of Karim Khan, suitable and worthy buildings were built, including the government citadel, Vakil Bazaar, Nazar Garden, and Kolah Farangi Mansion, Vakil Bathhouse, Divankhaneh Mansion, and many other buildings. Most of these buildings have now been preserved and restored, said Moshtaqian.
A view of Kolah Farangi Mansion in Nazar Garden, Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Regarding architectural features of the Zand Period, he said the architectural style in this period is simple, strong, and introverted.
To prove the strength of these monuments, it suffices to mention the severe earthquakes in 1823 and 1852, which destroyed many houses and buildings in Shiraz, without incurring the slightest damage to the foundations of these monuments, said Moshtaqian.