Sunday, November 15, 2009

Babak Fortress

The Babak Fortress (قلعه بابک), also known as the Immortal Castle or Republic Castle, is a large citadel located in Bez Mountain in the Arasbaran forests, which is 16 kilometers southwest of Kalibar City in northwestern Iran. It is attributed as the stronghold of Babak Khorramdin, the leader of the Khurramites, and his followers for their resistance movement in Azerbaijan fighting the Tazi Abbassids. Despite the relatively short distance from Kalibar to the Fortress, it takes some three hours of mountaineering in rocky terrain to gain access to it. 

The Babak Fortress is a unique heritage of East Azerbaijan, built on 2300-2600 meter heights, with valleys 400-600 meters deep all around. The architecture of the building resembles that employed in the building of Takht’e Soleiman historical complex in the neighboring West Azarbaijan which was built in the Sassanid era Just one narrow dusty road leads to the fortress, and to reach it one has to pass a temple along a 200 meter hallway. Despite its harsh access route, the citadel has unique natural characteristics as the region's mountainous features can be one of the most important factors drawing people to the site.  


The citadel houses two two-story and three-story buildings. Its main hall is surrounded by seven connected rooms. To the east of the fortress, there are a number of rooms and water reservoirs. In winter, the reservoirs would be filled with rain and snow and used in times of trouble such as when under siege. The internal building of the citadel comprises a hall, four rooms connected to it, an entrance and a place for soldiers. 

Experts believe the Babak Fortress has been residential during the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Pottery works discovered in the castle all pertain to the Seljuk, Ilkhani and Timurid periods. The first relics to be found in the site were glazed, decorated porcelains which show settlement until the 14th century. Copper coins were the next yields of the Fortress. 

In 2003 some emergency restoration and fortification of the Babak Fotress was completed. There are further plans to construct a tourism village on the slopes of the Babak Citadel site. The village will be built in a 30,000 square meter area by Iran’s Touring and Tourism Organization. It will be have several inns, restaurants, villas, and leisure parks while tourist accommodations are also being constructed in the Mokaidi and Aynaloo valleys. 

In 2006 following excavations and removing of debris, some important parts of this fortress, which had previously been unknown, were unearthed. The most important of such discoveries was finding of a staircase with a double-floor building. Also a 4.5 by 5.5 meter room with two windows, which must have been a guard room, was discovered during the latest excavations in this historical site. There is a 35-meter corridor beside the room leading to two (already unearthed) towers. 

Every year people will gather in the fort on July 9th to celebrate Babak Khorramdin’s resistance movement. The historical citadel has been registered in the National Heritage list since 1966. 

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