Monday, March 18, 2024

Saryazd Castle

Saryazd Castle (قلعه سریزد) is a Sassanid fortress in the village of Sar Yazd in Yazd Province. This castle was not known as the seat of a ruler but rather it was built as a citadel where the local population could go during times of distress. The structure is in varying states of ruin. In modern times the castle has become a tourist attraction and is located near two caravansaries.

The Fortress was constructed during the Sassanid era, sometime between the 3rd and 7th centuries AD and is made of adobe. It is rectangular and stretches 74 meters long and 62 meters wide. It consists of nested concentric walls with impregnable high towers, the outer wall being six meters in height while the inner wall is nine meters tall. Both walls include circular and square towers. It is surrounded by a moat six meters wide and four meters deep with a wooden bridge facing the main entrance on the northern side. The trench is considered the first defense layer of the castle.


Another defense mechanism of Saryazd Castle are the holes within the walls of the various floors for watching and shooting intruders. The roof top of the towers is surrounded with 1.5-meter-high walls that were used as shelters. Beneath these walls, holes were made with a steep slope outward. They used them to pour ash, hot sand, boiling water and molten bitumen on potential attackers.

The main entrance has a drawbridge operated by ropes and pulleys. Beyond the main door is an entrance hall and three other doors. 

Two doors open to the left and right and lead to the area between the outer and inner wall of the castle. This area has been a place for keeping cattle and livestock. The third door is in front of the main gate and leads to the castle residence and chambers.

The Castle also contained a water tank to the left of the main entrance. It was maintained via a duct connecting to the moat (which could be closed when the possibility of contamination of the moat water arose) in addition to natural rainfalls. 

On the interior there are three floors of occupation although much of the top levels have disappeared. The inner section consists of housing elements and storage rooms, which were spread alongside a central road with inner narrow paths and corridors.

In the past, invasion or raiding parties would look for valuable loot, while also pillaging for food for sustenance - therefore it was of importance to keep such commodities out of enemy reach. Yazd was a major city and Zoroastrian religious center in Sassanid times and as such the castle was used as a safebox in the case of invasion, in which the residents could store valuables such as gold and jewels as well as other items such as food or grain.

The fort was built as labyrinthine corridors and dark tunnels so narrow that only one man can pass at a time.  Each floor has a narrow, hidden entrance that made it almost impossible for intruders to enter. Approximately 468 chambers have been identified in this castle. Each chamber belonged to a family and had a separate door and key to store the villagers’ valuables.

The structure has been largely uninhabited since the 18th century and consequently has not been maintained. Considerable restoration work has occurred in recent years, with the desire to increase the number of visitors. Saryazd Castle was registered in national index by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization with number 1084 in 1975.


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