Each part of Shiraz city has its own history. When you go to the center of the city you can see one of the most important historical attractions of Shiraz, the Karim Khan Citadel. This castle dates back to the Zandiyeh era which is almost 300 years ago. It is one of the greatest sites remained from that time. The old look that it produces between all the new buildings and the surroundings makes it shine at the heart of the city.
A Brief History about Karim Khan Citadel Shiraz
Karim Khan was the ruler of Zand tribe. He was the one who founded the Zandiyeh dynasty in 1751 and chose Shiraz as his kingdom capital. Therefore, he started to build new structures to expand the city and makes it more like a kingdom. The Karim Khan Citadel is one of the greatest compositions of that time that has still remained. The construction started in 1766 and only took one year to complete.
The Karim Khan Citadel (also called Arg-e-Karim Khan) was built by the best artists and architects of that time. Moreover, since it was the place where Karim Khan lived and was also the military center of the dynasty, the design of the citadel is a combination of military and residential architecture. It consists of four high walls which are connected by four round brick towers at each angle. Each wall is 12 meters tall and 3 meters thickness.
Karim Khan Citadel during the Qajar Era
After the fall of the Zandiyeh dynasty in 1794 and rise of the Qajar era, the Karim Khan Citadel became governor’s seat of this tribe. As the citadel was so huge and beautiful, they didn’t destroy it. Instead, they decided to make it even more beautiful so one of the Qajar princes ordered to renovate the building, especially the miniature paintings on the wall. However, each governor changed part of this castle according to his taste, not all of them was a great idea for such a place. Some of them decided to cover the wall paintings which have been painted during the Zandiyeh era and paint new pictures. The others decided to build some mansions in the yard which even made the building ugly. All and all, the Karim Khan Citadel has been used by the Qajar governors and princes till 1925, when the Pahlavi dynasty begins.
Karim Khan Citadel during the Pahlavi Era
During the Pahlavi era, the Karim Khan Citadel wasn’t a living residence for the kings and the rulers anymore. Instead, it turned into a prison. However, it wasn’t the greatest idea for such a historical site. The building faced severe damages during this time.
In 1971, the citadel was given to Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization and the renovation started in 1977.
Karim Khan Citadel Today
Today, the Karim Khan Citadel is a great tourist attraction in Shiraz. Although it still needs some restoration to make it a place like what it was during the Zandiyeh dynasty.
Different Parts of Karim Khan Citadel
Before you get into the citadel, all you see is the beautiful brick walls from outside. It might even make you want to stay and look at it for hours as it is really a masterpiece of that period of history. At each edge of the wall, you can see a 14 meters tower which has been constructed with the combination of stone and lime. As mentioned earlier, since the castle was the house of the king and also the kingdom seat, the soldiers should take care of this place from the attack of enemies. So they stood on these towers and check the surroundings. The tiling picture at the entrance of the castle dates back to the Qajar era which shows the battle between Rostam and the white demon.
Karim Khan Citadel Secret
There is a secret about the construction of this castle. If you see this from above you will notice that the citadel is not a rectangular shape. Instead, it is like an incomplete trapezius. The reason is that when the architects started to build the north towers, they found out that the ground of this part is not good enough for making such installation and they needed to change the area to prevent the tower to fall down during the time. So they decided to make the tower a few meters on the west.
The Citadel has a large yard with long ponds. The yard is so lush and green. It will be so relaxing to just walk in this yard.
The residential section of the citadel is on the north, south and the west parts of the building. Therefore, you can see all the residential rooms in these parts. In each part, there is a terrace with two stone columns around and six rooms. The rooms are decorated with colorful and reticular windows. Some rooms have been turned into cultural museums.
The citadel Bath which is also known as “Arg Hammam” is one of the first baths of this kind which was used by the Kings’ family.
Places nearby the Karim Khan Citadel
The Karim Khan Citadel is located near Shohada square. It is so close to the Vakil Bath and Bazaar which are less than 10 minutes away from this attraction. You can easily walk the Taleghani Street and get to the Vakil Bath and Vakil Mosque and also check the Vakil Bazaar. The nearest hotel to the Karim Khan Citadel is the Zandiyeh Hotel which is one of the greatest 5-star hotels in Shiraz. It will only take 5 minutes to get to this attraction from the Zandiyeh Hotel. Don’t miss walking around the castle at night as it has a great atmosphere and makes you feel like walking in the time tunnel.
How to get to Karim Khan Citadel
The Karim Khan Citadel is in the heart of the city and easily accessible by the public transportations. There is the Shahrdari bus stop in the Shohada square which is right in front of this building. So you can get to the Karim Khan Citadel without any problem. If you would like to take the metro, the Zandiyeh Metro Station is almost 10 minutes far from this citadel. You can easily walk the Karim Khan Boulevard, which also will be nice, and get to the Shohada Square, and you can easily recognize this historical attraction.