Countries: Asia

Falak-ol-Aflak Fortress

Iran: Khoram-abad City

Falak-ol-Aflak Fortress (Shapour Khast Fortress)

Historically, the fortress has gone by many different names: Shapour Khast, Saber Khast, Des Bar, Dez Baz, Khorram-abad (Khorram-abad) and Davazdah Borji (12 Towers). It was named Falak-ol-Aflak in the Qajar era. Falak-ol-Aflak means "sphere of spheres" or "ninth firmament ".

Falak-ol-Aflak fortress stands stop a hill at the center of the city of Khorram-abad.
Falak-ol-Aflak’s exact date of construction and the name of its architect are not known. The original building is attributed to the Shapour, the Sassanian peroid, in the 3rd century AD. The fortress is a monument from the ancient city of Shapour Khast.

The fortress was built atop a stony hill in the center of the valley of Khorram-abad. Golestan Spring, on the northern slope of the hill, supplies the building with fresh water.
Near the fortress are caves once occupied by prehistoric humans and such historic structures as inscribed stone, brick minaret, Gabri mill, broken bridge and stone whirlpool. All these are evidence of the long period of human habitation in this area.

The present structure is the result of additions from several periods. Most of the changes were made during the Safavid and Qajar dynasties. Photographs show that about 100 years ago the fortress consisted of a rampart with 12 towers. Now, just a trace of one of those towers is visible on the northwest side of the fortress.
Currently, the building has eight 5300 meter tall towers, two courtyards and 300 parapets (shelters). The tallest wall is 25 meters from the hill level. The fortress is made of stone, brick, mud brick and mortar. The fortress is entered through a southwestern tower. Visitors pass through a corridor into the first courtyard.

First Courtyard
The first courtyard measures 31×22.5 meters and has a north-south orientation. There are four towers on its perimeter.

The Old Bath
The old bath was at the northern comer of the first courtyard, near the fortress well. The bath was used through the Qajar period. A clay water-pipe, remains of lime plasterwork, and underground canals are still visible.

Fortress Well
The water well is northwest of the first courtyard, through an archway. Most of its 40 meter shaft was carved through rock to reach the head of Golestan Spring. Still perfectly usable today, this well long satisfied the needs of those using the fortress.

Second courtyard
The second courtyard measures 29×21 meters and it has an east-west orientation. Like the first courtyard, this courtyard has four towers on its perimeter. The large halls that surround the second courtyard presently house a museum. Other notable features are a hidden passage on the southern side and underground spaces on the eastern and northern sides.

Past Usage
Important past uses of the fortress included a treasury for the Badr dynasty in the 11th century, the seat of government for the regional Atabeg and Vali rulers during the Safavid and Qajar dynasties, and a military base and political prison during the first and second Pahlavi regimes.

Present Usage
In 1970, the Army donated Falak-ol-Aflak fortress to the Art and Culture Ministry. In 1975, the fortress was converted to a museum of Lorestan anthropology.
The collection includes objects from Tappeh Masur near Khorram-abad and Tappeh Baba Jan near Noru-abad and Sorkh Dom Laki near Kouhdasht, silver objects from Kalma Karrah Cave, and prehistoric bronze objects.
More recently, the fortress was repaired, the exhibits were expanded and a repair laboratory was established. A souvenir shop and traditional tea house also were added.




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