By Samaneh Aboutalebi 

Discover Sang Bast Castle on the edge of central Iranian desert 

November 22, 2020 - 0:2

TEHRAN – Over the past centuries, a network of incredibly well-fortified castles, fortresses, and sheltered have been constructed across the Iranian plateau, many of which now turned into tourism attractions. 

Sang Bast Castle, a Seljuk-era (1037–1194) is one of such structures. It is located within the oasis town of Zavareh on the edge of the central Iranian desert in Isfahan province. 

The castle is made from mud, brick, and mortar and it includes stables, barns, residential areas, and watchtowers in an area of 1,500 square meters. 

It is widely believed that the castle is the largest in the country after Qazvin’s Alamut Castle.  It was built in a cube-shaped pattern and in its corners; four cylindrical towers can be seen, which were used as watchtowers to help the guards to protect the castle from invaders. 

The two-storey castle was considered a government building at the time and many mystics, scholars, and poets lived in it. It was built upon the orders of Abu-Ali Dehdar Zavarei, a local elite of the time.

The rooftop of the castle was restored in 2017; however, the privately-owned structure still needs some rehabilitation works to become a tourism hub in the region. Sang Bast Castle was inscribed on the National Heritage list in 2002. 

Zavareh is named after the brother of Rostam (the Iranian legendary and mythical hero). There are lots of attractions in this small city. The first and oldest four-iwan mosque in Iran is the old Zavareh Jame Mosque going back to the Seljuk period, around 900 years old. 

Another predominant historical attraction, 33 kilometers from Zavareh, is Sarhangabad Palace built during the reign of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (r. 1848 1896).

This palace with twenty stone columns looks like Chehel Sotoun Palace in Isfahan, decorated with peculiar plasterwork, mirrorwork, wood carving, stucco, inlay, and marquetry. It was a hunting ground and summer promenade for Qajar princes. It has a view of the mountains, river, and prairie. There is a two-story wind tower, a bath, watchtowers, and a mill around it. It is a mixture of the Safavid era (1501–1736) and the Qajar era (1789–1925) architecture made up of mud, brick, and wood.

A conical mud-brick adobe traditional Yakhchal (ice storage), and an old bazaar with vernacular architecture dating back to Zandieh period (1751–1794) are among the most important tourist attractions of the city. Meanwhile, traditional camel farming, carpet weaving, brick making, and woodturning, are among the cultural heritage of the city.

Over the course of history castles have played an important role in fortifying countries. They were normally maintained by authorities along significant routes or cities and most of them were located in uncovered heights with steep slopes or cliffs. 

Such locations have always served as a natural defense against enemies and offered a panoramic view over the surrounding lands, so the cities and their surroundings lands could be defended. 

Most of the castles in Iran have had springs or wells to reach potable water, except for those which were already surrounded by water. These structures are considered to represent an important aspect of the country’s history and thus, are worth visiting as tourist attractions.


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