Ramparts, towers of ancient walled city being restored to former glory

May 1, 2021 - 18:27

TEHRAN - A restoration project has been commenced on a series of mudbrick ramparts and towers, which were once parts of a defensive wall around the city of Shahrud in Iran's Semnan province, the city’s tourism chief has said. 

A budget of 1.2 billion rials (almost $29,000 at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) has been allocated to the project, Hamidreza Hassani said on Saturday. 

The project involves cleaning and collecting debris, repairing cracks, and strengthening the structure, the official added. The historical structure, which dates back to the Qajar-era (1789-1925), was inscribed on the National Heritage list in 2001. 

From very early history to modern times, defensive walls have often been necessary for cities to survive in an ever-changing world of invasion and conquest.

Fortifications in antiquity were designed primarily to defeat attempts at escalades, and to the defense of territories in warfare, and were also used to solidify rule in a region during peacetime.

Uruk in ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia) is one of the world’s oldest known walled cities. The Ancient Egyptians also built fortresses on the frontiers of the Nile Valley to protect against invaders from neighboring territories.

Many of the fortifications of the ancient world were built with mud brick, often leaving them no more than mounds of dirt for today’s archaeologists.

The main population centers of Semnan province lie along the ancient Silk Road (and modern-day Imam Reza Expressway), linking Rey (Tehran) with Khorasan (Mashhad). While few visitors spend much time in the area, driving through you can easily seek out several well-preserved caravanserais (notably Dehnamak and Ahowan), cisterns (the Cafe Abenbar in Garmsar is a special treat), and ruined mud citadels (Padeh is lumpy but fascinating). The large, bustling cities of Semnan, Damghan, and Shahrud (Bastam) all have a small selection of historic buildings and Semnan has a fine old covered bazaar.


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