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Photos: Roudkhan Castle in Iran's Gilan Province

Photos by Amin Rahmani, Mehr News Agency; report by Iran Review

Roudkhan castle is one of the most magnificent historical buildings in Gilan province which is located on the crest of a mountain and is called by locals “Zhiyeh Castle”.

The castle is located on a mountain 25 km southwest of Fuman city, which is part of Gurabpas mountains, situated at the central district of Fuman. The castle has an area of 2.6 hectares and is located on the heights overlooking Roudkhan village. Its wall is 1,500 m long and the castle has 65 towers.

The castle was rehabilitated under the Seljuk rule and was a base for Ishmaelite fighters. There is a plaque on its entrance which reads, “This castle has been built for Sultan Hesamoddin Amir Dabbaj ibn Amir Alaeddin Eshaq between 918 and 921 AH.”

The castle is 665-715 m from sea level and is near a river carrying the same name. Roudkhan is an abbreviation for “river and castle of Khan”, that is, a castle which is located near river. This historical castle has been built near a river and is known as Roudkhan castle. The castle has been alternatively called “One Thousand Steps”, “Hesami”, and “Saksar” castle too.


Roudkhan castle, which is also known as Saksar and Hesami castle, has an area of over 2.4 hectares and a wall 1,550 m long with 42 watchtowers. There are loopholes in the thick wall of the castle through which molten metal was poured on assailants and through which archers targeted the enemy. In the past, there has been a spring inside the castle, which was used by the inhabitants when they were under siege.

The important historical castle has been the seat of Gilan governments for a long time. It is said to date back to the Sassanid period and after destruction, it has been rebuilt under the Seljuk rule. It was a base for Ishmaelite clan and was used by local rulers up to the Zand dynasty. Thereafter, it was abandoned. The exact date of its construction, however, is still a mystery. Since Fuman has been the seat of Gilan government for a long time (after Eshaqvand dynasty) the castle has gained more in importance. Unreliable stories have it that Mirza Kouchak Khan Jangali has taken shelter there for a period of three years.

Roudkhan castle has two parts: 1. a citadel where the king and his harem lived; and 2. barracks for soldiers. On the eastern side of Roudkhan castle, there are ruins. The wall encircling the castle and watchtowers can be seen to the north and south of the castle. Octagonal rooms made of brick are still seen on the topside of the castle.

The eastern wing is smaller than the western wing and includes 12 entrances, a prison, an emergency exit, bathhouse, water closet, and a number of residential units. The bigger western wing includes 12 entrances, a spring, water pool, water storage facility, bathhouse, water closet, the king’s seat, and a number of residential units which are encircled by a wall. The citadel is located on the west wing of the castle and has two stories. It is made of brick. Guardhouses are located on the east wing in two stories with many loopholes which gives them good command over the environs. There are also steep loopholes in the wall which were used in old times to pour molten metal over enemy soldiers. The castle was never conquered by assailants and this shows how skillful its architects have been, either in terms of military science or architecture. At the first sight, every visitor would notice its huge drawbridge and magnificent tower. The main gate is flanked by two guardhouses. Entrance of the gate has five platforms made of stone which are one meter high. Water storage facility is located at the west wing with a five-meter door made of stone which is 2 m wide. It is located beneath the lowest level of the castle, 140 m away from the entrance gate and is shaped like an octagonal each side of which measuring 2 meters.

The whole castle is made of stone and bricks. More vulnerable parts are made of stone and mortar. Most rooms, towers, and dome-shaped ceilings are made of bricks and plaster. An interesting feature of this huge castle is a cobble-stoned staircase among forest trees and you can hear birds singing while going up them. That staircase has been built by Gilan Province Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

... Payvand News - 04/03/12 ... --

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