Qasr E Shirin Iran

Keywords: Qasr E Shirin Iran
Description: After the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in September 1980 all the border cities and villages in Kermanshah Province, including the ancient city of Qas …

After the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in September 1980 all the border cities and villages in Kermanshah Province, including the ancient city of Qasr-e Shirin, suffered a lot as residents either became POWs or war refugees.

The people lost all their wealth and belongings and migrated to other parts of the country. The following article is dedicated to the people of Qasr-e Shirin who bravely defended their motherland during the Iraqi war against Iran.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, the Kurdish researcher Nariman Sobhani says Kermanshah Province, due to its natural resources, geographical position and the abundant water resources, has been one of the ancient settlements. The reason behind this fact is the numerous historical monuments which have remained from ancient times on the Silk Road or scattered throughout the province.

“The remains belonging to the Median era, which could be observed throughout Kermanshah Province from ancient times, including Mayasht which means “plain of Medes” in the Kurdish language, backs up my view. In this plain, man-made hills were constructed near villages in order to inform each other with fire in the face of danger,” he explained.

Sobhani says: “In the course of history, the city of Qasr-e Shirin in Kermanshah Province has always played a pivotal role because of its strategic geographical position and its location on the Silk Road; as a crossroads it connected ancient Persia’s plateau from East, including Rey, Hamadan and Kermanshah to Western civilizations such as Chaledea and Babel.”

The Pataq Pass (an unfinished arch situated in a mountainous pass) in Kermanshah Province, dating back to the Parthian era, explicitly demonstrates the military and economic significance of the route from ancient times, he said.

The Pataq Pass is located at the last chain of the highlands of Zagros. Sobhani says the old caravansaries and road havens in near distances in the province, remaining from Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids, apart from Ctesiphon Veranda (now in today Iraq), indicate Kermanshah has been the cradle of civilizations from old times.

“At the same time, the historical remains in Qasr-e Shirin, Kale Davoo (a Median tomb carved inside a mountain near the city of Sar Pol-e Zahab), Rustam Farokhzad Fortress, Rijab and its main village which in Kurdish language is called ‘Shallan’ or “The House of King” and many other historical monuments all confirm my idea,” the researcher explains.

Sobhani adds beside the mountainous Pataq Pass, as we continue our route we come across Sieve Roza or Sorkhah Dej (Sorkhah fortress) which reaches skyline in Sarmill and its stonewall was last repaired when the carriage of Iranian king Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar (1831-1896) passed through this way to holy shrines in Iraq and still most of the old road remains intact. After Sarmill we approach the destroyed ancient city of Kerend which is called “Old Kerend” and its infrastructure bricks belong to the Parthians and it underwent repair during the Sassanids.

According to Sobhani, the city which was originally called “Keren” from ancient times has a long historical background. It has historical monuments belonging to the Parthians (Marge Alqala) which is situated on the Mount Tash Shua. Further toward east we reach a winter palace called Tajr. Then in Khosrow Abad we come through a stream belonging to the Sassanid era. After that we reach Shah Abad (today Islam Abad) where a Median hill stands on the eastward of the main square of the city.

“Toward to the east ‘The Plain of Medes’ or ‘Mayasht’ stands. As we move toward the east again we reach Bistun inscriptions and Taq Bostan or better to say ‘Taq Vasan’ in Kurdish language as ‘Vasan’ means stone and ‘Taq Vasan’ means an arch made of stone. Again toward east we approach Anahita Temple in Kangavar and at last Hamadan,” Sobhani points out.

For those interested to increase their knowledge of the subject a book written in Persian by Sobhani entitled “The Ancient City of Qasr-e Shirin” is an authentic source. The main parts of the following article are based on this book. The book was actually written two years before the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered an invasion of Iran on September 21, 1980 which led to devastation of the border city.

Sobhani in his book has tried to provide an authentic source on various aspects of the people’s lifestyle in Qasr-e Shirin including traditions and customs, historical background, social affairs and the latest literary developments.

The city was a metropolitan during the Sassanid era (226-651 CE). Qasr-e Shirin a city with over 2000 years of history was famous for being the city of love. Khosrow II known as Khosrow Parviz among Iranians (590 to 628 CE) the twenty-second Sassanid king built a castle for his lifelong beloved Shirin in the city. The folklore has it that Shirin was the daughter of the Queen of Armenia who fell in love with the Sassanid king. Shirin followed her love Khosrow and settled in Qasr-e Shirin, before sending a messenger to the King in Ctesiphon informing him of her move. The king who was engaged in a battle with the invading Arabs, decided to build a palace for his beloved Shirin. The story of this love has become the most famous classics in Kurdish and Persian literature, and the great poet Nizami Ganjavi has created his epic tragedies Kosrow-vo-Shirin (Khosrow and Shirin) and Shirin-o-Farhad (Shirin and Farhad), based on the two different versions of the story, one characterized by happiness, glory and power, and the other by sadness, struggle, and purity. The rivalry between the powerful king who was victorious in his wars with the Byzantine Empire and Farhad a master stone carver, who carved the palace of Shirin on the hard rocks of Mount Bistun and fell in love with the queen provides a pretext for Nizami to explore various psychological, spiritual, and philosophical aspects of the human being. The discourse between Khosrow and Farhad is considered as one of the literary masterpieces of the world.

The ruins of the castle were further damaged as a result of the Iran-Iraq war that turned the area into an active battlefield. When Iraqi Army withdrew from the city they made sure that not a single wall stood before they left the city. Before the outbreak of war in 1980 the city was regarded as one of the most beautiful cities of Kermanshah Province with many gardens and parks. Following are some travelogues about the historical city of Qasr-e Shirin:

1. In his “Abu Dulaf Travelogue”, written in 943 CE, Mosar ibn Almohahl Khazraj on page 58 states: “Qasr-e Shirin has high glorious buildings that wonder every visitor. They include chained verandas, courtyards, warehouses, balconies, squares, gardens, hunting grounds, rooms and palaces which are situated on a hill and it takes time for a wise man to understand its nature. These wonderful works reveal the power and glory of the city.”

2. In the book entitled “Iran on the Verge of Arabs’ Invasion”, A. Kolesnikov says: “Khosrow Parviz built a big church and a fortress in Bet Lashpar (the ancient name of Qasr-e Shirin) for his Christian wife Shirin. ”

3. In the first volume of his book titled “The History of Iran”, General Sir Percy Sykes on page 60 writes: “Khosrow’s Emirate or Khosrow’s palace has been located in the western slopes of the Zagros Mountains and its history dates back to the 7th century CE. The palace had been built in a park spanning 6000 perimeters. In this wide resort area only roots of dates and pomegranates and nothing else could be observed. But Arab writers have explained in detail about the gardens surrounding this beautiful palace and a variety of rare wild animals existing in its garden… (like a zoo).”

4. In the book entitled “Iran’s Archaeology”, Lieu Wandberg author writes: “…It is said that the king of Iran built a glorious palace for his Christian wife which was destroyed by Roman Emperor Heraclius in 628 CE. There is also a fire temple called Charqapu near the palace.”

5. Page 2053 and page 2054 of the Volume II of the Persian Encyclopedia “Masaheb” states: “Since ancient times Qasr-e Shirin has been a safe haven for major caravans. The majority of people in Qasr-e Shirin are Kurds. Safavid King Shah Abbas stationed 900 families from Sanjabi tribe in the region to safeguard the border regions.”

Ibn Asir says the walls of Shirin Palace in 966 CE cracked due to a big quake which rocked the city. However, precise information about the destruction of the walls of the palace and its design have been provided by Jacques de Morgan.

In June 2006, archaeological excavations in the Shirin castle resulted in the discovery of the dais in the castle which was used as the seat of the king.

The ancient city is situated near the border between Iran and Iraq, the Khosravi border terminal. The famed Silk Road passes through Qasr-e Shirin, connecting the highlands of the Iranian Plateau through a natural opening in the Zagros mountain chain with the lowland Mesopotamia and whence, the Levant and the Mediterranean basin. Being at the foothills of Zagros has made the city an important trade connection. For centuries the town has hosted the caravans of Silks and goods from Far East to Arabia and Byzantium and up until 1980.

Alexander the Great made his way through the same road to invade Persia in 331 BC. The waves of Arab Muslim armies advanced into the Iranian Plateau after the Battle of Jalula via Qasr-e Shirin. The destructive invaders, the Mongols, passed through the city in 1258 on their way to destroy Baghdad and the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate. Qasr-e Shirin has been the center of the house of the Kurdish tribe of Bajalan. The city served as the host to the Ottoman and Iranian delegates in 1639, signing the Treaty of Zohab (rather, the Armistice of Zohab) that ended the 120 Years' War between the two warring Islamic empires. The treaty fixed the border between the Ottoman and Persian empires which more or less lasts to the present day. The Treaty of Zohab left Qasr-e Shirin in Persia (Iran) but allocated the neighboring town of Khanaqin to the Ottomans, and thence Iraq.

The majority of inhabitants are speakers of the Kurdish Gurani language which has dialects of Kalhurri, Pahla (the guardian of the city) of Pahlavani. A majority of Kurdish people in Kermanshah Province speak Gurani Kurdish.

The city is well known for its agricultural productivity due to its rich soil and plentiful water from the Alvand (Halwan) River which runs through the city. The weather is mild in winter but hot and dry during the summer.

The site houses a collection of monuments located northeast of the town today. This site contains Sassanid and early Islamic period architectural elements such as the palace assigned to Khosrow II, the remains of a stone tower known as the Ban Qal'eh and the remains of a caravanserai of the Safavid period. The city had once more than 20 caravanserais. The site is placed on the tentative list of UNESCO since 22/05/1997.

Another historical monument near the city is known as “Char Qapi” with four big gates. This glorious Zoroastrian fire temple belonged to the Sassanid era. In the ancient times, whoever entered the fire temple had to exit from opposite door as a religious obligation. It was destroyed during the war.

The Shirin palace was searched for the first time in 1891 and again in 1910. Excavations in 2006 led to the discovery of a wall 40 miles long, built by Khosrow Parviz to protect the city. This wall extends beyond the border with Iraq. A canal, dug at the time of the Sassanids, ends in Iraq. The water of the Alvand river entered the channel by a trench and then led the water to Iraq. This canal, covered with stucco stone, is considered one of the masterpieces of civil engineering in irrigation.

Qasr-e Shirin has for a long time played an important economic role in the region. A large share of the country's exports is done via Qasr-e Shirin with its two main border points: Khosravi and Parwiz Khan.

The city is 180 kilometers away from provincial capital Kermanshah and its distance from Tehran is 770 kilometers.

A brief historical background of the city mentioned above reveals the fact that the city has enjoyed highly glorious civilization which was actually regarded as a bridge between Iran and Iraq in the course of history.

During Noruz celebrations, people from all walks of life perform Kurdish dancing and singing for almost two weeks near a great garden called “Bagh Fallahat.”

Today after the lapse of several centuries again the residents and their fellow citizens from throughout the country come here to revive the traditions of their ancestors in “Tape Eissa” near Bagh Fallahat.

More than two months before Noruz, the “Kurdish Spring” begins in the region as the mother nature is extremely beautiful and the weather is very pleasant.

Special ceremonies are performed during this period and children enjoy the most as they are the messengers of Kurdish Spring. They mostly go door to door to receive their gifts by performing special songs for spring and this tradition has been transferred from a generation to another generation.

Enjoying real leisure and pleasure is one of the outstanding lifestyles of the residents of Qasr-e Shirin and they spend their free time by fishing, hunting, wrestling, riding, swimming and mountaineering.

Though Iraq’s war against Iran in the 1980s undermined people’s lifestyle, the residents are still determined to preserve their ancient customs and traditions to prove that Kurds are still pure Aryans.

Photogallery Qasr E Shirin Iran:


Gertrude Bell
Qasr-e Shirin, Qasr-e Shirin, Iran - M

Panoramio - Untitled photo
Gertrude Bell
Gertrude Bell

Gertrude Bell
Gertrude Bell
Gertrude Bell

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Panoramio - Photo of Qasr-e-Shirin view (Falahat Park)
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