Shapurs castles

Firuz Abad Travel Blog

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People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

Having extended our visas the previous day, we were once again free to take a day trip out of Shiraz and chose to see two sets of Sassanian Ruins, located near Firuz Abad. The 120km trip South took an hour and three quarters by bus and the driver kindly let us off at Qal'eh-e Doktar (Maiden's Palace), which was located in the middle of nowhere. A footbridge crossed the road and marked the beginning of the trail to the castle and once on the other side we followed a path that led up the face of the mountain. It took 15 sweaty minutes to reach the top, where an impressive stone castle had been situated since the 3rd Century BC.

When looking around such ancient sites, i always try to imagine what they must have originally looked like and what fate befell the people who lived there. This castle was the first built by the great Sassanian King Ardashir Babakan, and was comprised of three separate sections. There were also several defensive fortifications on the slope leading up to the castle, making it almost impregnable. The views from the top were stunning and any invading army would surely not have relished the prospect of trying to capture this strategic post.

Having clambered around the ruins for an hour or so, we descended back down to the main road and began to walk towards Ardashir's Palace, which our ever reliable guide book - Lying Planet - said was 2km away. The sun had already reached its zenith and this was making the going tough, but as we thought it was so near we opted against hitch hiking.
Thirty minutes later and still with no site of the Palace, we began to worry that maybe we had missed it, or gone in the wrong direction. Having read and re-read the paragraph in the book on how to get there, we decided that we should continue the way we were going. Another hour later and we finally reached our destination, strike 2385 for Lousy Planet!

Whilst Qal'eh-e Doktar had been hidden on a mountain top, Ardashir's Palace was a far bolder statement. Its location on an open plain highlighted the growing confidence within the Sassanian Empire and 2000 years on it still makes a striking first impression. High walls, vast rooms and imposing arches featured throughout the structure. At the front of the building there was a pretty little pond that was filled with fish and small birds zipped across the water, feeding on midges.

It was 15.30 by the time that we finished looking around and as we were in the middle of nowhere, there was no form of public transport to take us on to Firuz Abad. We therefore decided that we would have to try and walk, even though we knew it was probably the best part of 10kms. Having reached the main road again, we plodded on for half an hour more, feeling rather tired and wondering how much further we would have to go, when a car suddenly pulled up. Even though we were heading in the wrong direction for Shiraz, the passenger wanted to see if we might need a lift, which we did! His English was ok and he told us that they could take us halfway to Shiraz and then we could transfer to a shared taxi for the rest of the journey. Such incredible gestures have now become commonplace within Iran, but they still never fail to amaze me. Sticking my neck on the line, i have to say that Iranians so far get my vote for World's nicest people.

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Firuz Abad
photo by: Deats