Iran hopes to gain UNESCO recognition for Sasanian fortress

TEHRAN — Iran is aiming for UNESCO World Heritage listing for its Qale Falak-ol-Aflak, which is a Sasanian-era (224-651) fortress located in Khorramabad, the capital of Lorestan province .

“The UNESCO inscription of the Falak-ol-Aflak fortress of Khorramabad is of great importance because it is a public request on the one hand, and is underlined by the President [Ebrahim Raisi] on the other hand,” IRNA quoted Deputy Tourism Minister Ali Darabi as saying on Saturday.

The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts is ready to compile a specific dossier on the ancient fortress and surrounding properties for possible UNESCO listing, Darabi said.

He made the remarks during a meeting with Lorestan Governor-General Farhad Ziviar, according to the report.

Also, the ministry is ready to invite UNESCO experts to visit and assess this unique historical work, Darabi said.

Ziviar, for his part, said that practical steps have been taken to resolve issues related to the UNESCO designation of the site.

“Steps have been taken to resolve the issues at the historic Khorramabad fortress after the president’s visit last year, and the province is ready to provide the groundwork for the global registration of this fortress,” Ziviar said.

Last December, President Raisi paid a visit to the ancient fortress. He was accompanied by members of his cabinet, including the Minister of Energy, the Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Culture as well as that of Cooperatives and the Minister Labor and Social Welfare.

The must-see eight-towered fortress looms over Khorramabad as one of the region’s most visited travel destinations for domestic and foreign tourists. The fortress looks particularly imposing and dramatic when lit up at night, offering picturesque views of its crenellated ramparts that surround it.

Experts believe that the fortress is comparable to similar works in Naqsh-e Rostam, Naqsh-e Rajab, Tape Chugan and Firuzabad in Fars province.

In 2018, UNESCO added a collection of historic Sasanian towns in southern Iran – titled “Sasanian Archaeological Landscape of the Fars Region” – to its World Heritage List. The ensemble is made up of eight archaeological sites located in three geographical parts of Firuzabad, Bishapur and Sarvestan. It reflects the optimized use of natural topography and bears witness to the influence of Achaemenid and Parthian cultural traditions and Roman art, which later had a significant impact on the architecture and artistic styles of the Islamic era.

Iran hopes to gain UNESCO recognition for Sasanian fortress

The Sassanid era is of great importance in the history of Iran. Under the Sassanids, Persian art and architecture experienced a general renaissance. The architecture has often taken on grand proportions such as the palaces of Ctesiphon, Firuzabad and Sarvestan which are among the highlights of the ensemble. Crafts such as metalworking and gemstone engraving became very sophisticated, but the state encouraged scholarship. During these years, works from East and West were translated into Pahlavi, the language of the Sassanids.

Efforts by the Sassanids also resulted in a revival of Iranian nationalism, for example, Zoroastrianism was declared the state religion. The dynasty evolved by Ardashir I and was destroyed by the Arabs during the period 637 to 651. The dynasty was named after Sasan, an ancestor of Ardashir I.

Under his leadership, which reigned from 224 to 241, the Sassanids overthrew the Parthians and created an empire that constantly changed in size in reaction to Rome and Byzantium in the west and the Kushans and Hephthalites in the east, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. By the time of Shapur I (reigned 241 CE–272), the empire stretched from Sogdiana and Iberia (Georgia) in the north to the Mazun region of Arabia in the south; in the east it extended to the Indus River and in the west to the upper Tigris and Euphrates valleys.


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