TEHRAN – After nearly two millennia, the ruins of Narin Fortress still tower imposingly above the oasis city of Meybod in the heart of Iran.
Revealing three layers of construction, the oldest foundations suggest that some sort of settlement was built here as early as 4000 BC. Legend has it that the castle once belonged to King Solomon and was built by jinns (spirits), but regardless of where the castle foundations were originally from, most of what can be seen today dates from the Sasanian period.
Located on the Silk Road, the fortress was used by soldiers who provided armed escort to passing caravans, charging a fee for their services, according to historical sources.
The view from the top of the castle provides an interesting view of the city of Meybod and shows how the growing population of the citadel spread beyond the castle walls. The watchtowers that dotted the city until recently formed the outermost parts of the urban area, but have since been breached as new homes expand into the surrounding desert.
In many ways, Iran under Sasanian rule witnessed tremendous achievements in Persian civilization. Experts say that during the Sasanian era, the nation’s art and architecture experienced a general revival.
The height of the ruins reaches 40 meters from its base. And it is possible to look over 70 kilometers in all directions from the top of the roof. The fortress also has a large underground chamber, which may have been a prison.
Although built around 2,000 years ago, it contains what appears to be a type of plumbing system (made of a kind of mortar called a sarooj) that was built into its massive walls. Some believe that its design is also particularly similar to the Ali Qapu Palace in Isfahan; it has a terrace at the top of the structure whose circulation is ensured by two spiral staircases (whose walls have collapsed, making it inaccessible).
The structure also has a large underground chamber (now filled with rubble), possibly a prison. Four towers surround the entire enclosure and a large gate gives access to a large courtyard. The structure seems to have been the victim of many earthquakes through the ages.
Under the eyes of tourists
Here is a selection of comments on the fortress and the museum that foreign visitors have already posted on TripAdvisor:
‘Very good rest of the castle and view of the surroundings’
If you have not visited an Iranian castle (fortress), but with a little imagination, you can easily imagine the complete structure. It’s a pleasant short exploration that makes for good photos and provides excellent views of the attractive surroundings. About 40 kilometers from Yazd, often included in day trips, ask your driver to stop here for 30 minutes. (nilintentum_reliquit from Melbourne, Australia)
“Door to a Forgotten Era”
This Middle Period fortress dates from the early days of the Persian Empire and remains one of Iran’s most impressive antiquities. The mud-brick walls are surprisingly high and a walk through the complex provides excellent views over the town of Meybod and the surrounding countryside. Workers can often be seen making adobe bricks and plaster along the wide approach, using a process that hasn’t changed for millennia. (Signum32 from Andwell, UK)
‘A good place to take a break between Yazd and Isfahan’
Clearly once a major fortification that withstood all attacks. It has a large area of ”moats” surrounding it between two walls, now encroached by the city.
There are two distinct construction phases from around the 3rd and 10th century noted by the different sizes of bricks. Although much still suffers from age, some parts have been restored and I found it interesting to walk around – with care as there are a few open wells.
Our guide pointed out the talking tubes between the rooms which were necessary due to the thickness of the walls. We spent a pleasant hour there. (j0rana from Lucca, Italy)
“Interesting ruin – great views”
Stop at the castle ruins for great views of the city and to get a sense of a grand brick construction. Not much to feel but gives a sense of how grand it must have been in the past. (942duncanw from Bangkok, Thailand)
“Worth a visit while passing by”
It is a nice classic castle with its history. If you have never seen such structures before and pass by, it is worth going there and taking pictures. (Rexonaute from Brussels, Belgium)