Ancient Gor city
Firuzabad is located in Fars province south of Shiraz. Where is surrounded by a mud wall and ditch. Firuzabad had an estimated population of 67,909 in 2005. Alexander of Macedonia destroyed the original city of Gōr. Centuries later, Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanid Dynasty, revived the city before it was ransacked in the Arab invasion of the seventh century. Firuzabad is situated in a low-lying area of the region, so Alexander was able to drown the city by directing the flow of a river into the city. The lake he created remained until Ardashir I built a tunnel to drain it. He founded his new capital city on this site.
Ardeshir’s new city was known as Khor Ardeshīr, Ardeshīr Khurah and Shāhr-ī Gōr. It had a circular plan so precise in measurement that the Persian historian Ibn Balkhi wrote it to be “devised using a compass”. It was protected by a trench 50 meters in width, and was 2 kilometers in diameter. The city had four gates; to the north was the Hormoz Gate, to the south the Ardeshir Gate, to the east the Mithra Gate and to the west the Bahram Gate. The royal capital’s compounds were constructed at the center of a circle 450m in radius. At the center point of the city was a Zoroastrian fire temple 30m high and spiral in design, which is thought to have been the architectural predecessor of the great Samarra Mosque of Iraq.
The city’s importance was revived again in the reign of Azud al-Dawla of the daylamite dynasty, who used the city as his frequent residence. It is at this time that the old name of the city–Gōr, is abandoned in favor of the new. In New Persian spoken at the time Gōr had come to mean “grave.” King Azud al-Dawla, as the story goes, found it distasteful to reside in a “grave.” Per his instruction, the city’s name was changed to Peroz-abad, “City of Victory.” Since then, the city has been known by variations of that name, to include Firuzabad (Middle Persian Fīrūzābād).
Among the attractions of the city are the Ghal’eh Dokhtar, the Palace of Ardeshir, and the fire temple tower among the remains of Gōr.
The people of modern Firuzabad are mostly descendants of the Qashqai. They used to live along the Amu Darya River before fleeing before Genghiz Khan to Fars.
The 1800-year-old castle has lost some four meters of its original height over the last century and experts warn if urgent measures are not taken to enforce it, the castle may soon collapse.
Palace of Ardeshir Babakan:
Also known as the Atash-kadeh, is a castle located on the slopes of the mountain on which Ghal’eh Dokhtar is situated on. Built in AD 224 by Ardashir I of the Sassanian Empire, it is located two kilometers (1.2 miles) north of the ancient city of Gor, i.e. the old city of Firuzabad in Fars, in ancient Persia (Iran).The structure contains three domes, among other features, making it a bit larger and more magnificent than its predecessor the nearby castle of Ghal’eh Dokhtar. However, it seems that the compound was designed to display the royalty image of Ardashir I, rather than being a fortified structure for defense purposes. That is why perhaps it would be best to refer to the structure as a “palace” rather than a “castle”, even though it has huge walls on the perimeters (twice as thick as Ghal’eh Dokhtar), and is a contained structure. From the architectural design, it seems the palace was more of a place of social gathering where guests would be introduced to the imperial throne. What is particularly interesting about this palace is that its architectural design does not exactly fall into that of the Parthian or even Sassanian category; the design is a unique design particular to architects of Fars. The palace was built next to a picturesque pond that was fed by a natural spring, perhaps in connection with the Persian goddess of water and growth, Anahita. The spring is thought to have fed a royal garden, in the same way that Cyrus had his garden (bustan) built at Pasargadae. The pond was tiled on its sides, surrounded by pavement for guests of the royal court to enjoy the evenings by.
The structure is 104 m (340 ft.) by 55 m (180 ft.). The eivan is 18 m (60 ft.) high, although it has partially collapsed. The structure was built of local rocks and mortar with plasterwork on the insides. The style of the interior design is comparable to that of Tachar palace at Persepolis.
Ghal’eh Dokhtar or the Maiden’s Castle:
It’s a castle made by Ardeshir I, in present day, in 209 AD. It is located on a mountain slope near the Firuzabad-Shiraz road. This structure was built by Ardashir I. The name implies it was dedicated to the Goddess Anahita, to whom the term “Maiden” refers. After capturing Isfahan and Kerman from the Parthians, he (re)built the city of Gurnearby the castle in Firuzabad, making it his capital. After defeating Ardavan V (Artabanus V), the Parthian king, in a great battle in 224 AD, he built the Palace of Ardashir nearby the Ghal’eh Dokhtar structure. Ardashir’s grandfather was a prominent priest of the Goddess Anahita at the nearby temple of Darabgird, “City of Darius.”Built on a high bluff, which overlooks the river and roadway running south from Fars. The entrance to the castle is through a tall gateway in a large, rectangular tower. Inside this a broad stairway leads up to a rectangular hall, with blind niches on either side or two large buttresses at the east end. These supported stairways up to the next level, another large rectangular room, 14 x 23 m, with an arched recess, an iwan, at the east end and arched blind windows on either side. It was presumably roofed by an arched vault. Beyond this there are steps to a third level and a large rectangular room with circle squinches at each corner supporting a domed roof. This was buttressed by very thick walls on all sides, presumably to ensure its stability, and the cupola could be reached by a spiral staircase on the south side.
Despite damages sustained by the castle, its majesty still produces awe in visitors. The fortified palace is splendidly coherent and confident building contains many of the recurring features of Sasanian palace and civic architecture: long halls, arches, domes, recessed windows, and stairways. The construction is uniform of roughly shaped stone and mortar, but the surfaces were obviously all finished with a thick coating of plaster or stucco, giving a smooth and elegant appearance, which could have been decorated with ornamentation or painting.
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It is located near the river, inside the valley of the Tang-e Ab which embraces the ruins of the city of Gor, Ardashir’s Palace and Qal’e-ye-Dokhtar fortress. They represent the historical, cultural, political and artistic advances of the Sassanid time (224-651).
The town of Firouzabad is located south of Shiraz city. It dates back to 220 AD when the Parthians were defeated and Ardashir, the first king of the Sassanid dynasty, became the new king of Persia. The ruins of his splendid palace are just outside the ancient walled city with a view overlooking a small natural lake; this monument is both beautiful and historical and fascinating in terms of architecture. In fact, it is like a hidden gem.
Qal’e-ye-Dokhtar is a vast barrier fortress with an inner monumental palace of magnificent dimensions, built by Ardashir before his decisive victory against the last Parthian empire. It has a big and great dome which marks the most primitive kind of Iranian dome. The palace is in fact, the inner fortress of Qal’e-ye-Dokhtar, containing the residential part and is separated from the outer fortifications by a system of traverse walls. The architectural decoration of the palace and fortifications is modest and dignified.
Less than 1 km to the south of Qal’e-ye-Dokhtar, the first relief of several rock reliefs of Ardashir is depicted on the right bank of the Tang-e Ab valley. In the relief Ohrmazd is standing and investing Ardashir also afoot, the ring of sovereignty over a fire altar. The bas reliefs of Sassanid era have been used to narrate historic events such as coronations, battle-fields and so on. The main purpose has been to show the passer byes the glory and power of the royal families and courts along with their beliefs and traditions which are really majestic and worth a visit.
Little is left of the ancient Sassanian city of Gor (also spelled Gour or Gur): mainly a tower, visible from the highway, against the backdrop of mountains. This site is of major architectural importance because the city was originally constructed as circular. It is outstanding in the history of urban planning style, and the scattered remains which therefore may not seem at all impressive in themselves, are archaeologically fascinating to those with a special interest in urban archaeology. If you are visiting the nearby castle/palace of Ardashir, it is worth making a quick side-trip to Gor. From a conceptual point of view, the circular plan of Ardashīr Khurrah had been calculated exactly on the basis of Ardashir’s ideas about the running of his newly-established government. The urban division system based on circles symbolized a central government with the king at its center and other echelons of the society at various levels around it. As a matter of fact, Ardashir desired to embody his intention for establishing a powerful and centralized government (unlike the decentralized government of the Parthian dynasty) by founding a city and by its spatial dividing.
Last but not least, the ancient Qal’e-ye-Dokhtar (fortress of girl) is free to see but you have to go up a few hundred steps. It is recommended to go early in the morning so you don’t get stuck in the heat of the day. It is a big castle and when you are on top, you can see how far down the castle actually goes. Some of the sections were reconstructed for tourism but it still is a great place.
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