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Commemoration of a Persian Hero, Babak



08 July 2003


For the past five years, a large group of people converge on the Jomhur citadel near Kaleibar in the West Azarbaijan province in northwestern Iran every year on early days of July as they commemorate the great Iranian independence fighter Babak Khorramdin.

In fact, the citadel, called the Babak citadel as well, was virtually derelict before the annual event which brings together people with various persuasions.

Babak Khorram-Din and his followers promoted a purely Iranian religion as an alternative to Islam is said to have been mounting a 20 year resistance campaign against the domination of the Arab occupiers sitting in Baghdad before being captured and turned over to the ruling caliph.

In this time of year, the citadel, built atop a summit and surrounded by deep, forested ravines, has turned Kaleibar and the entire area into a major tourist attraction visited by thousands of people. There are three routes from Kaleibar to the citadel. The first one, zigzagging through the jungle, takes a day of walking. The second is used for the most part by the nomads, while the mountaineers and ordinary visitors prefer to take the third which includes a 500 stair ascent up the citadel.

The entrance to the citadel can be reached by passing through a stone corridor barely wide enough to allow just one person to walk through.

Over the ages, the citadel has sustained considerable damages; yet it has not lost majesty. Head of the Babak citadel restoration team Ali Reza Pashai believes the structure was constructed in the Sassanid era, referring to the architectural style used there.

The citadel which also known as Immortal castle, located near the 6km Iran-Armenia border, was initially a military fortress. After the Sassanid rule and in the early Islamic period, the citadel was used by a group called Javidanian who, espousing nationalistic principles, fought the Arab domination.

“So far no credible evidence has emerged, suggesting that Babak resided in the citadel; however, according to historians who have written about Babak’s stronghold, this place must be where Babak orchestrated his campaign against Arabs,” Pashai pointed out.

The structure is composed of two lower and upper parts. The lower part includes a room and a hall. The room was built by the archeologists for their stay. Standing on the lower part and connected to it by stairs is the upper part where military councils used to meet. “The citadel comprises several compounds, none of which has fully been explored. The main part lies at the center of the grounds,” Pashai remarked.

Iranians visiting the place each year to hail Babak as the symbol of Iranian resistance against foreign and dictator rules.

Pashai blamed the slow pace of restoration on prolonged winters and tough access to the place.


Babk Castle also known as the Immortal Castle or Republic Castle is an impressive and huge building built on the top of a mountain near the Kalibar city in north-western Iran. It was the stronghold of the Persan hero, Babak who fought the Arab invadors for over 23 years. The construction stems from the Sasanian or Parthian dynastic eras. It was the centre of the Iranian Khorramiyeh movement.







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