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Restoration of Fortress of Babak Khorramdin

to Continue


16 May 2004



  Babk Fortress (Click to enlarge)

The consolidation and restoration of the fortress of the great Persian warrior Babak Khorramdin, located in the mountains of Kaleybar in the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan, are to be completed in the upcoming restoration season.

The fortress, also called the Eternal Fortress, dates back to the time of the Parthian and Sasanid dynasties, also functioning as the seat of government of Babak Khorramdin who defied the invasion of the Arabs for long.

Seventy percent of the restoration has been completed during the previous seasons of work and the remaining thirty percent is expected to be completed in the upcoming one, scheduled to start on 21st of May, explained head of the restoration workshops of East Azarbaijan, Firooz Biroun Ara.

According to him, due to the drastic local weather conditions and the fortress' location on the high ground, the restoration work is difficult and expected to take some two years.

Registration of the architectural remains of the monument, restoration of the walls, and building guards for the safety of visitors around the prayer houses are just some parts of the project.

The fortress of Babak Khorramdin is a the unique heritage of East Azarbaijan, built on 2300-2600 meter heights, with valleys 400-600 meters deep all around. Just one narrow dusty road leads to the fortress, and to reach it one has to pass a temple which is in the from of a 200-meter hallway.


  The Persian Hero, Babak Khorramdin (The artist impression)

(Click to enlarge)

Babak Khorramdin and his Uprising:

Bābak Khorramdin (ca. 795/8, d. 838)  was one of the leaders of Khorram-Dinān (NPer. those of the joyous religion), which was a local freedom movement fighting the Abbasid Caliphate.


Babak was born in Balāl Ābād mear Qaradag, in North-western Iranian province of East-Azarbaijan close to the city of Ardabil (ancient Artavillā). After his father’s death in his early teen, he was given the responsibility of his two brothers and mother during a traditional Zoroastrian ceremony in a Zoroastrian fire-temple, which used to involve a glass of wine and wearing a purple ribbon. By the age of eighteen Babak had established himself in the city of Tabriz and was engaged in the arms trade and industry.


Later on, this engagement gave him the opportunity to travel to different Iranian regions including Caucasia, as well as Middle East and Eastern Europe and familiarised him with history, geography and language of the countries and peoples in these regions. During all these times.


In 755, Abu Muslim-e Khorassani, a renowned and popular Persian nationalist from Khorrāsān, was murdered. Although he had helped the Abbasids to defeat the former Caliphs, the Umayyad dynasty, the ruling Caliph had ordered to kill him, probably because of his increasing popularity among Iranians and Non-Muslims. Many Iranians who had expected more freedom and more rights from the new rulers could not believe that their hero was killed by the ruling Caliph whom they had considered a friend of Iran and Iranians.


This incidence lead to many revolts, most of all by angry Zoroastrians. This, in turn, forced the Caliphs to use more violence against the Iranian population in order to keep the eastern provinces under control. The constant revolts did not come to an end in the following decades, and the Zoroastrian population of the Caliphate was constantly being oppressed. Witnessing all these pressure being exerted to his people, Babak joined the "Khorramiyeh/Khorram-Dinān" movement in what later became known as Dež or Qal’a-ye Bābak (Babak Castle), in the mountains of Qaradag. His skills in the latest battle tactics accompanied by the knowledge of history and geography strengthened his position as a most favourite Iranian commander during the early wars against Arab invaders.


Babak was a highly spiritual and though not so educated, but respected and followed his Zoroastrian traditions and identity. He made every possible effort to establish reasonable political and cultural relationships with other Iranians and also with leaders such as Afshin and Māziyār to form a united front against the Arab invaders.


One of the most dramatic periods in the history of Persia was set under the Babak’s leadership between 816-837 CE. During these most crucial years, they fought not only fought against the Caliphate, but also against Arabic language and culture. Eventually, Babak, his wife and his warriors were forced to leave their command post under a very difficult situation after 23 years of constant campaigns. He was eventually betrayed by Afshin and was handed over to the Abbasid Caliph at Baghdad.


During Babak’s execution, the Caliph's henchmen first cut his legs and hands in order to convey the most devastating message to his followers. The legend says that Babak bravely rinsed his face with the drained blood pouring out of his cuts, thus depriving the Caliph and the rest of the Arab army the sight of his paled face, which was the result of heavy bleeding.




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