Fortress (Click to enlarge)
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
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
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
Persian Hero, Babak Khorramdin (The artist
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
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.