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Located about 350 km north of Shiraz, Izadkhast (signifying, as explained by old writers, “God willed it”) is one of the most curious sites in Fars. The road approaching it, after passing in a long straight line through a flat desert, suddenly plunges into a narrow, verdant valley, or rather a deep trench cut down without the slightest warning into the middle of the plain. One is almost on the brink of the trough before becoming aware of its existence. Right in the middle of this strange ditch, once the old boundary between Fars and Esfahan, is a long, isolated hump of rock, standing apart from abrupt cliffs on either side, which forms a sort of a canyon with a river flowing at the bottom. At the top of this rock, tiers of cottages have been built. Most of the dwellings are made of mud, while some are burrowed into the living rock. The entire settlement looks most insecure, but in the old raiding days, it afforded an impregnable refuge for its inhabitants. Towers and ramparts were built around the cliff to provide it with an additional line of defense.

Izadkhast castle

Entrance to the village was gained at one spot only - on the southwest side by a wooden bridge leading to a single doorway pierced in the rock. When this bridge was removed or destroyed, the place was inaccessible. The main street was more like a tunnel than a road, inasmuch as the greater part of it was so completely built over as to form a veritable subterranean alley. Small, vaulted passages diverged from this, and flights of steps led up to the higher cottages, which had rude projecting balconies with wooden palings on the outside. Although dilapidated or in ruins, the square houses - looking like the honeycombs in a beehive - still make an impressive sight.

8000 years of history in Fars Province

Among the most conspicuous buildings in Izadkhast is a four-arched Sasanid building, converted into a mosque at the beginning of the 15th century, and a bath, also dating from the Sasanid period. The bath has a rectangular anteroom and the main area. Along the longer walls of this, the reservoirs for hot water were placed, while the pools along the shorter walls were used for bathing. On each side of the anteroom was carved a deep recess whose floor level rose a little above the floor of the room. The ceiling of the anteroom was supported by four octagonal stone pillars. In the middle of the room was a small pool. Both structures were built of perishable mud-brick, and large sections of them have crumbled away. Izadkhast is remembered in history as the site where the wanton cruelty of Zeki Khan, halfbrother of Karim Khan Zand and the Governor-general of Fars, was most prominently displayed. Zeki Khan stopped in the village in 1779 while marching northwards against Ali Morad Khan.

Safavid period Carevanserai

Because the villagers declined to satisfy his merciless cupidity, he gathered them at the spot where the rock narrows toward the eastern end and ordered them to be hurled down, one after the other. Historians report that eighteen persons had already perished when as the nineteenth victim the monster selected a Seyed and commanded that the man's wife and daughter at the same time be delivered to the soldiery. This sacrilege proved too much even for the tolerance of Zeki Khan's own attendants. That night they cut the ropes of his tent, which collapsed upon him. The villagers rushed in and punished the brute by stabbing him to death.
From the top of the cliff, there is a magnificent view of the Safavid caravanserai and bridge below, as well as of the jagged, pinkish mountains that surround the site.
At a relatively short distance from the village, a dam was built of stone and mortar during the Sasanid period. Its span is broken today, and because of the construction of a modern dam above the river, it is completely covered with water for most of the year. Some claim that it is the world's first arch dam.

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  • Izadkhast_Castle_photo
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