Ghal’eh Dokhtar” or the Maiden’s Castle

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Ghal’eh Dokhtar” or the Maiden’s Castle
It is a castle made by Ardeshir I, in present Day Fars, Iran, in 209 AD. It is located on a mountain slope near the Firouzabad-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 Gur nearby the castle in Firouzabad, 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 and 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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