Qalah-e Dokhtar


Ardašir Khureh ("fame of Ardašir): Sasanian city in Persis, modern Firuzabad. Except for the city, there is a castle (discussed on this page), a palace, a large relief celebrating Ardašir's victories, and a small relief commemorating his investiture. 

Qalah-e Dokhtar

Qalah-e Dokhtar, from the valley

Today, the castle north of Firuzabad is called Qalah-e Dokhtar means "castle of the daughter", after a daughter of its builder, the Sasanian king Ardašir I (r. 224-241). However, the word dokhtar also expresses the wish that the construction remains pure and "intact" like a virgin (cf. the Pol-e Dokhtar, the "bridge of the daughter").

The court of Qalah-e Dokhtar

Qalah-e Dokhtar is built on a steep rock that is on three sides surrounded by a river. It contains barracks and a palace-like mansion. After climbing stairs in the southwest of the castle, near the river, one reaches a big gate with a staircase to the upper storey. To the west is a courtyard surrounded by rooms, and finally, in the eastern part of the castle, one reaches the representative rooms of the king, which consists of a large open hall (iwan) and a dome that has survived to the present day.

The general plan - gate, courtyard surrounded by rooms, iwan, dome - is also typical of Iranian mosques, which is not entirely coincidental, because from the eleventh century on, Iranian architects were looking for what may be called a "national" Iranian design. They certainly have been looking at ancient monumental places like Qalah-e Dokhtar and the royal palace of Ardašir's son Shapur in Bishapur, and it may very well be that we get an idea of what the castle of Ardašir I looked like in Antiquity when we study, for example, the medieval Friday Mosque of Yazd.