Karim Khan Citadel is a royal fort that used to house one of the most popular kings of Zand Era, Karim Khan. The citadel was made in 18th century and is located in the Northeast of Shiraz, Fars Province. The masters of different arts and crafts were summoned to court to make the citadel using the best materials possible. The materials that some were imported from other cities and countries.
The Karim Khan Square has three sections. First, the political section where the pavilion and court were located. Second, the economic section where the bazaar was located. Third, the military section where the soldiers lived and practiced military related crafts. In this square, the citadel, as the residence of the king and his throne, was the heart of the city. In its making the military purpose and the residential purpose of the place was considered and it was designed in a way to be suitable for both functions. The outer curtain has high walls with holes in different size, used by the archers and shooters. The Hashti of the place, the octagonal room that is made immediately after the entrance, has a door that opens to the stable, a door that lead to the roof, and a door that leads to the inside of the citadel. There are some stands in the Hashti that were used for sitting while visitors waited to enter the place.
There are four small yard under watchtowers that were used by the service staffs except one that was connected to the Hashti and was used for the goods. The watchtowers had three floors and open to the mentioned yards. The stairs that start from the yard lead to the second floor and then third floor so there is no connecting way from the first to the second floor. One of these yards is the way of reaching the bathhouse, the difficulty of accessing this publicly used place made the constructors to add a door that is directly connected to the citadel’s main yard. This bathhouse, like all other traditional bathhouses of Iran has different sections such as Sarbineh, Garmkhaneh, and Khazineh.
Karim Khan Citadel is a square shaped fort with a 15 m watchtower on each corner of it. Between the Northern, Southern, and Western side of the place there is a vast iwan and two rooms known as Sedari. Each of the mentioned iwans have two stone pillars about 8-9 m tall and following the tradition of Zand architecture, face a small and shallow pool. On Eastern side of the citadel, the main gate is placed. Above the gate there is a scene of Shah Nameh, from the section that Rostam is fighting Diveh Sefid (White Demon). King’s private bathhouse and Guard’s Section is made behind this wall. The decorations of interior include frames, marble dados from Yazd and Tabriz, huge Mirrors from Russia, Turkey and Europe. The paintings of the rooms were done with gold, lapis lazuli, and natural colors adorning arabesque and floral patterns.
When Zand Dynasty was overruled and Qajars took the throne, the citadel was given to the local ruler of Fars Province that was assigned by the Qajar King. The first Qajar king detested the Zand ruler drastically, his followers wanting the king’s favor imitated this hatred. As a result, many Zand constructs were damaged, this citadel wasn’t an exception as well, nearly all tiles and paintings of the place were axed covered with a layer of stucco where new paintings were made over them. Later, a section of the Zand decorations was extracted to be displayed for the visitors.
For a time, in Pahlavi’s Era, the citadel was used as a prison, for this function the whole interior was covered with a layer of stucco hiding both the Qajar and the Zand paintings. The halls and massive chambers were divided and turned into cells. In 1971, the citadel was given to the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran that restored and reconstructed the citadel. The restoration team did their best to keep the authenticity of the place and reduce the applied changes. After the restorations were over, the citadel was registered as a National Heritage.