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Alamut Castle (kalesi) of Assassins

Alamut Castle (kalesi) is a historical castle in Qazvin Province in Iran. A castle that owes its fame to two things; first, its occupants and second its strategic geographical location. Alamut can be considered as the most famous Iranian castle with global recognition, and in describing it history and legends intertwine. Alamut Castle has been referred to several times in the Classical European Literature.

To get to Alamut, one should go from Tehran to Qazvin. On the way to Qazvin Province, the entry to the Alamut Road could be sighted. From this point on, you are moving in an area where military commanders yearned to win their battles throughout centuries. The name Alamut originates from the term “Eagle’s Nest” in the native language. The location of this historical castle is surrounded with valleys from the 4 sides and this very fact has turned it into the legend of indomitability. The Alamut Castle’s building dates back to the local government of Alavian (around the year 900) in Tabaristan region (which includes Mazandaran and parts of Gilan and Qazvin Provinces).

It has been said that one of the Alavi Government’s leaders who was a Zaydi Shia, found a strategic location by his pet eagle and ordered a military castle to be built at that location. But this castle did not remain in the Alavi Government’s control. Hassan-i Sabbah , a classmate to Khaje Nizam al-Mulk who was a prominent minister in the Seljuk Government (approximately 10 centuries after Christ’s birth), used this relationship to get into the Seljuk court. In fact, it can be argued that Khaje Nizam al-Mulk used the leverage he had in the government to get his childhood friend a job in the court. Hassan was a religious man but also very power hungry. He was a follower of Ismailia (a Shiite sect) and after a quick rise to power in Qazvin and overtaking Alamut Castle, he could rise against the Seljuqi Government. Still to this day, locals know Alamut Castle as the Hassan’s Castle.

Hassan-i Sabbah built a strong fortress from this military castle and gathered his supporter there. On his order, political and religious oppositions were taken out. Hassan-i Sabbah’s opponents believed that the courage and cruelty of his advocates were due to the use of a narcotic drug by the name of Hashish (hemp), and that people in a normal mental state could not do such terrorizing acts. This is why Hassan-i Sabbah’s advocates became known as The Hashashins. They were skilled rangers and cruel assassins who used strange methods in killing their adversaries. The name Hashashin reached the West through tourists and for centuries the word Assassin which is a transformed version of Hashashin was associated with terrorism in Europe. Currently, the famous video game The Assassin’s Creed is designed and based on this group’s name and the Alamut Castle.

Finally, Hulagu Khan led the Mongolians to invade Persia and they conquered and burned Alamut Castle down. After that, during the Safavid era there were attempts to rebuild this castle. In the Qajar Period, treasure hunters damaged this vast historical castle’s building so much that it led to its destruction.

Alamut Castle has been registered as a national historical site since February 2003. This mountain castle has a beautiful view of the nearby valleys and this is why along with history enthusiasts a lot of nature lovers go to Alamut region as well. Near Alamut Castle, there is the Ovan Lake which is another natural tourist attraction around Alamut in Qazvin province. Alamut is located at the borders of Mazandaran, Gilan and Qazvin Provinces and the Tehran-Qazvin Highway has made it more accessible than ever.


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8/16/2017 6:40:48 PM

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