season on sultans
Photo essay: Zell-e
By Abbas Soltani
November 15, 2003
to supply you with a fresh batch of photos I took in Iran last
June. These are remains
Sultan's fortress in Ghamishlou which is a mountainous region
about 60 kms outside of Isfahan.
As you may already know, Zell-e
Sultan was Naseredin Shah's son and governor of Isfahan and
had expected to take over the throne from his father. He built
the fortress where he would spend his time hunting
ibex, deer, gazelle and mouflons. The fortress
was handed down to his siblings. The last
persons I know of would have been Sarem-e Doleh and his
sons. After 1980, they all fled the country and went to Europe.
So, why my interest in the fortress? My great-grandfather
was the "kelid dar" or custodian of the fortress and
this task was taken up by my grandfather after his death. My
passed away a few years after the revolution but my family (on
my mother's side) continued to live in the fortress. My parents'
wedding was at the fortress. I have a lot of childhood memories
and it had been my dream to go back and visit where I had played
as a child with my cousins.
Immediately after the revolution, the fortress
was raided and much of the antiques taken
away. Items considered morally corrupt and symbols of royalty
were destroyed. In about 1990, the Ghamishlou was confiscated
by Pasdaran revolutionary guards and the last members of my family
were forced out. The fortress
was turned into a base camp where new recruits and volunteers
During this time a lot of damage was inflicted
and the fortress fell on hard times. Later on,
it was partially renovated and repaired for the filming of Shir-e
Sangi (The Stone Lion). After filming was over,
treasure hunters set upon the fortress and using metal detectors
it beyond repair, unless someone is willing to spend a lot
of money to fix it. I am not sure if they ever managed to find
Finally, the fortress was given the Wildlife Preservation
Society and they use parts of it as
their offices from where they guarded the region against
poachers. I was in contact with the wildlife officials and they
were kind enough to take me there for a tour of the fortress.
they took me for a ride in the area where
I saw wild herds, including ibex, gazelle and mouflouns.
I was very impressed by
their numbers and was told that at peak seasons, you can
find herds of up to 700 animals. I took a number of photos
not very good as it was mating season and they were very
camera shy and my lenses were not that strong.
I am not going to bother with captions on the
photos as they speak volumes but it is easy to imagine what the
would have been like at its peak >>> See photos
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