The Castle of Bihistan in Northwest Iran

Document Type : Research Article


Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Otto-Friedrich-University; Bamberg, Germany.


Almost 12 kilometers to the east of Mahneshan city in Zanjan province, Northwest Iran, there is a collection of hoodoos with an average height of 250 meters nearby Bihistan village that can be seen from great distances. These hoodoos consist of some colossal columns which look like huge mushrooms nicknamed as “Jinni’s Chimney”. Several rock-cut spaces have been uniquely carved inside these sedimentary bedrocks on various levels and the whole site is known as the Qala (stronghold) among the locals. As a result of the occasional lack of documentation for certain phases of its construction and extension, different scholars of Iranian and Islamic architectural history have proposed different theories regarding its historic revolution, some of which seem contradictory. This study aims to determine more precisely the architectural development of this rock-cut site and to study its probable function besides suggesting a relative chronology for the architectural remains. 


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