Today I want you to discover a different style of the art of creation, architecture; a different sense of beauty; and a different tourist destination in Iran.
Sitting in our time machine, I am really interested in feeling and smelling the differences of Iran’s different historical ages. So, let’s travel through time visiting Vali Castle in Ilam. It is a pretty memorial building that is shining on the hilltop of the Chega Mirak Hill. We are going to live for a while with the Qajar aesthetic sense, feel their life-style, and discover their thoughts about the art of architecture.
Fall in Love with a Qajar Model
Qajar dynasty period was a really different age in Iranian history. How?
First; I should remind you that aesthetic sense (the sense of beauty) of human beings is changeable. Yes, you got it, what is today considered beautiful might not be true for the entire history of human beings.
Second; I should inform you that during the Qajar dynasty governance the aesthetic sense of Iranian people was totally different. For example, a beautiful lady was not a slim, tall, blonde, and hairless one. But a quite fat and hairy lady was considered beautiful; a hirsute lady with mustache; the thicker the mustache hair, the more charming the lady. It is really interesting, isn’t it?
So let’s see what this different sense of beauty has done in beautiful Ilam. One of the Qajar dynasty memorial buildings is Vali Castle. You may fall in love with one of the ladies of the castle and decide to stay and live permanently at the castle.
The Overall View of the Vali Castle
The Vali Castle in Ilam has different parts such as harem-sara (seraglio), Shahneshin Part (alcove), Ayene Room (mirror room) and the underground jail. The castle yard is about 700 square meters. The yard is surrounded by the building construction from three sides.
The materials used in building the castle are stone, brick, plaster, tile, and wood. There are three doors at the eastern, western, and southern parts of the castle; the southern door was the main entrance and the others were for private use. You have to walk up 11 stairs in order to reach the guard room and then walk up another 8 stairs to get to the beautiful yard.
Overall, there are 20 big and 5 small rooms. It is interesting that every room has at least a way to access the next one. There are also four halls and two small terraces at the southern part of the Vali Castle. Using mirrors in ceiling (ayene-kari-e saghf) was a usual technique at those days and you can still enjoy the beauty of this technique in one of the western rooms.
The Wounded Castle
Almost half of the castle was ruined during the Iran-Iraq war. However, after the war ended, the castle was repaired by the Cultural Heritage Organization. It should be mentioned that the fewest changes have been made and the Vali Castle’s historical values have been preserved. Today, the castle has become a more interesting place, the Ilam’s Museum of Anthropology.
Ilam’s Museum of Anthropology
The first phase of the museum of anthropology was established in 2006. The museum consists of different parts to introduce culture, traditions, and different tribes and political and cultural personages of the province.
This museum is nowadays one the valuable professional museums of anthropology. Finally I should mention that different performances of Kurdish traditional music and handicrafts and souvenirs exhibitions are held in the Vali Castle during the Nowruz holidays.
Ilam is one of the Iranian western provinces where is famous for its good weather and fantastic nature; that is because of the Zagros Mountains. Everywhere in Ilam could be a proper place to have a picnic and enjoy the pure and pristine nature. We will talk about this beautiful city in other appropriate situations.