(Persia Digest) – Chaleshtar Fort in Chaharmahal & Bakhtiari Province is a fusion of architectural styles from the Qajar era and European designs where stone pillars stand out in its façade.
The Fort is situated in Chaleshtar region, which was the Chaharmahal & Bakhtiari center of governance controlled by village sheriffs dominating the region. Following the appointment of Hossein Gholi Khan as ruler of the Bakhtiari Ilkhanate halfway through Nasser-e-Din Shah’s reign, the regional rulers were deposed to become landed gentlemen.
The Chaleshtar historic complex comprises a stone portal, seat of the Khan, an inner “andarouni” courtyard and building, baths, storage rooms, and stables. The seat of the khan has 38 stone columns, with a portal and ivan. The fort ornaments include legendary, mythic motifs, scenes of everyday life, flora and plants, flower pots, flowers and birds, runners, and angels.
These outstanding carvings are embossed in parts. The inner courtyard is connected to the seat of the khan with a corridor, and the ivan is ornamented with ten stone columns.
The interior design of the rooms at the fort are an amalgamation of Iranian and European styles of motifs and painting in what came to be known as the ‘London style of painting’ in Iran. The Qajar era is the pinnacle of this style, including patterns of flowers and pots, scenes from the love epic of ‘Leili va Majnoun’ in Persian literature, and Islamic patterns from the love epic of ‘Yousef va Zoleikha’, together with calligraphies of verses from the Quran.
Triangular shaped gable pediments placed above the horizontal structure of the entablatures, known as ‘Santouri architecture’ in Iran, are ornamented in milk and sugar style.
The baths are decorated with turquoise and lead white tiles. The framed ceilings of the inner ‘andarouni’ section of the Fort are of walnut wood, as are the doors and window frames with Girih knotworks.
The Fort has five ivans and five rooms in the andarouni inner section. The andarouni is known as the ‘Sotoudeh Fort’, and has a stone portal and eight pillars ornamented with carvings of vines and geometric shapes. Large stone statues of guards stand on both sides of the entrance. The stone plinths supporting the portals decorated with color designs are among the beautiful ornaments of this building.
The second storey of the Sotoudeh Fort has five rooms, or panj dari [five doors]. The rooms on either side are decorated with the London style interior design, verses from the Quran, scenes of Yusef va Zoleikha, stucco mantelpieces, and decorated ceilings.
Two elliptical stone ponds can be seen in the courtyards of both forts. The Sotoudeh Fort connects further to the Khoda Rahm Khan Fort with a corridor. The private baths of this complex are placed between the two buildings. The Anthropology Museum, the Museum of Stone Artifacts, and the Life and Work Museum are in this historic complex.
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Photos: Mahmoud Raeisi/IRNA