Report I: Geographic and Historical features of Old Fabric of Shiraz


The city of Shiraz is the capital of Fars Province and the largest city in the mountainous area of southern Iran, which is located at 53° and 37' eastern longitude and 29° and 57' northern latitude[1]. This city lies on a vast plain with 15 km width and 120 km length on the average. The slope of the plain is from west to east and on its western part there are numerous springs and aqua ducts to feed it. City of Shiraz is bounded on north to Marvdasht and Sepidan, on south to Firouzabad and Jahrom, on east to Neiriz and Estahban and on west to Kazeroon.[2]





















    The Map of Fars Province 


















There are many reasons denoting the historical record of Shiraz, such as:

- The plain of Shiraz, which has been located on a way from Persepolis and Marvdasht to Khouzestan. Considering the natural situation of the plain, it was residential; the fact which could be proved by observing the archeological excavations.

- In prehistoric period, during Achaemenians era and the other dynasties before the appearance of Islam, the only route connecting Susa and the other cities of Khouzestan to Persepolis and Passargad ought to pass the plain of Shiraz.

- The existence of ancient monuments such as Abounasr Palace in the eastern mountains of Shiraz, " Barme Delak" epigraphs, Chah Bandar Castle, and the discovery of ancient coins.

-  Clay tablets of Persepolis on which the name of Shiraz is written.

- The city of Shiraz has been mentioned in Ferdousi's Shah Nameh which is indicationg the existence of Shiraz in Sassanid era

The historical record of this city traces back to prehistoric times, Achaemenians and Sassanid era as well as other dynasties before the appearance of Islam. The existence of ancient monuments such as Abounasr Palace in eastern mountains of Shiraz,

and "Barm Delak" epigraphs, Chah Bandar Castle and the discovery of ancient coins are evidences for this claim.[3]

Ancient Shiraz, like other historical cities, had a castle and a residential part (Rabaz), the castle and stronghold of which had been constructed simultaneously. The stronghold was the part to provide security and peace for the residential part where was the dwelling of troops' families, also was a place to supply food for dwellers of the stronghold. This region had been near Abou Nasr Palace, which had been established by the side of Barm Delak Spring several centuries ago.[4]

Fohandezh, which at one time had been one of the largest and most magnificent strongholds in the Achaemenians era, had been established at Sa'adi Mountain.

In Sa'adi and Chehel Magham Mountains, an aqua duct had been established with a firm and steady foundation. It was a reservoir for residents of the stronghold, which had been called Sa'adi Canat (aqua duct). It is still one of the most water- filled aqua ducts around Shiraz.[5]

In the early days when the first people arrived in the plain of Shiraz and the Shirazi hill of "Eisha", they confronted numerous woods, cane fields and thickets, and a river which was flowing among them, across the plain. This river had been running almost all around the year, while during winter the water coming from fountains of Paskoohak, springs of the downstream lands of Gooyom, rapids coming from the heights of Ghalat and Shool Pass would intensify its flow. Indeed, the woods and thickets served as a barrier in order to prevent the water to engulf a vast expanse of the plain; clearly, a satiated plain would be green and lush throughout the year, therefore, it was called "the viable valley".[6]

Separating the river of the "viable valley" from the plain was not an easy task." The river, on none of its directions, not even its final moiety, had a narrow pass, the water had spread over the plain and stood still for several days".[7] (Map 1)





































(Map 1)

Thus, in the pre-Islamic era, the residential area of the city has been located from around a village called Abou Nasr Palace up to Sa'adi Mountain. Gradually, along with the drought period which has begun and resumed constantly from about 10,000-12,000 years ago in Iran Plateau, the population had rushed to the plain of Shiraz from foothills; and with the growth of population in each century, the frontiers of the city had extended to the south and west until now. Currently, the borders of the city is being extended toward the west of the plain of Shiraz.(Map 2)



























(Map 2)

The basis of the Islamic city was laid down in 653 A.C. by Omayyid rulers (620-711 A.C). During this period, the city included Darolemarah (Governor's office), several mosques and a bazaar. All parts of the city had been formed around the major route which was passing across the city (towards the city of Estakhr).[8]

Since that time until Saffarid era, due to the lack of historical documents indicating a substantial upheaval, it could be concluded that the city probably had undergone an ordinary development. When Saffarids had seized power (849-866 A.C.), the city had been developed roughly. They had constructed Atigh Friday Mosque, the first Friday mosque of the city, in 879 A.C. (Map 3).[9]

[1] Hosseini Fassaei," Nasseri Fars letter"

[1] Sami, Ali,"Shiraz , the Eternal City",  Shiraz, Navid publishing, 1984,
























Considering the physical structure of the city, during the early days of  the Arabs' dominance on Iran (Map 4), the Friday mosque had been located at the city center. However, it can be concluded that the Friday mosque (Atigh) had been located around the city center as well; and undoubtedly, it had been constructed at the site of a mosque belonging to the earlier period (to Omavvid era).

1-kiosk (Koushk)

2-Friday mosque

3-court (divan)



5-Sharestan bazaar


7-city center- the passage

8-Rabaz bazaar

9-the main city-rabaz

10-seasonal bazaar- beginning of development in the city

11-farm lands



City structure in first period of Islam













(Map 3)



















(Map 4)

Even today, this mosque is being considered as the fundamental historical nucleus of the city and it is under consideration as the most important factor in the formation and development of the Islamic city of Shiraz. (Map 5)






























The development of the city, which has begun during Saffarid era, had constantly continued until Al Bouyeh's command (899-1019 A.C.). The city has no fence up to then, when finally Azadeddoleh Deylami ordered a fence to be constructed around the city as a defense. Eight gateways linked the city with adjacent regions. The centrality of Shiraz encourages a large number of people from adjacent cities and districts to rush towards Shiraz which led to an increase in population. As a result more buildings and constructions had been made in a way that Shiraz expanded significantly in those days.[10]

Azedddoleh Deylami had constructed two palaces; apparently one has been built inside and the other outside the city. On vicinity of Shiraz, 3 kilometers far from the southern border of the city, he constructed a palace bearing his own name, "Kard Fana Khosrow".[11]

This building is the one built outside the city. In order to determine the place of the other palace, by considering the point mentioned about it that an aqua duct was passing through it, we could guess that this palace must be somewhere on the way of running water, which currently like old days, enters Ghasroddasht orchards from around Gooyom and thence enters the city and irrigates sarbagh, lab Ab and Bala Kaft quarters. Therefore, likely, the location of the mentioned palace was within one of the above quarters. ( Map 6)[12].

During the same period the city had eight gateways, which were: Estakhr, Shoushtar, Bande Astaneh, Ghassan, Selm, Kawar, Mandar and Fahandezh. Many of them are conforming with the gateways of succeeding and current eras, but we know nothing about gateways Bande Astaneh and Ghassan, though it is believed that they had been on the same places of gateways Mordestan and Beiza. [13]

Cemeteries and Ali ben Hamza and Ommol Kolsoum's shrines are other features indicating the extent of the city during that era.[14]

There is no accurate data on the status of the city until Etabakan era. It was during this  period (1193-1049 A.C.), the city had been reconstructed in 1046 A.C., and again a strong wall had been made around it, and the number of gateways raised to nine, including:

1. Estakhr, 2. Derak Mousa, 3. Beiza, 4. Kazeroun, 5.Selm, 6. Babnow,7. Dowlat, 9. Sa'adat

Comparing the nine gateways in the late Etabakan era with the 8 ones in the Daylamid era, it can be concluded that a gateway has bee added within several centuries. Likely it is the one which has been named as the new gateway. Among other gateways, several have faced a change in their name: Mandar has changed to Dowlat, ( due to its proximity to the tomb of Sheikh Dowlat, the crusader of Islam), Fohandezh  has changed to Sa'adat, Shushtar to Kazeroun, Kawar to Fassa.[15]

Shrines were constructed over the tombs of Ahmad bin Moussa and Mohammad bin Moussa (an Imam's sons), between which a beautiful small Bazaar was established, called " Sar Howze Agha bazaar" [16]( Map 7)

In the mid-eighth century A.H, the city fence had been repaired and some buildings were added to the city. [17] But it was during Safavid era (1489-1719 A.C.) that peace and calmness had been established throughout the country and the cities remained secure from plunderers' attacks.

In that period, the city has retained its wall and even a deep ditch has separated the wall from the suburb and orchards around the city.[18]

It was then that Shiraz resumed its development and became the second city of Iran after Isfahan. Safavid King's Mosque, which was converted into Vakil Mousque during Zand era; Safavid King's Square Complex, and Safavid Chahar Bagh (four gardens) Complex; no trace has remained of them. Several Madrassa (schools) among which the Khan Madrassa had existed until Safavid era, and now is considered as one of valued monuments in the historical fabric of the city (Map 8).

During Chardin's visit to Shiraz, the city had no fence and the old one was about to  destroy and nobody has the intention to repair it. But the gateways were so strong and has remained intact; they had been covered by steel sheets. Chardin has mentioned the number of gateways as being four during that time , that is, 1. Fassa, 2. Kazeroun, 3.Gousfand (Sheep), 4. Ahani (Isfahan) gateway.

It is noteworthy that in the pre-Safavid era, Shiraz had nine gateways, which names had been frequently mentioned in historical and geographical books and that Chardin has mentioned only four gateways does not prove the non-existence of the rest. Perhaps the destruction of other gateways and the fading of their portals were reasons for Chardin's ignorance. It is assumed that it was during this time that the names of four gateways have been changed, that is: Isfahan, Mordestan , Sa'adat and Darb Selm. Mordestan gateway or Derak Moussa (Hamdollah Mostoofi) has been changed to Bagh Shah on the occasion of the construction of a Safavid royal garden with the same name, Estakhr to Esfahan , Sa'adat which was previously known as Fohandezh or Gazorgah to Sa'adi, and Selm to Shah Daei.[19]

From the fall of Safavids and the Afghan's sedition until Karim Khan-e–Zand,'s dominion (1742-1788 A.C.), the city remained in a miserable condition with a constant ruination until the time Karim Khan had chosen it as his capital.

By determining Shiraz as the capital during Zand era, the urban fabric has rapidly extended towards north and northeast of Shiraz plain. Two newly established quarters (Mordestan and Darb Shahzadeh), are the results of this abrupt extension.[20] In addition to repairing and strengthening the wall and the castle, he decided to make a ditch around the wall. By reconstructing the fence, he had reduced its perimeter to some extent; as a result some parts of the city had been located outside the fence.[21]

Also, he had constructed many buildings, such as the state citadel, a bath, a mosque, a bazaar with an adjoining caravanserai.[22]

Of other measures taken by him were the reduction of quarters of Shiraz from 19 to 11 and the diminution of gateways to 6.[23]

The quarters were: 1. Shahzadeh quarter 2. Meydan Shah quarter 3. Bazaar morgh (Birds' Bazaar), 4. Eshagh Beig 5. Darb Masjed  6. Sar Dozak  7. Balakaft  8. Lab Ab  9. Jews' quarter, which was located among the three quarters of Maydan Shah, Darb Masjed and Bazaar Morgh (Birds' Bazaar)[24] (Map 9)



(Map 5)






























(Map 6)





























(Map 7)


































(Map 8)































(Map 9)

That relative peace took not long and Shiraz again saw bitter times and Agha Mohammad Khan Ghajar began his attacks in 1789-1924. In 1812 an earthquake damaged Shiraz significantly. A part of Karim Khan Zand Bazaar fell down, the strongholds of the city were destroyed and down poured into the channel, almost filling it. Also, during another earthquake in 1824, all houses were damaged and some of them fell down. The eastern part of the stronghold and almost all its towers fell down and the remainder of the stronghold was damaged as well. In spite of this, following those earthquakes, valuable buildings such as Nassirolmolk complex (Nassirolmolk  mosque,  Nassirolmolk house), Moshirolmolk complex ( Mosque, Hosseinieh), Ghavamolmolk (Ghavam sour orange garden, Zinatolmolk house) were constructed in that priod, which are still regarded as valuable monuments in the city. Thus, the formation of the texture continued up to late Qajar era almost without extension and fences and gateways remained unchanged. In addition to the six main gateways, four small gateways were established on the site of the old gateways which in fact were 10 in number. In the pre-Zandieh era they were

1. Esfahan gateway 2. Bagh Shah  3. Moshir on the site of old Beiza gateway  4. Kazeroun gateway  5. Shahzadeh Ghassem  6. Shah Daei  7. Gassab Khaneh 8. Abou Zar'e (old Dowlat gateway) 9. Sa'di 10. Teymouri gateway (between Sa'di gateway and Kazeroun gateway)[25]

The quarters did not retain their names in the Zandieh era.

In the first Pahlavi era, 1883-1936, sudden development and construction of streets like Zand St., led to a gap in the historical texture of the city and the limits of the city went beyond that of the fence then existing. (Map 10)

In the second Pahlavi era up to the present time, problems appeared in the urban development system such that with modern buildings in the limits of the new city, change in social texture, lack of attention to be paid by city officials for giving services and its consequences, the historical texture gradually lost its boom. What is certain about the center of the city is displacement of the central part during various historical periods with retaining continuity along an axis, always in south-north direction. As mentioned to above, its most southern part being the great mosque, the Zandieh complex, ending at new Vakil Bazar and Esfahan gateway. Since the great mosque, belonging to the Saffarid era, is among the oldest historical monuments of the city, one can say the initial core of the city, not only in the Islamic era and after it, but also today, is the same limits, located at southern part of Eshagh Beig quarter

(Map 10)

(north of Beinolharamain)(map 11).






































(Map 11)

1. Anvari, Zahra- Dadva, Bahareh," The economical, social and cultural profile of the city of Shiraz in 2000", The Management and Planning Organization of Fars Province" , page 11.

2. Pars Naghshe Jahan Consulting Engineers, A report on landscaping in the Zand complex in Shoiraz(the report of phase 1), 2002, The Cultural Heritage department of Fras Province, pages 20-34.

3.  A Report on the Detailed Plan of Shiraz (1.1.3),  Pars Naghshe Jahan Consulting Engineers, The Housing and Urban Development Head Department of Fars Province, 1992, page 6.

 [3] Sami, Ali,"Shiraz , the Eternal City" Shiraz, Navid Publishing, 1984, pp 22-24

[4]Javaheri, Parham and Mohsen,"A Solution for Water in history of Fars", Shiraz, National Water Museum of Iran, 2001, page 173

[5] Ibid, page 32

[6] Ibid, page 19

[7] Sami, Ali,"Shiraz , the eternal city" Shiraz, Navid publishing, 1984, pp 541-542



[10] Afsar Keramatollah. "History of old fabric of Shiraz", Tehran, Ghatreh Publication,  serial publication of National Masterpieces Association.,page 50

[11] Ibid, page 48

[12] Ibid, page 55

[13] Ibid,page 50

[14] Ibid,page 50

[15] Ibid,page 77

[16] Ibid,page 77-81

[17] Ebn Balkhi, Fars Nameh Nasseri, corrected and annotated by Dr. Mansour Fasaei, Fars Shenasi Organization Publication, 1995

[18] Afsar, Keramatollah, Ibid, page 50.

[19] Keramatollah, Ibid, page 152-154 Chardin Travels excerpt from Afsar ,

[20] Rassoli, Houshang, historical, cultural and natural attractions of Shiraz, National Works Association Publication, Tehran, 1974, page.212

[21] Rajaei, Gholamali, " Iran and Karimkhan", Zarih Publication, pages 231-232

[22] Afsar, Keramatollah, Ibid

[23] Rajaei, Gholamali. Ibid

[25] Afsar, Keramatollah, Ibid, pp 274-276.

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