The magnificent unreachable Castle of Alamut was once the residence of a religion group that came to be known as The Assassins. To know this Castle, at first one should understand the religion they followed. The followers of Ismailia, a subsect of Shiite religion believed that after the death of Imam Jafar Sadegh, the sixth Shiite Imam, and since his firstborn son, Ismail, was already dead, the leadership of Shiites were transferred to Muhamad Ibn Ismail, his son and Imam Jafar’s grandson. They are also known as seven Imam Shiite.
The Assassins were known for their inaccessible Castles in different parts of Iran, which the most notable of them all was Alamut.
Hassan Sabah, the man that became the leader of Assassins, was from Ray, he got interested in the religion and went to Isfahan, Azerbaijan, Levant and Egypt to learn the ways of this religion. On return, he began advertising Ismaili and 10 years later chose Alamut as the basis for his followers. The Assassins were known for their inaccessible Castles in different parts of Iran, which the most notable of them all was Alamut.
The name Alamut is made from two words of “Alleh” and “Amut” both with Old Persian Roots meaning “Ughab Amukht” which means Eagle Learnt. The name comes from a local myth; in this tale, an Eagle showed the place of the Castle to the Hassan Sabah. He followed the Eagle and reached the place where the Castle was located. Although interesting, this is just a myth, since we know that Hassan bought the Castle for 3000 Dinars from one of the Daylamite rulers.
The Alamut Castle is part of the Qazvin Province and located in the North-East of Qasr Khan Village. The Castle is 200 m above the ground and surrounded by four steep valleys that make it inaccessible. Although the time of its construction is not definite, it is estimated to the third century after Islam, and made by the Daylamite, but it was Hassan Sabah that turned it into an undefeatable place.
The Castle had two main sections located in the West and East side, locals call them Joor Ghala or Ghala Bala which means the Higher Castle, and Pila Ghala or Ghala Bozorg which means the Bigger Castle. The entrance to the Castle was through a series of twisted stairs made in a way that were accessible for livestock as well. The Watch Towers, Warehouses, Water Reservoir, Residential Spaces, and Mosques are the main sections of the Castle. There is also a dome chamber that its function is not known, and archeologists assume it was used as an observatory. The Castle had a magnificent library as well that is known to have some of the most valuable books of the time. Many scientists used to live there; the Assassins Leader was a patron of art and science giving refuge to many scientists.
The Castle has been damaged heavily and nothing much is remained of the glorious place that was once a center of art, science and religion mostly because it was left unattended after its conquest. Today the Eastern wall of the Castle is the least damaged section of the place. Since many lived in the Castle, it was necessary to provide them with the basic needs of life, the most important of which was Water. There are two hand carved room in the mountain that one had water well that was always filled with water, there was also a pool that was filled with rain.
The Castle is very valuable for Iranian not for its architecture, not even for the people that inhabited it, but because it is the Symbol of strength and resistance. A place that stood against many attacks and survived.
When the Mongol Army attacked Iran, the Castle was the last place to be conquered. When Hulagu Khan, the Ruler of Mongol Army visited the Castle, he was surprised with the Castle and it took the army a long time to destroy it so it is not usable anymore. The only thing that survived the brutal attack was the books in the library that were taken out and moved to other places on the request of Ataolmolk Joveini, a renowned Iranian Scientist. However, the books that were written about Ismaili and their beliefs were burned with the rest of the Castle. The Castle is very valuable for Iranian not for its architecture, not even for the people that inhabited it, but because it is the Symbol of strength and resistance. A place that stood against many attacks and survived.