Iktyaruddin citadel, Old City (2016) by AKTC / Simon NorfolkThe Aga Khan Trust for Culture
As one of the most iconic landmarks in Herat, Qala Ikhtyaruddin is central to the turbulent history of the city and is an impressive example of surviving citadels in the region.
Believed to have been first established by Alexander the Great, the Qala has stood witness to the changing fortunes of successive empires before being laid waste by Genghis Khan in 1222.
The Stronghold of Herat
Herat was captured by Timur in 1381 and his son Shah Rukh transformed the Ikhtyaruddin citadel after 1415, when the fortifications were entirely rebuilt with fired bricks and new buildings were erected inside its walls to house the royal residences.
The citadel complex, divided into two main walled enclosures, extends over 250 meters in length. There are in total 18 brick towers set within the defensive perimeter walls that are in places two meters thick and rise to an average height of 16 meters over stone foundations.
Based on detailed surveys and an assessment of the state of the outer defensive walling, restoration works prioritized the stabilization of critical sections of the citadel deemed to be in high risk of collapse or further deterioration.
All the perimeter fortification walls and towers in the lower and upper citadel have been repaired and structurally stabilized, with large sections of parapets reconstructed to prevent future damage. Repair work on the Timurid tower, containing the only remaining section of color-glazed tile work, required the strengthening of existing buttresses and the construction of a protective stone-masonry breast wall at the base of the tower.
A Place for Culture
Improvements to visitor access and facilities and the restoration of existing structures, which have potential for adaptive reuse, ensured that the site could be used for appropriate cultural and educational activities in the future.
Reviving the Past
The conservation of Qala Ikhtyaruddin has been one of the largest preservation projects in Herat since the 1970s, offering an opportunity for the skills development of Afghan professionals and craftsmen and the creation of many jobs.
Leading by Example
In the context of increasing pressure for wholesale ‘redevelopment’ of the traditional fabric of the Old City, the restored citadel will serve as an example of the potential for adaptive reuse of public historic structures for cultural and educational activities.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) wishes to express its appreciation, first and foremost, to its staff and consultants for their tireless efforts and commitment towards preserving Afghanistan’s rich tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
In addition to resources provided directly by AKTC, the restoration of heritage sites shown in this exhibition were supported through financial contributions made by the Federal Republic of Germany, the Government of the United States and its Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.
This online exhibition was made possible through the efforts of Theresa zu Leiningen, Mohammad Baqir Yaqubi and Dr. Arash Boostani.