Being one of 20 castles in the Iranian Province of Zanjan, historical Behestan Castle or the ‘Demon’s Throne’ may be the most unique one. It is situated in the central ancient district of Mahneshan County in the city of Zanjan.
The uniqueness lies in the fact that the castle has been formed by digging hollow chambers into a 250-meter conglomerate mount instead of being built on top of it.
Dating back to the Achaemenid Empire (first Persian empire), Behestan Castle has been registered as a National Heritage Site.
Behestan was designed by the then governors to defend their realm and vassals against any probable attack. The upper levels of the castle were used for defense whereas the lower levels were used as storage depots for foods and necessary items.
The castle consists of three sections, including chambers, corridors and staircases. According to their usage, chambers were made in different sizes with triangle niches for tallow burners to lighten the rooms.
The southern wing of the castle has a stairway on the western and eastern side, which could no longer be used due to the widespread damage to the lower levels over time. A large reservoir was made to collect rain water at the highest point of the castle that has also survived.
One of the best preserved parts of Behestan, however, is the stairway on its northwestern side. It ends in a room with Islamic decorations similar to the Mihrab (prayer niche) seen on the walls of contemporary mosques. The upper level of the castle also has a sarooj-made stone pool.
The roaring nearby Qezelozan River has also brought glory to this timeless tourist attraction.
This nature- and man-made structure is just one of the many great attractions of the region. The castle is made of heavily compacted soil consisting of conglomerate rocks.
The sedimentary rocks in the area have formed many hoodoos through the weathering process, which has eroded the edges of the plateau.
The historical Behestan Castle is a must-see attraction if you love travelling to the past.