Category: vakil complex

Vakil Complex

Vakil Complex in Shiraz

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         After a long struggle for power, Karim Khan Zand settled permanently in Shiraz in the year 1765, founding the Zand dynasty

Vakil Complex in Shiraz

After a long struggle for power, Karim Khan Zand settled permanently in Shiraz in the year 1765, founding the Zand dynasty. Interestingly, he declined to assume the title of Shah, calling himself “Vakil al-Ra’āyā” (Deputy of Subjects) or “Vakil al-Khalayegh” (people’s deputy). As Vakil, he used to wear very simple clothes, putting on the tall Zand turban of yellow cashmere and sitting on a cheap, flat-weave rug (zilu) instead of a throne.

With the establishment of his power, Karim khan began building a new series of monuments in shiraz, what is today known as Vakil or Zandiyeh complex. The complex includes the Citadel of Karim Khan, Vakil Bazaar, a mosque and also a bath-house.

The good thing about Vakil Complex is that all these monuments are located closely to each other and you can visit all of them simply by walking. In addition, many other touristic sights are located in the vicinity of this complex and you have easy access to them.

In this article, we are you going to introduce each of these buildings briefly and since these are must-see attractions in Shiraz, we strongly recommend you to read it before visiting these precious monuments

Vakil-Bath

Vakil Bath

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Vakil Bath

Just located to the right of the Vakil Mosque, there is the Vakil Bath, built by Karim Khan as one of the largest traditional bath-houses in Iran.

The bath, mainly built of brick, gypsum mortar and stone, includes an entrance portal on its northern side, connecting the outer and the anteroom through a low door with a light slope. This technique used in many of traditional Iranian bathrooms is used to avoid the evasion of hot air from the bath.

The anteroom, adorned with arabesque designs, directs to a chamber used as the dressing room of the bath. This room, which is octagonal in shape, is decorated with eight monolithic stone columns. Furthermore, the walls of the bath are adorned with stucco molding in floral and geometric patterns. Also, a big pool is built in the middle of this room, with some empty spaces around which were used as shoe boxes.

A corridor where the latrines are situated connects the dressing room to what is in Persian architecture called Garm-khaneh or literally the heat house. The heat room enjoys a square plan with four rock columns, topped by a canopy of vaults. Hot water canals passed under the floor covered with stones. The dados are built out of green marble plates, imported from Tabriz. In addition, there are two deep niches with a large stone pool in front of them which were dedicated to the nobiles. The outstanding decorations of this part of Vakil Mosque are the plaster designs created in the Qajarid era (19th century) covering the Zand designs.

Also, the wax figures and a voice-over speaking in the sweet Shirazian accent represent and describe the different procedures of bathing in the Zand era. As it becomes clear little by little, the bathrooms were not only a place used for personal hygiene, but also a gathering place in which different ceremonies were held. A famous marriage ceremony, called ‘Henna Bandan’ in which the groom’s relatives put Henna on bride’s hands as a symbol of joy and fortune, is demonstrated in one the rooms of the Vakil Bath, using wax figures and playing the music played in this ceremony. So, by visiting the Vakil Bath, you will not only get familiar with one of the architectural gems of the Zand period in Iran, you will also get familiar with a number of Iranian cultural traditions. Therefore, make sure not to miss visiting the Vakil Mosque during your trip to Shiraz.

Vakil Mosque

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Vakil Mosque

            Another amazing attraction in Vakil Complex and Shiraz is Vakil Mosque. The harmonious architecture of the mosque and the sense of spirituality it implies are the two basic characteristics which turn this religious site into a cultural and touristic sight.

As part of Karim Khan’s plan to create a new center of town, Vakil mosque was built in the year 1773. The entrance of the mosque, reconstructed during the Qajar period (19th century), is adorned with tiled stalactites, calligraphy, stone friezes and beautiful tile-work which bear mostly pink floral patterns.

As you pass the wooden entrance gate, you will enter a vestibule which takes you to the courtyard of the mosque through a corridor with a 90-degree rotation in relation to the axis of the portal. This cozy rectangular courtyard includes a large rectangular pond in the center, providing the necessary water for the people who come to pray in the mosque. The Eastern and Western sides are covered with two corridors, decorated with arcades.

On the southern and northern sides of the mosque, there are two porches. The northern porch, also called the Pearl Arch, is flanked by two minarets and includes a high vault, decorated with colorful tiling and a beautiful inscription in tholth script representing some versus of the Holy Quran.

The southern porch of the Vakil Mosque leads to the main prayer hall of the mosque which is also the high-light of the mosque. The southern prayer hall of Vakil Mosque is decorated with 48 spiral pillars, in form of tree of life. This special atmosphere creates a spiritual environment where visitors can detach themselves from the ordeals of everyday life and immerse themselves in a universe beyond our material world. As a tip, we should say that you can also take very unique photos for your social media in this prayer hall and among its columns which create unique perspectives.

Another highlight of this prayer hall is its artistically designed mihrab or altar. The plinth on the left-side of the altar is carved out of a single block of a marble. Also, be sure not to ignore the tall, marvelous pulpit of the mosque, built out of green marble.

Vakil Bazaar

Vakil Bazaar

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Vakil Bazaar

            One of the highly attractive parts of Vakil Complex, in which every tourist and visitor can spend hours and hours without being bored, is no doubt the Vakil bazaar of Shiraz.

Inspired by the Safavid Bazaar of Lār, a city near Shiraz, Karim Khan ordered the construction of Vakil Bazaar. The completion of the bazaar took about four years, from 1770 to 1774.

The Vakil Bazaar, stretching from North to South, is composed of two perpendicular archways. The Northern and Southern parts of the bazaar, called rasteh, included eighty-two shops, while the Western and Eastern rastehs lodged twenty and thirty-eight shops respectively.

In addition to shops, Vakil Bazaar hosts several workshops, storerooms and caravansaries. The caravansaries in the eastern, western and northern sides of the bazaar are called Rowghani, Ahmadi, Qawami and Gomrok. There is another caravanserai built on the Western wing of bazaar known as Fil caravansary (elephant caravansary). Fil Caravanserai was built in 1766, mostly housing the offices of merchants active in the bazaar. Unfortunately, some parts of Qawami and Rowgani caravanserais, as well as eight arches of the bazaar, were demolished due to urban expansion undertaken during the Pahlavi I era.

Having been an international trade center, Vakil Bazaar now contains 180 shops, mostly selling spices, rugs, carpets, copper handicrafts and antiques. The highlight of the bazaar is the Qajarid Saray-e Moshir, built by Mirza Abolhassan Khan Moshirolmolk in the 19th century. Being located at the southern end of the bazaar, Saray-e Moshir is comprised of a large pool in the middle surrounded by four flower beds and also shops on its western and eastern sides.  Local souvenirs and handicrafts are being sold in this bazaar and caravanserai.