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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Illustration Towers of the Citadel


As we approached the ruins we could not help being impressed by their grandeur. They were certainly the most imposing I had so far come across in Persia. The high walls and towers of the fort could be seen from a great distance, and for the benefit of my readers a photograph is reproduced in this book to show how the citadel of this great city appeared as one drew near it from the west. The photograph was taken half a mile away from the fortress.

We entered the citadel by a short incline on the northern side of the main fort and found ourselves in a huge court, the sides of which were much blocked towards the wall by sand drifts. Contrary to what has been stated by others, the citadel is not inhabited to-day, nor are there any signs of its having been inhabited probably for a great many years. There is nothing whatever to be seen in the centre of this yard, which is covered with accumulated sand far above its original level, and at the sides, too, of the court, where buildings would have very likely been, everything is smothered in sand up to a great height of the wall. In other places the wall has collapsed altogether.

[Illustration: Towers of the Citadel, Zaidan.]

Remains of small rooms high up near the top of the wall can be seen. The inside of the inner fort enclosed by the highest wall is quadrangular, and has ten towers round it, eight of which are still in wonderful

preservation considering their age. Those at the angles of the quadrangle had large, somewhat elongated, windows ending in a point cut into them in two tiers, as may be seen in the illustration. Curiously enough, while the windows were six feet in height, the doors were never more than five feet. There were rooms in all the towers, but all were extremely small. The largest averaged eight feet square. The walls of the towers were of mud bricks with layers of kiln-baked bricks, and were three to four feet deep and of very great strength.

As can be seen by the illustration, a fragment of an archway was to be found on the summit of the wall and there were often signs that a covered passage, such as may be found in other northern forts of this great city, must have been in existence when the place was in all its glory.

As one stood on the highest point of the wall and looked around one got a fair idea of the former immensity of the city. It evidently stretched from south-east to north, forming an obtuse angle at the citadel on which I stood. To the south-east of the fortress, where sheltered from the terrific north winds and from the sand drifts, the ruins were in better preservation and less covered with sand, which here indeed made quite a depression, while the northern aspect now displays a continuous mass of fine sand interrupted only by some of the higher buildings projecting above it.

One could distinguish quite plainly where the wall of the city continued for a long distance to the south-east with occasional towers, but this portion of the wall, as seen in the illustration facing page 208, is now in a sad state of decay and fast being covered with sand. The first three hundred yards of it, which are the best preserved, however, will show what a place of great strength Zaidan must have been. The towers appear to have been enormous, as shown by the base of the nearer one in the foreground of the photograph, and also by the second one, a portion of which still remained standing.


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