The plan was to take pictures in the early morning light. So I arrived at the Arg Karim Khan Zand at 7.40am the next day, only to be told that it opened at 8am.
The entry fee was 8,000 riyals (50p). The walls are impressive and the title ‘citadel’ seems apt. The courtyard after you enter is nothing to write home about, but the ceilings inside the buildings are interesting – albeit some are in a pretty sad state of repair – though there is some obvious repair work going on. A resulting problem is that now you can’t be sure whether something that looks nice was originally that way or is a modern rendition. Personally I find it more satisfying where some of the paintwork has been ‘renovated’, but some of the old stuff remains, so that you can see what it really used to look like as well as how it looked when it was first applied. The coffee room is very pleasant (attended by a very disinterested teenager) and sited in the old hamam (bathhouse), seems to have been ‘authentically’ renovated. An American couple were being shown around by a local guide and apart from that I saw only school kids.
Some of the rooms had a photographic exhibition showing Shiraz at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. One sticks in the memory, not least because I took a photo – it shows a criminal tied to a cannon – which will then be fired. That period was the end game for the Qajar dynasty and there are pictures showing the social and political changes taking place, people starting to wear western clothes and riding about in cars.
I found an architectural model showing the Arg in relation to other buildings nearby, which was useful for getting my bearings for the rest of the morning’s sightseeing.