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Qasr-e Shirin, also called in Kurdish: Qesirî Şîrîn is a city and capital of Qasr-e Shirin County, Kermanshah Province, Iran. The name of this city literally means Castle of Shirin in Persian. Shirin (meaning beauty/sweet) is the name of the wife of Khosrau II, king of the Sasanian Empire.
City of Qasr-e Shirin was a metropolitan during Sassanid dynastic era with over than 2000 years of history that was mostly famous as a love city of Khosrow II who was the 22nd king of this era. King Khosrow built a castle for his lifelong beloved Shirin.
The folklore says, Shirin was the daughter of Queen of Armenia who fell in love with Sassanid king. Shirin followed her love Khosrow and settled in this castle that was named Ghasr-e Shirin, before sending a messenger to the King in Ctesiphon informing him of her move.
The king decided to build a palace for his beloved Shirin and named the city as well city of Shirin Castle. The story of this love has become the most famous classical poem in Kurdish and Persian literature, and the great Persian poet Nizami has created his epic tragedies Khosrow & Shirin and Shirin-o-Farhad (Shirin and Farhad), based on the two different versions of love, one characterized by happiness, glory and power, and the other one by sadness, struggle, and purity.
The rivalry between the powerful king who was victorious in his wars with the Byzantine empire and Farhad a master stone carver, who carved the palace of Shirin on the hard rocks of Mount Bistun and fell in love with the queen provides a pretext for Nizami to explore various psychological, spiritual, and philosophical aspects of the human tragedy.
The ruins of the castle were further damaged as a result of the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988) that turned the area into an active battlefield. The city was occupied during eight years of war between the two countries. When Iraqi Army withdrew from the city they made sure that not a single wall stood before they left the town.
In June 2006, archaeological excavations in Shirin’s castle resulted in the discovery of the dais of the castle which was used as the seat of the king.
The city is located near the international border between Iran and Iraq, Khosravi border terminal. The famed Silk Road passes through Ghasr-e Shirin, connecting the highlands of the Iranian Plateau through a natural opening in the Zagros mountain chain with the lowland Mesopotamia and whence, the Levant and the Mediterranean basin. Being at the foothills of Zagros has made the city an important trade connection.
Alexander the Great made his way through the same road to invade Persia in 331 BC. The waves of Arab Muslim armies advanced into the Iranian Plateau after the Battle of Jalulavia Ghasr-e Shirin. The destructive invaders, the Mongols, passed through the city in 1258 on their way to destroy Baghdad and the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate. Ghasr-e Shirin has been the center of the house of the Kurdish tribe of Bajalan.
The city served as the host to the Ottoman and Iranian delegates in 1639, signing the Treaty of Zohab (rather, the Armistice of Zohab) that ended the 120 Years’ War between the two warring Islamic empires. The treaty fixed the border between the Ottoman and Persian empires which more or less lasts to the present day. The Treaty of Zohab left Ghasr-e Shirin in Persia/Iran but allocated the neighboring town of Khanaqin to the Ottomans, and thence Iraq.
As travel consultants, we would highly recommend to take a guided tour of Kermanshah for a few day in order to get acquainted with local culture and 2000 years of history.