The title Ismaili(Hashashins) is derived from the name of Ismail, the eldest son of Imam Sadegh. They are Shiite people who, after the death of the sixth Imam, consider his brother Ismail as the seventh Imam instead of Imam Musa Kazem. Because they considered only seven Imams acceptable, they were also called “Sabia”. After a while, they were divided into two groups, those who believed in the Mahdism and the absence of Ismail and waited for his reappearance, and those who believed in the continuity of his generation and the Imamate of their children. The first group was called Qarmatians(then Hashashins) after their leader, and the second group was called Fatimids, who founded a dynasty in Egypt in their own name (297-567 AH), and later there was a dispute between them and were divided into smaller groups.
Qarmatians overcame many cities in Syria, Oman, Iraq, and Bahrain, killing and harassing people. In Iran and Transoxiana, due to the rise of the fanatical dynasties of Seljuk and Ghaznavids, they could not form a government like the Fatimids and only introduced their religion to the people.
Hassan Sabbah their famous leader started inviting the people of Iran to the Order of Assassins in 1080 AD and gathering supporters around him, then he conquered Alamut Castle and made it the center of residence and invitation of the people to the Hashashins. Then he captured impassable and mountainous castles all over Iran and settled there with a group of his companions who were known as Order of Assassins (Hashashins; because of their livelihood through the production and sale of medicine) and whenever a person or a group prevented them from working, including Religious leaders, kings and armies were killed by them.
Here are some of the important castles in which the Ismailis were present:
Alamut Castle – The Hashashins headquarter in Iran
Located in the northeast of “Gazer Khan” village of Alamut district of Qazvin, according to Hamdollah Mostofi, it was built at the beginning of 841 AD by Da’i al-Haq ibn Zayd al-Baqeri and later in 1090 AD it was captured by Hassan Sabbah, now known as Alamut or Hassan Castle. The materials used to build Alamut Castle are stone, plaster, and brick. This building consists of two parts of the upper castle (Jar Qaleh, Pilaqaleh, Qaleh Barz) and the eastern part of the lower castle (Jir Qaleh, Piyazqaleh), and its only entrance is on the north side. There is also a moat approximately 50 meters long on its eastern slope.
Above the main part of Alamut Castle, which was the throne of Hassan Sabah, the remains of several rooms whose roofs have collapsed can be seen. One of the wonders of this castle is the complex water supply system with water pipes with a diameter of ten centimeters, which delivered water from the “Kaldar” spring to the fortress and stored it in stone ponds. This has caused the resistance of the inhabitants of the castle during the siege. The name of Alamut; Alamut is divided into two parts “Alla” which is a local word in Mazani and Gilaki dialects meaning eagle and “Mut” is the second part of this word meaning learning. In fact, the name of this castle is “Eagle-learning or learned eagle” which goes back to this story that An eagle guided the location of this fort, which overlooks and dominates all the surrounding lands, and taught Hashashins leader its location. In some sources, this word is considered as a combination of Alla and Mut meaning “eagle’s nest” because of its height.
Lambsar Castle – The largest and strongest Order of Assassins castle
The largest and strongest Order of Assassins castle is located 3 km northeast of Razmian in Qazvin. The main building is attributed to pre-Islamic times and probably to the Sasanian era, it was rebuilt and developed after the conquest in 1096 AD. The castle has huge two-layer walls of stone, the main building with walls of carved stone in the northern part, and huge and amazing reservoirs of water and grain in the south and southeast of the fort.
Today, part of the fort and its water supply system is left and its design shows its military use and has not been the residence of ordinary people. The water of the Ismailis castle is supplied from “Nineh River” which is about two miles from the foundation. Lambsar Castle, along with Alamut and the Maymun-Diz, surrendered during the Mongol Hulagu Khan campaign.
This Hashashins castle is next to “Sepid Rud” in Tarom city on a hill dominating the surrounding plains, which was apparently built in the 11th century AD. The fort was also conquered by the Order of Assassins and remained under their rule for about two centuries; In some sources, the word Shemiran means Iranian candle. The general plan of this building is rectangular and it is made of carcass stone and gypsum mortar and a 15-meter high wall is built around it. In the northern part of this castle, two magnificent towers can be seen.
There are two reasons for the collapse of Lambsar Castle. The first reason is that it was destroyed by Hassan Sabah himself, which does not seem reasonable, and the second reason is that it was besieged in Hulagu Khan campaign. This Hashashins Castle was of political importance until Safavid era.
Gerdkuh Castle – The Ismailis in a circle mountain
Gerdkuh Castle is located 15 km from Damghan on the Tehran-Mashhad road, going north to the same road to Gerdkuh Castle. The name of this Hashashins fort is due to the fact that the mountain on which the castle is built is exactly in the shape of a dome, and both names refer to the shape of this mountain. The name of this building is mentioned in Ferdowsi’s poems and in the story of Goshtasb’s kingdom and Esfandiar’s expedition to Zabol.
The above building had special prosperity and prestige during the Ismailis era and part of their authority in Damghan and Semnan regions depended on it. Gerdkuh Castle was important until the Timurids era, and after that during the Safavid period, its name is no longer in history. The condition of the mountain is such that it is not possible to access it except from its eastern slope. Two belt fences can be seen around the fort.
The condition of the mountain is such that it is not possible to access it except its eastern slope. Two belt fences can be seen around the Gerdkuh Castle. Remains of large reservoirs are available like other Hashashins castles, the surface of the castle is oval and there are relics of various buildings such as reservoirs of rock architecture and the remains of numerous houses, water wells, baths, arches and small ponds for storing grain.
Kuh Qaen Castle or Artaguana Castle – The most mysterious Hashashins castle
Located in the city of Qaen in South Khorasan, on top of a mountain in the southeast and overlooking the city of Qaen at a distance of about two thousand meters from it. Some archaeologists have identified Kuh Qaen Castle with the fortress of the ancient kings of Iran and named Artaguana They have put it. Although the history of the Hashashins fort dates back to the Achaemenid period, today it is mostly considered an Order of Assassins Castle, and here is one of the important centers of power of this group.
This Hashashins castle with a length of more than five hundred meters and a width of less is divided into different centers for the settlement of warriors, a place of residence, a place of teaching and training, a place for keeping animals and loads, and wood limestone materials are used to build it. This building has been renovated and used many times over the years.