History had many conflicts that shattered empires and eradicated entire cultures. All this fighting has left many scars in historical consciousness and on the very soil where battles have been waged. We shall look at a few of these remains in the form of some legendary fortresses around the world.
Fortress of Babak
In northern Iran lie the ruins of a fort high on top of a mountain, called the fortress of Badd, or better known as Babak fort. Here a revolutionary made his last stand in 837. The man in question is the namesake Babak. He joined the Khurramite movement after the leader Jahidhan was impressed by his wits. This rendered Babak to succeed Javidhan as leader of the movement.
They fought, as many revolutionaries fight, for a better life after they had started being mistreated by the current governing power, the Abbasid Caliphate. They killed Abu Muslin, a general of the Abbasid Dynasty that helped the Abbasid Caliphate gain power, and this angered the people, sprouting many revolutions, including the Khurramite.
The fortress itself lies at an altitude of 2300-2600 metres above sea level and is surrounded by an area of 400-600 metres of chasms. It looks absolutely intimidating from a militaristic standpoint in the second century. The ruined wall can still be found and visited today if one has the strength to climb that high.
In the southern part of Rajasthan state of India, by the shores of Barach River, rises an imposing hill of 180 metres. On top of it, the structure and fortification of Chittorgarh fort mark the long plateau of 2.8 square kilometres. Natural water catchment is what maintains the many lakes dotted on the narrow plateau. Its bodies of water have greatly diminished over time but the ones still present add to its beauty. From an aerial view, it almost looks like a sharp wedge surrounded by low plains.
It is quite literally an ancient architectural marvel, with layers of constructions added over centuries. Legend surrounds this location, it is believed to have been built by a local clan called Mori Rajputs, or by Bhima, a legendary heroic figure in Indian folklore. The force of Bhima’s strike is what resulted in the water springing to the surface from an underground source.
Legends aside, Chittorgarh fort is enveloped in many historical accounts and events that wrap it in mystery and tragedy. In 1303 the current ruler, king Ratnasimha was besieged in his fortress home at Chittorgarh by Alauddin Khalji. The siege lasted for 8 months at the end of which the fortress was captured and 30 000 people were massacred. Even this historical event is shadowed by a legend, stating that Alauddin attacked the fort because he fell in love with Ratnasimha’s wife Rani Padmini. His love was unrequited, and Padmini threw herself into a pyre to escape capture along with the other women at Chittorgarh fort.
With so many intricately decorated architectural wonders, towers, temples and palaces, a place such as this inevitably had a rich history of tragedy, love, and death.
The fortress of Baba Vida
In Northern Bulgaria, on the banks of the Danube River, the Baba Vida fortress stands guard. It is a very important historical site in Bulgaria, as the area itself before the fortress was built, had been inhabited since antiquity.
Legend paints a more colourful story about the three daughters of a local boyar; they were Gamza, Kula, and Vida. The first two married and had husbands that squandered all their dowry, which prompted Vida to never marry and lived to old age at the now Baba Vida fortress, giving it its name “baba” meaning old lady.
Historically though, here lay the edge of the Roman Empire at a certain point in time, and they built observation posts. The actual construction of the fortress began in the 10th century on the back of the former roman establishments. It saw an 8-month-old siege by the Byzantine emperor Basil II leading to its destruction.
It exchanged hands from Romans to Byzantines, from the Shishman dynasty to the Hungarian crown to back in Shishman hands. Many have added to its construction and Strasimir of Shishman built internal towers.
After the Ottoman invasion that turned Bulgaria into a vassal state and took control of the fortress to use it as a warehouse for weapons and a prison.
Baba Vida hasn't been used defensively since the end of the 18th century, and preservation made it so that we may still see it now. It's not the biggest fortification in the world, but it did find itself at the crossroads of multiple feuds throughout the centuries.
Many more such remnants of historical echos still dwell in every country, and they tell very different but also the same story of conflict and death, of love and strife, that ultimately culminate in whatever remains today.