The Kurdistan Region’s historic Pasha Palace and Sherwana Castle
Located at the entrance of Kalar town near the Sirwan River, Sherwana Castle stands out as an impressive fortress and beautiful addition to the area’s scenery.
In the 18th century, Mohamed Pasha Jaff, a king and renowned Kurdish political figure, built the castle as his residence and for managing local tribes at the time.
It attracts thousands of tourists each year from around the world.
"We had to climb more than a hundred stairs to reach the base of the castle," Furqan Safa, a tourist from Baghdad, told Kurdistan 24. "Once you see the amazing view from the top, it is so relaxing and worth it."
Sherwana Castle consists of a basement, two floors, a large and open octagonal hall, and a small museum for excavated artifacts uncovered from the mound.
The historic building tells the history of the Kurdish people. Historians and archeologists agree that it was built during an important chapter of Kurdish history.
"Mahmoud Pasha was once an influential figure in Kurdish political history," said Hersh Ahmed, a local historian. "Because he was powerful and had a strong position, the Ottoman rulers feared his reign."
"This tells us that the Kurdish movement from this region had a great impact on the political map of that time."
At night, the castle is lit up by its colorful lights.
"The castle is prettier at night. When you see the lights from afar, you feel safe and happy," Safa said, describing it as "a marvelous piece of art."
In addition to its beautiful scenery, amazing height, view, and colorful windows, tourists can see a lot inside the castle. As Safa put it, "You don't know where to start once you are inside, and the museum has so many valuable things to offer, each item has a long story to tell."
The local people call Sherwana "Dli Garmiyan," which means "the Heart of Garmiyan." According to locals, most people immediately think of the castle when they hear the name of the town.
"We are proud of this castle as it has become a living symbol of our city, historically and politically," said Hemin Kareem, a local.
Kalar is a town in the southeast part of the Kurdistan Region, 152 kilometers south of Sulamani. To its east runs the Sirwan River (also known as Diyalah River). Iran's border is only 30 km away from the river's east.
Another historical landmark in Kalar is Pasha Palace, located in Tazade, 9 km northeast of Kalar, in between the Aksu and Sirwan Rivers.
Pasha Palace was also built by Mohamed Pasha, who was supreme chief of the Jaff tribe. Several parts of the palace have been destroyed. The remains include two floors. North of the palace sits a rectangular building used as a storehouse and a horse barn. On a high rise of land to its south, there is also a small building with a few rooms.
"Mohamed Pasha Palace confirms the strength and influence of the tribal chief," said Ahmed. "The palace was huge with many rooms. Although it is not as frequented by tourists as Sherwana Castle, it is still historically important."
According to the local historian, the Kurdish historians and archaeologists are now working with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to renovate the palace. They aim to restore it to its former glory for the tourists to see and appreciate the significance of this historical site.