Last Updated on February 17, 2022 by Kurdish Heritage
About this monument
ISHAK PASHA PALACE is an important semi-ruined historic site located just outside the city of Bazîd in Northern Kurdistan (Eastern Turkey).
Ishak Pasha Palace is not just a palace; it is rather a complex with multiple purposes, including a defensive function.
This is one of the most significant standing architectural monument of Kurds. The palace was built over a period of 99 years (1685-1784) by a Kurdish Besyan family dynasty/tribe of Beyazıd Sanjak.
The palace complex was the site of multiple wars between the Ottoman and Russian Empires. The Russians looted many artworks from the palace, including the gold-plated harem gates and the entirety of its extensive library. The Turks destroyed Old Bazîd after the Kurdish Ararat Uprising of 1930.
The palace pioneered the world’s first central heating system.
There are 366 rooms, multiple richly decorated massive gates, a large courtyard, dungeons, ammunition and pantry rooms, a bakery, multiple heated baths and kitchens, a dedicated mosque with excellent detailing, multiple ceremonial halls, guard rooms, a harem section, interior arched gates, and a mausoleum.
The Kurdish ruler once held Napoleon’s advisor captive in the dungeons for 4 months.
The palace is located on top of a mountain overlooking Bazîd. Mount Ararat, Kurdistan’s highest peak and the former center of the Kurdish Ararat Republic, can be seen in the distance.
The palace is surrounded by other important historical monuments, such as a 3,000 year old Urartu Castle, an ancient cemetery, and the tomb of Kurdish polymath and poet Ehmedê Xanî.
Ishak Pasha Palace is on UNESCO’s Tentative List and meets the following selection criteria:
(i), (iii), and (iv).
To be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, historic or natural sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage.
UNESCO criteria can be cultural and/or natural; the first six criteria are cultural and applicable to historic sites such as architectural structures and archaeological sites. The last four criteria are applicable to natural sites, such as national parks. Sites that meet both cultural and natural criteria are called “mixed sites”, for example ancient rock paintings.
Before a historic or natural site is inscribed on UNESCO’s permanent list, it has to be included on a State Party’s Tentative List. State Parties will submit a historic or natural site for nomination and justify the site’s “outstanding universal value” based on the criteria they believe the site meets. Often times, they will compare the to-be-nominated site to sites already inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A site has to be successfully tentatively listed before it can be inscribed on UNESCO’s (permanent) World Heritage List.
On Kurdish-Heritage.org, we list all the criteria a heritage site in Kurdistan or a Kurd-related heritage site outside of Kurdistan meets. We have added these criteria and UNESCO’s official (brief) explanation to the tabs on this page to make understanding and navigating between them a little bit easier.
to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
Kurdistan is a geo-cultural region wherein the Kurdish people have historically formed a prominent majority population, and where Kurdish culture, language, and identity have historically been based. Contemporary use of “Kurdistan” refers to parts of Eastern- and South-Eastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), Northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), North-Western Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and Northern Syria (Western Kurdistan) inhabited mainly by Kurds.
The Kurds have greatly shaped Middle-Eastern and European history, politics, and culture and have at times ruled over vast parts of the Middle-East, such as during the Kurdish Ayyubid Dynasty, immortalized in European and Middle-Eastern consciousness by its founder Sultan Saladin (Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub al-Kurdi / Selahedînê Eyûbî).
Because of Kurdish migrations, Kurd-related heritage, including many UNESCO-listed monuments, can be found outside of the historic Kurdish homeland, in particular in Egypt and the Levant Region, where the Kurds built many defensive fortifications in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Currently, there are two autonomous Kurdish regions in the Middle-East. One is located in Northern Iraq and has full international recognition as an autonomous region. In fact, often being treated as a separate state altogether. This autonomous region is known by several names, including: “The Kurdistan Regional Government”, “The Kurdistan Region”, “Southern Kurdistan”, “Iraqi Kurdistan”, and “the KRG”. The other autonomous Kurdish region is younger and located in Northern Syria. This autonomous region is commonly known as Rojava, but also as Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
This map is an estimation of UNESCO inscribed, tentatively listed, and eligible monuments within Kurdistan and of Kurd-related monuments outside of the historic Kurdish homeland. UNESCO monuments that are located within Kurdistan are not persé related to Kurds; Kurdistan is “the cradle of civilization”, and as such, many civilizations have left their marks there.
As of 19 September 2021;
there are 25 tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 11 permanent UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the borders of Kurdistan. In addition, two (2) cities are listed within UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Furthermore, there are nine (9) Kurd-related tentative and eight (8) Kurd-related permanent UNESCO World Heritage Sites outside of Kurdistan (elsewhere in the Middle-East). In total: 34 tentative and 20 permanent UNESCO World Heritage Sites, plus two (2) cities, putting the total at 56. This does not include a vast sea of historic and natural sites that are eligible for UNESCO-inscription.
|Ishaq Pasha Palace
|Name (KURDISH: Kurmancî)
|Qesra Ishaq Pasa
|Name (KURDISH: Soranî)
|کاخی ئیسحاق پاشا
|Place Name (KURDISH: Kurmancî)
|Place Name (KURDISH: Soranî)
|Date of Monument
|1685 - 1785
|Northern Kurdistan (Bakurê Kurdistanê)
|Agri / Agirî
|UNESCO World Heritage Sites
|Tentative World Heritage Site
|Houses, Mansions and Palaces
|Dynasty / Period
|Dynasty / Period
|Besyan Family Dynasty / Tribe
|i (cultural), iii (cultural), iv (cultural)
|Date of Tentative Listing
|Last Kurdish-Heritage.org Update
|Bibliography, Links & Further Reading
|flickr | Qesra Îshaq Paşa / Ishak Pasha Palace
|UNESCO.org Listing Page
|UNESCO.org | Ishak Pasha Palace