Shirin (?? - 628)

She was the Christian wife of the Persian Shah, Khosraw II.

In the revolution after the death of Khosraw's father Hormizd IV the General Bahram Chobin took power over the Persian empire. Shirin with Khosraw fled to Syria where they lived under the protection of Byzantine Emperor Maurice.

In 591 Khosraw returned to Persia to take control of the empire and Shirin was made Queen.

She used her new influence to support the Christian minority in Iran, but the political situation demanded that she do so discreetly. Initially she belonged to the Church of the East, the so-named Nestorians, but later she joined the monophysitic western-Syrian church.

After conquering Jerusalem in 614, the Persians supposedly captured the cross of Jesus and brought it to their capital Ctesiphon, where Shirin took the cross in her palace.

After the fall of Khosraw , Firdausi remembered Shirin in his epic, the Shahnama.

Around 1180 the Persian poet Nezami wrote of her alleged love for the master builder Farhad in his epic Chosroes and Shirin.

This story grew to be a myth with Shirin and Farhad being symbols of pure, unrequited love.

The long standing myth spread to Turkish, and Indian literature, living on even as far as Europe with Goethe’s West-oestlicher Divan.

Shirin is also mentioned in Shahrazad's Arabian Nights on the 390th night with the story of Khosraw and Shirin with a fisherman.




Khosraw at Shirin's palace, from a Khamsah by Nezami. Turkoman, Tabriz, late 15th century

The palace of Imaret-i Khosraw at Kasr-i Shirin, built in the time of Khosraw II (591-628 CE), is a gigantically extended complex of an iwan-shaped entrance hall, a square domed hall, side rooms and courts, as well as surrounding living quarters. The structure measured 250 metres in length and 190 metres in width, and rose on an artificial terrace 8 metres in height, in front of which extended a narrow water channel about 550 metres in length.