The Lahore Fort (Punjabi and Urdu: شاہی قلعہ, romanized: Shāhī Qilā, lit. ’Royal Fort’) is a citadel in the city of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. The fortress is located at the northern end of walled city Lahore and spreads over an area greater than 20 hectares. It contains 21 notable monuments, some of which date to the era of Emperor Akbar. The Lahore Fort is notable for having been almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire was at the height of its splendour and opulence.
Though the site of the Lahore Fort has been inhabited for millennia, the first record of a fortified structure at the site was regarding an 11th-century mud-brick fort. The foundations of the modern Lahore Fort date to 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar, who bestowed the fort with a syncretic architectural style that featured both Islamic and Hindu motifs. Additions from the Shah Jahan period are characterized by luxurious marble with inlaid Persian floral designs, while the fort’s grand and iconic Alamgiri Gate was constructed by the last of the great Mughal Emperors, Aurangzeb, and faces the renowned Badshahi Mosque.
After the fall of the Mughal Empire, Lahore Fort was used as the residence of Emperor Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire. The fort then passed to the control of the East India Company after they annexed Punjab following their victory over the Sikhs at the Battle of Gujrat in February 1849. In 1981, the fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “outstanding repertoire” of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.
The fort is located in the northern part of Lahore’s old walled city. The fort’s Alamgiri gate is part of an ensemble of buildings, which along with the Badshahi Mosque, Roshnai Gate, and Samadhi of Ranjit Singh, form a quadrangle around the Hazuri Bagh. The Minar-e-Pakistan and Iqbal Park are adjacent to the northern boundary of the fort.
The first historical reference to a fort at the site is from the 11th century during the rule of Mahmud of Ghaznavi (محمود غزنوی). The fort was made of mud and was destroyed in 1241 by the Mongols during their invasion of Lahore. A new fort was constructed in 1267 at the site by Sultan Balban of the Turkic Mamluk dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. The re-built fort was destroyed in 1398 by the invading forces of Timur, only to be rebuilt by Mubarak Shah Sayyid in 1421, In the 1430s, the fort was occupied by Shaikh Ali of Kabul and remained under the control of the Pashtun sultans of the Lodi dynasty until Lahore was captured by the Mughal Emperor Babar in 1526.