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Best Sites around Kerman

16 May, 2016 John Flint Iran Destinations Guide 1581 Views 30 Shares
Best Sites around Kerman

The desert trading city of Kerman has always been a staging point for traveling between Persia and the Indian subcontinent. It remains the perfect place to base yourself while exploring the south east of Iran - whether that be nearby Meymand, Kaluts, Mahan, Citadels of Bam and Rayen, or even Qeshm Island or Baluchistan - Kerman has never disappointed travelers.

The city itself has mostly an adobe centered core surrounding an historical bazaar, with otherwise low-rise buildings expanding around the extents of the city. The culture around Kerman Province is something of a melting pot, with all casts of people mingling around Kerman's bazaar. This is worthwhile knowing especially if you don't feel comfortable (or safe!) visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Balochi traders and immigrants from further east generally wind up near Kerman and other parts of the south coast. So once again, the culture of Kerman is reminiscent of historical times, where travelers gather around this ancient trading center on the cusp of the Lut Desert. 


Kerman City

Bazar-e Sartasari (End-to-End Bazaar) is one of the oldest trading centers in Iran. Consisting of four smaller bazaars, plus many branches to the north, south and east. Around the bazaar includes the center Ganj Ali Khan Square, home of Kerman's most famous Hamam-e Ganj Ali Khan (currently a museum), to the north-east is Masjed-e Ganj Ali Khan and Golshan Caravanserai. If you haven't seen enough Jameh Mosques (Friday Mosques), checkout the unique Masjed-e Jameh to the eastern end of the bazaar. Having lunch, listening to music, and maybe trying a galyun (smokepipe) at the traditional Hamam-e Vakil Chaykhaneh is quite a special and popular experience. 

Other popular sites in Kerman City include:

  • Holy Defence Museum (local guided recommended) - worth a look to see tanks, missile launchers and gruesome stories of Iran-Iraq War with Saddam Hussein;
  • Moshtari-ye Moshtaq Ali Shah Mausoleum (local guided recommended) - learn of the famous young Sufi musician who put the forth string on the setar (guitar);
  • Imam Mosque - well worth a look if you're interested in restoration work of early Islamic architecture;
  • Sanati Museum of Contemporary Art - meet some young open-minded Iranians, see the attractive Qajar building and progressive works by famous local artists;
  • Yakhchal Moayedi - if you haven't seen one in Yazd, this Safavid-era adobe structure is a good example of well-preserved ice house;
  • Kerman National Library - you mightn't be able to read the books of the "greatest library in Iran", but the forest of columns supporting the vaulted ceiling is special;
  • Gonbad-e Jabaliye - this old structure was uniquely made of stone rather than usual brick, some date it to 2nd century AD however the history and purpose is unknown.     
 
Mahan

Mahan is a picturesque and low-key town that has long been famous throughout Iran for it's UNESCO listed garden and shrine. The Aramgah-e Shah Ne'matollah Vali Mausoleum recognized throughout Iran for it's special dome and remembrance of well-known Sufi Dervish, Aramgah-e Shah Ne'matollah Vali, the mystic poet who died more than 100 years old in 1431. There is also gorgeous UNESCO listed Bagh-e Shahzde, you'll be amazed stepping from an arid semi-desert to these lush gardens with flowing water. It's especially nice floodlit after sunset, it was the palace of one of the last Qajar princes.     

shahzde-gardens-unesco-mahan
Lut Desert & The Kaluts

A few kilometres north of Shahdad lies Shafi Abad, an oasis village with a Seljuk Caravansarai. While there are budget lodgings in the oasis vicinity, further north lies the expansiveness of the Lut Desert which provides camping opportunities for the adventurous types. The Lut Desert is locally known as having recorded the hottest surface temperature on earth - over 70° where most bacteria cannot survive. The Kaluts start forming a few kilometres further north of the oasis villages, where the 145km-long and 80-km wide stretch of desert is seen to be dominated by yardings (sandcastles). Known as the "Kaluts," of which have been sculpted over thousands of years by unidirectional winds. To have the best experience it's best to watch either sunrise or sunset, or both for the most magical experiences! The light on the horizon creates an inspiring canvas of shimmering brown and gold patterns. But photographers don't waste all your photos, after dark you will have countless opportunities for time lapse photos. Because after all who would want to stay couped up in an expensive 5 Star hotel, when you can camp in a "Million Star Hotel" with pure silence.

shahdad-lut-desert-kaluts-kerman

 

Rayan

Following Bam's 2003 earthquake the ancient citadel (fortress) of Bam had suffered significant damage along with it's adjacent modern city. This damage has seen the rebirth of Rayen's more modern Arg. Its layers of architectural styles suggests it's well over 1000 years old, though it's exact age is unknown. The Arg has a 3m thick outer Perimeter Wall tapering off to 1m thick at the top, which supports more than 15 towers. The entrance leads to the Bazaar, with a gatehouse and ability to climb to the Ramparts for spectacular views. The Governors Complex is a special highlight to explore. The different colors of house renders indicate the various types of soils and straw sourced from around the region. Covered walkways (kuches) weave around the Arg, look for the small Zourkhaneh ('House of Power') the place to practice traditional strength exercises.

rayen-citadel-iran

 

Bam & it's Culture Landscape (UNESCO Cultural Site)

Arg-e Bam or "Bam and it's Cultural Landscape" is generally regarded as the largest abode structure in the world with origins traced back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th centuries BC), however earlier remains have also been found. It's the greatest urban Adobe complex in the world. The Citadel (Fortress) is located on the northern section of Bam. It's constructed on the top of an igneous hill. The Arg is divided into 4 main sections, with 38 Watch TowersPublic Housing,BarracksGreat Perimeter Wall, and a Moat surrounding the citadel. It occupies an area of 20 hectares, a deep ditch all around Arg has kept the citadel safe against invasions. The main construction material is adobe plus clay, occasionally one would find stones, bricks and other materials used in its construction. Among known places of Arg-e Bam is a main corridor which used to be the Bazaar. In addition, one can find remnants of an Sassanian Fire TempleZourkhaneh,Public BathStable GarrisonPrison and Four-Season QuartersPublic Houses have been built close to each other with common openings. One could see the traces of private baths in some quarters, and stables are located far from residential quarters. Some houses are also two-stories indicating the increasing trend of population and wealth during certain times. The entire city of Bam had previously lived within the walls, until the population expanded to the extent that the population started to move outside and build to the south of the citadel as currently seen. On December 26, 2003, the Citadel was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake, along with much of the rest of Bam and its environs. There has since been a clean-up effort with international community support, especially from Japan and Germany, in addition to UNESCO providing details into the reconstruction practices. Currently the Citadel is almost completely rebuilt, however some of the stables and residential areas will be partially rebuilt to demonstrate the earthquake's historical impact on the story of Arg-e Bam. Despite the earthquake's devastation, the UNESCO site in Bam is still very much worth the visit.

arg-e-bam

 
Cultural Landscape of Meymand (UNESCO Cultural Site)

Meymand is believed to be a primary human residence in the Iranian Plateau dating 12,000 years ago. Meymand is a self-contained, semi-arid area at the edge of a mountain valley. Many of the residents live in the 350 hand-dug houses in the rocks, some have been inhabited for as long as 3,000 years. However stone engravings around the village have been dated to nearly 10,000 years old, and deposits of pottery nearly 6,000 years old bear witness to the long history of human settlement. The villagers are semi-nomadic agro-pastoralists. They raise their animals on mountain pastures in temporary settlements in spring and autumn, and migrate during the winter months lower down the valley to cave dwellings carved out of the soft rock (kamar).

cultural-landscape-meymand-iran

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John Flint

Tehran Sfiran Writing Editor

I'm John, I'm based in Tehran doing freelance writing, editing and marketing.

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