Arg-é Bam was once a famous stop on the historical trade routes trough the middle east. The citadel in the center of Bam was once the largest building in the world that was built from organic material. It was made entirely of mud bricks, clay, straw and the trunks of palm trees. This place was truly one of the most historical places on earth, with a proud history that could be traced all the way back to year 500 BC.
But Bam´s proud history got completely destroyed when southern Iran got hit by one of the deadliest earthquakes in modern history in the early hours 26 December in 2003. The earthquake killed almost 30 000 people and lay the whole city of Bam including the citadel in ruins.
The ruins were added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 2004 as a sign of how magnificent Bam was before the earthquake.
It is said that back at its peak of political, economic, and military power, Bam had between 9000 and 13,000 citizens living in 400 houses within its city walls. Also, the gate of the city gates was closed, so no human or animal could enter the premises.
The reason being that the inhabitants could continue living for a long period of time in isolation as they had access to a groundwater, gardens, and domestic animals inside.
When the fortress-city was besieged the inhabitants remained in the city while the soldiers defended it. The fortress was protected by high walls and 38 towers.
Bam was an important city in the region all the way up to the Afghan Invasion in 1722 and the invasion of the Shiraz region in 1810.
The city was soon forgotten. and it continued to fall apart up to 1953. Then an intensive restoration work begun till the earthquake happened.
Bam is located in south-eastern Iran, about 200 km (124 miles) south of Kerman and about 420 km (260miles) from the Pakistan border.
These days few visitors that make it to Bam are overland travellers coming from or heading to Pakistan.
Except for visiting the remains of the old glories in the city, there is not much to come here. It´s also one of the warmest places I have ever visited. So the time when I wasn’t walking around the remains of Bam, I was drinking tea with locals.
The locals in Bam were showering me with endless smiles. They were happy that a foreign tourist was once again visiting their town. They are hopeful that foreign tourists will once again visit their city.
The old town of Bam is currently being rebuilt to its former glory,
It is not worth visiting the Bam till it is completely rebuilt, except if you’re in the area. But travelling to Bam just to look at a pile of rubble, isn’t really worth it.
Additional Information about Bam.
The best and the only way to reach Bam is from the city of Kerman, Kerman is well connected to the rest of Iran by train and bus. Kerman is a city worth a visit on its own.
From Kerman, there are buses every second hour. If you don’t like to wait, there are shared cars available any time of the day.
If you are leaving Kerman in the early hours of the day, it is possible to do a day trip to Bam and back to Kerman in the evening.
If you do decide to stay in Bam for the night is Akbar Guest House the place to stay. It´s popular with overlanders coming or going to Pakistan.