18 March 2017

Impressions and Images of Iran: The Citadel of Bam

The Citadel of Bam (Arg-e Bam) is the easternmost point I have been to in Iran. Beyond Bam, there is the city of Zahedan, and beyond Zahedan, there is the border with Pakistan. In order to safely go to the border, one must have a police escort, I was told. So of course that was not part of my plans. Anyway, I was in a car, and from Kerman, we drove all the way to Bam, a two-hour drive.

I remember hearing about Bam a decade ago. There was an earthquake, and it featured in the news. This was back in 2003, and before the newspapers reported how the Bam Earthquake flattened the largest adobe structure on earth, I never heard of Bam. At that time I thought it was a pity, and hoped that it would be reconstructed one way or another.

Thirteen years later, I visited Iran, and fortunately, a few months before my visit, they reopened the Bam Citadel for visitors. Because of that, I planned my visit such that I would try to check it out if I can. I was going with a semi-spontaneous no-itinerary trip, but nevertheless I was designing my trip such that I would be able to get to Bam and visit the citadel. And sure enough, I found a way to do it, via an overnight trip from Kerman.

I have to say, that even though the whole city was destroyed, and the renovation and reconstruction hasn't been completed yet, it nevertheless is an impressive sight. It is a citadel within a walled city: there is an outer wall, surrounding the whole structure, yet there's another fortress inside the walled city, perched high up on a hill. So when you enter, and as you walk the main street slowly penetrating the city, you behold this majestic fortress looming right in front of you. Talk about theatrics.

Marco Polo was here, by the way. It was after all, a station on the trade route between India/Pakistan and Europe. The pictures above show you scenes from the main street, which is largely reconstructed by now. I was told that there isn't a plan to rebuild and reconstruct everything, after all, an earthquake is also part of history, and that earthquake in 2003 will remain a part of Bam's.

Bam is not easily accessible, and if one's time in Iran is limited, then people easily skip it. After all, it's not near the typical tourist circuit of Isfahan-Yazd-Shiraz. You really have to make a point to get here. But in my opinion, it is worth it. Southeastern Iran after all is my favorite part of the country. So stay tuned, there's more to see.


  1. It almost looks like... a sand castle!

    1. Zhu,

      It sure is! It is after all the largest adobe structure on earth!