Iran City Guides - Bam
- ancient mud-walled city on the Silk Road
- the world's largest mud fortress
- tragic site of 2003 earthquake
- city dates back to Sassasian period
- the city is now being slowly rebuilt
- situated in south eastern Iran, 200km south of Kerman
- the city lies at 1000m above sea level
Situated on the outskirts of the Dasht e Lut desert around 200 km south of Kerman, Bam was one of the wonders of the ancient world and a major tourist attraction until the tragic earthquake of December 2003 which destroyed much of the mud-brick structures of the oasis citadel as well as the modern city of Bam.
A donkey being used in the reconstruction of Bam, Iran
Dating back to at least the Sassanian period of the third century AD and probably founded in the third century BC, the city, was largely built in the Safavid period (1502-1722), and was constructed of mud bricks and clay, reinforced with palm trunks and straw. The city, though situated in such an arid region, has supplies of subterranean water which allow for extensive cultivation, including dates and citrus fruits.
The once-prosperous city and the its walled fortress the Arg-e Bam was a major staging post on the Silk Road trade route between Asia and Europe. At its pomp, the city had between 9,000 - 13,000 inhabitants, 38 towers guarding its impressive walls and an important Zoroastrian fire temple. Before the massive earthquake (6.5 on the Richter scale), complete mud-brick houses, schools, mosques and bathhouses stood as they had done for centuries.
Bam, as a living city, began to decline with the invasion of the Afghans in the early 18th century and was abandoned around 150 years ago, serving as an army barracks until restoration work began in the 1950s.
Restoration work has begun again not just for the ancient citadel but for the new town that had grown up around it.
Access - Getting To Bam
There are infrequent flights from Bam's small airport to Tehran.
There are buses to many destinations including Tehran (21 hours), Esfahan (11 hours), Kerman (3 hours), Bandar-e Abbas and Zahedan (4 hours).
Bam is linked by rail to Tehran, Kerman and Qom.
Will Yong and Kazem Vafadari