Kerman is a city in southeastern Iran with 677,650 inhabitants (2006), situated on a sandy plain 1749 meters above sea level. It is the capital of Kerman with 2,652,413 inhabitants (2006) and an area of 181,714 km². Kerman is the largest carpet producing and exporting center in Iran. Kerman is a large producer of pistachios on the world market. The province is rich in minerals, like copper, coal, chromium, lead, zinc, uranium and aluminum, but mining has remained on a small scale. In recent times crude oil has been discovered, but is yet not exploited.
Kerman is among several cities in Iran with a strong cultural heritage, which is expressed in the local accent, poetry, local music, handicrafts and customs that Kerman has introduced to the world of culture.
The only anthropology museum of Zoroastrians in the world, which showcases the ancient history of Zoroastrians, is in Kerman’s Fire Temple. The idea of launching the museum along with the library of Kerman’s Zoroastrian Society came to light in 1983, when the head of the society, Parviz Vakhashouri, and the former head of library collected cultural heritage artifacts of Kerman’s Zoroastrian community. These two officials added many other objects to this collection.
The museum was officially inaugurated during Jashn-e Tirgan in 2005 by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO). Jashn-e Tirgan or Tirgan is an ancient Iranian rain festival observed on July 1. The festivity refers to archangel Tir (literally meaning arrow) or Tishtar (lightning) who appear in the sky to generate thunder and lightning for providing the much needed rain.
Some of the major Kerman Tourist Attractions that you can visit during your Kerman Tours include the following:
Some of the major Kerman Tourist attractions that you can visit during your Kerman Tours include the following:
Grand Bazaar: Stretching for 1200m from Tohid Sq northeast to Shohada Sq, Kerman’s Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest trading centres in Iran. This main thoroughfare is made up of four smaller bazaars, and a further 20 or so branch off to the north and south. It is, however, easy enough to navigate and has a vivacity that should keep you interested, especially in the morning and late afternoon.
Starting at Tohid Sq, the first section is the Bazar-e Ganj Ali Khan, built in the 17th century for Ganj Ali Khan (the governor of Kerman), which soon opens onto the pretty Ganj Ali Khan Square. Built in the Safavid period, this courtyard is home to what was once Kerman’s most important hammam,…
Imam Mosque: The expansive Imam Mosque is worth a look specifically if you’re interested in the process of rehabilitating old buildings. Dating from the early Islamic period, the mosque has suffered considerable damage over the years, not least the destruction of a minaret during an earthquake in the 1970s. But the painstaking restoration goes on with the twin aims of uncovering and restoring early inscriptions while leaving no trace of the recent work. It’s quite a challenge. If you get chatting with the architects in charge they might (no guarantees here) let you take a look at the remains of a fine mihrab believed to date from the early Islamic period, locked away in the southwest…
Gonbad-e Jabaliye: At the edge of town is the mysterious, octagonal Gonbad-e Jabaliye, which houses a mildly interesting and poorly labelled museum of old gravestones. It’s mysterious because its age and original function remain unknown – a Kerman Tourism brochure sums it up as ‘A big, strange dome in the eastern part of Kerman’. Quite! Some scholars date it to the 2nd century AD and think it may have been an observatory. Others say it was a tomb. Whatever its function, it is remarkable because it is constructed of stone rather than the usual brick; though the double-layered dome, added 150 years ago, is brick. When taking photos (outside only) be careful to point your camera away from the…
Hamam-e Ganj Ali Khan: Built in the Safavid period, this courtyard is home to what was once Kerman’s most important hammam, the Hamam-e Ganj Ali Khan, now restored and transformed into a museum. Wonderful frescoes adorn the walls and wax dummies illustrate the workings of a traditional bathhouse. The reception area, for example, was divided so men practising different trades could all disrobe together. Look for the ‘time stones’ at the east and west ends of the hammam; translucent, 10cm-thick alabaster doorways through which bathers could get a rough idea of the time according to how light it was outside.
Moshtari-ye Moshtaq Ali Shah: The attractive Moshtari-ye Moshtaq Ali Shah is the mausoleum for Sufi mystic Moshtaq Ali Shah, and other Kerman notables. Moshtaq Ali Shah was renowned for his singing and ability with the setar (a four-stringed instrument) , and is apparently responsible for adding the fourth string to the setar (which literally means ‘three strings’). He eventually fell so far out of favour with the local religious community that he was stoned in the Jameh Mosque. Most of what you see, including the prominent blue-and-white-tiled roofs, are from the late Qajar period.
Museum of the Holy Defence: The Museum of the Holy Defence commemorates the eight-year Iran–Iraq War. Symbolism abounds, although much of it won’t be obvious without an English-speaking guide. Inside is a gallery of gruesome photos, artefacts, letters and documents from the war, and an animated model re-enacting the Karbala V, a famous battle. Outside, along with a line-up of tanks and missile launchers, is a battlefield complete with bunkers, minefield and sound effects recorded from the actual war. Well worth a look.
Sanati Museum of Contemporary Art: This newly renovated museum is a pleasant surprise in a town that can otherwise feel a long way from modern cultural pursuits. In a Qajar-era building set around an attractive courtyard, the museum houses paintings, sculptures and stone inlays by famous local artist Sayyed Ali Akbar Sanati (1916–2006). It also has exhibitions by younger Iranian artists and even a bronze hand by Auguste Rodin. Not surprisingly, it’s a good place to meet open-minded young Kermanis.
Palaeontological Museum: Located underground in green Park-e Sangi, about 500m east of Shohada Sq, the Palaeontological Museum is the passion and life’s work of local mountaineer Mohsen Tajrobekar. Mohsen has collected a stunning array of fossils from the mountains around Kerman and his finds have caused scientists to re-assess the origins of some present-day species. They include a perfectly petrified fish believed to be 530 million years old.
Kerman National Library: The Kerman National Library modestly bills itself as the ‘greatest informatic research center in the country’, but it’s the architecture – a forest of columns supporting vaulted ceilings – that is the real attraction. Built in 1929, the style is a harmonious variation on late-Qajar-era design that was purpose built as, wait for it, a textile factory!
Jameh Mosque: The well-preserved Jameh Mosque is entered from both Shohada Sq and the bazaar. Its four lofty iwans (rectangular halls opening onto a courtyard) and shimmering blue tiles date from 1349 but were extensively modernised during the Safavid period and later. Interestingly, this mosque has no minaret. Instead there is a squat clock tower atop the main entrance (off Shohada Sq).
Bazar-e Sartasari: Bazar-e Sartasari is one of the oldest trading centres in Iran. This main thoroughfare is made up of four smaller bazaars, and a further 20 or so branch off to the north and south. It is, however, easy enough to navigate and has a vivacity that should keep you interested, especially in the morning and late afternoon.
Moayedi Ice House: The Safavid-era Moayedi Ice House is a well-preserved, conical adobe structure that was used to store ice. The ice store was, and in some part still is, surrounded by gardens. The gardens would fill with water during winter, and when the water froze the ice would be slid into the Moayedi.
Masjed-e Ganj Ali Khan: At the square’s northeastern end is Masjed-e Ganj Ali Khan, Ganj Ali Khan’s lavishly decorated private mosque.