Located in the southeastern province of Kerman, Iran, the Arg-e Bam (Bam Citadel) is the largest adobe building in the world. Being in the midst of the vast, endless, gray deserts, it is one of the jewels of Iran’s tourism crown known as the Emerald of the Desert.
Registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, this enormous citadel, long famed for its large fortress on the Silk Road, can be traced back to the Achaemenid period (4th to 6th centuries BC) and even beyond. The heyday of the citadel was from the 7th to 11th centuries due to being at the crossroads of important trade routes and known for the production of silk and cotton garments.
Bam represents an impressive instance of an ancient fortified settlement that developed around the Iranian central plateau and is a unique proof for the development of a trading settlement in the desert area of the Central Asian region. This magnificent construction undoubtedly represents the most important achievement of its type not just in the area of Bam but in a much wider region of Western Asia.
In the middle of the large fortress-city, the citadel is located that due to its impressive look, forming the highest point, the entire fortress is named the Bam Citadel with two distinguishable parts: first the ruler’s residence decorated with beautiful stucco and lattice windows which includes the citadel, barracks, mill, four-season house, bathroom, 40-meter deep water-well dug in the rocky ground, a stable and second the area overseeing the ruler’s residence comprising the main entrance of the entire fortress-city, mosque, bazaar, and around 400 small, big, and luxurious houses to use in different seasons of the year.
Surrounded by gigantic walls, the ruins of the Bam citadel as a whole are so interesting, remarkable and mind arousing that it takes more than one visit to absorb and to appreciate the historical significance of the details.
The city has also benefited from tourism, with an increasing number of people visiting the ancient citadel in recent years to have a glimpse on the impressive citadel and its remarkable wind-towers and to taste the unique dates, especially the Mazafati brand, a delicacy of universal fame. Visitors, including Italian merchant traveler Marco Polo, were awestruck by the city’s towers, huge mud walls and fairy-tale citadel – the ancient and splendid Arg-e Bam.
Sadly, in 2003, a severe and disastrous earthquake struck Bam and the surrounding Kerman province, inflicting heavy damage; however, through a precise reconstruction, it retained its glamour and splendor again, attracting a huge number of domestic and foreign visitors annually to this must-see site for having a memorable sightseeing.