Ancient Bam and its Cultural Landscape


Bam is a small town in the middle of the desert on the southern edge of Iranian high plateau. Its origin dates back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th centuries). Its enormous citadel, Arg-e-Bam, was built sometimes about 500 BC and before the 2003 earthquake destroyed more than 80 percent of the Citadel it was considered to be the biggest and most beautiful mud-brick complex in the world.

The entire building with an area of approximately 180,000 square meters is a large fortress in whose heart and the highest place the citadel itself is located. It is surrounded by gigantic walls and is holding two mosques, a public bath, military barracks, a caravanserai, water wells, a Bazaar, a stable, a jail, about 400 houses and more.

Now the reconstruction of the Bam Citadel is underway.

Located in the Bam City of Kerman, Bam Citadel is the biggest adobe building in the world.  This ancient piece of art is over two thousand and five hundred years. The origin of Bam Citadel can be traced definitively back to the Achaemenid Empire (sixth to fourth centuries BC), and even beyond.

Because of its location, Bam Citadel used to be a prominent trade center.  One branch of the silk way, named Spice Road, passed through this space, creating a path of trade between the east and the west, creating an opportunity to become a fundamental producer of silk and garments.

Bam Citadel was constructed of adobe and mud on the bottom of an enormous cliff.  Ditches surrounding the castle, along with thirty-eight observation towers, protected the city.  A five-story alcove, made of natural minerals, was positioned at the center of this complex.  The entire complex was a fortress.  Because of its importance and the charming appeal of the citadel, along with the fact that it was built at the highest point, the name Bam Citadel was given.

Although this complex was initially only comprised of a couple of houses and castles, it expanded exponentially.  Now, no gaps can be seen, with compounds so close to one another it looks as though they were sewn together by the masterful hands of the architects who formed the very first structures, making it seem as though all that exists now was planned from the very beginning.

The way this complex is built, made for four seasons, with inscriptions on the walls, giant fingerprint carved into the adobe wall, along with many other miraculous architectural details will amaze and leave you in awe.

Although much of the citadel was unfortunately destroyed in an earthquake, it still is recognized as an architectural masterpiece. The combination of the natural beauty of the rocks it was built upon coupled with the pure genius of the architects that created this fortress establish this as a breath-taking piece of art. The thought processes and innovations that were used during the making of this dream-like citadel makes one wonder and contemplate God’s hand in its manufacturing.


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