Bam is a pleasant town where the eucalypts are likely to make any Aussie homesick, and the date palms clearly indicate a desert oasis. But it’s the incredible ancient city which makes Bam truly special. Previously a pleasant town with a striking inner citadel and a spectacular 2000-year history, the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Bam in December 2003 decimated the few ancient structures that were still standing along with 70% of the residential area.
Travelers go to Bam just for one thing, the crumbling Arg-e Bam is believed to be the world’s biggest mad-built structure. This enormous citadel on the Silk Road was built before 500 BC and remained in use until 1850 AD. Arg-e Bam is declared as the largest adobe building in the world, Bam citadel is also registered as UNESCO world heritage site in Iran.
Up to 13,000 people once lived in this 6 sq km (2 sq mi) city until it was abandoned following an Afghan invasion in 1722. The city was abandoned again in about 1810 after bloodthirsty invaders from Shiraz popped in, and then was used as an army barracks until the 1930s. The town had a population of around 200,000 at the time of the earthquake. It’s estimated that around 40,000 were killed in the disaster with tens of thousands more critically injured and left homeless.
Bam is in south-eastern Iran. The bus from Tehran, 1260km (780mi) away, takes about 21 hours, so you might consider flying. There are two flights a week between Tehran and Bam, and more frequent flights between Tehran and Kerman, which is about three hours north-west of Bam by bus or shared taxi.