While I was surprised by how much Tehran exceeded my expectations, I had no preconceptions about Kerman, in fact I had to look it up on a map when I saw my itinerary. I hate to admit such ignorance, especially about a city/region that deserves more attention that it gets. Kerman was settled in the third century, became well known for its cashmere and rugs, and was such an important stop on the trade route between the Persian Gulf and Central Asia that Marco Polo visited Kerman in 1271.
Kerman’s Masjid-i Jami’-i or Congregational Mosque was built in 1350 by Amir Mobarezeddin Mohammad-e-Mozaffari-e-Meybodi- Yazdi and is one of the oldest in Iran (the clock above the main portal is a much more recent and fairly unpopular addition).
A closer look at the astonishing artistry.
Just one of the intricate interior domes. I could not stop taking photos of the incredible ceilings throughout Iran, as you will see.
A view from the interior courtyard showing more of the exquisite tile work.
Kerman’s justly famous bazaar begins at the mosque’s rear portal. This complex (is named for Ganj Ali Khan who was governor of Kerman and a military commander under Shah Abbas I in the late 16th and early 17th centuries CE. The windcatcher or bâdgir in the background is an Iranian invention that acts as a naturally powered air conditioner – critical in this high desert region.
The 400 year old frescoes that decorate the bazaar and hamam are remarkably vibrant testaments to the era and its artisans.
The produce was remarkable but hard to transport.
However, we did sample other wares, including the most delicious dates in the world – really! The bin front and center contains dried whey, used in a variety of local dishes.
No one could resist the Kolombeh – a traditional date-stuffed walnut cookie dusted with pistachios. Their shape and design vary, but their flavor is always addictive.
Also irresistible, the Iranians themselves. This group was happy to share their celebration.
More to come on Kerman province in my next post.