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The outer walls are almost 3 km long

The citadel and city of Bam were supposed to be one of the major highlights of our visit to Iran. Molded over 2000 years ago out of the red clay of the Dasht- Kavir desert that surrounds it, this stronghold still looks proud today to those who stand outside the walls.

The city and the citadel

For some unexplained reason, Bam was abandoned about 150 years ago. Almost unbelievable after all those years, the walls and the 28 towers are still intact, the small gate near the car park is the only entrance. Although the walls are intact, the city inside has had a lot to suffer from all those years.

When you consider the material that is used to construct Bam, it is even a wonder so much of the city still stands. The red desert clay, mixed with straw and "other organic materials", looks like it will come apart if anyone just looks at it. And perhaps it's a good thing it doesn't rain here very often.

You'd think this material won't last very long A last view of the citadel, then it's time to leave

A picture without other tourists. This is Henk, not a tourist.

But no matter the poor condition of the city, it looks absolutely amazing. Over the walls we walk around the city, excited by curious little details over and over again. After 15 minutes two other groups arrive and start to walk between the buildings. We let them, we made enough pictures of the city without tourists, we start heading for the citadel.

The citadel is in better condition, a lot of restoration has been carried out in the last couple of years. In fact, they are still working on it. Inside the citadel there are lots of buildings: stables, a public bath, a prison, military barracks, two mosques, a caravanserai and more, all molded out of the same red clay. The highest point is the outlook tower. From here, you have a great view. Outside of the walls you see palm trees and the orchards of the new city of Bam, which is surprisingly green in the middle of the desert.

Fantastic colours

When it's time to leave, we have one last look at the citadel. This was great, indeed a major highlight. Wow.

New bricks to restore the citadel

When it's getting crowded inside the citadel because the other two groups start to ooze in, we think it's about time to get out and have some chai in the teahouse.

Too bad the earthquake in December 2003 has destroyed the city of Bam completely. Still, we're glad we've seen it before it was destroyed.

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