Kerman, the capital of Kerman Province, located in an altitude of 1, 860 m above sea level and 1,062 km to the south of Tehran, is a wonderful place. Unless one travels to Kerman by air, it seems a very long way from any other center of importance, no matter whether one approaches it from the northwest, the southwest or the southeast.
Modern Kerman is connected to all such centers by air (daily flights), railway and first-class asphalt roads, on Tehran-Bandar Abbas-Zahedan routes. The train station is 4 km southwest of Kerman and the airport is also southwest, but the bus station (terminal) is in the south.
The town is situated close to the wastes of Dasht-e Lut, from which it is separated by a range of mountains. Its name is probably derived from the tribe of Germanioi listed by Herodotus. Believed to have been founded in the early 3rd century AD by Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanian dynasty, it was from the 7th century ruled in turn by the Arabs, by Buyids, the Seljuks, the Turkmans and the Mongols. But it did not become famous for its carpets until long after the time of Marco Polo (who mentions only the skill of local leather workers, silk embroiderers and armoreres in 1271), for the town expanded rapidly under the Safavids in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, both the English and Dutch exporting Kermani carpets from the port of Bandar Abbas.
Kerman has had a long and turbulent history, and it has only for short spells enjoyed peace and prosperity at the same time. Late in the 18th century AD, Agha Mohammad Shah of Qajar dynasty took a terrible vengeance on the people of Kerman because they had given help to his mortal enemy Luft Ali Khan Zand. The town has a Zoroastrian minority, altogether much smaller than that in Yazid.
The pistachio, grown principally in the Rafsanjan-Kerman area, is the most popular nut in Iran, though walnuts, almonds, and hazel nuts are also eaten; so too is melon seed, which has first to be adroitly split with the teeth to extract the edible kernel. A variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, known collectively as ajil are eaten before and after meals and particularly in Iranian parties.
Most of the ancient Kerman was destroyed in 1794 earthquake, and the modern Kerman radiates from two squares (Azadi and Shariati), and all the monuments of interest lie between these two, and include:
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