The desert trading city of Kerman has long been a staging point for people passing between Persia and the Indian subcontinent and today it remains the best place from which to explore southeastern region of the country. Sheltered from the vast Dasht-e Lut by the barren Payeh Mountains to the north, its position and elevation make the weather relatively mild in summer, but cold in winter. The city is something of a melting pot, blending Persians with the more subcontinental way of life of the Baluchis. This mixing is most evident in the historic and very lively bazaar, which is the highlight of any visit.
Kerman is one of Iran’s oldest cities and has always been an important centre on the trans-Asian trade routes. Believed to have been founded in the early-3rd-century AD by Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanian dynasty, its history is a tale of prosperity and plunder, but not that much in the way of peace. From the 7th century Kerman was ruled in turn by the Arabs, Buyids, Seljuks, Turkmen and Mongols, and then until the Qajar dynasty by a further succession of invaders and regional despots. Kerman only gained security under the central government in Tehran during the 19th century. Kerman’s continuity was its commerce, the evidence of which can still be seen in the many caravanserais around the bazaar. As trade moved more to the sea in the 16th century, so Kerman relied more on the production of carpets, a trade that remains important today.