Kerman ( Kermān, Kermun, and Kirman; also known as Carmania) is the capital city of Kerman Province, Iran. At the 2011 census, its population was 821,374, in 221,389 households, making it the 10th most populous city of Iran.
It is the largest and most developed city in Kerman Province and the most important city in the southeast of Iran. It is also one of the largest cities of Iran in terms of area. Kerman is famous for its long history and strong cultural heritage. The city is home to many historic mosques and Zoroastrian fire temples. Kerman is also on the recent list of the world’s 1000 cleanest cities. Kerman is also a former capital of Iran, a position that it held during several periods. It is located on a large, flat plain, 1,036 km (643 mi) south of Tehran, the capital of Iran.
Kerman was founded as a defensive outpost, with the name Behdesīr, by Ardeshir I, founder of the Sassanid Empire, in the 3rd century AD. After the Battle of Nahāvand in 642, the city came under Muslim rule. At first the city’s isolation allowed Kharijites and Zoroastrians to thrive there, but the Kharijites were wiped out in 698, and the population was mostly Muslim by 725. Already in the eighth century the city was famous for its manufacture of cashmere wool shawls and other textiles. The Abbasid Caliphate’s authority over the region was weak, and power passed in the tenth century to the Buyid dynasty, which maintained control even when the region and city fell to Mahmud of Ghazna in the late tenth century. The name Kerman was adopted at some point in the tenth century.
Under the rule of the Seljuk Turks in the 11th and 12th centuries, Kerman remained virtually independent, conquering Oman and Fars. When Marco Polo visited Kerman in 1271, it had become a major trade emporium linking the Persian Gulf with Khorasan and Central Asia. Subsequently, however, the city was sacked many times by various invaders. Kerman expanded rapidly during the Safavid Dynasty. Carpets and rugs were exported to England and Germany during this period.
In 1793 Lotf Ali Khan defeated the Qajars, and in 1794 he captured Kerman. But soon after he was besieged in Kerman for six months by Agha Mohammad Khan. When the city fell to Agha Mohammad Khan, angered by the popular support that Lotf Ali Khan had received,all the male inhabitants were killed or blinded, and a pile was made out of 20,000 detached eyeballs and poured in front of the victorious Agha Mohammad Khan. The women and children were sold into slavery, and in ninety days the city was destroyed.
The present city of Kerman was rebuilt in the 19th century to the northwest of the old city, but the city did not return to its former size until the 20th century.
Kerman is among several cites in Iran with a strong cultural heritage, which is expressed in the local accent, poetry, local music, handicrafts and customs that Kerman has introduced to the world.
The only anthropology Iran museum of Zoroastrians in the world, which showcases the ancient history of Zoroastrians, is in Kerman’s Fire Temple. The idea of launching the museum along with the library of Kerman’s Zoroastrian Society came to light in 1983, when the head of the society, Parviz Vakhashouri, and the former head of the library, Mehran Gheibi, collected cultural heritage artifacts of Kerman’s Zoroastrian community. These two officials added many other objects to this collection. The museum was officially inaugurated during Jashn-e Tirgan in 2005 by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO).
Jashn-e Tirgan or Tiregan is an ancient Iranian rain festival observed on July 1. The festivity refers to archangel Tir (literally meaning arrow) or Tishtar (lightning), who appear in the sky to generate thunder and lightning for providing much needed rain.
The Sadeh ceremony is celebrated every year in Kerman.
Also, the archeological ancient areas of Jiroft and Tappe Yahya Baft are located south of Kerman. Rayen Castle is also located in Rayen town, southeast of Kerman.