Kerman, located in the central south of Iran, is the Capital of Kerman Providence. It has some of the oldest urban developments of the province, perhaps dating back around 2000 years. It also is a major carpet production center of the country. The carpets are hand woven in hundreds of small workshops all around the city. Because it is located close to the Loot desert, Kerman has hot summers and in the spring it often has violent sand storms. Otherwise, its climate is relatively cool.
The city’s name is derived from the Germaniol race listed by Herodotus. It was established in the early 3rd Century AD by Ardashir I, founder of Sassanid Dynasty. Kerman was ruled by Turkmans, Arabs and Mongols after the 7th Century. It became famous for its carpets long after Marco Polo had discovered it. Kerman expanded rapidly during the Safavid Dynasty. Carpets and rugs were exported to England and Germany during this period.
Kerman has had a long turbulent history. It was only during the rule of the Qajar Dynasty that security was restored in this city under the Central Government. Kerman has a small Zorastrian minority.
Most of the ancient Kerman was destroyed in a 1794 earthquake. The modern Kerman radiates from Azadi Square down to Shariati Square. Most places of interest lie between these two landmarks.
Friday Mosque, also know as the Masjid-e-Jom’e, was built in the 14th Century during the Safavid Dynasty. It is considered to be the most fabulous structure in the city. It is located in the main square of “Shohada”. Its design is the classical Iranian model having four iwans (verandahs). It has a wonderful blue faience featuring shades of blue from turquoise to ultramarine, creating a vertical horizon of smooth shimmering tiles. The wall of the Mihrab (altar) and the central dome are also decorated with admirable geometric compositions. The altar is open to the public.
Mahan, another center of interest, is located 35km. south of Kerman. It is the hometown of Shah Nematollah Vali, a Sufi poet and founder of a Mohammaden sect of the same name. Members are quite numerous in Iran and meet in the sanctuary of Mahan. These people are basically Sufi dervishes who believe life is uprooted. They strive for the return to the origin through death, by patience and tolerance and believing in one true God.
The Greenish-blue faience of the two Qajar style minarets and mighty Safavid style cupola of the shrine stand out against the unremitting deep blue sky. The gray mountains in the background are a and heavenly inspiration to the viewer.
The tomb and the large assembly-room next to it do not present any particular design. The ceiling, however, could easily be taken for the Kerman style rug design. The little oratory where Nematollah Vali used to meditate attracts a lot of attention due to its extraordinary interlaced script work decoration divided into twelve sectors, all of which are of different colors.
Inside the courtyard there is a well designed, small lagoon surrounded by Cyprus trees. On the perimeter of the shrine there are glorious colonnades which lead to the dub-shell domed central shrine. The tomb has a beautiful chest installed on it.