The rise, fall and rise again of Bandar Abbas over the last five centuries has been directly linked to the role of meddling European powers. Once a tiny fishing village called Gamerun, it was chosen as Persia’s main southern port and naval dockyard after Shah Abbas I defeated the Portuguese on nearby Hormoz Island in 1622. The British East India Company was granted a trading concession, as were Dutch and French traders, and by the 18th century Bandar had become the chief Persian port and main outlet for the trade in Kermani carpets.
The port went into decline following the end of the Safavid dynasty and the withdrawal in 1759 of the British East India Company. The Sultan of Oman took control of Bandar in 1793 and held sway until 1868. Its role remained peripheral until the Iran–Iraq War, when Iran’s established ports at Bushehr, Bandar-e Imam Khomeini and Khorramshahr were either captured or became too dangerous for regular shipping. With the help of road and railway links to Tehran and Central Asia, it hasn’t looked back.