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Introducing Bushehr

Visitors tend to rave about or revile the old city of Bushehr, Iran’s main seaport in the northern Gulf. Readers have described the once-elegant Bandari architecture, twisting mud-brick lanes and peninsular situation as both ‘a living museum’ and a clapped-out ruin resembling ‘Grozny after the third Russian war’. Both descriptions are partly right.

The Bushehris like to talk to foreigners and are welcoming of the few travellers who make it this far, though anyone white will likely be mistaken for a Russian. That is because more than 1000 Russians have been working in Bushehr for several years to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor. Some locals blame the reactor, or at least the threat that it will be bombed, for poor services and an overall lack of investment in their city. Whether that is fair or not is impossible for us to say, but it’s certainly true that almost nothing is being done to maintain or restore Bushehr’s crumbling heritage.

In short, if you like to go where others don’t, have an interest in Bandari culture or plan on working your way along the Persian Gulf coast, then Bushehr is worth a visit. If not, it’s a long way to come for silly heat and expensive hotels.