Must see attractions in Southeastern Iran

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kerman Province

    Arg-e Rayen

    One of Iran's most impressive fortress-citadels, the Arg's vast adobe walls top a gentle slope directly south of central Rayen. Inside is a castle within a castle. Some sections are very ruinous but wandering through the extensively restored governor's quarters it's easy to imagine the trepidation that supplicants must have once felt approaching the powerful local ruler through dark passages and hidden inner courtyards. Superb views from the battlements above the gatehouse reveal a backdrop of Mt Hezar (4420m). The exact age of the arg is unknown, though it's thought to be well over 1000 years old. Until restoration in 1996 it had been essentially abandoned for about 150 years.

  • Sights in Kerman Province

    Aramgah-e Shah Ne’matollah Vali

    The physical and spiritual heart of Mahan is filled by the impressive mausoleum complex of dervish-mystic and poet Shah Ne’matollah Vali, who died in 1431 (aged more than 100!). Built five years after his death by an Indian king who followed his teachings, the complex has received many additions, most notably the Abbasid blue cupola and Qajar-era twin minarets. The two charming, pond-filled courtyards have roosting birds in the trees who are all a-twitter at dusk. The main tomb lies beneath a 17m dome surrounded by carpets incorporating pentagram symbols, some with elements of backward mirror writing. An easily missed highlight is a tiny prayer chamber whose walls and ceiling are covered with calligraphy in a spiral pattern. There is a small museum (ticket required) but it was under reconstruction at time of research. To access the rear Abbassid courtyard you might need to ask a guardian to open the heavy doors behind the main shrine room (a donation is appropriate).

  • Sights in Kerman Province

    Bagh-e Shahzde

    Arriving at these handsome gardens is like being beamed onto a different planet. One second you’re in the arid semidesert, the next it’s all flowing mountain water and tall green trees. Built in 1873, the garden rises to a small villa that was once the residence of Abdul Hamid Mirza, one of the last princes of the Qajar dynasty. It now houses a handicraft shop, restaurant and teahouse. In the early evening it looks charming when floodlit. The gardens are well outside Mahan, 1.2km south of the southern ring road and 5km from the mausoleum. There's a small taxi stand in the car park; it'll cost IR50,000/300,000/600,000 to Mahan/Kerman/Rayen.

  • Sights in Kerman Province

    Imamzadeh Shirekhoda

    New but entombing a descendant of the sixth imam, this pretty octagonal structure features blue-floral tiling between its honeycombed windows and the slightly pinched section beneath the dome that turns it into a clock tower.