I wanted to visit Arg-é Bam like crazy but had to see Rayen castle instead. When i saw a picture of Arg-e Bam I knew I would go there no matter what. To my regret the horrible earthquake of 2003 ruined it completely and many people told me that there is nothing left to see besides piles of rubble and few ruined walls (below the Bam castle befor and after the earthquake).
Kerman was chosen as a base for visiting Rayen castle due to its proximity.
The medieval mudbrick city of Rayen is similar to the Agr-e Bam but smaller in size. It is extremely well preserved, despite numerous natural disasters that have destroyed similar structures nearby, and it is one of the most interesting sites in Iran.
Arg-e Rayen was inhabited until 150 years ago and, although believed to be at least 1,000 years old, may in fact have foundations from the pre-Islamic Sassanid era.
The outer walls of the castle enclose the main governor’s citadel, houses and other structures around the latter.
Most of the houses are dilapidated and just few still stand but you can easily imagine how the city looked in the past.
Remaining walls were freshly covered with hay-mud mix in the course of reconstruction and now it looks a bit like the old city of Yazd.
The castle is quite small and you will need much time to walk around. The most interesting part is the governor’s citadel. It has a square shape and many buildings on its territory, which include a governor’s bedroom, his office, rooms for official ceremonies and guests.
The whole area of the citadel is covered with a roof, with several staircases leading to up. The citadel includes several yards similar to traditional Iranian houses which have square form and no roof above them for access of light to rooms facing these yards. We climbed up the roof and the walls and walked around the citadel. From up there you can see all around the castle and will have a better view of the houses surrounding the citadel.
The yards, rooms and other structures in the citadel are freshly renovated. You can see that some more lights will be installed soon here and there. A big hall looks like a kitchen and there may be a restaurant in the near future. Besides that all the spaces are completely empty.
The castle is quite interesting, but i was not extremely impressed. Maybe because it is quite small, maybe because compared to huge European castle made of stone it looks a bit artificial.
We met two groups of tourists – Germans and Italians. I believe tourists are being taken here instead of Bam castle nowadays.
If you plan to visit Kerman or make a stopover in the area the castle of Rayen is very worth visiting. But if it is out of your way and you will have to make and effort and spend some time for reaching it, i think you can easily skip it.
The castle can be reached by reached by bus from Kerman bus terminal. Ticket cost: 18 000 – 22 000Rials/ one way depending on a bus.