Trans Eurasia travel

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Rayen is a small town in the lee of Mt Hezar (4420m), 11km from Kerman. On a hill overlooking the town is the Arg-e Rayen (7am-sunset), an ancient adobe 'citadel'. The damage to Bam has seen the rebirth of Rayen's Arg. Its hotchpotch of architectural styles suggests it is well over 1000 years old, though its exact age is unknown. It had been abandoned for about 150 years before restoration began in 1996.

Rayen displays all the architectural elements of a deserted citadel. 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. Rayen Castle was inhabited until 150 years ago and, although believed to be at least 1,000 years old, may have foundations from the pre-Islamic Sassanid era.

The Arg has an outer wall 3m thick at the base and 1m thick at the top, which supports most of the 15 towers. The entrance leads onto the bazaar and from the gatehouse you can climb to the ramparts for spectacular views. The highlight is the governor's complex, entered from the square, where four separate houses have been restored (and labelled) and reflect the relative luxury the governor and his family enjoyed. Note the subtly different shades of mud and straw render, demonstrating different earth used for each khaneh (home), and climb to the roof for more amazing views. Covered kuches (lanes) weave their way through the rest of the Arg, look for the small zurkhaneh ('house of strength').

Sleeping and eating options are limited. Small restaurants and sandwich shops can be found near the Arg and around Azadi Sq.

Rayen is 23km south of the Kerman-Bam road, the turn-off being 88km from Kerman. Buses leave Kerman bus terminal every hour or so; Taavonis 3 and 16 are your best bet. Savaris are more frequent, leaving from Kerman's Khaju Sq and terminating 1km from the Arg.