The main destinations to visit in Iran
Isfahan, half of the world
Isfahan, the beautiful city famous as half the world is the pleasant destination located in the center of Iran in a province of the same name with the arid climate and the environment composed of deserts and steppes and the minimum annual rainfall.
Scia Abbas I, the Great, after having reunified the country, founded the Safavid dynasty and then chose Isfahan after Qazvin as the main capital of his dynasty in the center of Iran to free us from any foreign sovereignty. He ordered the construction of suitable palaces and monuments and mosques which are prestigious examples of Islamic-Iranian art.
The striking architecture of Isfahan represented in the structure of the Sio-se Pol and Khaju bridges over the Zayandeh Rud River (the river that gives life), in the frescoes and splendid paintings of the royal residences such as the monuments of Chehel Sotun (40 columns) , Hasht Behesht (8 paradise) and Ali Qapu (the big gate), in the Ciarbagh avenue with wide paved sidewalks, in the sumptuous cathedral of Vank, in the grandiose Jame ‘mosques, of Sheikh Lotfollah and Imam amazes every visitor.
The beautiful square Naqsh-e Janhan (the image of the world) in the shape of a rectangle is located in the historic center of the city of Isfahan built in the 7th century AD This square is included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979 together with the monuments dating back to the Safavid period that surround it; the mosque of Imam to the south with the grandiose majolica tiles inlaid in seven colors and with the curves of the arches and the entrance frames, the palace of Ali Qapu to the west decorated by the imposing drawings and the famous paintings where it was used for royal meetings with ambassadors and important visitors. Sheikh Lotfollah mosque in the east covered with amazing mosaic decorations and splendid epigraphs. The Qeisarie gate on the northern side of the square that opens towards the large Isfahan Bazaar. The square was surrounded by rooms all of the same shape located on two floors. Behind each room were corridors that led to the Bazaar where there are the workshops of the artists of Isfahan who create the magnificent works of art and crafts by working the inlaid wood, enameled metals, glass and printed fabrics.
The square of 500 * 165 square meters was used for the game of polo (Ciogan), the military parades of the army, the collective meetings between the king and the people. It can be confessed that the square complex is a unique blend of Iranian-Islamic historical and architectural beauties. You can go around the square on foot or in a carriage and then chat with the inhabitants of Isfahan in one of the tea houses around the square.
Jame ‘mosque, where it reflects Byzantine and classical art in the form of a traditional Islamic building, was a religious center of the city 13 centuries ago in the Seljuk period, but no origins remain today. That is, the simple structure of the former was changed and embellished with various types of decorations during the Deylamì, Seljuk, Gurkanid, Turkmen, Safavid and Qajar dynasties. The mosque includes the domes of Nezam al-Molk and Taj al-Molk, the central square courtyard with 4 arcades, the Mozaffari madrasa and the Mihrab d’Oljaitu, one of the most splendid in the world.
Most of Isfahan’s inhabitants are Muslims, but Armenians also live there in the neighborhood named the New Jolfa. The Armenian people have a deep connection with their homeland and this can be understood from the names chosen for the cafes and shops in the neighborhood such as the Ani coffee, taken from the name of the ancient capital of Western Armenia, the Akhtamar pastry shop, the island on Lake Van and the Armenian supermarket called Ararata.
Walking in the Armenian quarter you can admire the grandiose cathedral of San Salvatore or Vank, which would be the next inscription on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage of humanity. The sumptuous oil frescoes on the walls and the gilded ceiling on the inside of the dome are admirable. The architecture of Vank Cathedral is an extraordinary synthesis of Islamic, Armenian and European arts.
In the province of Isfahan there are still numerous cultural and natural attractions such as the ancient city of Kashan with the 7000 year history of the archaeological hill (tepe) of Sialk. Kashan also owns the Fin garden, one of the Persian gardens inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The houses of Tabatabaii, Abbasi and Brujerdi are beautifully decorated with rooms decorated with desert designs, internal courtyards, high ceilings and colored windows. The great mosque of Aqa Bozorg with the elaborate architecture along with the traditional Bazaar of the city are worth visiting.
Nature lovers can spend at least one day in the impressive desert of Kavir, an expanse of sand and salt, enjoying the absolute beauty of the place, deep silence and extraordinary oases. His trip to Iran cannot be considered complete without having experienced the adventure of the deserts at least once. The experience of walking on the sands of one of the 25 largest deserts on the planet crossing the dunes from Garme to Anarak and visiting the magnificent natural scenes such as the wind transport of sand would be fantastic. The visit of the salt lake and desert octagonal shapes and the caravanserai of Shah Abbas together with the golden hills and endless horizons at kavir of Maranjab and kavir of Mesr and Jandaq is recommended.
The tourist village of Abianeh is a beautiful ancient village located on the slopes of Mount Karkas. The houses of this village with traditional-style balconies and windows were built from raw clay bricks and create an ocher-colored spectacle that attracts many tourists every year. The villagers have kept their traditional costume constantly; the women wear a long white scarf with pink or red flowers printed and also a skirt below the knee and the men wear long and loose dark colored trousers.
The city of Yazd, the capital of a province of the same name, is located in the center of Iran between two deserts: dasht-e Lut to the east and dasht-e Kavir to the north.
Yazd, the earth-colored city made from mud bricks, is the symbol of human efforts to control the constraints imposed by desert nature. Traditional techniques used in architecture such as the structures of the Qanat, the Towers of the Wind (Badgir) and the glaciers amaze every visitor. The traditional concept is expressed in the authenticity of the labyrinths of the narrow streets with high walls and of the Sabat structure and in the variegated colors of the windows and in the refined designs used in the old houses.
Yazd is the first city of bricks and the second historical city in the world after Venice which was included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2017. The magnificent Jame ‘mosque, the Khan’s Hammam, the prison of Alexander, the garden of Dolat Aabad with its wind tower of 33 mela madrasa of Ziaeie, lri of height, the traditional houses like Khane Lari and Ameri, the complex of Amir Chakhmaq, the water museum, the qanat and the reservoirs (AB Anbar), etc. are other attractions in the city.
Yazd is famous for its sweets among which are Baqlava, Qottab, Haji Badami, etc and it also considers itself as the center of textile production and tourists can choose vairie fabrics and Yazd Baths as souvenirs.
Yazd has a pluri-religious heritage and Muslims coexist with a large group of the Zoroastrian minority. There is the largest community of Zoroastrians in Iran and in the center of the city you can visit the Zoroastrian fire temple. According to the Zoroastrian religion, none of the 4 elements should be contaminated, so they used the towers of Silence where corpses were stored and left to decompose by the forces of nature (by birds).
Among other attractions of the Yazd province, we recall that two of 9 Persian gardens are located there: Bagh-e Dolat Abad and Bagh-e Phlevan pour.
The 4000 year old evergreen cypress with the height of 25 meters at Abarghu in Yazd province is a beautiful symbol of life’s resistance against the desert nature. The cypress in the designs of Persepolis was the symbol of royal eternity in the Achaemenid period.
The city of Meibod in Yazd province is famous not only for its historical attractions such as Narin Qale fortress with 7000 years, but also for its brilliant industry and economy especially for the production of tiles and ceramics. The glacier and the dovecote are among the other attractions of Meibod. The town of Meibod is 54 km from Yazd.
Tehran, the capital of Iran, is located in the province of the same name almost in the center-north of the country. A chaotic city, but at the same time quite fascinating for its traditional or modern museums, palaces, gardens and markets, among which are the complexes of the Golestan, Sa’ad Abad and Niavaran palaces, the National and Islamic Art museums, the royal jewels museum, carpet museum, various gardens such as Laleh, Mellat, Abo Atash and Tabia’t (Nature) bridge, Milad and Azadi towers, Tohid and Niayesh tunnels and the traditional Grand Bazaar with labyrinth of the shops. It can be said that Tehran in spring is a piece of paradise. Mount d’Alborz to the north embraces us and the Tochal ski slope hosts many tourists who are passionate about winter sports. The mausoleums of Imamzadeh Saleh and Abdol Azim and the shrine of Imam Khomeini are the religious centers of the city. Tehran is a good example for the coexistence of believers of religions. In 30 Tir street, there are a mosque of the Muslims and also two churches of the Christians, a synagogue of the Jews and the Zoroatrian fire temple.
Tehran is the seat of the presidential institutes, ministries and government bodies and hosts almost half of the country’s industrial activities, mainly related to the automotive sector, electrical and electronic equipment, sugar, weapons, textiles, cement and chemical products. The population of the city has grown exponentially and every day around 12 million inhabitants commute us either via general transport such as the subway or express buses or via customized transport.
Shiraz, the city of roses and lusignoli
Shiraz is the capital of the province of Fars in southwestern Iran and is located in the slopes of the Zagros mountains where it enjoys a sub-continental temperate climate with hot summers and mild winters. Karim Khan Zand, the founder of the Zand dynasty, chose us as his capital from 1750 to 1794, then the capital of Iran was moved to Tehran in the Qajar period.
Shiraz is the center of world-renowned poets, philosophers, mystics and artists, among whom important Shiraz-born poets such as Sa’di and Hafez, the mystic Ruzbehan and the philosopher Mulla Sadra.
Shiraz today is considered among the centers of medical tourism in Iran and belongs to 34 specialized and super-specialized hospitals and every year it hosts many Iranian or foreign patients especially from the countries of the region. Namazi hospital is famous for organ implants.
The province of Fars has more than 4500 years of history behind it and its main cities were located along the important roads of southern Iran such as Bishapur to Estakhr during the Sassanid period and Susa to Persepolis and Passargade in the Achaemenid period.
The architecture and art of the province of Fars and particularly of the city of Shiraz and its surroundings are divided into two parts: the pre-Islamic period and the Islamic period.
Near Shiraz there are archaeological attractions and mythical and spectacular places which date back to the pre-Islamic period, when there was the great empire of the world, namely the Achaemenids. In Passargade, the first capital of the Achaemenid empire founded by Cyrus, the Great, you can enjoy visiting the first Persian gardens and colonnaded palaces and also the solitary and glorious tomb of Cyrus and his wife. Persepolis, the spring and solemn capital of the Achaemenids with its grandiose rooms and particular drawings and bas-reliefs reflects the art and talent of the Persians of that time. To visit other funerary masterpieces carved in the rock, we advise you to organize a tour to Naghsh-e Rostam where there are the tombs of Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Darius II and the Ka’be (cube) of Zarathustra built in 520 B.C
In the Safavid period, numerous palaces and buildings embellished with the same architectural style used in Isfahan, the capital of the time, were built. After the Safavids, Shiraz began a sort of decline, but after in the Zand period the city immediately regained its prosperity and a royal quarter with a citadel were built (Arg Karim Khani, the house with mixed military and residential architecture surrounded with high walls connected by four round brick towers), the numerous administrative buildings, the Vakil complex in the city center (consisting of the covered Bazaar with the beautiful courtyards, the caravanserai and the old shops and the Vakil mosque with two arcades decorated with the typical tiles and the colonnaded prayer hall with spiral carved monolithic columns, from the Vackil bath,
Among the other attractions of this wonderful and spectacular city with the atmosphere of a “Thousand and One Nights” we remember the innovative Shapouri pavilion and its exuberant garden; the botanical garden of Eram (one of the 9 Persian gardens registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site); the memorial tombs of Hafez and Sa’di, two famous poets, engraved with excerpts from their poems and surrounded by gardens, paths and waterways; the Bagh-e Jahan Nama complex; the complex of patrician residences of Qavvam (the house with orange groves and the anthropological museum of the house of Zinat ol Molk); the elegant mosque Nasirol Molk (also known as the Pink mosque, the place of Islamic worship of the city, characterized by the beautiful external facades of the arcades, from the play of light of the large stained glass windows of the prayer room and from the internal columns decorated with polychrome tiles); the shrine of Shah Cheragh, the brother of Imam Reza, the eighth Imam of the Shiites, adorned with the work of mirrors and waves of lights, stucco inscriptions, an internal iron dome with a brick and glazed tile cladding; the garden of Afif Abad (Golshan) and the gate of the Koran in the north of the city.
The first capital of the Achaemenid world empire located 118 km from Shiraz and 82 km from Persepolis was built by Cyrus the Great (550-529 BC) after his victory against the Medes, the armies of Lydia and the Babylonian empires.
Cyrus, the founder of the Achaemenid dynasty ordered the creation of the imperial gardens in Passargade which later became the origins of the Persian gardens. The Passargade complex includes the colonnaded and royal palaces, the audience hall, the fortress of Tal Takht and the sepulcher of Cyrus and his wife and was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2004.
The solitary and glorious tomb of Cyrus, the Great, is Passargade’s best-known stone monument whose lower part resembles a ziggurat built from six high steps and the upper one is in the shape of a gabled house.
Persepoli, noto anche come Trono di Jamshid, è la zona archeologica più impressionante dell’Iran estesa su una superficie pianeggiante vicina a Shiraz a distanza di 60 km. L’incredibile capitale primaverile degli Achaemenidi venne fondata da Dario I, il Grande, nel 518 a.C. e poi sviluppata dai suoi discepoli Serse, suo figlio, e Artaserse І. In occasione delle celebrazioni come il Noruz, il capo d’anno iraniano, i rappresentanti di tutti gli stati sudditi dell’impero Achaemenide venivano a presentare i loro doni ai sovrani achaemenidi. La qualità delle rovine monumentali dei palazzi magnifici di 100 colonne, Apadana e Hadish con le dimensioni ciclopiche insieme al grandioso portico d’accesso di tutte le Nazioni fiancheggiato da due colossali tori guardiani di pietra lo rendono un complesso interessante da visitare. Le figure di re, guerrieri, guardie, inviati delle 31 satrapie e serventi, i bassorilievi della sala dell’Udienza reale, del leone che addenta il toro e dei esistenti mistici come sphinx e il toro con la testa umana e le ali dell’aquila sulle spalle, i disegni di fiori di loto e le colonne in pietra di 20 metri d’altezza con i capitelli a forma di due grifoni, tori o leoni posti alle estremità opposte sono splendidi e vi raccontano il mito di Persepoli e la natura metaforica dei rilievi.
This grandiloquent site was set on fire in 330 BC by the army of Alexander the Great and most of the documents relating to the Achaemenid empire and Persian culture of that time were looted and destroyed.
It is worth organizing a tour to visit Persepolis in the morning and it takes about 3 hours to conceive the majestic art of the Persians over 2500 years ago and then go to the Passargade.