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Visit the beauty and history of Iran

Visit Iran
Photo CC by-sa 3.0 by IBcaldera
Iran is a fascinating and beautiful country, currently opening up to tourism once again. According to recent media reports, the U.S. is opening up its travel links to Iran, visas are now readily available and even Prince Charles of Britain is planning a trip in the near future - the  first in 40 years.

There are several options available for luxury Iran travel and while there are many more excellent cities and sites to visit, below are details of three destinations of note in the historic country.

Shiraz - Capital of Fars Province, Iran

First we look at Shiraz, the capital city of Fars province and a veritable treasure trove of Persian culture. There are several locations worth visiting on a tour of Shiraz including its historic buildings, beautiful architecture and lovely gardens.

For a true Persian garden, the Afif Abad Gardens are a beautiful visit. The garden and houses set around it are owned by the Ghavami family and among the buildings are a former royal mansion, a historical weapons museum and a beautiful Persian garden, one of the oldest of its kind in Shiraz.

Also of interest is the Eram Garden (Bagh-e-eram), a stunningly beautiful complex with a vast network of gardens, a colourful palace and a system of artificial rivers flowing throughout (pictured below).
Eram Garden, Shiraz, Iran
Eram Garden CC BY-SA 2.0 by dynamosquito 

It is recommended to visit the Saadi Tomb, where the remains of one of Iran’s greatest poets, Sa’di, are kept. The mausoleum has been a place of pilgrimage over the years for lovers of poetry and literature. The tomb was rebuilt back in the early 1950s and the porch, with its tall columns of pinkish marble, is a traditional feature of Iranian architecture.

The Hafez Tomb is also a recommended visit, where the remains of the greatest master of Persian lyric poetry, who was born in Shiraz, are kept. Visitors to the tomb can, as has been done for centuries, take the omens, or faals, by picking out a page at random from a volume of Hafez kept for this purpose in the tomb.

The Arg of Karim Khan was formerly a prison, but is now an architectural wonder, open for the public view. The building combines both military and residential architecture, as it was the home of Karim Khan and originally the military centre of the dynasty.

Shiraz also offers an amazing shopping experience with the various bazaars on offer, including the Vakil Bazaar, with its beautiful courtyards, bath houses and ancient shops. The Vakil Bazaar is considered the best place in Shiraz to buy traditional Persian rugs, copper handicrafts, antiques and spices. Bazaar Vakeel is a huge and ancient bazaar which specializes in textiles, antiques and handicrafts, fine carpets and spices and is also well worth a visit.

Getting out of the city, Persepolis (Takht-e-Jamshid) is a definite must-see destination. The ancient city was the centre of the great Persian Empire, was a ceremonial capital for the Achaemenians and is an amazing archaeological site.

While the site was damaged in the past by various wars, Persepolis still offers impressive ruins in an almost complete reconstruction of its original appearance.
Persepolis, Iran
Persepolis CC BY 2.0 by Ivan Mlinaric 

Yazd - capital of the Yazd Province, Iran

Yazd is a city located in Central Iran and is the capital of the Yazd province. The city is ancient and dates back to the Sassanian Period (224-651 AD) and is located midway between Isfahan and Kerman, 427 miles south east of Tehran.

Most sites of interest in Yazd are within easy walking distance of each other, although local buses and taxis are available.
Of interest in the historic city are the Masjid-e Jame (or Friday Mosque) which dates back to the 14th century. The architecture of the building is excellent and is an example of the finest Persian mosaics. Also the minarets on the mosque are the highest in Iran.

Even the water reservoir of the city is a fascinating visit with its badgirs (wind towers), pictured below.

Wind Towers in Yazd, Iran
Yazd Wind Towers CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by Chris-45

A walk around the city includes the Dowlat Abad Gardens which contains a building with a beautiful badgir. The city contains historic neighbourhoods and parks, perfect for relaxation, or visitors can hike up in the beautiful mountains surrounding the city to enjoy a spectacular view over Yazd.

Amir Chakhmaq Yazd, Iran
Amir Chakhmaq Complex Yazd CC BY 2.0 by David Stanley

Yazd is rightly famous for its various beautiful handicrafts, including silks, cashmeres and carpets. In the markets, Iran’s most popular and famous snacks can be found, including nougat and cashews.

While most of the restaurants tend to serve the traditional local food, there are several international restaurants in Yazd, serving Arabian, Indian, Italian and Mexican cuisine.

Isfahan – Capital of Esfahan Province, Iran

Isfahan is located in central Iran, south of Tehran. With its beautiful hand-painted tiling and magnificent public square, Isfahan is considered to be among the most beautiful cities in the world. The ancient town was the capital of Persia from 1598 to 1722.

The city is famous these days for its fine carpets and silver filigree work and its beautiful architecture, tree-line boulevards make it one of the highlights of a visit to Iran.

Imam Square, Isfahan
Imam Square, Isfahan CC BY 2.0 by David Stanley

Must see destinations include the Naqsh-e Jahan square, which contains two mosques, a palace and a fascinating bazaar. The square has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Among the mosques to be seen in Isfahan are the Imam Mosque, a masterpiece of Persian architecture and also UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sheikh Lotf Allan Mosque is an architectural masterpiece of Safavid Iranian architecture and is also considered to be one of the most beautiful in Iran.

Also of interest on a tour of Isfahan is the Royal Palace, dating back to the early 17th century, the Palace of Ashraf and the Palace of Eight Paradises.

The Isfahan city center is of more recent construction and now offers several services for visitors, including a museum, a food court serving traditional and international cuisine, an art gallery and the largest shopping mall in Iran.

Women's Mosque in Isfanhan, Iran
Grey Mosque, Isfahan CC BY 2.0 by Always Shooting

There is so much more to see and do in fascinating and beautiful Iran. Visit and experience the history, beauty and fascination of this ancient country.


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