Most travelers have an image of Iran before they arrive, and the country is as exotic as you can imagine. In Shiraz, the fragrance of roses fills the Persian gardens, while the trade goes merrily in the winding, covered streets of the bazaar. Young couples gather at the tomb of the poet Hafez to quote his poems, and outside Shiraz, the ruined city of Persepolis bears witness to the splendor and grandeur of the Persian Empire.
Yazd Grand Mosque or Jameh Mosque of Yazd is like a porch in the heart of the desert. The main foundations of the mosque were laid on a fire temple during the Sassanid era, but after Islam, it was completed as a mosque during the Ilkhanid and Timurid periods. The dome building belongs to the Ilkhani period. This building is famous for its dome, lofty and long pediment, as well as beautiful and unique tiling. The Grand Mosque in old Yazd was located inside the city wall and in the 4th century AH. it was close to the outskirts of the city. 500 square meters of the 9800 square meters of the mosque's infrastructure are made up of tiles and inscriptions. The length of the mosque is 104 meters and its width is 99 square meters. This building has 7 entrances that open to the surrounding alleys. This mosque is important for several reasons: first, it is the oldest example of architecture that was imitated in the religious architecture of Yazd region during the 9th century AH; This design is composed of a domed chamber and a long and elongated rectangular nave. The square plan of the mosque is derived from the architectural model of the Kaaba. It has a completely holy and sublime building in Islam and is used as a cosmic symbol in Muslim architectural patterns.
Completely different experiences await in the old caravan city of Yazd, where wind towers rise above the mud-clad houses of the old town, and the holy fire burns merrily in temples dedicated to Iran's ancient Zoroastrian religion. Ruins of caravan stations can still be seen along the old trade routes, and one can easily imagine a camel caravan emerging from the heat haze heading for Isfahan.
The 30th Bridge or Allahvardi Khan Bridge is a bridge with 33 spans, 295 meters long and 14 meters wide, which was built on the Zayandeh River in the city of Isfahan. The celebration of water sprinklers and the ceremony of the Armenian pilgrims of Isfahan were held during the Safavid period. The idea of building the Siuse bridge was born in 1008 AH. The Armenians of Jolfa of Isfahan also held their Hajj ceremony in the area of this bridge. This bridge is considered one of the architectural and bridge-building masterpieces of Iran and has a unique beauty and grandeur.
It is impossible not to fall in love with Isfahan, with its old stone bridges over the river, palaces, and magnificent mosques with blue domes. The large Imam square is buzzing with life, and in the bazaars, old craft traditions are kept alive.
The contrast is therefore great if you continue to Tehran, where you experience modern Iran at full blast. This is where much of Iran's recent history has been exhibited, and the city's museums are truly world-class. Before the trip, we recommend that you spend some moments on our convenient search platform and choose a local English-speaking tour guide in Iran who has a lot of experience in the ancient and contemporary history of the country, knows and advises you on the best itineraries, and speaks your language! For sure, among our Iranian tour guides, you will find the one who you like the most!
Karim Khan citadel is located in the center of Shiraz city. This citadel was built during the Zandian Dynasty and after Karimkhan Zand chose Shiraz as his capital and this place as his place of residence, it became known as Karimkhani Citadel. During the Mahlavi period, the citadel was used as a prison, which was destroyed. In 1350, this shield was transferred to the department of culture and art. This citadel is managed by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has been restored. This citadel is now used as a museum
Iran's nature also has a lot to offer. From sandy deserts to snowy mountains and lush valleys where nomads still roam with their animals. Another journey takes us to the holy pilgrimage city of Mashhad, while on a third journey, we explore the sun-baked landscapes of the islands of Qeshm and Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
Iran is full of exotic experiences and beautiful sights. But the country's biggest attraction is the hospitable Iranians, who welcome guests with open arms. They are genuinely happy for us to visit their country and form our own image of what a place it is. Therefore, a trip to Iran is an eye-opener for many. Because it quickly becomes clear that the country is very much different and more than the image we often get of the country in the media.
- Area: 1,648,195 km2
- Capital city: Tehran
- Currency: Rial (100 dinars) - abbreviated IRR
- Language: official - Persian (Farsi), but also people speak Arabic and Iranian languages, including Kurdish
- Time difference from Central Europe: +2½ hours
The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque also known as the Pink Mosque is a classic mosque in Shiraz, Iran. It is discovered near Shāh Chérāgh Mosque. It was created during the Qajar dynasty rule of Iran. The mosque possesses expansive colored glass in its front and shows other formal features such as the Panj Kāse ("five concaved") design.
We know the country intimately, and over the years we have assembled a fantastic local team of English-speaking tour guides who are all passionate about imparting their knowledge of the country.
Orsi windows in the Pink Mosque are windows made of a mixture of wood and colored glass from the Safavid and the Qajar dynasties. Orsi differs from the stained glass used in many churches and Ottoman mosques which serve as illuminated images rather than a source of light. Light is a major feature in many mosques considering it to be a major symbol of God in Islam. This is mentioned in a chapter in Quran: ″Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth″
There are many different Iran tours to choose from.
Iran tour of the highlights of Iran provides a good introduction to both ancient Persia and modern Iran. Here you will visit a string of pearls of the most exciting cities. One is 9 days, while the other is 14 days, giving a little more time in each place as well as the opportunity to visit the desert city of Yazd.
On the journey of Nomads and ancient Persia, we focus on the historic cities of Shiraz, Yazd, and Isfahan. We hear about the Persian Empire in the ruined cities of Persepolis and Bishapur, and we get a rare insight into the lives of the nomads when we spend the night with them.
In Celebration of Colors at Nasir ol-Mulk Mosque Shiraz Iran
Adventure travel in Iran is for those who want to experience the country away from the more popular routes. You follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims in the holy city of Mashhad before continuing by night train through the desert to the caravan city of Kerman. You will spend one night in a cave and another in a beautifully restored caravan station before continuing to Yazd, Isfahan, and Tehran.
Nature lovers also have much to look forward to on the islands of Qeshm and Hormuz, offering sun-baked landscapes, eroded canyons, and villages that rarely see foreign tourists. But your local personal English-speaking tour guide in Iran knows better how to surprise you and show you something absolutely unexpected!
It is fun to arrange a trip to Iran for women only as it offers the opportunity to experience aspects of Iranian society that would be impossible with a mixed group. Finally, the journey in Isfahan is a declaration of love for Iran's most beautiful city.
Panoramic view from the interior of the Pink Mosque
A week in Persia's most beautiful cities
During a week you will experience the best of Iran. Both the historical and the modern. You will visit beautiful gardens and palaces in Shiraz, and you will explore the ruined city of Persepolis and the nearby royal tombs of Naqsh-i Rustam. We walk along the river between historic bridges in Isfahan, which also features opulent mosques, palaces, and gardens.
The Golestan Palace also Gulistan Palace and occasionally rephrased as the Rose Garden Palace from the Persian language, was constructed in the 16th century, remodeled in the 18th century, and finally reconstructed in 1865. It is the former official royal Qajar complex in Tehran. One of the oldest historic memorials in the city of Tehran, and of world heritage status, the Golestan Palace belongs to a group of royal constructions that were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran's arg ("citadel"). It consists of royal buildings, gardens, and collections of Iranian crafts.
Completely different experiences await us in the Christian district of Jolfa and in Isfahan's old bazaar streets under the beautiful vaults. Here, carpet dealers compete to offer good deals on hand-knotted carpets, and in the former caravanserais, the old crafts are kept alive. You will continue to the caravan city of Kashan, known for its historic trading houses, before experiencing modern Iran in full blast in the big city of Tehran.
Another highlight is meeting the unusually friendly and welcoming population. On a trip to Iran, many of the prejudices the media have contributed to are disproved! Iran is a safe country to travel in. The Iranians welcome us with warm and sincere hospitality, and as long as we respect the current regime's standards of dress and behavior, all possibilities are open for a great experience in a beautiful and friendly country!
Highlights of the trip:
- Shiraz with its hectic bazaars, palaces, and beautiful gardens
- Mosques, palaces, bazaars, and historic bridges in beautiful Isfahan
- Follow in Niebuhr's footsteps through the ruined city of Persepolis
- Historic trading houses in the old caravan city of Kashan
- Experience modern Iran in the great city of Tehran
- We explore Iranian cuisine at local restaurants
The Brilliant Hall in the Golestan Palace was named so for it is adorned by the brilliant mirror created by Iranian crafters. The hall was created by the order of Nasser ed-Din Shah to replace another hall called Talar e Bolour ("the Crystal Hall"). The Brilliant Hall is famous for its mirror work and chandeliers.
Shiraz lies like a green oasis at the foot of the mountains and is known by the Iranians as "the city of roses, nightingales, and poetry". This is because, in the 13th century, Shiraz became the literary and cultural center of all of Persia. The two famous Iranian poets, Saadi and Hafez, were born in Shiraz during this period, and Hafez's picturesque tomb in particular is frequently visited by local Iranians. You can visit the cemetery one of these days and feel the special atmosphere in the beautiful garden.
View of the compartment below the windcatcher of the Golestan Palace, used today as a photographic museum, Iran's capital city, Tehran. The UNESCO World Heritage Site belongs to a group of monarchical constructions that were once held within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran's arg ("citadel") and is one of the most senior of the historic monuments in the city.
Among the many other highlights of Shiraz is the Nasir al Molk Mosque, where the sunlight pours in through the windows and casts brightly colored beams of light in all directions. You might also visit one of Iran's most famous gardens, Bagh-e Eram, located on the outskirts of the city. The garden is known for its cypress trees and for its palace from the last century, beautifully decorated with animal motifs.
The Pars Museum is another architectural gem. This small octagonal building clad in brightly colored tiles was originally built as a reception hall for Karim Khan, who ruled his kingdom from the nearby fortress. Today, the pavilion houses a small museum with Korans and paintings. The museum is not far from the Vakil Bazaar, which for centuries has been the focal point of trade in Shiraz. The bazaars are among the most atmospheric in Iran and it is a joy to explore the covered passageways flanked by stalls, small shops, and old caravan stations.
Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BC). It is settled in the valleys of Marvdasht, surrounded by the southern Zagros mountains of the Iranian plateau. Contemporary Shiraz is 60 kilometers (37 mi) southwest of the ruins of Persepolis. The earlier remains of Persepolis date back to 515 BC. It demonstrates the Achaemenid style of architecture. UNESCO declared the ruins of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979
Persepolis is 60 km from Shiraz. Persepolis was begun in the 5th century BC under King Darius I, and the city served as the ceremonial capital of Persia during the important New Year celebrations. It was here that the Persian king received delegations from the vassal states, which is shown most beautifully in the well-preserved reliefs. There are Scythians from the Black Sea region, Lydians from Western Turkey, and a delegation from the Indus Valley in what is now Pakistan. They have with them gifts that are carried on the backs of servants, and you can clearly see the differences in the clothing of the different people. Other reliefs show rows of soldiers as well as a lion attacking a bull.
Alexander the Great captured Persepolis in 331 BC and the city was sacked and partially destroyed during a fire. It was then abandoned and was only rediscovered in the early 17th century when travelers brought home descriptions of the ruins. One of these travelers was Carsten Niebuhr, who in 1765 visited Persepolis. He lived in a nearby village for almost a month, and every morning he rode his donkey over to the ruins, where he sketched ground plans, traced reliefs, and copied cuneiform inscriptions. It was Niebuhr's meticulous markings that created the basis for deciphering cuneiform writing.
Naqsh-e Jahan Square also known as the Shah Square prior to 1979, is a square situated at the center of Isfahan, Iran. Constructed between 1597 and 1628, it is now an important historical spot, and one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. It is 160 meters (520 ft) wide by 560 meters (1,840 ft) long (an area of 89,600 square meters (964,000 sq ft)). The Shah Mosque is situated on the south side of this square. On the west side is the Ali Qapu Palace. Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is situated on the eastern side of this square and at the northern side Qeysarie Gate opens into the Isfahan Grand Bazaar. Today, Namaaz-e Jom'eh (the Muslim Friday prayer) is held in the Shah Mosque.
We recommend that you visit the nearby Naqsh-i Rustam, where mighty reliefs and four magnificent royal tombs are carved into the rocks. From Persepolis, you better continue to Isfahan! Isfahan is undoubtedly one of the world's most beautiful cities and a pearl of Islamic architecture, which has led the city's inhabitants and poets to refer to Isfahan as "Half the World".
In the heart of the city is the large Emam square, which is flanked by three fantastic buildings. On one long side is the Ali Qapu Palace with the characteristic balcony from which the Shah could enjoy the polo matches in the square. On the other long side is the small, but richly decorated, mosque Lotfollah, a true architectural masterpiece. One end of the square is dominated by the mighty Emam Mosque, whose minarets and domes rise above the city. At the other end, a large gate marks the entrance to Isfahan's vast bazaar.
The Azadi Tower, formerly known as the Shahyad Tower is a monument on Azadi Square in Tehran, Iran. It is one of the milestones of Tehran, keeping the west entry to the municipality, and is an element of the Azadi Cultural Complex, which also contains a subterranean museum. The tower is about 45 meters (148 ft) in height and is fully clad in marble. It was designated by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, to honor the 2,500-year celebration of the Persian Empire and was assembled in 1971. It also functions as the country's kilometer zero.
Visit all three buildings before entering the bazaar, which is a veritable labyrinth of narrow streets covered by high stone vaults. In several places, the streets widen into squares with domes, where craftsmen and traders are in full swing. Handicrafts still have good conditions in Isfahan, and there will be an opportunity to see, among other things, metalwork, "inlay work" with mother-of-pearl, textile printing, carpet knotting, and various other crafts. Everything from spices to clothes can be bought in the bazaar, and countless carpet traders tempt you with hand-knotted carpets in beautiful patterns. But the price must be negotiated... The afternoon is free to enjoy the square and the bazaar on your own.
Iran exported $860 million worth of hand-woven carpets in 2014. In October 2006, National Iranian Carpet Center announced that hand-woven rugs have ranked first in the country's non-oil exports and held a third place among overall exports. Nearly 5 million workers are employed in the Iranian carpet industry, making it one of the biggest businesses in the country. Iran’s exports of hand-woven carpets are 30% of the world's market. Iran exports rugs to more than 100 countries.
Visit the Armenian district, Djolfa, where a large part of Isfahan's Christian inhabitants lives. Christians have a special status in Iranian society, and the district has no less than 13 Christian churches, including the magnificent Vank Cathedral. Сontinue down to the river, where old stone bridges from the 17th century connect the two banks. The most beautiful of the bridges are Khaju and Si-o-se-pol, where there are always plenty of people.
The weaving of fur carpets is a time-consuming method that, counting on the grade and length of the mat, may take from a few months to many years to finish. To begin creating a rug, one needs a basis consisting of warps and wefts: Warps are robust, dense lines of cotton, silk, or wool which handle through the measurement of the rug. Similar lines which pass under and over the warps from one side to the other are named wefts. The warps on either side of the rug are normally plied into one or more strings of varying thicknesses that are overcast to create the border.
More experiences await you at the small palace Chehel Sotun, also called the Pavilion with the 40 pillars. The building actually has only 20 tall, slender columns, but they are reflected in the palace pond, making it appear as if there are 40. Inside, the ancient building is adorned with large murals depicting glorious victories on the battlefield as well as parties with wine and dancing.
The ceiling of Chehel Sotoun. It is a Persian pavilion in the center of a garden at the far end of a long reservoir, in Isfahan, Iran, created by Shah Abbas II to be utilized for his enjoyment and receptions. In this palace, Shah Abbas II and his beneficiaries would welcome celebrities and representatives, either on the patio or in one of the reception halls.
Another highlight of today's tour is the Friday Mosque (Masjid-i-Jomeh), a masterpiece of Persian architecture. The mosque has been rebuilt and expanded several times over more than 1,000 years and the result is a fantastic mix of styles that shows the evolution of Persian architecture through the ages. And now leave Isfahan and drive north to Natenz, located in a valley surrounded by rose plantations. In Natanz, you will meet Abd al-Samad's tomb complex, which also serves as the town's Friday mosque.
Come and visit Kashan, which lies like an oasis on the edge of a large salt desert. Kashan is known for its distinguished old merchant houses with wind towers. Visit one of these architecturally interesting houses, Borjudi House, which was built by a rich merchant for approx. 150 years ago and also take a walk through the bazaars of Kashan, which hide several beautiful caravanserais, where the caravans were loaded in the past.
Persian handicrafts for sale in Great Bazaar in Isfahan city, Iran
The day starts with a visit to the historic garden, Bâgh-e Fin, laid out by Shah Abbas on the outskirts of Kashan. The garden is the classic version of paradise with natural springs and a small palace reflected in a pond. Iran has many beautiful gardens, but Bâgh-e Fin is considered one of the absolute masterpieces of Persian gardening.
From Kashan continue towards Tehran, which today is a hectic and modern metropolis with around 15 million inhabitants if you count the suburbs. It is in Tehran that many of the major events in Iran's history up through the 20th century have taken place, and here we really experience modern Iran at full blast. In Tehran, there should be time to visit one of the city's interesting museums, but that depends entirely on the traffic in the city. The day ends with a farewell dinner in Tehran.
Narrow residential street in the ancient Iranian village of Abyaneh
Isfahan is halfway around the world
It is impossible not to be enchanted by Isfahan. The rich folk lived in the Emam square, where horsemen in the 17th century played polo, while the king enjoyed a view of the square and the sumptuous Lotfallah and Emam mosques from the balcony. The atmosphere in the covered bazaars between stalls, carpet dealers, and small workshops, where the city's old crafts are kept alive. The smell of spices and the sound of the coppersmith's knock. In the evenings along the river, where the locals take a walk on the illuminated historic bridges. Not to forget the city's beautiful gardens with flowers and fountains, as well as the exciting Armenian district of Jolfa, which has deep Christian roots. Everywhere we meet the sincere hospitality of the Iranians, and it will quickly become clear why the locals say that "Isfahan is halfway around the world".
The Holy Savior Cathedral also learned as the Church of the Saintly Sisters is a cathedral found in the New Julfa neighborhood of Isfahan, Iran. It is generally guided to as the Vank (Վանք; وانک), which means "monastery" or "convent" in the Armenian language. The cathedral was founded in 1608, and constructed by the thousands of Armenians who were forcibly relocated by Shah Abbas I in his new capital as part of his scorched-earth policy in Armenia during the Ottoman War of 17 century. The varying wealth and freedom of this suburb across the Zayande River and its eclectic mix of European missionaries, mercenaries, and travelers can be traced almost chronologically in the cathedral's mixture of building styles and contrasts in its external and internal architectural treatment.
Come to Iran and experience the enchantment.
Go on an exciting day trip to the historic desert town of Varzaneh near Isfahan, whose sun-dried buildings show completely different sides of Iran. You can also look forward to seeing Persian cuisine at the city's restaurants, which are among the country's best, and at the city's atmospheric tea houses, the scent of sweet tea spreads with the atmosphere of 1001 nights.
Five ancient bridges, all architectural masterpieces, lead over the river Zyandeh-Rood. The 33 Arches bridge dates from 1600. A series of arcades give this 300-meters long bridge an elegant silhouette. The most famous bridge in all of Iran, Khaju-Bridge is a unique structure with two floors of arcades.
The Khaju Bridge is one of the documented bridges on the Zayanderud, the biggest river of the Iranian Plateau, in Isfahan, Iran. Functioning as both a bridge and a weir, it connects the Khaju quarter on the north bank with the Zoroastrian quarter across the Zayanderud. It is located at the end of Kamal Ismail Street in Isfahan. The bridge had a primary role as a building and a place for public meetings in the past. It has been described as the city's most pleasing bridge!
The morning is set aside for a visit to three buildings in connection with the large square, Emam Pladsen. These are the Ali Qapu Palace, the Lotfollah Mosque, and the Emam Mosque. At the beginning of the 17th century, Shah Abbas moved the capital to Isfahan. He used the most skilled craftsmen to build fantastic buildings, which is why the city is today dominated by blue domes. But nowhere is Isfahan more ostentatious than in Emam Square. After the incomparable buildings, go to the opposite end of the square to visit the bazaars, where you can still experience traditional craftsmanship.
Iran is known for hand-knotted carpets, even some of the world's finest. You will see carpet knotting and further processing, and you will hear about washing the carpets and repairing them. You learn about the different carpet types and what you need to pay attention to if you want to buy a carpet yourself. There is an opportunity to shop in the bazaar, stroll along the river and perhaps drink tea in one of the small teahouses.
Mural painting (Safavid era) in Chehel Sotoun in Isfahan, Iran
Chehel Sotun, also called the Pavilion with the 40 pillars, is now a museum with historical paintings and ceramics, but it was originally built for the king's receptions and various entertainment. Two rows of fountains and fountains in the form of stone lions encircle the large, elegant water basin.
The Friday Mosque (Masjid-i-Jomeh), founded in the 11th century, is the most magnificent example of Seljuk period Persian architecture. In later eras right up to our time, new building parts have been added, and the courtyard facades have been covered with brightly colored tile mosaics. In this facility, one can thus read 1000 years of Persian architectural history. After almost 2 hours drive from Isfahan, you can arrive at Varzaneh, an exciting desert village. Just before you get there, you see an ancient citadel, Qortan Citadel, which is actually the world's second-largest citadel in clay architecture.
Salt Lake in Khara near Varzaneh, Isfahan, Iran
Varzaneh is special in many ways. Some of the women are dressed in white, a relic from the time before Islam. There are many handicrafts, especially weaving, and we visit a woman who has been weaving the most beautiful textiles in cotton ever since she was 12 years old. On the outskirts of the city, there is a fine old bridge from the Safavid era, and just outside the city, you will experience a real sand desert with high, golden sand dunes.
On today's drive, you will experience the different landscapes with villages, many of which still have impressive pigeon towers, where pigeon manure was collected. There are shepherds with herds of goats and you may also see camels. Visit Isfahan's Armenian district of Jolfa, where there are 13 Christian churches, including a magnificent cathedral, the Vank Cathedral. The interior of this church is a style mix of Islamic-Persian and Christian-European.
Hasht Behesht literally meaning "the Eight Heavens" in Persian, is a 17th-century gazebo in Isfahan, Iran. It was created by the demand of Suleiman I, the 8th Shah of Iran's Safavid Empire, and served mainly as a private belvedere. It is discovered in Isfahan's famous Charbagh Street. It was also the first modern school in Isfahan. The structure is octagonal in shape and has two major entrances. Four larger sides of it feature extensive balconies (iwans), under which some tall and thin wooden columns are lifted. The gazebo is ornamented with mural paintings, perforated woodwork, prismatic mirrors, plaster, and tile works.
Here in the middle of Muslim Iran, there are still Armenians, today approx. 8,000. They have the freedom to practice their Christian religion. They didn't come here voluntarily. During the war with the Ottomans in 1605, Shah Abbas – who made Isfahan the capital of Persia – burned down the Armenian city of Jolfa to prevent it from falling into Ottoman hands. Out of 15,000 families, approximately 3,000 were settled in Isfahan in a new district that was named New Jolfa. Shah Abbas wanted to exploit the Armenians' strengths in silk production and trade so that they could contribute to the development of the country's new capital. Jolfa became a prosperous district and still is. This results, among other things, in some of the highest property prices in Isfahan. It is strictly recommended to visit one of the famous gardens; Bagh-e Bulbul (Garden of the Nightingale). Between the garden's trees and flowers, there is a small palace, Hasht Behesht, built in 1669, and one of the city's best-preserved royal buildings.
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