Tag - Asia

Iran Photo Gallery

Lake Maharloo, Shiraz, Iran.

Iran Photo Gallery

This is an Iran Photo Gallery from taste2travel.

To read about this destination, please refer to my Iran Travel Guide.


All images are copyright! If you wish to purchase any images for commercial use, please contact me via the Contact page.


 

 


About taste2travel!

Hi! My name is Darren McLean, the owner of taste2travel.

I’ve been travelling the world for 36 years and, 230 countries and territories, and seven continents later, I’m still on the road.

Taste2travel offers travel information for destinations around the world, specialising in those that are remote and seldom visited. I hope you enjoy my content!

Ever since I was a child, I have been obsessed with the idea of travel. I started planning my first overseas trip at the age of 19 and departed Australia soon after my 20th birthday. Many years later, I’m still on the road.

In 2016, I decided to document and share my journeys and photography with a wider audience and so, taste2travel.com was born.

My aim is to create useful, usable travel guides/ reports on destinations I have visited. My reports are very comprehensive and detailed as I believe more information is better than less. They are best suited to those planning a journey to a particular destination.

Many of the destinations featured on my website are far off the regular beaten tourist trail. Often, these countries are hidden gems which remain undiscovered, mostly because they are remote and difficult to reach. I enjoy exploring and showcasing these ‘off-the-radar’ destinations, which will, hopefully, inspire others to plan their own adventure to a far-flung corner of the planet.

I’m also a fan of travel trivia and if you are too, you’ll find plenty of travel quizzes on the site.

Photography has always been a passion and all the photos appearing in these galleries were taken by me.

If you have any questions or queries, please contact me via the contact page.

I hope you this gallery and my website.

Safe travels!

Darren


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Iran Travel Guide

The Cover Photo: A view of the truly magnificent Shah Mosque, a highlight of Esfahan.

Iran Travel Guide

This is an Iran Travel Guide from taste2travel.com

Date Visited: May 2023

Introduction

Welcome to my Iran Travel Guide!

I recently travelled to Iran for 3-weeks, traversing what is known as the ‘Classic Route‘, travelling from Shiraz, north to Tehran, stropping at Yazd, Esfahan (Isfahan), Kashan and Tehran.

A view of the spectacular dome at the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Esfahan, one of many outstanding sights in Iran.

A view of the spectacular dome at the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Esfahan, one of many outstanding sights in Iran.

During my time in the country, I travelled with an amazing freelance Iranian guide, Esmaeil Shahsavar (aka Essi), who made my trip so much more memorable than if I had travelled by myself!

Travelling in Iran with the amazing Essi!

Travelling in Iran with the amazing Essi!

Essi is a proud Iranian who is passionate about Iran’s history, culture and society. Through him, I was introduced to many remarkable people and places, which allowed me to gain insights into Iran that wouldn’t be available to me as a regular tourist.

I highly recommend engaging the services of a local guide who is passionate and knowledgeable. I have included contact details for Essi in the ‘Tour Guide‘ section below.

Detail of the sublime tilework at the Shah Mosque in Esfahan.

Detail of the sublime tilework at the Shah Mosque in Esfahan.

Did you know? Iran is home to 27 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, making it one of the top 10 countries in terms of UNESCO sites.

In so many ways, Iran has been a cradle of civilisation for humanity. Iran is known for its ancient civilisations, stunning architecture and its influence on the greater region and beyond.

An aerial view, taken from my Flydubai flight, of the spectacularly pink Maharloo Lake.

An aerial view, taken from my Flydubai flight, of the spectacularly pink Maharloo Lake.

During my 3-weeks in Iran, I took 1,500 photos. In most other countries, I would take 200-300 photos in the same period of time.

Iran is one of the most surprising, authentic travel destinations anywhere on planet Earth.  

Iran is unlike most countries – a fascinating travel destination which offers an overwhelming amount of sightseeing, including no less than 27 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Columns, from the ruined Apadana Palace at Persepolis.

Columns, from the ruined Apadana Palace at Persepolis.

As for the people, the hospitality of Iranians is legendary and I was always made to feel very welcome.

There is a vast difference between everyday Iranians and the Iranian government, whose, normally provocative, actions make the daily news cycle for all the wrong reasons.

Iranians are generally an intelligent, educated, open-minded lot who are keen to engage with the outside world.

Iran rial banknotes, featuring the image of Ayatollah Khomeini, the first supreme leader of Iran.

Iran rial banknotes, featuring the image of Ayatollah Khomeini, the first supreme leader of Iran.

Despite the internet being blocked by the government, most Iranians access the internet using VPN’s. Despite efforts by the government, Iranians tend to be fully informed!

Due to international sanctions, there are many restrictions imposed on Iran.

Credit cards cannot be used inside Iran, which also means that cash cannot be withdrawn from ATMs. I cover all of these monetary restrictions, and solutions, in the ‘Currency‘ section below.

Additionally, applying for a tourist visa isn’t so straight-forward and is best done using an Iranian-registered travel company. The visa application process is fully explained in the ‘Visa Requirement‘ section below.

If you have thought about visiting Iran, I would urge you to go.

I had an amazing time in the country and look forward to returning one day to continue my road-trip through this fascinating, ancient, and modern, land.

Location

Iran is located in the heart of western Asia, at a crossroads with the Middle East. Iran’s strategic location has made it an historically important crossroads for trade and cultural exchange between the East and the West.

Iran shares land borders to the north with Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the exclave of Nakhchivan (an autonomous region of
Azerbaijan).

To the northeast, Iran is bordered by Afghanistan, while to the east, it shares a long border with Pakistan. To the west, it borders Iraq.

To the southwest, Iran has a long coastline along the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. On the other side of the Persian Gulf, the same body of water is referred to as the Arabian Gulf – much to the annoyance of Iranians.

In terms of topography, Iran is very diverse, with vast mountain ranges, deserts, plateaus, and fertile valleys.

The Zagros Mountains run along its western border, while the Alborz Mountains are located in the north. Central Iran is dominated by the Iranian Plateau, which includes the Dasht-e Kavir (Great Salt Desert) and the Dasht-e Lut (Lut Desert).

The country also features several fertile plains and valleys, including the Caspian Sea (the world’s largest landlocked body of water) to the north.

People

The people of Iran, known as Iranians, are a diverse and culturally rich population with a long history dating back thousands of years.

Iran is a multi-ethnic country, and Iranians are comprised of various ethnic groups. The majority are Persian, making up about 61% of the population.

Other significant ethnic groups include Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, Lurs, Baloch, and Turkmen, among others. This ethnic diversity contributes to the cultural richness of the nation.

The official language of Iran is Persian (Farsi), and it serves as the lingua franca across the country. However, many Iranians are bilingual or multilingual, with minority ethnic groups often speaking their own languages or dialects.


Why Two Door Knockers? 

A traditional wooden door, featuring two door knockers.

A traditional wooden door, featuring two door knockers.

Formerly, in more conservative times, traditional wooden doors in Iran featured two knockers.

The knocker on the left was used by female visitors, while the one on the right was used by male visitors.

Always, the door knocker on the left is to be used by female visitors, while the one on the right is to be used by male visitors, with each producing a different sound.

Always, the door knocker on the left is to be used by female visitors, while the one on the right is to be used by male visitors, with each producing a different sound.

This allowed householders to know the gender of the visitor before they opened the door.

This was important since it wasn’t acceptable for a male to open a door to a female visitor and vice-versa. 


The predominant religion in Iran is Shia Islam. The country is home to some of the most important Shia religious sites, and religious practices play a significant role in the daily lives of many Iranians. However, there are also religious minorities in Iran, including Sunni Muslims, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.

Iranians have a rich cultural heritage that includes contributions to literature, poetry, art, music, and philosophy. Persian poetry, with luminaries like Rumi and Hafez, holds a special place in world literature.

Persian carpets, such as this one in Kashan, are in integral part of Iranian culture.

Persian carpets, such as this one in Kashan, are in integral part of Iranian culture.

Traditional Persian music, characterised by instruments like the tar and setar, is renowned for its beauty and complexity.

Iranians are known for their warm hospitality. Guests are highly esteemed in Iranian culture, and it is common for hosts to go to great lengths to make visitors feel welcome.

Iran has a strong emphasis on education, and literacy rates are relatively high. Both men and women have access to education, and women’s participation in higher education has been steadily increasing over the years.

A birthday girl, posing for the camera at Maharloo Lake.

A birthday girl, posing for the camera at Maharloo Lake.

The dress code in Iran varies, but modesty is a key consideration. Traditional clothing such as the chador, hijab, and manteau are common for women, while men typically wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers.

However, younger Iranian women are challenging the established norms, with many choosing not to wear hijab. This is a direct challenge to the conservative Islamic leaders who run the country and continues to cause friction and problems.

Flag

The flag of Iran, as souvenir fridge magnets.

The flag of Iran, as souvenir fridge magnets.

The flag of Iran, also known as the Iranian Tricolor consists of three horizontal stripes of equal width, arranged from top to bottom in the following colors:

1. Green Stripe: The top stripe is green, which holds significant historical and cultural symbolism. Green has long been associated with Islam, representing growth, hope, and happiness. It is also a colour that reflects the natural landscapes of Iran, including its lush gardens and forests.

2. White Stripe: The middle stripe is white, which symbolises peace and purity. White is often seen as a color of harmony and tranquility, reflecting the desire for a peaceful coexistence among Iran’s people and with the rest of the world.

3. Red Stripe: The bottom stripe is red, a color that represents valour, bravery, and the bloodshed of those who sacrificed for Iran’s independence and freedom. It also symbolises the country’s long history of struggle against invaders and oppressors.

The flag of Iran, flying at Pasargadae.

The flag of Iran, flying at Pasargadae.

In the centre of the white stripe, near the hoist side, there is a stylised emblem known as the “Allah-o-Akbar” emblem. This emblem features a stylised calligraphic design of the phrase “Allah-o-Akbar,” which means “God is the Greatest” in Arabic script.

The calligraphy is done in a way that it forms a stylised version of the word “Allah” (God) within the emblem.

Currency

The Iranian rial, aka toman, is the official currency of Iran.

The Iranian rial, aka toman, is the official currency of Iran.

The currency situation in Iran is especially confusing for the first-time visitor.

While the official currency is the Iranian rial (international currency code: IRR), all prices are expressed in toman. The toman is an ancient currency which has existed since 1798.

In 1932, the rial was introduced, with one toman being equal to 10 rial. Although, today, the rial is the official currency, all prices are expressed in toman.

My uncirculated wad of one hundred, 10,000 Iranian rial, banknotes which I purchased from a money changer.

My uncirculated wad of one hundred, 10,000 Iranian rial, banknotes which I purchased from a money changer.

Iranians transact in toman, not rial, although they use rial banknotes. 

What makes things confusing is that all bank notes are issued in rial, but they are used as toman. To further complicate matters, three extra zeros are omitted from the rial when converting to toman.

This means, if you purchase something which is worth 2,000,000 rial – you will pay 200,000 toman which is expressed simply as ‘200’. Very confusing for visitors.

Currently, four different versions of the 1,000,000 Iranian rial bank note are in circulation, although each is expressed as '100' toman.

Currently, four different versions of the 1,000,000 Iranian rial bank note are in circulation, although each is expressed as ‘100’ toman.

If that’s not confusing enough, different series of Iranian rial banknotes are in circulation at the same time. For example, there are currently four different versions of the 1,000,000 rial bank note in circulation (ss shown above).

As can be seen in the image above, the latest versions of the bank notes (right side) have the last 4 zeros of the rial amount shaded out so that the value is expressed as toman. Additionally, the toman amount of ‘100’ is clearly displayed on the notes.

As an example of an everyday transaction, if you pay for a coffee in a café, you’ll be charged 150 toman which is 1,500,000 rials.

Exchange Rate

Bank notes in Iran feature the image of Ayatollah Khomeini, the first supreme leader of Iran from 1979 until his death in 1989.

Bank notes in Iran feature the image of Ayatollah Khomeini, the first supreme leader of Iran from 1979 until his death in 1989.

The exchange rate of the Iranian rial has experienced significant fluctuations due to economic factors and sanctions.

Currently (October 2023), USD $1 = IRR 42,250.

You can check the current exchange rate here.

Credit Cards

While there are many ATMs in Iran, they only accept Iranian bank cards.

While there are many ATMs in Iran, they only accept Iranian bank cards.

Due to sanctions, Iran is not part of the international bank system and as such, international credit cards cannot be used in Iran.

This also means that foreigners are unable to withdraw cash from ATMs in Iran. You will need to arrive in the country with enough USD cash (or Euro) for your entire stay.

Iranian banks do issue domestic cards to their customers, which allow Iranians to pay for purchases electronically and withdraw cash from ATM’s.

Iranians are big on electronic payments, preferring to pay for almost everything using a card, rather than carrying loads of cash.

Credit cards also cannot be used to pay for hotels in Iran and, due to sanctions, the regular online booking sites (booking.com etc.) do not list Iranian hotels.

One Iranian online accommodation provider, 1st Quest, allows you to pre-book, and pre-pay, for accommodation using your international credit card. Transactions on this site are conducted outside of Iran.

You should book all accommodation prior to arriving in Iran. Please refer to the ‘Accommodation‘ section below for more on 1st Quest.

Prepaid Tourist Card

The Mah Card is an Iranian prepaid debit card for tourists.

The Mah Card is an Iranian prepaid debit card for tourists.

One card option available for visitor’s is Mah Card, an Iranian debit card which can be pre-loaded with funds which saves you from carrying around piles of cash.

Due to the processing time involved in issuing the card (up to 7 days), it’s essential that you apply for this in advance of your trip.

Upon arrival in Iran, the card will be waiting for you at your nominated accommodation.

Accessing Your Home Bank

It should be noted that due to sanctions, your bank at home might be inaccessible in Iran. When I tried to login to my bank in Australia, I received a message to say that the service was unavailable in Iran due to sanctions regulations.

Costs

Travel costs in Iran are totally reasonable! As a destination, Iran offers excellent value for money.

One of the biggest bargains in Iran is petrol, which currently costs US$0.06 per litre! Some of the cheapest fuel in the world!

Travel Budgets (daily): 

  • Budget: US$25
  • Mid-range: US$60
  • Top-end: US$150

Sample costs in Iran:

  • Meal for one in a budget restaurant: US$3.50
  • Meal for two in a mid-range restaurant: US$23.00
  • Cappuccino: US$1.25
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33L bottle): US$0.77
  • Mineral Water (.5L): US$0.70
  • Car with guide (per day): US$130-150
  • Petrol (1L): US$0.06
  • A room at a budget hostel (Yazd Friendly Hotel): US$16
  • A room at a mid-range hotel (Keryas Traditional Hotel in Esfahan): US$43
  • A room at a top-end hotel (Ferdowsi International Grand Hotel in Tehran): US$80

Iranian Travel Companies

Tap Persia

It goes without saying – Iran is not your usual travel destination!  

Due to sanctions, and the ongoing (difficult) political environment, there are many considerations which must be made when planning a trip to Iran.

If you apply for a visa independently, there is a good chance your application will be denied.

You need to apply for a visa through an Iranian-registered travel company. For a full description of the Visa Application process, please refer to the ‘Visa Requirements‘ section below.

Because of sanctions, most international travel insurance policies do not provide coverage in Iran – you will need to purchase an Iranian travel insurance policy.

Also – credit cards cannot be used anywhere inside Iran. You cannot withdraw cash from ATMs anywhere in Iran.

However, you can apply, in advance, for an Iran Tourist Card which is an Iranian debit card which you can pre-load online and will allow you to make electronic payments throughout Iran.

All of these services are offered by the amazingly helpful folks at Tap Persia.

Tap Persia is a one-stop shop for all your Iran travel needs!  

If you are planning a trip to Iran, you would be wise to first contact Tap Persia.

From their website, you can organise everything online. Their most important service is the Visa Application service.

Their service is friendly and efficient! They are the gateway to Iran for so many travellers!

1st Quest

Also because of sanctions, hotels in Iran cannot be booked using the regular online booking websites.

You can pre-book hotels online, and pay with your credit card, using 1st Quest which is Iran’s version of booking.com.

Iranian Tour Guide

"Essi is your man in Iran!"

“Essi is your man in Iran!”

Normally, I travel independently!

However, prior to arriving in Iran, I was introduced to a Shiraz-based tour guide, Esmaeil Shahsavar (aka Essi), through some friends who had travelled previously with him and highly recommended the experience!

Essi is a qualified tour guide who speaks perfect English. He is a proud Iranian who loves his country, its culture, history and its people!

He works both as a freelance tour guide and for established tour companies and has an expansive knowledge of the entire country. Wherever we went, he knew of hidden sights which he loved to share with me.

Video of Persepolis by Essi!

Essi is also a keen videographer and was always making videos of our adventures. He shares many of his videos on his Instagram account.

I contacted Essi and organised to use his services in Shiraz and onto Yazd. Beyond Yazd, I planned to travel independently to Tehran.

However, it became clear on the first day that Essi is more than just a tour guide. He has a genuine love for Iran, and is eager to share its history, culture, sights, cuisine and so much more with visitors.

Even as we drove between sights, in his clean and comfortable white Peugeot, he would play the most beautiful Iranian music and provide translation of the lyrics!

In the end, I realised my travel experience in Iran would be greatly enhanced by having Essi as my full-time guide. I agreed to travel with Essi for the 21-days I was in Iran!

During this time, I travelled what is known as the ‘Classic Route‘, starting in Shiraz, then moving on to Yazd, Esfahan, Kashan then Tehran.

In each city, I scheduled a 4-night stay which allowed time to explore the sights in and outside of each city.

At every step of the trip, Essi would surprise me by revealing dazzling sights in the most remote and unlikely locations. With him, I visited places I could never have reached with regular public transport.

In every city, Essi knew people, and introduced me to his many friends which further enhanced my travel experience.

Travelling in Iran with Essi was a no-brainer – it was a win/win situation.

The 21-days I spent travelling the Classic Route with Essi was the ultimate Iran Road Trip.

If you are planning a trip to Iran and would like to travel with a freelance guide, who will enthusiastically share his knowledge and passion for his amazing country, then Essi is your man in Iran!

Contact Details for Essi:

Sightseeing

Sightseeing in Iran offers a captivating journey through a land rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Iran boasts a wide range of attractions, from ancient historical sites to stunning landscapes.

The sightseeing section follows the direction of my travel, starting in Shiraz and ending in Tehran.

Shiraz

Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature, and gardens. One of the principal cities in Iran, Shiraz is an historic and culturally rich city located in the southern part of the country.

The city has a long and illustrious history dating back over 4,000 years. It was the capital of the Persian Empire during the Zand Dynasty in the 18th century and played a significant role in Persian culture and politics.

Colourful cushions for sale at Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz.

Colourful cushions for sale at Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz.

Shiraz is often referred to as the “City of Poets,” the “City of Gardens,” and the “City of Love” due to its association with Persian literature, lush gardens, and romantic ambiance.

Shiraz is renowned for its deep connection to Persian poetry and literature. It is the birthplace of some of Iran’s most celebrated poets, including Hafez and Saadi.

The city is known for its stunning Islamic architecture. Some of the most impressive landmarks include the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque (also known as the “Pink Mosque”) with its colorful stained-glass windows, and the Shah Cheragh Shrine, known for its dazzling mirror work and intricate tile designs.

Shiraz offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that makes it a captivating destination for anyone interested in exploring Iran’s rich heritage. It is a city where poetry comes to life, and visitors can immerse themselves in the timeless beauty of Persian culture.

Shiraz offers many days of sightseeing both inside the city and outside, where the spectacularly pink Maharloo Lake is a truly surreal sight.

The city is the best base from which to make daytrips to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Persepolis, Naqsh-e Rostam and Pasargadae. 

Some of the sights of Shiraz include:

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque

Built during the Qajar dynasty, construction of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque began in 1876 by the order of Mirza Hassan Ali Nasir-ol-Mulk, one of the lords of Shiraz.

Built during the Qajar dynasty, construction of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque began in 1876 by the order of Mirza Hassan Ali Nasir-ol-Mulk, one of the lords of Shiraz.

Built during the Qajar dynasty, construction of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque began in 1876 by the order of Mirza Hassan Ali Nasir-ol-Mulk, one of the lords and aristocrats of Shiraz and was completed in 1888.

The pink colour which covers the walls of the Pink Mosque was created by craftsmen who used an expensive glaze, which included gold.

The pink colour which covers the walls of the Pink Mosque was created by craftsmen who used an expensive glaze, which included gold.

The mosque is known for its many coloured glass Orsi windows and its fully tiled walls which feature a distinct pink colour.

One of the magnificent <i>Muqarnas</i>, a form of decorative vaulting, which is popular in Iranian-Islamic architecture, at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque.

One of the magnificent Muqarnas, a form of decorative vaulting, which is popular in Iranian-Islamic architecture, at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque.

Craftsmen used a very expensive glaze that contained gold to colour the tiles with pink. It is said that 20 kilograms of gold was used for this process. It is for this reason that the mosque is nicknamed the “Pink Mosque”.

Truly resplendent mosque decoration, at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

Truly resplendent mosque decoration, at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

One of the standout architectural features at the Pink Mosque are the Muqarnas, a form of decorative vaulting, which is popular in Iranian-Islamic architecture.

A view of a <i>Muqarna</i>, surrounded by a sea of pretty pink tiles, at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

A view of a Muqarna, surrounded by a sea of pretty pink tiles, at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

In muqarnas, the surface of a vault or dome is subdivided into niche-like cells that have no load-bearing function.

Also known as stalactite vaulting or honeycomb vaulting, the example at the Pink Mosque is truly stunning.

A smaller, but equally dazzling Muqarna, at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

A smaller, but equally dazzling Muqarna, at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is famous for its seven Orsi windows, which are made of a mixture of wood and colourful glass.

A view of the richly decorated interior of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque.

A view of the richly decorated interior of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque.

Although stained glass is mostly popular in churches nowadays, the earliest discovered was in Syria from the 7th century CE.

A spectacular rainbow of stained glass makes the "Pink Mosque" one of the most beautiful in Iran.

A spectacular rainbow of stained glass makes the “Pink Mosque” one of the most beautiful in Iran.

There is evidence of techniques and recipes for obtaining stained glass by the Persian chemist Jabir ibn Hayyan who published his techniques as early as the 8th century CE.

The best time to photograph the windows at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is in the early morning.

The best time to photograph the windows at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is in the early morning.


Photography Tips: 

  • The best time to photograph the Orsi windows at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is in the early morning – before 8am.
  • The best season for photography is in winter, when the sun is low in the sky. This low angle of sunlight fills the mosque with lots of colourful light. I visited during the summer when the sun is higher in the sky and the colourful light shadows are shorter.   

Orsi differs from stained glass used in many churches and Ottoman mosques which serve as illuminated images rather than a source of light.

<i>Orsi</i> windows at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

Orsi windows at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

Orsi windows are characterised for using pieces of colour glass, which are cut into different geometric shapes. Such shapes were used due to the prohibition of images and icons in Islamic art.

Orsi windows are characterised for using geometric shapes in their designs due to the prohibition of images and icons in Islamic art.

Orsi windows are characterised for using geometric shapes in their designs due to the prohibition of images and icons in Islamic art.

The main purpose of Orsi is creating colourful light on the interior of the building.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque has seven wooden doors with colourful Orsi connecting the interior mosque to the courtyard.

A view of the courtyard at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

A view of the courtyard at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.

Shahcheragh Shrine

A view of the Shahcheragh Shrine, the holiest shrine in the city of Shiraz, during the magical 'golden hour'.

A view of the Shahcheragh Shrine, the holiest shrine in the city of Shiraz, during the magical ‘golden hour’.

The Shahcheragh Shrine is the holiest shrine in the city of Shiraz and the 3rd holiest shrine in Iran.

The shrine houses the tomb of Ahmed bin Musa, the son of Musa al-Kadhim, who is known as Shah Cheragh (King of the Light) in local traditions.

A view of one of the minarets at the golden porch at the Shahcheragh Shrine in Shiraz.

A view of one of the minarets at the golden porch at the Shahcheragh Shrine in Shiraz.

The first structure over the grave of Ahmed bin Musa was built in the 13th century CE.

Worshippers praying at the Tomb of Sayyid Ahmad, inside the Shahcheragh Shrine.

Worshippers praying at the Tomb of Sayyid Ahmad, inside the Shahcheragh Shrine.

Like other Shia holy shrines, the interior of the shrine is decorated with a profusion of individually laid mirrors.

A view of the mirror-covered central dome, inside the Shahcheragh Shrine in Shiraz.

A view of the mirror-covered central dome, inside the Shahcheragh Shrine in Shiraz.

The mausoleum of Sayyid Ahmad is topped by a large dome which is covered in individually laid mirrors.



Visiting Tips:

  • Large cameras are not allowed inside the shrine – only smartphone cameras are permitted. 
  • All tourists must be fully escorted by a friendly mosque guardian.  

Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine

The Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine was constructed in the 10th century CE to honour a noble descendant of the prophet of Islam.

The Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine was constructed in the 10th century CE to honour a noble descendant of the prophet of Islam.

Welcome to the most tourist-friendly Islamic sight in Shiraz!

Built in Shiraz in the 10th century to honour a noble descendant of the prophet of Islam, the Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine is now a popular praying retreat for Muslims.

A view of the shrine of Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine.

A view of the shrine of Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine.

Its peaceful ambiance, soothing architecture, and welcoming attitude of its caretakers toward any kind of visitors have made this shrine an attractive destination in Shiraz.

I was made to feel welcome in the visitor’s centre, where I was offered cups of tea and biscuits.

The shrine was constructed in the 10th century CE, to honour Ali Ibn Hamzeh, who was a descendant of the prophet of Islam and is a sacred figure for Shiites.

The shrine of Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine is installed below a dazzling mirror-covered central dome.

The shrine of Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine is installed below a dazzling mirror-covered central dome.

Ali Ibn Hamzeh was prosecuted by the caliph and fled to Shiraz in 805, but after staying hidden for some time, he was finally found and killed.

Every inch of the interior of the Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine is covered with tiny, hand-laid mirrors.

Every inch of the interior of the Ali Ibn Hamzeh Shrine is covered with tiny, hand-laid mirrors.

In around 950, the local ruler of Shiraz built a shrine which was later developed further.

Like other Shia Holy Shrines, the interior of this shrine offers a dazzling profusion of mirror work with each thumbnail-sized fragment being installed individually.

A truly stunning sight in a country which is full of breathtakingly beautiful wonders.

Qavam House

Located in the heart of Shiraz, Qavam House is a traditional and historical house and garden.

Located in the heart of Shiraz, Qavam House is a traditional and historical house and garden.

Located in the heart of the Iranian city of Shiraz, Qavam House – also known as Narenjestan garden, is a traditional and historical house and garden.

Built between 1879 and 1886, the building preserves the elegance and refinement enjoyed by upper-class Persian families during the 19th century.

A view of Qavam House from the garden.

A view of Qavam House from the garden.

Qavam House was built during the Qajar period in the late 19th century. At that time, the Qavam family was among the political figures of Shiraz, and Qavam House served as the residential place of the Qavam family and the office for their administration.

Since the garden has an abundance of sour orange trees, people call it Narenjestan. Interestingly, the Spanish world for ‘orange’ is naranja. 

A wall mosaic, in the garden at Qavam House, which depicts three Qajari eunuchs.

A wall mosaic, in the garden at Qavam House, which depicts three Qajari eunuchs.

The garden at Qavam House features date palms, and a large number of sour orange trees.

Persian gardens generally have a rectangular form consisting of four quarters abundant in trees and flowers, streams and pathways, ponds and fountains.

A symbol of wealth - the stunning mirrored porch at Qavam House was built during an age when only the wealthy could afford to buy mirrors.

A symbol of wealth – the stunning mirrored porch at Qavam House was built during an age when only the wealthy could afford to buy mirrors.

A highlight of the house is the spectacular mirrored porch.

The ceiling of the mirrored porch at Qavam House, Shiraz.

The ceiling of the mirrored porch at Qavam House, Shiraz.

In the 19th century, mirrors were an expensive item to purchase, with most mirrors imported from Russia. The use of mirrors was a way for a family to indicate its wealth.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall! A mirrored room, inside Qavam House, Shiraz.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall! A mirrored room, inside Qavam House, Shiraz.

Two smaller porches feature very fine plaster stucco work.

A porch at Qavam House features a profusion of plaster stucco work.

A porch at Qavam House features a profusion of plaster stucco work.

Qavam House has elaborate architecture embellished with various Persian arts such as paintings, stucco, wood carving, stone carving, tile work, and mirror work.

An artist at Qavam House, painting a miniature on a piece of stone.

An artist at Qavam House, painting a miniature on a piece of stone.

In the basement of the house are some truly talented artists. One artist paints miniature images on bird feathers using a tiny brush made from cat’s fur.

This scene has been painted onto a feather, by an artist at Qavam House, using a tiny brush made from cat's fur.

This scene has been painted onto a feather, by an artist at Qavam House, using a tiny brush made from cat’s fur.

Eram Garden

Eram Garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous Persian gardens in Shiraz.

Eram Garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous Persian gardens in Shiraz.

Relaxing and expansive, Eram Garden is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous Persian gardens in Shiraz.

A view of the pavilion at Eram Garden.

A view of the pavilion at Eram Garden.

It features meticulously landscaped gardens, fountains, and historic buildings, making it a peaceful oasis within the city.

Arg of Karim Khan

Located in the centre of Shiraz, the Karim Khan Citadel was built as part of a complex during the Zand dynasty.

Located in the centre of Shiraz, the Karim Khan Citadel was built as part of a complex during the Zand dynasty.

The Arg of Karim Khan or Karim Khan Citadel, is a citadel located in downtown Shiraz, Iran. It was built as part of a complex during the Zand dynasty (1751 to 1794).

It is named after Karim Khan Zand, and served as his living quarters. It is rectangular in shape and resembles a medieval fortress.

The dynasty, which ruled most of ancient Iran, began as a Safavid restoration but soon became an independent effort to restore peace and prosperity.

It rebuilt and rerouted trade through Iran, issued coins in the name of the Hidden Imam, and built a mosque in Shiraz, but never sought clerical endorsement of power.

Buildings inside the Karim Khan Citadel feature <i>Orsi</i> windows.

Buildings inside the Karim Khan Citadel feature Orsi windows.

Karim Khan Zand holds an enduring reputation as the most humane Iranian ruler of the Islamic era. His descendants were overthrown by the Qajars.

In the past, the citadel was sometimes used as a prison. Today, it is a museum operated by Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization. A public park surrounds it.

Vakil Bazaar

A carpet seller in Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz.

A carpet seller in Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz.

In between all the sightseeing, the charming and historic Vakil Bazaar offers excellent shopping, especially for Persian rugs and Iranian handicrafts.

A view of one of the many covered laneways inside Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz.

A view of one of the many covered laneways inside Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz.

A typical Iranian bazaar, centered around an ancient “caravanserai” which was an accommodation place built for merchants travelling by camels in the past.

A carpet shop at Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz.

A carpet shop at Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz.

The bazaar features a number of leafy squares with fountains in the centre, surrounded by two-storey guest houses which are now occupied by various artisanal shops.