10 Reasons to visit Iran
Iran is a country with an ambiguous reputation, surrounded by a lot of prejudices. However, put them aside and you will discover the incredible natural beauty, the scale and silence of deserts, abandoned cities, the modern metropolis of Tehran, monuments of ancient empires and ample opportunities for beach vacations.
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Iran is not a mass destination yet, so there will not be a situation like in Sochi in July. In the Persian Gulf, the most popular resort is Kish Island. There are five-star hotels, shopping centers, dolphinarium, aquarium and diving opportunities. The second most important resort in Iran is the island of Qeshm. By the way, here you can see the ruins of the Portuguese fortress of the XV century and go on a geopark tour with Martian landscapes. Also in the north of the country there is an exit to the Caspian Sea, and it is 720 kilometers of coastline.
The modern metropolis of Tehran
Tehran is a touristy but no less impressive Eastern metropolis where rich palaces and mansions are juxtaposed with bazaars, one story buildings and narrow streets. Around the city is convenient to travel by subway, but it is small: still have to take a cab. The city should climb the Milad Tower, the fourth highest television tower in the world, visit the palace complex Saadabad – the former residence of the Shah on an area of 110 hectares, to visit the artificial lake Chitger, around which the spread recreational area. Cinema lovers should visit the movie town Ghazali – a movie site with the scenery of old Tehran. And of course, you must see the symbol of the city – Azadi Tower, the main symbol of the Islamic Revolution.
According to some estimates it is Isfahan the most visited city in Iran. An unknown poet in ancient times called Isfahan “half of the world” and this expression is still relevant today. Isfahan is a pearl of ancient Persia. The city charms with the azure domes of mosques, the greenery of luxurious gardens and the grandeur of luxurious palaces. Particularly notable are the Shah’s Ali-Kapu residence, the palace of Hasht Behesht, which housed the royal harem, and the exquisite Talar Ashraf. The city also has many beautiful bridges, belonging mostly to the 17th century.
National cuisine and street food
In Iran you must try the original street food because it is not the usual burgers. Here you will be offered stewed beets, fried beans, and baked potatoes, all stewed and scrambled in huge vats right on the street. Rice dishes are also popular, such as chelo khoresh, rice with vegetables and meat in a nut sauce. Iranian ayran and cold soup based on it with mint and raisins. Nan and khamir flatbreads baked in clay ovens. As well as a variety of Persian sweets, headed baklava. By the way, sherbet is not eaten here, but drunk.
Iran is characterized by a great variety of climatic zones and topography. There are several vast uninhabited deserts in the country. The Desht-e-Kevir, or Great Salt Desert, is located in the center of Iran, and is famous for its yardangs, special formations created by the effects of the wind. They form an alien landscape. The Maranjab Desert is home to the highest dunes in the country. It is convenient to drive through the Loot Desert by car, there is a paved highway, and oases are found along the way. The most beautiful views in the deserts are at sunset and at night, when the stars are visible.
Not only do Oriental bazaars have a special atmosphere. Here you can also find high quality handicrafts and souvenirs. From Iran you should carry handmade fabrics, such as silk with fine gold threads. Persian carpet, if you are willing to spend a lot of money and can take it away. Tableware with enamel minakari, tea sets, jewelry with turquoise. And of course, traditional oriental spices and sweets.
Shiraz is visited for its UNESCO monuments, which are located in the vicinity of the city. First of all it is Persepolis, which is considered one of the wonders of the world, a masterpiece of Persian architecture and engineering. The Karim Khan Castle is a restored fortress on the square in the center of the city with a museum and an orange grove. The beautiful Eram Garden is also a World Heritage Site. It resembles an oasis where lush greenery neighbors with refreshing ponds and a large swimming pool. The palace pavilion of Naranjestan is the architectural dominant feature of the garden.
Nature Reserves and National Parks
To admire the wildlife, go to nature reserves and national parks, there are about 80 of them in the country. Noteworthy are the Khar Turan Reserve with its unique biosystems and infrastructure for tourists, the Kolah Ghazi Reserve in Isfahan Province, and the Golestan National Park, awarded by UNESCO.
An ancient city on the edge of the desert with a mystical old town, which is literally a maze of intricate streets and earthen houses. There are many museums, patterned mosques and bazaars, and monuments of Zoroastrianism. If you go 70 km away, you can visit the ghost village of Cheranek and the fortress of Meybod.
An oasis town in the middle of the desert. Fascinating and the very contrast of the living and the lifeless, and the local attractions. There are many beautiful palaces and merchant houses, especially the residences of Boroujerdi and Ameri. The Shah-Fin garden invites you to take a relaxing break surrounded by cypresses, lilies, jasmine and roses. Speaking of roses, Kashan is one of the centers of rose water production, be sure to try it at the bazaar.
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12 reasons to go to Iran
In this post I’ve put together some motivation for you: 12 reasons to go to Iran immediately if you’re still in doubt.
Before you go to Persia, I also recommend reading some more useful articles:
1. Experience true oriental hospitality.
Guest is not only exotic to Iranians, but also a gift from the gods. They will get acquainted with you in the street just like that, ask you about life in Russia and their opinion about Iran, and even invite you to visit or just for tea.
If you suddenly experience any difficulties, just stand in the middle of the street with a confused face. You’ll see, soon there will be someone (and more than one), rushing to help and solve all problems. It’s impossible to stay hungry too, they treat you all the time
Read also: Food in Iran: what is worth trying?
My most vivid impressions are related to Iranian hospitality. Just say yes.
2. Getting lost in a busy bazaar
Oh, these Oriental bazaars are like from 1001 nights fairy tales! The largest covered bazaar in the world is in Tabriz, plus be sure to visit the colorful markets in Kashan, Isfahan, Yazd, and Shiraz.
Carpet Seller in Shiraz
Spices at the Isfahan Bazaar
What’s there: carpets, spices, gold-silver-jewels, dishes, nuts, sweets….If you have a thousand or two dollars, you can buy a carpet, but if not, it’s okay – treat yourself to Iranian sweets in plenty.
Many of the bazaars I have been to have some kind of confusing navigation, you are bound to get lost while wandering among all sorts of interesting things.
3. To visit Iranian Cappadocia.
Not far from Tabriz there is an interesting village Kandovan where locals hollowed out their houses in the rocks several centuries ago and have been living there ever since.
Wander through the labyrinthine staircases and stop by for a visit and try the local honey and traditional tea.
4. Spend the night in the desert under the stars
Deserts cover a significant area in Iran and it is quite possible to spend the night under the stars in a tent. If you would like more comfort then come to one of the oases in the middle of the desert (like Mesr, Garmeh, Varzaneh). There you can arrange a hike, a trip through the dunes, and other activities.
Or you can take an excursion to the desert just for half a day or a day, it does not cost that much if you get more people willing. We visited the salt lake, rode a huge sand dune on a board, ate watermelon – it was fun!
5. See how carpet merchants and other merchants lived
One of the traditional guesthouses in Kashan
Kashan is notable for the historic guesthouses and houses of wealthy merchants with stucco, mirrors, stained glass windows and many intricate rooms. Go down to the summer room and see how cold it is, even though it’s hot outside.
And then there are the chic baths in Kashan, decorated with colorful tiles, and the impressive Agha-Bozorg complex.
6. Take a wagon ride in the second largest square in the world
Imam Square in Isfahan
Imam Square in Isfahan is the second largest square in the world after Tiananmen Square in China. It is surrounded by huge mosques, palaces and a colorful bazaar. In general, Isfahan is one of my favorite cities in Iran, I stayed here for three days and it was not enough. The cultural capital!
In addition to the traditional bazaar and mosques in the city it is worth seeing the historic bridges across the Zayande River.
7. Join the nomadic peoples.
Iran is inhabited by many peoples, there are even nomads who go up to the mountain valleys in summer to graze cattle. Their names are Bakhtiyar, Qashqai, Lur, Baluchi, Shahseven, and many others.
These are ancient peoples who were nomadic even before the Islamic conquest. For example, the inhabitants of Bakhtiyaria still wear traditional attire: blue dresses and striped robes for women and wide black pants for men.
Some are semi-nomadic, moving to the warmer south in the winter, and some migrate from place to place all the time.
8. Learn more about the fire-worshipper cult.
The Towers of Silence near Yazd
Even before the arrival of Islam, the people of Persia practiced Zoroastrianism. It is also called the cult of fire, and its adherents are called fire worshippers, although this is not strictly true.
The ancient Persians believed that the earth should not be desecrated with the bodies of the dead and that fire was also sacred, so they built special towers where they simply put dead bodies to be eaten by carrion birds.
The streets of old Yazd
The town of Yazd has the best preserved monuments of this cult, and some locals even speak the ancient language. Take a trip to the Towers of Silence or the Chak Chak Sanctuary.
Yazd is also a magical old town: earthen structures, winding mazes of streets, women hidden by chador and walking through these streets on their own business…Just take your camera and go for a walk in the morning.
9. Swim in the waters of the Persian Gulf
The coast of Qeshm Island
Iran is washed by the Persian Gulf from the south, on the other side of which are already Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. From the mainland swim to the small island of Kish, which has become the main beach resort of the country.
Although men and women will not be able to swim together, the beaches are separate, but this is the only place in Iran, where you can do it legally.
10. Learn how lived the Persian Shahs
Golestan Palace in Tehran
Tehran isn’t the most pleasant or comfortable city in my opinion, but it’s a good place to stay for a day before heading further inland.
Visit the swanky palaces of Golestan, Niyaravan, and Saadabad to see how the last Iranian Shahs lived before they were overthrown during the Islamic Revolution.
In Tehran you can also check out the incredible treasures at the Jewel Museum (though it doesn’t open very often), get a taste of the sanctions at the U.S. Embassy, called “the den of espionage,” and do some shopping in the bazaar.
11. Visit the city of poets Shiraz.
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz.
Shiraz has long been known for wine, poets, and the pleasant southern climate. Come pay homage to the famous Persian poets Hafiz and Saadi in their mausoleums, as thousands of Iranians do. Some even guess at the poems, so important a part of Iranian literature they occupy.
Feel like you’re in the south and buy dates and other sweets at the bazaar and try the melon juice, it’s just the best!
12. relive memories from high school history classes in Persepolis
Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire, is the most popular tourist destination in Iran. Little is left of it after being burned by the army of Alexander the Great, but you can feel its former greatness by the hundreds of columns, huge staircases and well-preserved drawings on the walls.
Let your dreams and goals come true! Have a great trip to Persia!
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