Iran’s 20 Top Sights
Iran is the heir to the once-great Empire of the Persians, one of the cradles of world civilization and a country with a history of more than 5,000 thousand years. The tourism industry in Iran is booming, infrastructure deficiencies are gradually being eliminated, and new hotels are being built. The country has a huge potential for development, as travelers from all over the world have a great interest in its architecture, history and perfectly preserved historical monuments.
A trip to Iran is an immersion in the unique atmosphere of ancient cities, where Zarathustra’s followers preached hundreds of years ago and where Shahs ruled. It is a walk through the luxurious oriental bazaars of Isfahan and Shiraz, imbued with the scent of saffron and cardamom. Finally, it is acquaintance with the heritage of the great Omar Khayyam, Firdousi and Ibn Sina.
In addition to sightseeing and history, Iran has good ski resorts – Dizin, Shamshak and Ab-e Ali. The slopes of the picturesque Mount Elbrus are attractive to climbers and mountaineers, and the Caspian Sea coast is a perfect place for nature lovers and fishermen.
What to see in Iran?
The most interesting and beautiful places, pictures and short description.
Located in the historical center of Isfahan, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The square was founded by Shah Abbas I the Great in the 17th century and was called Shah Square until the victory of the Islamic Revolution. The monumental architecture of the buildings around the square is a testimony to the power of the Safavid dynasty, which ruled Iran for hundreds of years.
One of the oldest monuments of Tehran, formerly part of the Citadel of Tehran. It used to be the residence of one of the noble Iranian families and now houses a museum with many rare exhibits and a library where valuable manuscripts are kept. The name of the building is translated as “palace of roses”. It was erected in the 16th century during the reign of Tahmasp I and since then it has been rebuilt many times.
An inscription with cuneiform writing characteristic of the time of the Near East, carved on the Bekhistun rock. The inscription was created by order of King Darius I in the 6th century BC. It depicts the triumph of the ruler over the rebellious princes. The writing is in three languages: Akkadian, Old Persian, and Elamite.
Ancient city, once the capital of Persia in the time of Cyrus II. Now only ruins of it are left. In translation from Ancient Persian means “Persian Gardens. On the territory of the city is the tomb of the king, the ruins of the royal palaces, the fortress of Toll-e-taht. Pasargadae is a valuable cultural monument from the Achaemenid dynasty.
A site not far from the ancient capital of Persepolis with four royal tombs. Xerxes I, Darius I, Artaxerxes I, Darius II rest here. During the campaign of Alexander the Great the tombs were looted and destroyed, in this form they have reached our times. The name “Naqshe-Rustam” refers to the Islamic period in the history of Iran.
Azadi Tower in Tehran
The structure was erected in 1971 to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. It took more than $6 million and 8,000 blocks of white marble to build. In 1979, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the monument was called “Freedom Tower”. It came to symbolize the freedom of Iranians from Shah’s rule. The picturesque Azadi is often called the “Eiffel Tower of Tehran.”
Haju Bridge in Isfahan
A bridge built in the 17th century during the reign of Shah Abbas II, through which the Great Silk Road passed. The structure consists of two rows of arches connected together in a typical Iranian architectural style. In the evenings there are beautiful lights and locals and tourists love to walk across the bridge and admire the scenery.
Iranian National Museum
The largest museum in the country where priceless artifacts from the ancient Persian period are kept. The museum is divided into two buildings. The first one contains exhibits from the pre-Islamic period and the second one contains collections from the Islamic historical era. The museum was built in 1937 and it was the first scientific museum in Iran.
Shah Cherah Mausoleum
Was built in the 14th century during the reign of queen Tashi Khatun. It contains the tombs of Ahmed and Mohammed, brothers revered by the locals who were persecuted by the Shahs for their Islamic faith. The interior of the building is made of mirror mosaic, for which the Iranians nicknamed the Shah Cherah “mirror mosque”.
One of the centers of Islamic scholarship in Iran, a holy place associated with the name of the revered Imam Mahdi (it is believed that he prayed here). It is a beautiful and monumental building with flying minarets, a central blue dome, and high arched gates. Every year the Jamkaran is visited by many Muslim pilgrims belonging to the Shiite branch of Islam.
A Christian temple in Isfahan. Belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church. It has been recognised by the Iranian authorities as a valuable cultural monument. The architectural style of the church is a mixture of the Muslim and Christian traditions. Its interior decoration is notable for its richness and splendor in spite of its simple exterior decoration.
Atesh-Kadeh is another name for the building. Ruins of the residence of the first king of the Sassanid state. It is one of the few surviving architectural monuments of II-III centuries AD in Iran. The palace was included into the UNESCO heritage list on the recommendation of the Iranian authorities. In ancient times there was an artificial pond in front of the palace.
The palace complex of the early twentieth century, which includes various museums, pavilions, palaces. Originally Saadabad was used as the residence of the Shah, now it is used for accommodation of distinguished guests from foreign countries. Not far from the Armory Museum (part of a large museum complex) are cannons cast in St. Petersburg.
Formerly part of the Saadabad complex, but in 2000 it was separated into an independent landmark. The main buildings were erected in the 20th century under the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Niavaran was originally planned as a residence for foreign delegations, but later became the residence of the Shah’s family.
The Arg-e Bam Fortress
An invaluable example of a Persian mud-brick structure located on the Great Silk Road. The fortress is located in the town of Bam, it is a layering of styles from different eras – in the fortress there are mausoleums of the XII century, a mosque of the XVIII century, watchtowers. After an earthquake in 2003 the structure was under threat of extinction.
A blazing mountain in the province of Khuzestan. It is a unique phenomenon in terms of geology – thanks to natural gas and sulfur rising from the subsurface, an “eternal” fire burns on the surface. This spectacle attracts many tourists who gather in the evenings and admire the amazing natural phenomenon.
Once this body of water was one of the largest salt lakes in the world, but over time it began to dry up. Over the past few decades, the amount of water has decreased by 90% and the area has shrunk to 2,000 km². The solonchak shores of the lake are very picturesque, there are many small islands in the southern part, some of them grow pistachio groves.
Coral Island, the main and most visited resort of Iran. Here travelers can enjoy the magnificent sandy beaches, the calm waters of the Persian Gulf, and the rich underwater world. You can admire a giant ship aground to the west of the island and the ruins of the ancient city of Hariré to the north.
The largest open market in the world and the oldest bazaar in the region. The bazaar area is a full-fledged architectural complex with mosques, apartment buildings, baths, galleries, caravanserais. Here they sell famous Iranian carpets, fragrant spices, jewelry and antiques. This market has been known since the Safavid dynasty.
Outstanding example of Iranian garden art in Shiraz. Because of its beauty this place attracts streams of foreigners who like to stroll through its picturesque alleys and rest in the shade of trees from the unbearable heat. “Eram” means “paradise,” the locals call it “the garden of paradise.”
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14 Historic Places to Visit in Iran
There is no shortage of historical places to visit in Iran.
Whether you’re traveling the classic route or taking the beaten path, Iran’s history is sure to show up in your trip.
Tourist Ideas of Iran
Iran’s history stretches back to 4000 B.C., and some of the most famous places in Iran are its historical structures.
Most newcomers plan their trip to Iran along a central route covering the cities of Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, and sometimes Kerman.
It is safe to say that Iran’s main tourist attractions are mostly located along this trail. But if you have extra time, in the province of Khuzestan in southwestern Iran you will find some of the oldest settlements of Persia.
To take you on a historical journey through Iran’s most famous cities, we’ve compiled a list of must-see attractions.
Historical places to visit in Iran in 10 days .
Persepolis is easily at the top of the list of places to visit in Iran. It is probably the most famous attraction in Iran that is known all over the world. And it is also the reason why many people come to Iran in the first place.
Located about 60 km from Shiraz and dating back to 520 BC, Persepolis was once the glorious ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire.
Persepolis was built and ruled by various Achaemenian kings for 150 years. But the most prosperous period was under Darius the Great.
Although Alexander was sacked and set on fire, you would be surprised to see how well preserved Persepolis is.
Today you need at least two hours to discover the spectacle. We highly recommend getting there early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
2. Naqsh-e Jahan Square.
There’s a reason they call this place a model of peace. European travelers such as Chardin praised Isfahan and Naqsh-e Jahan Square in various ways.
When the Safavid court chose Isfahan as the capital in the 15th to 16th century, Naqsh-e Jahan was planned to be the centerpiece.
Surrounded by two mosques, a palace, and a bazaar, the second largest square in the world is home to the jewels of the Safavid Empire.
Head to the square on a summer evening and you’ll witness how it has become a popular picnic spot for Isfahani locals.
Grab yourself a saffron ice cream and join the crowd.
3. Yazd Old Town.
The old town of Yazd is by far the most famous place in Iran to walk around. Take a break from the guidebooks and get lost in Iran’s most beautiful town.
Here you will find brick buildings with stunning courtyards, cozy rooftop cafes, covered streets and ancient wooden doors.
4. Golestan Palace in Tehran
Golestan Palace in central Tehran is the best example of Qajar architecture in Iran. When the first Qajar King finally named Tehran as his capital in the 18th century, the construction of the residential palace took place.
The architecture of Golestan Palace was largely inspired by the travels of Qajar kings in Europe, particularly Shah Nasser-o-Din. Shams-el-Emarat Palace was considered the tallest building in Iran at the time.
Today the palace is a combination of different monuments and tickets are sold separately for each.
The bright mosaics in the garden and the stunning mirror work of the Hall of Mirrors are the main highlight.
5. Imam Mosque of Isfahan.
Shah Abbas I gathered the best architects and calligraphers to build this stunning royal mosque during his 25-year reign. However, he never lived long enough to see it completed.
The Imam Isfahan Mosque is the finest example of Safavid architecture. The exquisite tiles at its entrance draw visitors inside, and then I promise it’s hard to leave.
6. Jameh Yazd Mosque.
Located in the heart of the old city of Yazd, the tall blue and turquoise minarets of the Jameh Mosque are almost visible from every rooftop.
The Jameh Mosque in Yazd is home to the tallest minarets in the entire country, and its tiled masonry is one of the most famous in Iran.
7. The Baths of Sultan Amir Ahmad
The baths in Iran were not only a place to cleanse one’s body, but also a social gathering place. Men and women spent hours in separate baths interacting with each other.
Today, many of these old bathhouses in Iran have been turned into museums or restaurants.
Although the Ganj Ali Khan bathhouse in Kerman is the most complete form of an Iranian bathhouse, we think the Sultan Amir Ahmaad bathhouse in Kashan is the most beautiful.
After your visit be sure to go up to the roof and admire the beautiful view of Kashan.
8. Necropolis or Naqsh-e Rostam, Shiraz
On your way to Persepolis, a must stop at Naqsh-e Rostam to see the Sassanid reliefs and the huge tombs of the 4 Achaemenian kings.
There are 4 chambers carved into the rock which are believed to be the tombs of Darius I, Darius II, Xerxes I and Artaxerxes I.
9. Sheikh Lotfall Mosque, Isfahan
The Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque is located in Naqsh-e-Jahan Square, opposite the palace of Ali Kapu.
This mosque was designed for the women of Shah Abbas’ harem and was inaccessible to the public.
Today, the interior of its golden double-shell dome is one of the most photographed sights in Iran. Interestingly, the mosque does not come with a single minaret.
10. Nasir-ol Molk Mosque (Pink Mosque), Shiraz
This is an unqualified place in Iran, without a doubt. Head to the mosque early in the morning and you will witness the colorful morning light dancing on the Persian carpets.
The mosque is well known for its striking pink dominant tiles, so it is also called the Pink Mosque.
Make sure you check out the beautiful example of Muqqarnas in the outer portal.
11. tower of silence, Yazd
Yazd is home to the largest Zoroastrian population in Iran, and you must add at least one Zoroastrian attraction to your list of places to visit in Iran.
The soil is considered sacred according to Zoroastrian beliefs. So it must not have been contaminated with corpses. The ancient Zoroastrians carried corpses to the tops of the mountains where they were exposed to the sun and carrion birds.
Today this practice has been forgotten, but you can observe its location at the Tower of Silence in Yazd. The tower also gives a magnificent view of the city.
12. the Shazdeh Garden of Kerman
The true meaning of the oasis is reminiscent of the Shazdeh Garden in Kerman. This beautiful garden with fountains and streams is located right in the middle of the desert.
Many locals come here for a picnic, but the garden and its small palace at Kajar are worth a visit.
13. Haju Bridge, Isfahan
Among the main attractions in Isfahan are several bridges. The Haju Bridge, built around 1650, is the best of them all.
In addition to its magnificent architecture, the bridge is a gathering place for many locals. It is common to see old men singing under the bridge around sunset.
Unfortunately, it has been years since the water flows under the bridge year-round.
Because of the drought, a dam has been built and the river water is collected for drinking.
If you are lucky, you may see it flowing in the spring.
14. Tabatabai House, Kashan
The historic Tabatabai House, built in 1860, is one of the most beautiful mansions in Kashan.
This 5,000 square meter house is well known for its stone reliefs, stucco and stained glass windows.
Matin and Parsa, the Iranian travel blogging couple behind Travestyle. They provide photo-teleological travel guides with a special focus on Iran.
They live in Tehran and offer travel advice and guide services for those interested in visiting Iran. You can follow their blogs on Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube and Twitter.