If you are planning to travel to middle-east for your next holiday, Iran and it’s unique culture, historical places and hospitable people can be your first and best option. Islamic republic of Iran is in south west of Asia and its neighbors are Iraq, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. As Iran is a four season country, it doesn’t matter in which season you are traveling to.
There are 31 provinces in Iran and each of them has its own specific places to go, but we are going to introduce you the top 10 frequented cities in order to give you a hand while you are setting up your plan.
Tehran is the capital and the largest city of Asia’s heart with friendly and hospitable people. It is located on the southern slopes of Elborz mountain, which traces a long arc from Azerbaijan border all the way to the southern coast of Caspian Sea in northern Iran.
The yellow taxi is one of the nicest thing that a tourist can see in Tehran, they are everywhere in Tehran and they are as comfortable as London’s black caps(taxis) indeed, with a lot cheaper fare. Yellow taxi drivers have really good knowledge of Tehran so, you just tell them where you want get to and you can seat back, relax and enjoy your journey until you get to where you wanted. They have great communication skills since they always have customers from everywhere in the world.
We are going to introduce you the most popular places that you can go in Tehran in a yellow taxi.
Golestan palace is 400 years old palace with a unique architectural structure. It was built between 1524 to 1576 which was Safavid dynasty period. This palace has been chosen as the residential place for the royal family by Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar between 1794 to 1925. Golestan palace was holding the most important events during the Pahlavi era which was between 1925 to 1979. So if you want to visit a royal family residential place and astonishing architecture design in Tehran this is the best place to visit and take colorful pictures.
Grand bazaar is the oldest bazaar in Tehran located in the center. This bazaar was built in 19th century during Qajar dynasty. Grand bazaar has always been top attraction of travelers specialty female from all over the world. So if you are a shopping lover, make sure you do not miss this place because of its diversity products and amazing traditional architecture. This is where you can hold your husband’s hand and walk down the grand bazaar alleyway for shopping and definitely having lunch in one of the traditional restaurants. Iranian meals make you crazy.
Saad Abad complex:
Saad Abad complex is another historical tourist attraction in north of Tehran. This historical complex was built during Qajar dynasty for summer home, therefore you feel like a member of royal family if you visit this place in summer. This complex is as massive as spending well few hours to see everything. It covers 110 hectares with 18 buildings. White palace with 54 rooms was built in this complex in 1930s, this is where you can see how luxury was the life of royal family. there are numbers of museums in this complex where you find pure Persian traditions and culture.
Treasury of national jewels:
The treasury of national jewelry was established in Tehran in 1995 in order to take care of the jewels of royal family. The jewelries are collected over hundreds of years from all over the world. Strictly secured by central bank, the jewelry of national museum keep an astounding range of priceless gems and precious metals of Pahlavi and Qajar era. Just wondering around and ask yourself how wealthy, powerful and glorious was Iran or better to say its kings. The peacock throne and the Globe of Jewels are just a few.
Shiraz in southwest of Iran is one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia. You’ll find a must see in every corners of the city which takes you back in history.
People in Iran know this place as Takht-e-Jamshid (literary means throne of Jamshid)and surprisingly nobody knows where the throne of Jamshid who is one of the most powerful Iranian king presented in Shahnameh (long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi) was located. Takht-e-Jamshid or Persepolis (its European name) was the capital of Achaemenisian dynasty. This place includes seven palaces, stone stairs, two stone graves and tall stone columns with old architectural design on them.
Pasargade is another historical place in Shiraz where you can see the pure Persian architectural design all around. Royal family’s garden and palaces were built there but today nothing is more remarkable than the grave of Cyrus. Cyrus grave is a collection of white cube stones lying one on another in a shape of stair. Walking in the main hall with tall round columns takes you to 2500 years ago when Cyrus was walking through that tall columns.
Hafez is a very famous Persian poet who was lived in Shiraz most of his life. Almost every house in Iran has Hafez’s collection so, you can imagine how famous he is in Iran. Hafez passed away in 1389, and the king of the time who was Karim Khan ordered to built his grave in Shiraz. The grave is surrounded by eight tall stone columns and a dome over it. It’s better to be at the grave just before the sunset when everyone is there to give their respects and do the faal-e-hafez(they open Hafez’s collection randomly to see how the future is going to be for them ). This place definitely worth it to visit and do the faal-e-hafez at least once in your life.
Saadi is another Persian poet who is known between all the people in three countries Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan where people speak the same language. Saadi lived almost at same time as Hafez did and they both lived in shiraz but Saadi was travelling all the time. The complex where his grave is located has a hall with seven gateways and each one of them shows different stages of how Iranian spiritual grew. The most interesting thing about this place is the golden fishes pool. there are people who say if you throw a coin in golden fish pool while you are wishing and if the big golden fish sees your coin, your wish will come true.
Nasir-ol-molk mosque is the best sample to show the southern architecture of Iran. This pink mosque was built around two hundreds years ago in Shiraz where Hafez and Saadi’s tombs are located. The best time to visit this place is early in the morning when the sun light dazzles your eyes by glittering at the Persian hand made carpets on the floor. If you are also a museum fan you can visit the museum as well, this museum shows how Iranian people used to use cows to get water out from under the ground back in 19th century.
If you are planning to visit Iran, you cannot skip Esfahan. Its blue architect, most remarkable mosques, the stunning Si-o Se pol (a bridge built over Zayande rud river) and Beriyani (traditional food) blow your mind.
Esfahan has got one of the UNESNCO’s world heritage sites called Naqsh-e-Jahan square which is located in the center. This place takes you back to Safavid era by looking at the buildings which are surrounded all around the place. This square is one of the largest square in Iran and the world (512m long and 163m wide) so you need to tight you lace and have a good few hours walking.
This place was built about 400 years ago with seven color mosaic tiles, which makes this place an highlight. Persian architectures have also used marble to increase the beauty of this place even more. Imam mosque is the best indicator of Persian domes architect. What makes Persian domes different from western or Christian domes is the colorful tiles which are used in the structure of their domes.
Sheikh Lotfollah mosque:
This mosque was built in 17 years between 1602 and 1619 during Shah Abbas days. Every tourist who traveled to Iran and Esfahan could not miss this place. This mosque changes its color during the day from cream to pink and the best time to see how it happens is when sun goes down.
Usually mosques in Iran have minarets and courtyard but, what makes this mosque different from other mosques is that it does not have neither minarets nor courtyard. If you feel like you want to stay somewhere near Shaikh lotfollah mosque you can stay at the oldest hotel of Iran called Abbasi hotel just around the corner from the mosque.
Ali Qapu palace:
Ali qapu palace is just yards away from the front door of Shaikh lotfollah mosques. It was built in 17th century about 400 years ago during Shah Abbas time. Back in 17th century this palace could be seen from all over the Esfahan as it was the tallest building at the time, at 38 metres height. for the majority of visitors the super narrow and high stairs are what stand out the place. Only one person can go up the stairs at the time.
In Iran if you say Esfahan, the first thing comes into people’s head is Si-o-se pol. This bridge is the longest man made construction on water in Iran at 297 meters long and about 14 meters wide. Si-0-se pole has two levels, the first level consists of 33 arches over the water and the second level is pathway for pedestrians. This long bridge built up of thousands of yellow breaks. In the evening, you will not found any place better than Si-o Se pol. Just go there and get relaxed next ti the Zayandehrud river.
Kashan is one of the oldest city of Iran which is couple of hours away from the capital. Kashan’s popularity is for Golab (essence of roses which is produced from roses in a special way) which is produced annually in May and early June during an especial event called “Golab Giri”. so, if you travel to Kashan in summer, all you smell is roses. Aside from Golab, Kashan is famous because of its hand-made Persian carpet.
Kashan is the city of windcatchers (badgir) which always have been Kashan’s symbol. Windcathchers work as ventilators in a city located in central desert of Iran. Here’s the places you shouldn’t skip in Kashan.
An hour away from Kashan towards southeast, on the foot of Kakas mountain, there is a small historical village called Abyaneh. This village has a reddish color soil from which people make their houses. The design of the houses is special. Every house’s roof is the yard of the house above it. In another words, the houses are in stair shape. Walking down the village’s alleyways, you will see how friendly people are. While you are going through the alleyways, You’ll find old women sitting in front door and talking with each other.
Abyaneh people have their own specific accent, clothes and traditions which are not influenced yet from outside. You will probably fall in loves with the smell of soil while its raining.
The fin garden is registered as UNESCO world heritage site and is among nine Persian gardens located in Iran. This garden was built in 16th century during Safavid dynasty. It contains Kashan’s Fin Bath, where Amir Kabir, the Qajarid chancellor, was murdered by an assassin sent by King Nasereddin Shah.
It was built in 19th century and shows how rich were the families used to live in Kashan back in 19th century. At this place you can see all Persian architectural features at once. This house covers an area of 5000 square meters and with 40 rooms. All around the courtyard you see wooden doors and windows which takes the sun light into each on of the rooms throughout the day.
If you are in search of sun, Yazd which is located exactly in central desert of Iran should be in your priority. Yazd is now the only UNESCO-listed Iranian city where people still live
Dolat abad garden:
Dolat abad garden is another Persian garden out of registered gardens in UNESCO world heritage site list. This garden can even attract your attention from outside of the garden by a tall windward standing in the middle of the garden and that’s when can not wait to enter this place to see the rest of Dolat Abad garden. As you walk in, you will come across a long pool with waterspouts in it and tall trees on the both side of it. This beautiful historical place was built during Afsharid era by Mohammad Taghi Khan Bafghi. The garden contains two parts, the first part is the exterior part which was used to hold formal meetings and the interior part was used to be the king’s resident place. At this place you can see both a formal place for formal events and royal residential place at the same time.
Zoroastrian fire template:
There are nine Zoroastrian fire temples in the world and Yazd temple is one of them and Atash Behram (fire of victory) is burning in it. This fire temple was built in 1934 in Yazd. Yazd fire temple also shows the Achaemenid architectural style which is something unique in the world. The fire of the temple has not been extinguished since 470AD during sassanian Empire. The fire was not in Yazd since it has been started burning, it has been transferred here after burning in other temples in 1934. All people who visited this place at any point have a picture in their photo album taken while standing in front of the rounded pool and the actual building of the temple at the background. The interesting thing about this place is the doors are open for tourists only since 1999 to see the fire while its burning.
Amir chakhmaq complex:
Amir Chakhmaq is not just a mosque it contains several historical features. This beautiful complex was built by Amir jalal addin chakhmaq. Each cities has its own symbol and Yazd’s symbol is Amir Chakhmaq square. This place has always been attracting tourists by the way it looks in the afternoon when the sun light goes through every single alcove and makes it look absolutely beautiful view where you do not want to look at anything else. The historical Nakhl(palm) located on the eastern part of the square has increased the beauty of this place even more. This Nakhl is 450 years old. If you are going to visit Amir chakhmaq make sure you also visit Amir chakhmaq water storage and Fatemeh khatoon’s grave as well.
This mosque was built in 12th century over a fire temple. Blue tile work of the mosque is what all tourist enjoy by staring at them plus the Azari style of Persian architecture. The minarets of this mosque are the tallest minarets in Iran. Yazd’s people gather around here every Friday to pray all together so you can witness how friendly Yazd people are if you this place on a Friday morning.
Tabriz is the biggest city in the northwest of Iran. Tabriz is home for all Azeri people in Iran. Tabriz is another city in Iran with many historical places for tourists such as mosque, bazaar and villages. Most of people in Tabriz speak Azeri language. We are going to mark out the top places for you to help you to see everything in Iran during your journey.
Blue mosque is where you can see pure Timurid architecture in Iran. Blue moseque was built in 1400AD (600 years ago). This mosque attracts too many tourists every year by its mosaics and its astonishing Azeri architectural style. Azeri architectural design is the in the third top architectural style list in Iran. In short, if you want to see Islamic design and tile work with Persian blue, golden and white this is the best possible place to visit and watch all them features.
Grand bazaar in Tabriz is biggest roofed bazaar in the world as well as being the oldest one in the middle east. This bazaar is another historical place in Iran which has been registered as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2010. The bazaar was crumbled after several earthquakes but architectures did not let it to remain crumbled, they refurbished it again and again. The most beautiful architectural style in this complex belongs to Mozaffrieh Bazaar where Persian hand made carpets are there for sale. this place is also a well known place for Islamic religious events like Ashura every year. You should expect carrier bags with lots of shopping in your hands when you are walking out of this place.
Khandovan village is a stunning village near the city of Tabriz. This village is at least 800 years old with only 670 hospitable residents. You will be amazed how the houses were built in this village, you wouldn’t know what to look at curved houses inside rocks, wooden entrance doors or rocky stairs. Some of them are more 700 years old and some less. In Khandovan village there is no air condition system, houses are cool in summer and warm in winter, the reason being houses are all in the middle of rocks. If you want to stay over night at this place you can go to nice rocky hotel which was built for tourists.
Ahwaz is a city with hot climate in southwest of Iran. Ahwaz is hottest city of Iran with about 1.1 million populations. Karun river which the longest river in Iran goes through the Ahwaz vessels. There are numbers of universities, factories, institutions and sports clubs in Ahwaz. People from different backgrounds and religions live in Ahwaz which makes Ahwaz a very diverse in the southwest of Iran. Ahwaz traditional food is spicy fish stew with herbs which tastes awesome under the sun. Ahwaz is an industrial city so we should not expect so many tourist attractions in Ahwaz. One tourist attraction in Ahwaz is riverside park where you can Karun river and the white bride. But not do far from Ahwaz you’ll find some incredible attractions including:
Shushtar historical hydraulic system
Tomb of Daniel
8.Mashhad the 8 th top city in Iran
Mashhad is the city where Imam Reza, the eighth Imam of Twelver Shiites, has been martyred by poison, back in the 9th century. Imam Reza’s holy position in islam made his tomb a spiritual place for shia pilgrims from all over the world to worship. Imam Reza’s holy shrine brings millions of people pilgrims to Mashhad from every corner of the world. Potentially Mashhad has the most luxuries hotels and restaurants to offer.
9.Kerman the 9th top city in Iran
Kerman is the capital of Kerman province located in the south of Iran. This city has a warm climate which makes the summer days really hot. Kerman has also got its own special tourist attractions such as Bagh-e-shahzade Mahan, a garden situated in heart of desert which will absolutely blow your mind, Ganj Ali Khan complex, composed of school, a square, a caravanserai, a bathhouse, an Ab Anbar (water reservoir), a mint, a mosque and a roofed bazaar. Kerman is divided into to north and south. rich people live in north which is the modern part of Kerman and the south is the traditional part where tourists frequented.
10-HAMADAN THE 10th POPULER CITY IN IRAN
Hamedan is a mountainous city with the height of 1800 m above the sea level, located on the hillside of Alvand mountain range and this mountain has been continued to the eastern borders of Hamedan province. This city enjoys a moderate climate in summer and cold and snowy climate in the winter. This city is known to be the 6th historical and cultural city of Iran by its various historical and cultural monuments which turned it into one of the most significant historical-cultural and tourism city. Avicenna mausoleum is the symbol of this city .The central square of Hamedan is known for radial plan by its rare architectural style in the world. The economy of the city is depending on tourism attractions due to historical and ancient, religious, natural centers and handicrafts such as pottery and ceramic, leather, carpet, Glim, Jajim, as well as the industrial complexes and factories.
People who live in Hamedan speak in Farsi Pahlavi with Hamedani dialect; also there are others with Turki, Kurdi and Lori dialects live in Hamedan .
Hamadan is home to many poets and cultural celebrities The most famous one is Avicenna(Abo ali Sina) . The city is also said to be among the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.
The most popular tourism place in hamadan is Alisadr cave and THE GANJ NAMEH INSCRIPTIONS
THE GANJ NAMEH INSCRIPTIONS
20km from Hamadan, high in the Alvand mountains are two cuneiform inscriptions, each in the Ancient Persian, New Elamite and New Babylonian languages, carved side by side on a large granite stone. The left hand inscription tells of the conquests of the the Achaemenid King Darius I (522-486BC) and gives thanks to the god Ahuramazda who bestowed upon him the right to rule.
An identical inscription can be found at the gates of the Apadana Palace at Persepolis. The second inscription is identical in content to the first but instead tells of Xerxes I (486-465BC), son of Darius. Before these inscriptions were translated it was believed that they contained instructions directing the reader to the location of undiscovered treasures of the Achaemenid Empire, hence the name Ganj Nameh which means “treasure letter”. The inscriptions are located on a mountain pass that merchants on the Silk Road would have seen on their travels.
Hamadan has always been well known for handicrafts like leather, ceramics, and carpets.