Cyrus II, known as Cyrus the Great, was the founder of Achaemenid dynasty. His maternal grandfather was Astyages, the last king of the Medes, and his paternal grandfather was Achaemenes, the first founder of hereditary rule among the Persians.

Cyrus presented a new empire based on morality, justice, and decency to the world. Unlike the previous emperors, he treated the defeated with compassion, enemies with tolerance, and those with opposing beliefs and customs with liberality. His statement in Babylon, written on a clay cylinder, is the first draft of the Declaration of Human Rights.

The followings are three sites worth exploring to learn more about the rise and fall of Achaemenids. You can leave Shiraz for a one-day tour to visit these spectacular sites and then come back.

Pasargadae: This Is Where Achaemenids Rose to Power


Tomb of Cyrus at Pasargadae, Iran


It was the dynastic capital of Achaemenid Empire, the first great multicultural empire in western Asia. Today, it’s located near Shiraz in Fars province, south western Iran. It’s where Cyrus the Great conquered Astyages, the last Median king, in his last battle, and then founded the first Persian Empire in the same region and beyond. He founded Pasargadae and constructed palaces in memory of his victory. It was the rise of Achaemenids and Cyrus the Great was the author of Achaemenid dynasty. His tomb is also here in this city.

According to UNESCO, “palaces, gardens, and tomb of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture, and exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization”.

A brief description of the site

The tomb of Cyrus has long been a focal point for visitors to Pasargadae and the palace area lay almost a kilometer north of it. This area included a palace to receive audiences and a whole series of adjacent gardens. They emerged to be the first Persian gardens. Unfortunately, all that has remained from Achaemenid era in this region are stone foundations and some wall socles.

In this site, the columned hall is the most common form of design. A notable architectural point about this hall was making use of stone-working techniques. It’s notable because all the previous columned halls in Iranian plateau were built in mud-brick walls and wooden columns.

Such an innovation facilitated the production of stone platforms, staircase, floors, and stone columns. Each one of these structures was to become a hallmark of architecture in Achaemenid era from about 540 BCE onward.

The gardens at Pasargadae would appear to be the first known occurrence of chaharbagh or fourfold garden, a specific articulation of space. It went on to become a distinctive characteristic of later garden designs in Iran for centuries.

Pasargadae kept its importance to Achaemenid emperors, but during the reign of the next kings, the capital moved to other cities.

Persepolis: The Glorious Times of Achaemenids



Gate of All Nations at Persepolis, Achaemenid Era


It’s the other dynastic center of Achaemenid kings located about 60 kilometers south of Pasargadae. After Cyrus the Great, Darius I, known as Darius the Great, succeeded in ruling the Persian Empire. He started the construction of Persepolis. It consists of ceremonial palaces, provisional residential palaces, a treasury, and a chain of fortification. It was built as a ceremonial palace complex mainly for celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival.

The gate to the site was from the south, through a staircase. To the right of this entrance, you can see a huge rectangular block bearing four cuneiform inscriptions in the name of Darius the Great: Two in Old Persian, one in Elamite, and the fourth in Babylonian. These scripts were clearly meant to inform visitors of the nature of Persepolis, the people who contributed to its construction as well as Darius’ beliefs and ideals.

The remarkable parts of the palace complex consist of:

  • The Gate of All Nations.

It was a four-columned square hall with three stone doorways. Two enormous winged bulls are carved at the inner side of eastern as well as western doorways, and the gates are decorated in the upper part with six cuneiform inscription sections.

  • The audience palace of Darius, The Apadana

The double-reversed stairways of this palace are the most splendid parts of Persepolis

  • The Palace of Darius known, the Tachara.

A charming structure which is the oldest palace of Persepolis. Here, you can find three different scripts carved in various historical periods: one in cuneiform from Achaemenid era, one in Pahlavi from Sassanid era, and one in modern Persian from Qajar era.

  • The Palace of Xerxes, the Hadish

It was the Xerxes’ temporary residence.

  • The Central Palace, the Tripylon

A small but lavishly ornamented structure located in the center of the complex. Three doorways and a couple of corridors and staircases were linked to the other palaces. It must be attributed to Xerxes and Artaxerxes I.

  • The second largest palace of Persepolis, The Hundred Column Hall

Its main feature was a square hall provided with ten rows of ten columns. It was an audience hall.

These structures were built by Darius the Great and his successors, Xerxes and Artaxerxes I, and maintained until 330 BCE, when they were looted and burnt by Alexander of Macedonia. Although today you can see only the remains of this complex, its magnificence can still impress you.

Darius the Great was a powerful and sage emperor in the ancient world. His territory was so extended that there were no such imperial expansion until then and long after.

Naqsh-e-Rostam, Mighty Emperors Have Rested Here


Naqsh-e Rostam, Achaemenids’ Necropolis near Shiraz, Iran


It’s one of the most spectacular ancient sites of Achaemenid era dating back to the times when the fall of Achaemenids was about to happen. It’s located almost 5 kilometers northwest of Persepolis, and consists of the colossal rock tombs of Persian kings dating back to the first millennium BC. Here you can see the best ancient rock reliefs in Iran from both the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods.

The rock-cut tombs of Achaemenid rulers and their families dating back to the 5th, 4th, and 3rd centuries BC have been engraved on the façade of a mountain. The tombs belong to Darius the Great, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. In addition to being a royal necropolis, Naqsh-e-Rostam was a major ceremonial center for the Sasanians until the 7th century AD.

I highly suggest you to put these three spectacular Achaemenid sites in your checklist for travelling to Iran. It takes just one day to visit them all and learn about the rise and fall of Achaemenids. I promise there will be so many amazing things that can cause your admiration.


Damavand volcano is a majestic stratovolcano located 70 km NE of Tehran and 70 km south of the Caspian Sea. Mt Damavand is the highest peak in the Middle East and the second highest volcano in Asia (after Kunlun volcano in Tibet).
Damavand last erupted about 7,300 years ago. There are no historical eruptions, but fumaroles at the summit crater suggest that the volcano is still active.

Damavand is located on the tectonically active thrust and fold belt of the Alborz Mountains.
It is a massive stratovolcano with a volume of about 400 cubic kilometers and consists of a younger cone that was constructed during the past 600,000 years above an older, 1.78 million years old edifice, remnants of which were previously thought to be part of a caldera.
Damavand has only few flank vents. Most activity has been from the summit crater, which has erupted a series of radial lava flows, mostly of trachyandesite composition. Most eruptions of Damavand seen to have been effusive, and only one significant explosive deposit is known, a welded ignimbrite that was produced about 280,000 years ago.
The latest activity occurred about 7300 years ago and produced lava flows from the summit crater that cover the western flank.


Damavand, the oldest mountain ever been climbed, is world’s mountaineering heritage.


Looming high above the wind-scoured steppes of the Alborz Mountains – the crescent range that divides the Great Salt Desert from the fertile Caspian coast – Damavand’s dimensions make a mockery of its limited renown outside its homeland. Based on its summit’s most widely cited height of 5,671m, this is the highest point in Eurasia west of the Hindu Kush. It’s also the highest volcano in Asia, and it’s this aspect of its physiology that lends Damavand its near-symmetrical lines, the graceful form of a stratovolcano that has lain dormant for 10,000 years.

But the thing that had struck me most that first day on the mountain, wending up the vague mule-trails on its north-eastern flank, was how much it transfixed the eye. Though surrounded by lesser peaks in every direction, Damavand still cut an aloof and imperious figure. We’d come here to bag a peak, and found ourselves on a pilgrimage to a country’s geographical heart.

As dusk fell, a cloud inversion filled up the northern valleys like a tidal surge, blanketing the lowlands to leave behind an archipelago of mountaintops nudging above a rolling purple ocean. Every ten minutes the clouds’ tendrils clawed up the slope and lapped at our feet.

The only direction left to look was up. After a fitful night, we broke camp with the dawn, each lamenting the thin air and lack of sleep. Damavand’s broad topography means that the journey to its summit starts high, and night one had been spent at the already heady altitude of 3,800m.

Mercifully, our second day’s trek was a short one, spent engulfed in a mist of condensation that filtered out the scorch of the sun. we climbed over ground covered in hardy, dew-soaked flowers, flourishing in soils made fecund by the ashy deposits of ancient eruptions. Three hours’ march took us to the ice-line at a translucent slick the shape of an inverted teardrop. We stopped to replenish empty water bottles from the glacial run-off, while the guides grumbled about wider issues down on the plains.

“On the north side, the Siyouleh Glacier used to stretch all the way down to 4,000m; now it finishes 600m higher up the mountain,”

As we shivered over this forlorn remnant of Damavand’s colder past the country below was feeling the burn.


damavand foothills

Damavand, this unique beauty is located south of Caspian Sea. It is 5610 meters high and quite visible from southern Caspian Sea shores.


A little past midday, above a cruddy slope of light brown pumice, the base camp hut came into view, looking like a miniature aircraft-hanger around 10m long by 4m wide, its semi-cylindrical roof striped orange and blue. Inside we found a shrine to past expeditions. The gloomy room reeked with the musty smell of anxious nights, while all over the bare-brick walls and sheet-steel ceiling, swirls of Persian graffiti – Islamic invocations and summit posts – reflected the human tendency to leave a mark where humans seldom tread.

We unfurled our sleeping bags on a dirty wooden platform, strewn with woven plastic sheets and discarded pistachio husks, and chugged down some sugar-laden tea. The plan for the afternoon was to ascend ‘Himalayan style’, ditching our gear in the hut and then trekking up to 4,900m or so to accustomise lungs to the lofty altitude, before heading back down for supper and sleep.

Lightning darkens the mood

The weather ignored the script of course. Bound by the Englishman’s congenital over-excitement at the sight of weather that’s not drizzle, we scampered outside when the snow started tumbling out of the firmament in heavy, thumb-sized dollops. But this was only a prelude to something more sinister, its coming heralded by a thunderclap of biblical fury and a fizz in the air that crackled in our ears: lightning hunting for a salient point to strike.

So much for Himalayan style. For the next four hours we were confined indoors while a scything wind consumed the shelter, jeering us as it rattled the opaque Perspex windows.

At 6.30pm, as the light began to fade, quiet finally returned to the mountainside. Their tantrum exhausted, the clouds fled downhill like a sheet being drawn back to reveal a whole new mountain: starkly placid and dressed in two inches of snow. On the craggy promontory that overshadowed the hut, we submitted offerings to a 2m-high, meticulously crafted rectangular cairn in thanks for the turn in providence, and gritted our teeth against the biting chill.

The scene below – a replay of last night’s surreal cloudscape – was suitably magical, for this was a mountain swathed in myth. In the Shahnameh, the poet Ferdowsi’s epic 11th-century distillation of Persian folklore, this region was the scene of a showdown between the hero Fereydun and Zahhak, a tyrant king said to have fed his pet serpents on his subjects’ brains.

Confronting his nemesis on the slopes of Damavand, Fereydun smote Zahhak with his ox-head mace, imprisoned him within the mountain and usurped the crown. His benevolent rule lasted for 500 years.

In the centuries since, the spectacular ridge on which we stood, and which delineates much of the north-east route from here on up, has come to be known as the Takht-e Fereydun – Fereydun’s throne. Zahhak, meanwhile, remains trapped in the earth that lay beneath our feet, his vengeful rages expressed in the sulphurous billows that belch daily from the summit crater.

with the sun rising at our backs, we set off up the spine of the ridge, eyes squinting in the direction of the summit – from here a blazing white dome, defiant and still impossibly remote, framed against an auspicious cobalt sky.

With boots crunching through snow hardened by the night winds, I reassured myself with the knowledge that we were embarking on the business end of what is a relatively uncomplicated climb. “Basically a walk-up,” one website had declared reassuringly as I researched the trip from the comfort of sea level. “Technically easy and physically moderate.”

As long ago as 1837 it had proved straightforward enough for the English explorer W Taylor Thomson to achieve the first recognized ascent, no doubt attired in tweed and probably taking pot-shots at the Asiatic wolves and black bears, now so rare in the region, with his musket.

damavand peak

It is 5610 meters high and quite visible from southern Caspian Sea shores. it was listed as the Iran’s first natural heritage and preserved as national natural monument.


Braving the elements

But I also knew that we had been unlucky with yesterday’s sudden squall. The previous evening, Mohammad, who likes to quantify things, had conceded that Damavand snow showers only occur about 15% of the time in the summer months, and that the snow cover was likely to make the climb around 25% more difficult than it would be otherwise. How much harder could things get, I pondered nervously, if the elements turned again?

The digital display on Nasir’s GPS flickered past 5,000m, and we stopped to take stock of rapidly deteriorating conditions. This morning’s plucky breeze had become a biting gale, while an angry carpet of slate-colored cumulus was working its way up the slope to the east, threatening to converge with the wispy penumbra coalescing about the summit. The icy wind had left my extremities numb, and I couldn’t help but recall images of frostbite victims from the Everest disaster book in my luggage, a regrettable choice of holiday reading.

Taking on this mountain means dueling with its fickle winds. Like other prominent peaks around the world, Damavand has a weather system all of its own: hot air blowing up from Iran’s parched interior bombards the mountain’s southern flank, yielding storms that are sudden, unpredictable and capable of quashing the ambitions of the most seasoned summiteer.

In the early 1970s, the man widely considered the greatest alpinist in history, Reinhold Messner, learned this lesson the hard way when a storm swept in and sabotaged his summit bid. Henceforth, Messner, whose normal playground is the death-zone of the Himalaya, would describe Damavand as “that little hill that defeated me”.

Determined to outdo the great Tyrolean but far from sharing the “little” sentiment, our single file trundled on, heads bowed in submission to the eye-watering headwind. (Later, recuperating in a Tehran café, we calculated our average speed on the way up: 1.2km/h.)

At 5,400m we were within touching distance of ‘the gate’, a gap between two rocky outcrops, like a half-finished barricade, through which lay our goal. Cheered by its apparent proximity we urged Nasir onwards. “Ten minutes from here,” said the indefatigable Azerbaijani, fibbing brazenly in a last-gasp attempt to raise our spirits – it turned out to be more like 40.

Smell to high heaven

Eventually, at a little before noon, we clambered onto the roof of the Middle East, a barren plateau festooned with ugly, Sulphur-yellowed stones. It seemed a slightly anti-climactic end; enveloped in cloud, we had no sweeping views of the land below and no fresh mountain air.

Instead, an acrid smoke contaminated each breath, as fumaroles within the snow-covered crater – the reason behind the rocks’ jaundiced coloration – pumped out a noxious brew of gases from the center of the earth. The stench served as a reminder of Damavand’s earthly purpose: a pressure-valve built by nature to relieve the earth-shuddering friction at the conjunction of the Arabian and Eurasian plates.

Even so, at 5,650m, we congratulated ourselves at being the highest earthbound people for thousands of miles around. To find humans suffering at higher altitudes you would have had to travel east to the Pamirs, west to the Rockies, and south to Kilimanjaro.

In a fit of clarity that belied my exhaustion, it struck me then that Damavand was indeed an appropriate symbol of the multifarious melting-pot that is modern Iran. Heightened over millennia by the eruption of successive layers of lava, this is a mountain borne of ferment and upheaval. Like the country in which it resides, a hostile reputation had disguised a place that was magnificent to behold and engrossing to explore.

For now, it merely slumbered, a sleeping giant waiting to be discovered.

damavand volcano

The steepest volcanic mountain, Mythical Damavand peak, deserves to be hiked more than 20 times from different faces.


Don’t believe what people tell you about Iran

Iran was undoubtedly the most surprising country for positive experiences. After months of being told that I would be killed there, and the media reporting that it’s a country full of terrorists, I was humbled to enter a country of incredibly intelligent, thoughtful and kind people. I shared many nights in the houses of strangers and wouldn’t be allowed to leave in the morning without having my bags filled with food and gifts. They have many problems of their own in Iran, and are also aware of how the Western media portrays then, yet they still took it upon themselves to help me as best they could.

The beauty of travel by bike is how slow it is, and how it offers intimate view of the lives of strangers. I cycled between 60 and 80 miles a day, occasionally much more, sometimes much less due to weather, altitude or people I would meet on the way. It’s been hard, but the experiences it has given me sure beats working in an office. My freedom and lack of deadlines or destinations led to aimless wandering, mainly guided by the avoidance of bad weather systems and fitting around the seasons. All I really knew was that I wanted to circumnavigate the world and that I was doing that in an easterly direction.

Whenever I struggled to motivate myself to continue, it was the strangers I met on the road that helped me carry on. I’ve lost count of the favors I’ve been granted and the times I’ve been offered assistance. Wherever I went, human goodness shone through.

 Iran Tourism Overview

Iran Tourism Overview

Impressive archaeological sites, carefully planned museums, and ecological wonders await the curious traveler in Iran, a country that has something for everyone.

Iran successful domestic market has laid the groundwork for an increased amount of foreign visitors interested in the history, natural beauty, and business opportunities Iran has to offer.
Travelers seeking to delve deep into history and the origins of civilization need look no further than Iran, where a mosaic of cultures and natural landscapes transcends the perception of the country in the international arena.
Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) is the related authority in Iran.
With the goal of capitalizing on the already productive domestic market, ICHTO has identified 1,200 Tourism special Zone that investors can take advantage of it .With the support of OIETAI, ICHTO aims to attract a much  larger  FDI figure to the  tourism industry in 2013.

Iran’s Potentials in Tourism

  • 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • 10th Country on Tourism Attractions and 5th on Ecotourism
  • One of  the rich countries of the cultural places, ecotourism sites and historical monuments which called the cradle of civilization in other way the history of theCountry  goes back to 7000 written history
  • An array of museums
  • Amyriad of ecotourism opportunities
  • Numerous religious sites
  • Affordable healthcare services
  • Extensive bus network and air and rail infrastructure in the country

Historical Tourism

Until now, UNESCO has designated 15 of Iran’s various historical and natural sites as part of world heritage; includes:
especially for those interested in religious history it is estimated that there are more than 28 messengers of God have tombs throughout Iran.
Some of top sites are as below:
• Persepolis, the complex of Xerox palaces having the detail of 2,500 year-Old Persian reliefs.
• The ancient Mesopotamian ziggurat and complex of Chogha Zanbil is an intriguing remnant from the Elamite Empire more than 3,500 years ago which stand as a testament to the feats of ancient engineering.
• Soltaniyeh Dome, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005, is an  architectural masterpiece that was built  in 1302 AD. As the  oldest  double-shell dome  in  the  country, the structure paved  the  way   for  construction of holy  buildings throughout  the  Muslim  world and  has  captivated the  attention of both  pilgrimsand historians for centuries.

The Iranian government has established a number of museums to showcase artifacts and present the stories of civilization to an international audience
• The  Treasury   of  the  National Jewels in Tehran,  the  National Museum,  Golestan  Palace in Tehran,  and the Sheikh Safi Museum in Ardabil are just a handful of venues that feature  the  collage  of Iran’s historical and traditional past.
• In addition, Tehran’s Contemporary Art Museum showcases over 7,000 texts in both Persian and English as part of a specialized library.
• Iran’s natural beauty   and   conservation efforts are nothing short  of impressive. Stunning waterfalls, deserts, forests,  lagoons, caves, swamps,  and  lakes  represent a diverse   array  of  climatic  zones  and  landforms, comparable only to the  continental US.

In total, the country boasts 28 natural parks,43 protected wildlife zones,  and  166 protected areas,  committing  nearly 5% of its land-an area of 8 million  hectares-to ecotourism and  the  preservation of natural resources. Among  the  most popular destinations for eco-holidaymakers are Galestan  National  Park,   Kavir   National  Park, Lar Protected Area,  Bakhtegan Lake,  and   Bamou National Park.

Religious Tourism

The city of Mashhad, visited  by the Muslims to  pay homage to the  Holy Shrine of   am  Reza, the largest  mosque in the world  by area which  accommodates 20 million pilgrims and  tourists every   year.   Other   notable  holy sites include the
Danial-e Nabi Mausoleum, one the messengers of God in shosa,

Shrine of  Hazrat-e Masumeh, the sister of and  the  Chak  Chakoo  Fire Temple, which is famous  for the legendary dripping water that  falls from surrounding rock formations.

Sea and Coastline:

Due to the  extensive bus  network and  air and rail  infrastructure  in  the   country,  domestic tourists most  often  travel  to  visit  friends and family  during the  summer months. Given the country’s abundant natural beauty and coastal destinations, approximately 24% of domestic tourists traveled for sightseeing or entertainment purposes in 2011. However, medical tourism and pilgrimage make up an additional 23% of travel throughout the country.
In addition to beaches 700 Km alongside the Caspian Sea are the most popular destinations for domestic tourism.

Plans for Future:

As part of Vision 2025, the government aims for Iran to achieve a stronger position among global tourism destinations, setting a target of 7.5 million foreign arrivals.
Although the number of international arrivals  has  been  steadily increasing-up  from  2.2 million  people  in  2009  to  3.6  million  from  in 2011 at a growth rate of 58% domestic tourism is a key segment of the  sector  overall.

A large majority of Iranians frequently travel within the  country on  a yearly  basis,  and  although they do not typically inject  as much  money  into the  economy as foreign  tourists are known to contribute, the development of transportation and communications infrastructure is fueled by the  large  amount of domestic traffic.

The overall goal of the Tourism industry is to attract 2% of the world’s tourists, or 20 million people, to Iran by 2025. In 2011, the country earned approximately $6 billion from the tourism sector, and in 2013 analysts expect the tourism industry to grow by a significant 135%.


You may heard a lot that Iran is unsafe, insecure, people are dying there, they are fundamentalists, they are really dangerous. Lots of travelers came to Iran carrying all these negative ideas, but at the end of their journey they change their mind and don’t want leave here. Here are some points you should take into consideration while traveling to Iran:



The Nasir al Mulk mosque in Shiraz, also known as the Pink Mosque.

It may seems unsafe in the first sight, but the people on the streets are quick to greet you warmly and ask for a selfie together or invite you for tea.

It is not to say that the strict Islamic regulations are a myth – women have to wear a hijab (headscarf) and cover their figure in public. At some holy sites, you might even be asked to don the ­traditional long black veil called chador (which literally means “tent” in Persian).


But on the streets of Tehran and some of the big cities, it is common to see Iranian women strutting around in trendy tight-fitting garb with dyed tresses peeking out of their colourful headscarves as they rebelliously find fashionable interpretations of the state’s strict dress code.

And while public displays of affection between men and women are a no-no, almost no place is segregated. One of the few “places” where men and women are kept apart is the public transport, where women have a separate entrance and compartment on city buses and the Tehran Metro.

One of the oldest civilisations ­in the world, Iran is home to 21 Unesco World Heritage sites with a rich legacy of art, culture and architecture dating back some three millennia.

Golestan Palace

Golestan Palace, or the ‘Palace of flowers’, is one of the oldest historical monuments in Tehran.

My whirlwind exploration of this mesmerising heritage started at the Golestan Palace in Tehran. The muted façade of the 400-year-old royal complex is underwhelming, but as soon as you walk in, its grandiose opulence will hit you. Talar-i-Ayaneh (Hall of Mirrors), for one, is unforgettable with its blinding shattered-mirror mosaic walls and ceiling. One would think living with your reflections is unnerving, but apparently the mirrors served a practical purpose – they kept the assassins away.

The newer Niavaran Palace gives a different insight into Iran’s past – it exhibits the excesses of the last Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, as if to justify the 1979 Islamic Revolution that sent him and his family into exile. Maybe it was the winter cold, but an eerie chill swept down my spine as I walked through the rooms showcasing the royal family’s abandoned possessions.

This mesh of the extravagant and the austere; the traditional and the modern; and the Islamic and the pre-Islamic of Iran is evident even as you move out of Tehran.

Ali Qapu Palace

The intricate ceiling design in the music room of the Ali Qapu Palace, at the Imam Square of Esfahan.


It cannot be more obvious than at the Imam Square in Esfahan, once Iran’s capital under the Safavid Dynasty. Surrounded by intricately designed palaces and mosques, the public square used to host polo matches for the ancient kings’ entertainment. Today, the Imam Square is a popular hangout for the ordinary Esfahan folks who love to picnic and read poetry on the grassy turf.

But the wintry air was biting when we were there, so we quickly popped into the labyrinthine Bazar-e Bozorg nearby to hunt for souvenirs and browse in the workshops where the traders make their wares, from traditional copper pots and glass trinkets, to miniature paintings and printed tablecloths.

i-o-seh pol Bridge

Strolling along the Si-o-seh pol Bridge, the most striking bridge in Esfahan, is a must.

While I had vowed to resist the temptation of lugging home one of the famed Persian carpets, I could not resist the calls of the carpet sellers. So, I let myself be dragged into one carpet shop and surrendered to their “1,001 tales of flying carpets” over hot tea … Leaving without buying was awkward but the experience was definitely worth it.

If the haggling is not for you, there are many chaikhaneh (teahouses) around where you can sip your spiced tea and suck on nabat (traditional rock sugar). Find, if you can in the market maze, the kooky Azadegan Teahouse. The metal pots, lanterns and other knick-knacks hanging from its ceiling give Azadegan’s tea and snacks an extra oomph.

Kick back at the Azadegan

Kick back at the Azadegan Teahouse with its kooky ceiling decor after souvenir hunting at the labyrinthine Bazar-e Bozorg in Esfahan.

After soothing tea, nothing is more invigorating than walking across the wondrous Si-o-seh pol bridge to the leafy Armenian Christian quarter Jolfa, where the Esfahan Music Museum makes an interesting stop with its extensive collection of traditional instruments. We even got serenaded with traditional Persian love songs after our guided tour!

As the Safavids were credited for the spread of Shia Islam, Esfahan is an ideal place to soak in the distinctive blue-tile mosaic design of Iran’s Islamic architecture.

I did wonder if blue tiles are – as magnificent as they are – all there is to Persian mosques. I found the answer in Shiraz, another former capital city. Its Nasir al Mulk mosque is known as the pink mosque because its pink and red tiles radiate a dazzling rosy hue around the main prayer room when sunlight shines through its stained glass windows.


What’s left of Persepolis, the ancient imperial ceremonial capital of Persia, which was burnt down by Alexander the Not Great.

But despite its attractions, and Shiraz has many, most travel to the southern city to get to Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire.

It is said that the Greek conqueror Alexander (the “not Great”, from Iranians’ perspective) had torched most of Persepolis in a drunken fit, but the ruins are still breathtaking.

The tomb of Cyrus the Great at nearby Pasargadae completed my “lesson” on this ancient Persian civilisation. Cyrus is dubbed the “Father of Human Rights” and, to the current theocratic government’s chagrin, many Iranians now hold annual protests at his tomb.

Zoroastrian Towers

The Zoroastrian Towers of Silence in Yazd where the dead were once left to be eaten by vultures before burial.

I find Iran’s preservation of their pre-Islamic heritage absolutely riveting, and my intrigue only grew when I got to the desert town of Yazd, considered by many to be the “Zoroastrian HQ”.

Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions, is said to be founded in Iran. One of its distinct facets is its “decontamination ceremony” for the dead – their bodies are left in a simple tower known as dakhmeh or tower of silence for vultures to pick clean to the bones.

The dakhmeh at the hilly edge of Yazd will transport you back to those gory times, especially if you go there after visiting the surreal Fire Temple, where the flame allegedly has been burning for over 1,500 years.

Yazd’s old town, a pit stop during the old Silk Road days, is also captivating with its badgirs (windtowers) on sun-dried mud-brick houses set around narrow, winding lanes.


The bathhouses in Kashan are best explored via the rooftop, like this one at Hammam-e Sultan Amir Ahmad.

All the guidebooks say the skyline is best seen from the rooftop, something I unfortunately didn’t get to do as I had to rush to Kashan, another old town with traditional houses, gardens and hammam (bath houses) that should be explored from the rooftops. As I looked out across the quaint skyline, it struck me – I had barely scratched the surface of what this diverse country has to offer.

We wholeheartedly welcome you Here.

There are many divisions and sub-Divisions for each of the main tribes and tens of smaller tribes. With the expansion of education and better communications the young generation of Iranian tribes has made great progress supplying very intelligent engineers, medical men, administrators, scientists and even women doctors to serve the country. Today there are over a hundred different tribes, each with its own dialect, picturesque dress, dwelling-place and chief. The most important tribes are as follows




Afshars & Shahsevans

Having arrived in Iran in two waves under the Seljuks and the Mongols in 11th and 13th centuries, respectively; Afshars are pastoral nomads. They have their summer quarters on the slopes of the Sabalan Mountain at 4860 meters (Azarbaijan), between Lake Orumieh and Qazvin and Hamadan, and their winter quarters are in the hot plains of Moghan, near the Caspian Coast. Some Afshar tribes are also scattered in areas between Kerman and Bandar-e Abbas in southern Iran. Today, an ever-increasing number of Afshars have settled down and became farmers.

Living in the northeastern Azarbaijan province, Shahsevans (renamed II Sevan after the victory of Islamic Revolution) were organized by Shah Abbas I in the 17th century as a militia from tribes of diverse origin. Mainly Turkish speaking, they were used to put down rebellions of other tribes. They were divided between Iranian Azarbaijan and the Russian or former Soviet Azarbaijan after the occupation of part of our country by the aggressive Russian forces during the Qajar Ka’ab. Tamim and Khamis are small population of Arab tribes, descendants of early emigrants, lives in eastern Khorassan near Bojnurd and in some places in Fars.










They dwell in the high grounds of Zard Kuh Mountain (Zagros range to the west of Esfahan) extending to the south of Esfahan, and around Shahr-e Kurd, with winter quarters in Khuzestan, particularly the kinder plains around Dezful, Susa, and Ramhormoz. They are divided into two main groups, the Haft Lang and the Chahar Lang, subdivided in turn into several tribes and sub-tribes or tayefeh. Most Bakhtiaris speak Persian or a Luri dialect, although part of the populations, concentrated in the towns and villages in the south of Khuzestan province, speak Arabic. Their clothing, with trousers extraordinarily wide, round hat and short tunic, is reminiscent of the Arsasid (Parthian) period, 200 BC-280 AD.










Originating in Khorassan, the northeastern province of Iran, they are scattered and live in the Mokran region far southeast of the country, a vast area from the Pakistan border to the Iranian deserts. Their language is pure Persian. Nowaday mainly settled in urban centers such as Zahedan, the Baluch tribes consist of many different smaller tribes, making their living out of camel herding and agriculture.










These tribes are among the most original tribes of Iran, speaking a pure Persian dialect and dwelling in the maritime provinces of Iran. Their number is dwindling, but one can still see the remnants of these stoic tribes in Talish.














The Kurdish people of Iran occupy a vast area from the northernmost borderline of Azarbaijan to the hot plain of Khuzestan. Descendants of the Indo-European tribes that arrived in Iran in the first millennium BC, they speak an Old Persian dialect and regard themselves as the descendants of the Medes. Kurds are to be found mainly in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.












They are probably the most intact tribes of Iran, retaining their robustness, virility, and tall stature. They are mostly cultivators and shepherds and occupy the high grounds of Lurestan, south of Kurdestan, and Kermanshah provinces. The Lursare thought to be a division of the ancient Kurds, both tribes being considered true descendants of the Medes. The Mamasani Lurs dwelling in western mountains of Fars form one of the most important clans.












They descend from the Mongols who arrived in Iran very early on, in the 11th century AD, and are powerfully built, with high cheekbones and slanting eyes. They live in the northeast of the country, north of Khorassan and east of Mazandaran. They dwell on the vast flat lands of Turkmensahra, which is situated between the Caspian Coast and the southern mountains. Today, they constitute the most active agriculturists and fishermen of the region, and unlike the other ethnic groups, they are Sunni.












These Turkish-speaking tribesmen representing a dominant ethno-linguistic The Lursare group, and historically the most important political leverage, dwell among the high mountains of Fars province. Traditionally, they wintered on pastures in the foothills of the Zagros to south and west of Shiraz, near the Persian Gulf, and moved north to the mountains in the spring. Their dress is almost the same as that of the Bakhtiaris, except for the hat, which resembles Napoleonic headgear.





Iran Mounts , has been shaped out of orogenic motions of tertiary geological period; its existence factor of which, are the pressure of Arabian plate over Eurasia plate & the volcano, causing to mineral springs being formed. These changes, have continued as well throughout the other periods of geology; with erosion of current waters as the most important external factor of unevenness changes.
These mounts, covering around 54% of country area, have converted Iran to a mountain land with an average altitude of 1200m from sea level (Iran Mounts, Cheshme publication, Qodrat Kasraeyan).
Four original mountains of Iran are: North Mounts, Zagros Mountain, Central Mounts, & West Mounts.
The North Mountain/ Alborz(950 km in length & 51500 km2 in area, equal to 3% of country’s), is a part of Alp & Himalaya folds. Starting from Ardabil province, this mountain eastwardly passes from Caspian see south & at the North of Khorasan joins Eastern mounts of Iran.
Starting from Ararat Mounts of Turkey alongside with Alamdar mounts, Sahand, Sabalan, Talesh mounts, Qaflan Kouh of Azirbaijan, Alborz mounts on Tehran North & Southern parts of Gilan & Mazendran Province, Aladaq Mounts, Binalud, Hezar Masjed & Qare Daq on Khorasan, the Northern mounts join Hendu Kash Mounts in Afghanistan. As the tallest one of these Mounts, Damavand(5671 m) is Considered the highest spot of Iran.
The Western Mountains, Iran hugest & longest ones, starting from West Azerbaijan Province, pass through the provinces of Kurdistan, Hamedan, Kermanshah, Elam, Lore Stan, Khuzestan, Chahar Mahal Bakhteyari, Kohgiluye & buyer Ahmad, Bushehr, Fars, Hormozgan & continue to the North of Hormoz Pass & join Iran central mountains & Macron Mountain ranges. Zagros Mountains (around 1400 km in length & 100-300 km in width) include 323000 km2 (20%) of Iran area.
Encompassing the overall of West, South-West, & a part of Country South, Zagros Mountains starting from Ararat Mounts, extended between West- North & East- South & includes the Mounts of Sari Dash, Chehel Cheshme, Panje Ali, Alvand, Bakhteyari, Pish Kouh & Posht Kouh, Qali Kouh, Oshtoran Kouh, & Zard Kouh. Dena/ Dinar(4409 m in height) is the highest peak of Zagros Mountain.
Central Mountains of Iran, linking Azerbaijan Province to Sistan & Baluchestan Mounts, extend along Iran large diameter, from West- North to East- South. The Central Mountains
(1460 km in length, & around 80 km2 in width), encompasses the area of 143000 km2. Hazar Mount(4465m in height), is the highest one of this Mountain range.
Discontinuous Eastern Mountains of Iran (with North- South direction), start from Khorasan North, & extend in South to Sistan & Baluchestan Provinces & Makran Mounts; the tallest one of which is Taftan Mount(3941 m in Height). As the only active volcano of the country, thanks to Sulfur gases released in its mouth, always a white smoke is seen over its peak.
Central & Eastern Mounts, includes the mounts of Karkas, Shir Kouh, Banan, Jebal Barez, Hazar, Bozman, & Taftan(Encyclopedia of Iran Geography, Abbas Ja’afari)
Mountains in Culture: Considered as the tie between the Sky & the Earth, Mounts are the origin of the first waters, resulting in fertility. Amongst most of the cultures, & in the ancient times there have been many holy mounts, considered as the place of eternals, & the residence of gods. According to the ancients beliefs, the holy mounts have been the center of the earth; from which the axis of overall universe passes.
Also, the mountains, as the place of mystics retreat, relation with gods & heaven gate, were one the popular topics of paintings on pottery & polished paintings, remained of predecessors. (Encyclopedia of graphical symbols in the Art of East & West, James Hall, Translated by Roqayye Behzadi, Modern Encyclopedia)
In Farsi Literature, the mounts are the symbol of stability, & throughout the history have been the safe hideout of fighters & liberals. In accordance with Iran myths, for throw shooting, Arash-e Kamangir ascended Damavand Mount, to specify the borders of Iran & Turan. Also, In Ferdowsi Shahname, In Damvand Mount, Fereydun manages to chain Zahhak, the mythical brutal king of Iran. The book “Kheyav”, Qolam Hossein Zahedi says that some people believe that Sabalan Mount is the place of Zartosht mission, Iranian prophet. On his book Mer’at-ol Boldan, Sani’o Ddole upon Takht-e Soleyman/ Solomon Throne writes: “It is said that Solomon, the prophet, has ascended this Mount.”
The beautiful Ode over Damavand & the famous lyrics collection of Shahreyar, Heydar Babaye Salam, addressing the Mount of Poet birth place, are the samples which manifest these mounts as the consideration center of contemporary poets.




















Iran History before Islam: According to documents, from the ancient times, Iran Flat has been residential. As the obtained works show, Iran tribes have lived along the rivers, springs, & also Zagros Mountain, as well as Kashan hill of Siyalk & hill of Hesar.
Current documents show that around 12000 years ago, i.e. the era of New Stone without Clay, the historical hill of Choqa Golan near Mehran town, Elam province, has been one of the first agricultural origins. It seems that favorable climate & abundant of products, have resulted in reviving the innovation feeling & modernistic enthusiasm of that era people.
The effects obtained from the Archeological sites of Damqan, Tarang Tappe of Gorgan, Haft Cheshme/ Seven Springs of Gorgan, Hasanlu Hill, Marlik Hill of Roodbar & Shush, show the Antiquity of the fifth millennium BC.
Elamite: On the 3rd millennium BC, in huge parts of Zagros (West) including Lorestan, Pish Kouh, Posht Kouh, & some South parts of Khuzestan till Kerman, the civilization of Elamite was born; which lasted till 1st millennium AD. The capital of them was Shoush; afterwards of which became the winter capital of Achaemenid.
Elamite, had commercial relationship with Town governments of Mesopotamia and Mohenjo-daro, alongside of Send River.
From remained works of Elamite, some works of Khuzestan, Ziggurat of Choqazanbil in Shush, plus the Stone carves of Ize can be named. Elamites performed the customs of Nowruz. Coinciding with Elamites kings in Khuzestan, Lulu’iha, Gutiha, & Kasiha on the region of Zagros Mounts, & on South East of Uremia Lake were stationed; from this same era, migration of Aryans were started.
Aryans: Aryans were the tribes of Mad, Part, & Pars. Mad Tribe on the valleys & flats of Zagros region (present Hamedan), Pars Tribe on Zagros South Flats(present Fars), & Part Tribe on the flats of Gorgan & Khorasan were settled. About 250 BC, Part Tribe from Khorasan went ahead towards West & South West of Iran & their Empire, was founded on Tisfun; the life of which lasted till 224 AC.
From unity of Aryan Tribes to the dominance of Arabs over Iran, 4 important tribes of Mad, Achaemenid, Ashkanian, & Sassanid, ruled over Aryan land.
Defeating the Mad Tribes & dominating over their capital, Achaemenid were the founders of Iran first Empire; i.e. 522- 485 BC or 550 BC.
After the extinction of Achaemenid kingdom, soluki System for a while dominated over Iran; the result of which was the integration of Iran & Helenistic cultures. During the peak power of Systems of Achaemenid, Ashkani, & Sasanid, the commercial relationships were also promoted; as going through South & Mesopotamia to India, they brought Indian Spice to Eastern & Western Lands.
Silk Road, with 8000km length, continuing from China to Istanbul alongside the coastlines of Mediterranean see & passing through Iran, resulted in trade boom.
From Achaemenid era, the traces of once green & Waterful Takht-e Jamshid & Pasargadae Town on the Morqab Plain of Fars Province, have remained.
Constructing of Takht-e Jamshid, with an order from First Darius Hakhamaneshi was started; which continued till the era of Ardeshir-e Hakhamaneshi. Ordered by Cyrus, Pasargadae Town/Parse as the place of palace on the north of Takht-e Jamshid, on 5 zones & in the area of 6 km2 has been built. Pasargadae, bearing his tribe name, was Cyrus’ Capital; the building of which was constructed by Greek architects. That’s why in it, the Greek architectural style is quite evident. The Tomb of Cyrus is also situated in Pasargadae.
Seleucid dynasty: Seleucid ruled about 2 centuries & a half; more than 65 years of which, was over Iran. On the year 323 BC, Iskandar deceased & most of his possessions of Asia region, was inherited by Solocos I; from his era of whom Seleucid dynasty over Iran started. The remained works of this era, consist of: Temples of Seleucid on the cities of Estakhr/pond, Kangavar, Khurhe, Nour Abad, & Takht-e Jamshid, plus the reliefs of Dinour, Nahavand, Shush, & Tall-e Soak.
Parthian dynasty: Parthian defeated the Seleucid; thanks to its 1st king, Ashk, of which, it was named Ashkanian/ Parthian.
Sassanian dynasty: On the year 225 AD, defeating the last king of Parthian, Sassanian founded a new dynasty, which ruling 400 years, lasted till the middle of 7 century. Sassanian capital was Tisfun, near present Bagdad, with Zoroastrianism religion. During their dynasty, the most distinctive aspect of art was architecture; from which many works have remained, such as: Shapur Cave, four kilometers from Bishapur town, Kazerun. At the very mouth of this cave, the statue of Shapur, 7 m height, is seen,
(dating back to 1700 years ago), formed by carving over inner stone column of cave. This statue is yet standing, with only its hands broken.
Anahita Temple, Kazerun, inspired by Achamenid architecture, is roof-less. It is interesting that, the temple is placed at the depth of 6 m from the earth; to which the water of Shapur River can be steepened. In fact, Bishapur Temple, is a Water Temple(one of the 4 elements attributed to the Venus goddess). From the other works of Sassanid, Falak-ol Aflak Citadle of Lorestan, can be named, which during Sassanid era has been utilized as a state military citadel.
Throughout this era, there have been so many erosion wars between the local rulers; thanks to which, the ground for domination of some tribes like Saljugi Turks, Mongols, & Teymurian, invaded from Cntral Asia to Iran, was provided. In the 1st century, with the collapse of the Sassanid Empire, Iranian accepted the Islam Religion.
The Safavid dynasty: On the year 907 AD, this dynasty was founded by King Ismael, & after whom, on the year 930 AD, Tahmasb King became the ruler; which due to the political reasons, transferred the capital from Tabriz to Qazvin. Safavid dynasty, from the year 880 to 1101 Solar AD, equal to 1501 -1722 AD, ruled over Iran. The founder of this dynasty, was King Ismael I & the last king of them, Shah Soltan Hossein. Safavid era, with 3 capitals one after the other, is the most important era of Iran history, for after distruction of Sassanid Dynasty, they were the first one, whom managed to unite the country under the power of one government; during which, Shiism became the country official Religion.
Throughout this dynasty, the architecture was expanded so much which in the whole country a new style was shaped in the art of architecture; the aftermath of which, are seen in Qazvin, & the last capital of Safavid dynasty, i.e. Esfahan: in the building of bridges, schools, caravansaries, mosques, churches, palaces & gardens.
Naqsh-e Jahan square, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chehel Sotun/ Forty pillars Palace, Ali Qapu Mansion, Mosques of Sheykh Lotf-o Llah, & Shah, Bazar, Chahar Baq/ Four Gardens Avenue, Jolfa Neighborhood, Si-o Se Pol/ thirty Three Bridges, Khajoo Bridge, The Home of Fathiye(present Hotel of Shah Abbasi), Hasht Behesht/ Eight Paradise Palace(one of the residences of Safavid era last kings), & Menar Jonban/ Dancing Menirate, are some of the works remained from that era. Also from amongst other cities works of this dynasty, Qazvin Chehel Sotun Mansion, Caravansaries, & Mosques can be named.
Qajar Dynasty: After collapsing of Safavid Dynasty, Afshareyan & Zandeyan reigns got the control of the country. Qajar reign was started immediately after Zandeyan; during which Russian & English entered Iran. The specifications of this era, are Tobacco Social Movements, Constitutional Revolution, Forest Uprising, & the uprising of Sheykh Mohammad Kheyabani. Tehran, in this same era was chosen as the capital, by Aqa Mohammad Khan.
First Pahlavi era, was started by Reza Khan’s coup; upon exile of whom to Morris Island, the second Pahlavi inherited the throne. In Pahlavi era, the movement of Oil Nationalization & Khordad 15 of 1342, happened & finally on 1357, upon taking place of Islamic revolution, the dynasty government was destroyed & Iran accepted the ruling of Islamic Republic.




Placed on Northern hemisphere & south west of old continent, Iran on middle-east region & with 1648195 km2 area, is the world eighteenth vast
This country with the total 5440 km land border, is in South neighborhood of countries of Armenia
Azerbaijan & Turkmenistan; West Of Afqanestan, & Pakistan; & East of Iraq & Turkey. Furthermore, via Persian Gulf at South, it has also marine border with Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, & United Arab Emirates; with regard to Caspian Sea coastlines, Iran has around 7680 km of marine border.
Placed on the region of middle Urasia, Iran has a strategic situation on the way of West & East, which acts like a bridge between the world biggest lake of Khazar & Persian Gulf; through which, the silk road passes(as the biggest commercial net of the world, up to Fifteen century AD). That’s why, from distant past it has been the linkage of cultural, commercial, & political Manifestations of East & West World.
In accordance with 1313  Circular, issued by Reza Shah & sent to all countries, from Farvardin 1, 1314(1935, Mars 21), the word of Iran replaced its former names of Pars & Persia, formally.
In word, Iran means Land of the Aryans; Indo European speaking emigrants which had immigrated to Iran Flat & Indian Subcontinent, during the 2nd millennium.
Nowadays, Iran encompasses various tribes like Persian language, Azari, Kurd, Lore, Baluch, Mazandarani, Gilak, Qashqai, Arab, Lak, Turkmen, Tat, & Sistani; according to 1390 Census of Iran Statistics Center of which contained the population of 75149669 people.
Tehran is, Iran Capital, biggest city & political-administrative center. This country official language is Persian, its official religion Islam, & its Time difference, based on World time clock, +3:30.


From natural view point, Iran is limited on North to Atrak River, Caspian Sea, & Aras River; on east to Hindukush Mounts & Western Mounts of Send Valley; on West to Western domains of Zagros Mountains & Arvand Roud Basin; & on South to Persian Gulf & Amman Sea.
Over half of Iran bears desert & Semi-desert Weather; around one third of which is mountain & a small part of it encompasses prolific flats of Caspian see south parts & khouzestan. Also, Damavand peak with the altitude of 5671m, is the highest spot of Iran.


In respect to Iran vastness, this country is so distinct & changeable climatically; so, according to rainfall, temperature & moisture, various parts of the country bear considerable differences.
Regarding the climate, Iran is one of the world most exclusive countries; sometimes in winter, the heat difference between the warmest & coolest spot of which is over 50 centigrade degree.
Influenced by Siberian high pressure system, Mediterranean air system & Low pressure system of south, plus the existence of mountains & seas, Iran is amongst a few countries of the world; in which four seasons are well evident.
On the other hand, due to its placement on above Latitude, the difference among its seasons are more, resulting in the variety of outstanding climate.
The northern coastlines, in summer bear a hot & wet, & in winter a mild weather. While, West & North-West regions, have mild summers & cool winters, the Southern parts, have very hot summers & mild winters; that’s why every corner of Iran, bear a different nature comparing to other zones.

Plants and animals
Based on the report of Research Institute of the country Jungles & Pastures, considering the various climate & the distinct face of Iran nature, around 10000 species of forest & pastures plants have been recognized.
Due to geographical variety, & thanks to jungles, deserts, mountains, & different rivers & lakes, Iran eco-system encompasses various animal species (1130 species); from amongst of which some rare ones are found in Iran, e.g. Lynx, Caspian tiger, Gazelle, Cheetah and Persian ibex.
Due to the four-season quality of Iran weather, this country as well as being the origin of endemic birds,   is also the passageway of migratory birds from Asia Northern parts; i.e. Russia & Siberia. The existence of two Warm sea in South & Caspian Sea in North, have caused the variety of the Aquatic.



According to the report of Energy Department of 2008, Iran contains the World 3rd oil reserves, 11% of oil field proven reserves equal to 130 Billion barrels, the 2nd Gas reserves of globe, & also 18% of gas field proven reserves equal to 26 Trillion m‎‎3; as the result of which, the main advanced industries of Iran encompasses Oil, Gas, & Petrochemical.
Also, due to the weather variety, in generating agricultural products Iran is active; in some cases of which even bears the comparative advantage. In accordance to FAO, The latest statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations shows that Iran is one the biggest significant producers of World Agricultural Products. Based on this same data, for several consecutive years in producing Pistachio and mulberry has been unmatched. Also, in generating apricots, dates and most summer crops, Iran has won the world 2nd position, & in generating walnut and cherry, the 3rd one.
Also, from amongst its different traditional handicrafts like all types of carpet, & rugs, pottery, wood carving, & inlay, the hand-maid carpets, Turquoise, & Gemstone are the most key items of Iran export affairs.