A glimpse on the Persian Carpet

Persian Carpet (Quali) has been considered as a sublime embodiment of timeless beauty and elegance over thousands of years in human history and it has constantly evolved into a more elegant and artistic creation throughout its existence. It has always been an essential part of Persian culture and a staple of each Iranian home. For centuries, Persian Carpets have been appreciated for their high quality, uniqueness and the fact that they are handwoven. The variety of Persian Carpets is somewhat impressive if you put some thought into it; from large carpets knotted in workshops to lively patterned village carpets and charming nomadic carpets. These hand-woven arts are not only limited to carpets. There are other relative structures with different materials, design executions and techniques, that have also made a special place for themselves in Persian culture such as Gabbeh, Kilim and Palas

The journey through the world of antique Persian Rugs is not only a treat for the eyes, but also a journey through culture. The patterns, the sizes and the colors are all rooted in deeper meanings and sometimes, possibly stories. Stories of past generations and their traditions.

Theoretically, it is implied that a Persian Rug would have to be at least 80 years old to be considered “antique”.

Persian Carpets

Hand-woven Persian Carpets

As the Persian carpet has been a subject of interest amongst many people including us, Kalout team has taken the elaborate decision to present this historical and cultural legacy through our eyes. We are beyond ourselves to be able to share this gem with our international friends and clients.

Brief History

A significant part of the movement of the Persian floor covering lies related to the different leaders of the nation all through time. By vanquishing Babylon in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great was struck by its quality, which led him to present the craft of rug making into Persia. Numerous history specialists credit Cyrus for this cultural and artistic impression. It is said that the burial chamber of Cyrus the Great, at Pasargadae close to Persepolis, was secured with valuable rugs.

Renowned conventional Iranian floor coverings caused some zones to incorporate Mashhad, Tabriz, Arak, Isfahan, Kashan and Kerman. Notable assortments of Persian carpets, some from the previously mentioned cities and provinces include Khorasan, Herat, Shiraz and Hamedan.

Through history, until the 19th century, people from nomads to kings, only utilized the rugs from Persia as floor coverings and decorations. Generally, the word carpet was used for any cover, such as a table cover or wall hanging. However, afterwards it has been seen with a fresh pair of eyes, as a genuine art form.

Nowadays, these carpets are appreciated not only as artworks but also as investment worthy pieces. The experience of seeing and feeling a genuine antique Persian rug in person, can be truly powerful.

Iranian Carpet

Antique Persian Rug

The orientation of carpet weaving in Persia goes back to more than 2,500 years ago. At first, carpets and rugs were made as simple necessities to cover the floors, protecting people from the cold and damp and provided them with warmth and comfort. However, through time, the skill and craft of weaving carpets gradually evolved to the creation of art works that passed down from generation to generation over the centuries.

In the past, it was believed that the geometric designs and symbolic figures protect the Persian rug’s owner from misfortune and evil. As for the tribal rug designs, the pattern of animals, people, and everyday objects, are a classic example of art imitating life. Persian antique rugs are one-of-a-kind masterpieces and luxury design items, which can make a house, feel like a home. Not to mention they have been quite popular amongst Europeans aristocrats like England and Germany, especially during the 1850’s. Due to their timeless elegance, hand woven Persian rugs are an unbeatable, must-have piece among designers.

During the Safavid Period, Persia was an ancient and powerful empire embracing lands from Africa to India. The largest flourishing carpet producing areas were the now modern-day cities of Tabriz, Herat, Kashan and Kerman. The Safavid Dynasty encouraged many other kinds of arts as well, which stepped into the original foot prints of the art of carpet weaving, including painting, calligraphy and intricate weaving. Nowadays these patterns have made their way onto the nomads traditional clothing, table cloths and animals’ saddlebags. There are also certain woven curtains, which are mainly used to divide a room from another. These detailed weavings and pattern are not only bound down to nomadic areas. Modern day fashion is no stranger to intricate weaving or crosshairs. Many hand-made rugs with intricate designs, which passed down from one generation to another, have survived for hundreds of years, as they were so well crafted and cherished. These specific rugs are evidence of a rich heritage and culture.

Iranian Rugs

A local woman hand weaving a Persian carpet

Persia is considered one of (if not the most) varied carpet producing regions of the Middle East. However, the golden era of Persian Carpets really began after the foundation of the Safavid Dynasty and during the 16th and 17th centuries, Persia produced many of the great masterpiece carpets, which are still in existence today.

The display of Persian carpet from outside in & International legacies

As briefly mentioned, the rugs from Persia also made their way west to Europe. Persian Carpet started a long journey of display from Spain, which was initially introduced to the art from Northern Africa and Morocco and ended up in Southern Europe.

As of today, the most famous Persian carpets came from Tabriz, which are referred to as the Twin Ardabil Carpets. These carpets have made it in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and Los Angeles Country Museum.

Sheikh Safi Persian carpet at the Victoria and Albert museum

Sheikh Safi Persian carpet at the Victoria and Albert museum

It is only fit to introduce some of these fine carpets to paint a picture of how mesmerizing they actually are. Let’s not forget that with Kalout international tours, all these treasures would be personally introduced to our visitors.

A beautiful rug belonging to Northwest Persia is the animal” carpet, half of which is in Kraków Cathedral, Poland, and half in the Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris. Another legacy of antique Persian carpet is the great hunting” carpet, which now is in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan. A deep blue field, where hunters dash after their prey, covered with a compelling network of blossoming stems surrounds a scarlet and gold medallion which brings this magnificent design to finish. The words inscribed with the museum display read: “It is by the efforts of Giyath-ud-Din ʿJami that this renowned carpet was brought to such perfection in the year 1521.”

The world’s oldest hand-woven carpet is the Pazyryk Rug, which dates back to 2,500 years ago. This piece includes Iranian and Achaemenid motifs. The carpet is currently kept at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

And lastly, Silk carpets woven to surround the shrine of Shah Abbas the second in Qom were the last superior achievements in Persian Carpet weaving. The pattern is beautiful, the colors are varied and in harmony with each other. The piece is dated and signed by Nimat Allah of Joshaqan.

Silk Persian carpet

Silk Persian carpet

The market and value of Persian carpets

Hand-woven Carpet is one of Iran’s key non-oil exports, considering Iran makes three quarters of the world’s hand-woven carpets.

The Persian Carpet is pretty popular among European (Germany for instance) and American Aristocrats and interior design or art connoisseur in general.    

The value of the Persian carpet is determined by various factors, including the beauty, intricacy and authenticity of designs, durability of colors, the quality of materials and the knots as well as the years of labor spent for producing each carpet.

According to estimates by the Iranian Industry, Iran annually makes around 400 tons of hand-woven carpets, the majority of which are exported to other countries.

The display of a few grand Persian carpets for an auction

The display of a few grand Persian carpets for an auction

The authentic Persian carpet has lost a part of its share in the international market as replicas with lower price and quality from China, Afghanistan, Turkey and Pakistan have flooded the market. Regardless of other countries’ replicas and Monets of the Persian Rug, real Persian art connoisseurs believe this particular Iranian handicraft still maintains its status in the world.

Moreover, the unique features of the Persian Nomadic Rug have made it impossible for other producers to copy the exact handicraft.

According to the recent reports, over the past decade, the Persian Carpet Industry has experienced one of the roughest times in its era. Nonetheless, it still stands on top of its game due to its deep roots.

Fun facts

Khosrow Carpet: There has been a legendary, royal silk carpet woven with an intention of nothing but magnificent beauty, dedicated to the divine role of the king, a mythical king who turned each season around and promised the return of spring and earth’s fertility. The Spring of Khosrow Carpet made for the audience hall of the Sāsānid palace at Ctesiphon

Khosrow Carpet  was a representation of the Garden of Eden, which in other words symbolized a promise of eternal happiness.

Unfortunately, this masterpiece has not survived throughout time. According to written records, the motifs and superior embellishments of this piece were mind blowing. Just to train your imagination, picture a royal garden with watercourses, paths, rectangular flowerbeds and blossoming shrubs and fruit trees, which were the main motifs and patters of this carpet. A literal yellow brick road, woven in gold and each flower pedal, fruit or bird was worked in with pearls and different jewels. The border was not just woven out yarn like ordinary carpets. This border was by itself, a smaller frame holding the scene of a meadow, solid with emeralds. It’s truly a shame to miss out laying our eyes on such a terrific piece. 

 Qab Qabi( Frame pattern)carpet

Qab Qabi( Frame pattern)carpet

It is referenced in numerous western records that Iranians stroll on nurseries, sky and suchlike that were weaved on twist and woof. Iranian heaven had seven dividers to keep evil spirits from entering inside, the example which has been seen in the arrangement of Persian Gardens too.

The general state of the Iranian rug is square or square shape, to help to remember the four old style components, the four fundamental headings and the example of nurseries. At the point when the circle joined the rug conspire, it has become to look like a sanctuary, keeping each consecrated thing inside it. In Islamic time the hover set in the focal point of the square shape territory, to be the uprightness of presence. The Islamic craftsmanship sought after to take earth to the sky and carry the sky to earth, and how decent rug has carried out this responsibility.

Gold threaded rugs (In Kashan)

Around the 17th century, the rise of lavish lifestyle and luxury, lead to the production of gold- and silver-threaded carpets. Some were even costume ordered or exported to Europe, due to the good relations between the two countries at the time. It is believed that the main producing city for these rugs were Isfahan and Kashan. As the Persian Carpets, particularly the silver and gold-threaded one were first exhibited in Paris, many believed that the rugs were actually European.

The gold thread Persian rug with silk from Kashan

The gold thread Persian rug with silk from Kashan

Iran Carpet Museum

As Iran is one of the major carpet producers in the world with an immaculate history attached, it would only be just to have a museum dedicated to this art. The Iran Carpet Museum, located northwest of Laleh Park in Tehran, is a visionary representation of all the rave on Persian Carpet, its evolution and history. The architecture of this building is something that your eyes won’t miss as you approach. A façade resembling a carpet weaving loom, casting shadows on the walls, is not only a visionary but also a practical shelter to cool down by. Even though this museum has many photography hot spots, it should be mentioned that flash photography in not allowed inside. You will not miss visiting this Museum, traveling with Kalout tours.

Kalout team has expert guides who will make sure that you won’t miss out on the one of a kind adventure to visit Iran Carpet Museum. Not to mention that you will be hearing all about the history and culture, right there in the moment, along with the introduction of some of Iran most famous carpets.

Iran carpet museum in Tehran

Iran carpet museum in Tehran

The building is divided into two exhibition galleries on two floors, with each exhibition displaying different styles from varies regions and backgrounds. In short, the ground floor belongs to permanent exhibitions and the upper floor is designed for temporary exhibitions and regional displays. The overall collection of Iran Carpet Museum holds more than 150 pieces, dating from the 17th century up to the current creations.

Closer

Iran has many roots and cultural authenticities to rely on when it comes to proving its originality. However, putting aside all the fuss and marketing competitors, what captures anyone’s heart regarding Iran’s cultural aspects, is the warmth, the hospitality and sheer humbleness of the people who contributed to this art.

As Kalout Tours is quite familiar with the enthusiasm regarding Persian Carpets, visiting carpet weaving workshops and traditional Bazaars are usually squeezed in most of our classical and cultural itineraries, passing through popular cities such as Tehran, Kashan, Na’in, Kerman, Shiraz and Isfahan, where you can witness the art of weaving, which open the doors to a trail of Iran’s history, culture and nature of this ancient land. Most tourists are drawn to purchase one fine piece as a souvenir to have as a memoir of their trip to the land of 1001 nights.

Aran and Bidgol

Aran va Bidgol is a city close to Kashan. It took shape after the destruction of Sialk civilization. It was built as one of the forty-fence castles (Kashan old name). The word Aran is driven from Arian (Aria tribe). According to another narrative it is driven from the name of one of the pre Islamic respectable man, Aran ibn Ghasan. And the word Bidgol is the variation of Bibi Gol, Mogul commander’s daughter. Aranies people speak in farsi with accent. Imamzadeh Halal is the most important historical and cultural symbol of the city.

Maranjab Desert

The dazzling desert is stretched endlessly in north east of Aran va Bidgol covered by eye catching sand dunes, flowing sands and Haloxylons. Its approximately 850 meters above sea level and has hot-dry climate. Not being so fruitless, it has its own flora and fauna such as tamarix and Zygophyllum, fox, Jackal, Rüppell’s fox, hyena, sand cat, Monitor lizard, Chameleons, lizard, snake, Scorpion, See-see partridge and falcon. In Maranjab desert two North and Shahriari winds are desirable and the others like Khorasan, Qebla, black wind and Tire Lovar are viewed as notorious ones.

Salt Lake

stunning, enchanting, unique and economically vital in the region, Salt Lake is one of the most beautiful landscapes in desert. It is the result of centuries of salt deposit, carried by salty water of rivers and floods. its approximate expanse (2400 Km) alters depending on water debit and periodic seasonal rainfalls. Due to precipitation and evapotranspiration, dazzling white salt crystal polygons surround lake bank’s surface.

Maranjab caravanserai

Dating back to Safavid era, Maranjab caravanserai, 810 m above sea level, is located 50Km from Aran va Bidgol. In north its bordering Black Mountain range. Maranjab caravansary is situated on one of silk roadside roads, built under Shah Abbas command in 1604 in order to secure the transition of goods from China to Europe and domestic caravans who traveled from Khorasan to Isfahan (Safavid Capital) and Ray.

Due to the importance of the route and military and defensive role of the caravanserai, the roof, walls and watch out towers are built like a castle. It’s built of brick and consisted of rooms, stables, and King’s special place which are surrounding the central yard.

Drinking water from Qanat has formed a tiny pool surrounded by tall green trees right before the colossal structure. This rare confrontation of water and land, light and shadow, heat and cool weather opens a wondering landscape before desert goers’ eyes. That’s why a quotation regarding the name “Maranjab” sounds believable. “do not be hurt due to heat, wind and dust of desert, water pool and desirable shadow of trees awaits you.

Wander Island

Wander island, with 808 M height in highest point, is a vegetation free hill made of volcanic rock located inside Salt Lake.  The island is wandered because it looks endless from either side at long distance due to extreme heat, light breakdown and eye mistake. Based on an old belief this island has been moving constantly. Wander island is a mysterious beauty of Salt Lake from top of which mesmerizing sun rise and sun set leave you speechless.

Handmade well

Handmade well along with other caravansary’s ruins, located in east, 4Km from Maranjab caravansary. It was a resort for caravans commuting the route before Maranjab caravansary was built. Despite bordering Iran’s biggest salt marsh, surprisingly, its water is drinkable. The water is high enough and so close to the well mouse (about 2 meters deep), that the name sounds logical.

Dunes and pebbles

Dunes are sandy hills formed as a result of soil erosion, lack of rain and vegetation. They take different shapes with the wind direction such as curve and sword-like. situated in east, 12Km from caravansary, Band-e Rig starts from dunes’ west bank and continues to far east. A combination of growing green plants on brown sandy context bordering blue sky, creates dazzling beauty. On the dune’s side roads located on a two-way intersection, there is a steep uphill called Khatab shekan by locals. Khatab is part of the camel saddle and it breaks most of the time due to heaviness and high pressure of climbing steep hills in the area.

 

The Dasht-e Kavir, is one of two deserts dominating the region’s landscape, is a mix of sand and salt as blinding in its whiteness as it is deafening in its silence. Dasht-e Kavir, is also known as “Kavir-e Namak” and “Great Salt Desert”, is a large desert lying in the middle of the Iranian plateau, around 300 kilometers east-southeast of Tehran. Dasht-e-Kavir desert is approximately 800 kilometers long and 320 kilometers wide, and composed of mud and salt marshes. Millions of years ago, this region was occupied by a salt-rich ocean that covers a small piece of continent in what is now central Iran. As the time passes, the ocean gets dried up, it left behind a layer of salt as much as 6 to 7 kilometers thick.

Therefore, over the time, the layer of salt was buried under a thick layer of mud; however salt has a fairly low density lower than the layer of mud and rocks underneath which the salt layer lay. So it taking place pushing up through the overlying sediment and finally, over millions of years, the salt broke through and formed domes. The salt domes of Dasht-e Kavir are probably some of the best examples of this geological marvel. Thus, geologists have recognized about 50 large salt domes in this region. Some of the domes have been eroded away by wind and rain exposing its cross-section.

Dasht-e Kavir

However, the desert climate is arid and receives little rain and snow each year, but the surrounding mountains on all side, provide plenty of runoff to create vast seasonal lakes, marshlands and playas. Temperatures can reach 50 °C in summer, and the average temperature in January is 22 °C. Though it looks like a firm surface, the salt crust is only a few inches thick, below which lies soft grease-like mud the Iranians called “Charbeh” that is really difficult to get out of if one were to get stuck. Due to arduous travelling to Dasht-e Kavir, it is very dangerous. The soil is sterile and not appropriate for cultivation. In summer the hot temperatures cause extreme vaporization, which leaves the marshes and mud grounds with large crusts of salt. Heavy storms frequently occur and they can cause sand hills reaching up to 40 m in height. Some parts of Dasht- e Kavir have a more steppe-like appearance.

Dasht-e-Kavir desert is almost uninhabited and only partly explored. Wild sheep, camels, goats and Persian leopards also live in the mountainous areas. Hence, human settling is restricted to scattered oases, where wind-blocking housing constructions are raised to deal with the tough weather conditions. Some live in the hills and the surrounding mountains. Against the odds, oases exist within these desolate environs, home to villages that are sustained by the wells of sweet water that have been part of desert mythology for centuries. Vegetation in the Dasht-e Kavir is adapted to common plant species like shrubs and grasses can only be found in some valleys and on mountain tops. So, the most widespread plant is mugwort. The Persian ground jay is a bird species living in some parts of the desert plateaus, along with Houbara bustards, Persian gazelles, camel, goats, leopards, larks and sandgrouses.

Moreover night life brings on wild cats, wolves, foxes, and other carnivores, the Persian onager and Asiatic cheetah can be seen. Lizards and snakes live in different places in the central plateau. The extreme heat and storms in Dasht-e Kavir cause extensive erosion, which makes it almost impossible to cultivate any lands almost uninhabited and knows little exploitation. Camel and sheep breeding and agriculture are the sources of living to the few people living on its soil. For irrigation, Iranians developed a sophisticated system of water-wells known as qanats. These are still in use, and modern globally used water-revenue systems are based on their techniques.

 

Dasht-e Kavir, or the Great Salt Desert National Park, is a large desert lying in the middle of the Iranian plateau about 300 kilometers east-southeast of Tehran. A total surface area of about 77,600 km2 makes it the Earth’s 26th largest desert. This desert stretches from Alborz mountain range in the north-west to Dasht-e- Lut in the south-east and is partitioned between the Iranian provinces of Khorasan, Semnan, Tehran, Isfahan and Yazd. This amazing desert is about 800 kilometers long, and more than 320 kilometers wide, and composed of mud and salt marshes. Tens of millions of years ago, this region was occupied by a salt-rich ocean that surrounded a small piece of continent in what is now central Iran. As the ocean dried up, it left behind a layer of salt as much as 6 to 7 kilometers thick. Over time, the layer of salt was buried under a thick layer of mud. But salt has a fairly low density, lower than the layer of mud and rocks underneath. So it started pushing up through the overlying sediment and eventually, over millions of years, the salt got out and formed domes. The salt domes of Dasht-e-Kavir are probably some of the best examples of this geological phenomenon.

Dasht-e Kavir’s climate is arid and receives little rain and snow during the year. However, the surrounding mountains on all sides provide plenty of runoff to create vast seasonal lakes, marshlands and playas. Temperatures can reach 50 °C in summer, and the average temperature in January is 22 °C. Day and night temperatures during a year can differ up to 70 °C. Rain usually falls in winter.

The desert soil is covered with sand and pebbles. There are marshes, seasonal lakes and seasonal river beds. The hot temperatures cause extreme vaporization, which leaves the marshes and mud grounds with large crusts of salt. Heavy storms frequently occur and they can cause sand hills reaching up to 40 m in height. Some parts of Dasht-e-Kavir have a more steppe-like appearance.

Geologists have identified about 50 large salt domes in this region some of which have been eroded away by wind and rain exposing its cross-section.

Although it looks like a hard surface, the salt crust is only a few inches thick, below which lies soft grease-like mud that Iranians call “Charbeh”, which is extremely difficult to get out of if one gets stuck in. Due to this fact, travelling in Dasht-e-Kavir is extremely dangerous. The soil is sterile and not suitable for cultivation. The desert is almost uninhabited and only partly explored. Human settling is restricted to scattered oases, where wind-blocking housing constructions are raised to deal with the harsh weather conditions. Some live in the hills and the surrounding mountains. Wild sheep, camels, goats and Persian leopards also live in the mountainous areas.

5 Special Offer for Autumn Cruise

The journey will not end only in the summer and its long days.The new season of travel to new areas begins with the coming of autumn.Pleasant weather,the smell of rain and colorful trees has prepared the best season for nature lovers.
Iran is a four-season country and due this particular feature you can visit some part of Iran in different seasons.
Traveling in Iran is not limited to spring or autumn.At any time, a part of this beautiful country prepares a special trip location for you.Autumn in Iran has different choices for you.The deserts provide the best trip for you in this season. Simultaneously,the northern forests of Iran are waiting for desert travelers with millions of colors.

We have 5 special offers for your autumn trip that you will have a memorable and colorful autumn tour in Iran.

Desert tourism
Autumn is the best season for lovers of the desert.In this season, the extreme heat of the desert and the cold of the nights are both tolerable.Since Iran is a desert country, then you will have different choices to travel to one of the beautiful deserts of Iran.
Maranjab desert near Tehran will have the best and the closest access to you.In addition, in this desert area you can visit all the features of the Iranian desert region in a small area as like as Sandy hills,SaltLake,Sandy roads,
The Silk Road,Desert Wildlife and other features of the desert areas.Also, the most important feature of this region is the implementation of the tour program as a one-day excursion program.
Our second suggestion for your desert program is the 2-day tour of Kashan and Abouzidabad Desert.Spend one day in Kashan and the other day in the desert of Abu Zaidabad.This area is just 30 minutes from Kashan.
In order to enjoy other desert areas in Iran, you need some medium-term plans that Iranian agencies will help you.

Nayband; Tabas
Another landmark of Iran in the fall is the village of Nayband.This desert village is known the Masooleh of Desert.Nayband is located 225 km south of Tabas and adjacent to the Lut desert.Nayband is one of the unique examples of staircase architecture that has been formed in the Lut Desert.In this type of architecture there is a dense set of houses in which the roofs of the houses are used as their upper yard.This architecture has created a solid correlation among the inhabitants of this region.
One of the most prominent and spectacular views of this area is seeing the sky at night with millions of stars.

Forestry; from Naharkhoran Forest to Londvil Forest
Autumn is the best season for walking in the Forest.Trees with thousands of colors and the smell of wet soil are autumn beauty that makes walking in the woods more enjoyable.3 Northern provinces of Iran with dense forests and tall trees will have unforgettable autumn landscapes.For the Trekking Trees in the Autumn make travel to one of these beautiful areas:
Naharkhoran Forest,Gorgan Province.
Asalem to Khalkhal Road,Gilan Province.
Alimestan Forest,Amol,Mazandarn Forest.
LondvilForest,Astara,Gilan Province.
Chamestan Road,Mazandaran Province.

Meybod,Yazd
This small town is located on the edge of the Yazd desert with 45 km distance from Yazd.You can experience four seasons of the year at this time.Spring mornings, summer heat noon, autumn sunset, winter nights and nights, are the autumn gifts for this city.Simultaneously, you can see the beauty of the desert and the old monuments of this city.
Some of these sights are:
Old Carevanseray,PostOffice,StoreWater,OldMosque,Pigeon Tower and Pottery workshops.

Tehran, Ahar Village
Tehran and its surroundings are also beautiful in autumn.You can enjoy the beauty of this great city by staying in Tehran
The villages around Tehran with beautiful forest areas will have nice scenery from autumn.
You can also enjoy these beauties by walking in the parks of Tehran or in the streets.The streets that are covered with long tree as Vali-e-Asr street.

iran-esfahan-imam-detail-geoex

iran-esfahan-imam-detail-geoex

Everyone says you’ll be surprised by Iran (except for those who say, you’re nuts for going — and they’d probably be the most surprised of all). So I went in expecting to be surprised, but I still wasn’t prepared.

I was surprised by the red poppies bursting out all over the landscape, the snowcapped mountains where I’d expected desert, and the national commitment to mystical poetry and song. The most profound surprise of all was the genuine warmth of the people. From Tehran to Tabriz to the smallest village in the desert, people went out of their way to express appreciation at our visit. In Yazd, a restaurant owner went so far as to place an American flag on our table and blast “The Star-Spangled Banner” from the speakers, causing the other patrons to rise from their seats out of respect. Now, that’s surprising.

Below are a few of my favorite memories:

The palace was a pleasant surprise — an equivalent place in Europe would be overrun with tourists and selfie sticks. Instead, it was magnificently quiet; you could hear the babble in the fountains and the chattering of parrots overhead.

iran-jess-silber-geoex

iran-jess-silber-geoex

I had my picture taken by a young Iranian couple who were also strolling around Golestan, being tourists themselves. They were thrilled to see a group of Americans touring their capital.

One thing that surprised me about Iranian cities was the fun public art. I expected to see lots of sober portraits of the Supreme Leaders, Khomeini and Khamenei, and yes, I did see those. But I didn’t expect colorful murals and whimsical sculptures, and I saw lots of those, too. I think the picture above is actually an advertisement, but it’s a nice reminder of how Iranian cities can be joyful places, not just somber ones.

On Iran's rural border with Azerbaijan, set within a canyon and reachable only by a steep walk, the centuries-old St. Stephanos Church feels like it's in a different world from cosmopolitan Tehran.

On Iran’s rural border with Azerbaijan, set within a canyon and reachable only by a steep walk, the centuries-old St. Stephanos Church feels like it’s in a different world from cosmopolitan Tehran.

Iran’s Islamic architecture is dazzling, no surprise there. But there are other religions in Iran, and exploring sites sacred to Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism was a surprise highlight. Saint Stephanos Church is a long drive from the closest major city; perched just across the border with Azerbaijan, it holds court in a canyon of red rock that feels like one of the archives of time.

The Iranians that we met on the "Treasures of Persia" trip were always eager to have their picture taken with us. Same goes for this group of guys who ran into us at St. Stephanos Church.

The Iranians that we met on the “Treasures of Persia” trip were always eager to have their picture taken with us. Same goes for this group of guys who ran into us at St. Stephanos Church.

We visited Saint Stephanos on a weekend, and it was busy. At each corner and courtyard of the church complex, we were approached by people who wanted to welcome us and chat with us — or take their photo with us. Kathie is pictured here with a group of gentlemen who wanted to immortalize the visit.

A spring fills this volcanic crater at Takht-e Suleiman, Iran - it's easy to see why it was considered a sacred site to different civilizations throughout Iranian history.

A spring fills this volcanic crater at Takht-e Suleiman, Iran – it’s easy to see why it was considered a sacred site to different civilizations throughout Iranian history.

At first I was a bit skeptical as we walked up to Takht-e Suleiman, a windy mountaintop UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’d driven hours through mountain landscapes to get there, and as you approach, you can’t see much except the crumbs of ruins. But the opaque, blue-green pool in the center of the site, formed in a volcanic crater, brought into focus how magnificent and spiritual it was. “One of the most sacred places in Iran,” our trip leader, Sylvie, said, and it was pretty easy to see why.

As with so many other places in northern Iran, we pretty much had the whole site of Takht-e Suleiman — all of its chambers, tunnels and temples — to ourselves to ponder and explore. Here, our national guide, Peyman, is explaining the Zoroastrian fire temple that once burned here.

The atmospheric ruins of Takht-e Suleiman, a sacred site in rural Iran.

The atmospheric ruins of Takht-e Suleiman, a sacred site in rural Iran.

There was just one other group of tourists visiting the ruins at Takht-e Suleiman that day, an older couple strolling with a young man. The woman asked me to take a photo with her. After the young man had taken the picture, the woman squeezed both of my hands in hers and kissed both of my cheeks. I don’t think anyone has ever been so happy to take a picture with me in any other country I’ve visited.

Military service is compulsory for most young men in Iran. These two soldiers serve their time as guards at the crumbling Anahita temple, a pre-Islamic ruin in the town of Kangavar, dedicated to the Zoroastrian goddess of water.

An Iranian woman in Kangavar offered warm bread to some members of our group. At first we declined, trying to adhere to the Iranian custom of taarof, which governs etiquette, but as you can see, eventually the aroma of warm bread overcame us.

Persepolis! Ancient cities haven’t always been my thing — in the Roman Forum I was preoccupied by the scrawny cats begging between the columns — but this site is magnificent from the very first approach. The city was a ceremonial capital for the Achaemenid kings, built on these tremendous stones that heave it toward the sky like an altar, and decorated with astonishing carvings and reliefs. It was more recently famous for being the site of the last Shah’s final big party in 1971, which lavishly celebrated 2,500 years of Persian civilization and provoked the outrage of then-exiled Khomeini.

This third-century relief at Naqsh-e Rustam, just a few miles from Persepolis, depicts the beginning of an empire: Ardashir, the first Sassanid king, is receiving a ring of kingship from the Zoroastrian deity Ahuramazda. The empire only ended four centuries later with the arrival of Islam in Iran.

This third-century relief at Naqsh-e Rustam, just a few miles from Persepolis, depicts the beginning of an empire: Ardashir, the first Sassanid king, is receiving a ring of kingship from the Zoroastrian deity Ahuramazda. The empire only ended four centuries later with the arrival of Islam in Iran.

The highway from Shiraz to Yazd follows historical trade routes, passing the same desert mountains as the camel caravans of previous centuries.

The highway from Shiraz to Yazd follows historical trade routes, passing the same desert mountains as the camel caravans of previous centuries.

The highway from Shiraz to Yazd follows historic trade routes, passing the same desert mountains as the camel caravans of previous centuries.

I’m posing here with a gentleman who has greeted travelers to the Towers in Silence, a Zoroastrian ruin on the outskirts of Yazd, for years — maybe decades. “Over the years I’ve come here, he’s gone through three different donkeys,” our guide explained, “but it’s always the same man.”

Kathie admires the tile work and calligraphy at the Friday Mosque in Yazd.

Only 20 columns support the ceiling of the Chehel Sotun, or Forty Column Palace. The other 20 are created by the reflection in the pool at the entrance to the palace.

Only 20 columns support the ceiling of the Chehel Sotun, or Forty Column Palace. The other 20 are created by the reflection in the pool at the entrance to the palace.

Only 20 columns support the ceiling of the Forty-Column Palace. The other 20 are created by the reflection in the pool at the entrance to the palace.

Esfahan's Forty-Column Palace has an impressive variety of mustaches depicted in the artwork on its walls. On the day we visited, they honored their mustache heritage with a make-your-own-Persian-'stache station.

Esfahan’s Forty-Column Palace has an impressive variety of mustaches depicted in the artwork on its walls. On the day we visited, they honored their mustache heritage with a make-your-own-Persian-‘stache station.

The Forty-Column Palace might have only had 20 columns. What it had in excess was mustaches depicted in its artwork and frescoes — an impressive variety. On the day our group visited, the palace happened to have a temporary exhibit dedicated to this mustache heritage, including a “make your own historical Persian mustache” station that we took full advantage of.

The exterior of the Imam Mosque, in Esfahan, is covered in ornamental red bulbs to honor the birthday of the Hidden Imam, a Messianic leader believed by some Shia to be living in secrecy among the people.

Lots of people have written about the beauty of the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque in Esfahan. I am happy to confirm that they were all correct. It’s a masterpiece. The mosque was built in the 17th century as a private mosque for the women of the Shah’s family. The pious women were invisible while at prayer thanks to a long, curving hallway that twists away from the entrance doors.

As our trip wound to a close, we stopped in the village of Abyaneh, in the Karkas Mountains north of Esfahan. It’s beloved for its historic red-brick houses and its fruit leather (it tastes better than it sounds).

Kashan a spectacular city, For all seasons, cheap and beautiful
Kashan is the city of Golab (Rose water) and the birthplace of famous Iranian artists.

Kashan is one of the oldest cities in Iran.This city is located close to Tehran, so access to this historic city is very easy and fast.Tourism Capacity, Natural, Historical, Different weather in parts, Flowers and Vegetables, Different mountainous geography, FinalyCool and green space to the desert and hot areas … attracts every visitor and finally you can understand a variety of climatic features in a small range.

By one day tour in Kashan, you can visit all historical sites of this city and also some beautiful countryside around Kashan.
So join us on this one-day tour:

How we go:
You can use the passenger terminals in the north ( Beyhaghi ) and south ( South Terminal ) of Tehran for going to Kashan.Several highways between Tehran and Kashan and Isfahan have made it easy to get to the city.

Places to visit:
This historic city with more than 8,000 years history, also with dozens of monuments can be a perfect tourist day for you.

Sialk hills:
Silak hills are the name of the first urban civilization in central plateau of Iran with over 8,000 years of history.Sialk is one of the historical places after the Jiroft civilization of Kerman on the Iranian plateau.

FIn Garden:
One of the most beautiful Persian gardens and the coronation place of a number of Persian kings.This garden with over 23,000 square meters is one of the oldest gardens in Iran, which dates back to the Safavid period(1502–1736).

Old Houses:

Kashan is very famous for its beautiful houses in the cities of Iran.The most beautiful houses in Iran with, beautiful architecture, nice decorations, mirror-works, as well as other architectural features in these houses can be viewed.These houses are the Jem of Kashan architectural.Some of these houses have changed to House/Hotel like Amery Hotel, Manouchehri House, Irani house or Noghli house that you can have a dreamy night in these homes.

Mosques:
This city is one of the religious cities of Iran and has a variety of beautiful mosques which With its beautiful architecture, attracts the attention of every tourist.

Bazaar of Kashan:
Bazaar of Kashan is an old bazaar in the center of the city of Kashan, Iran. It is thought to have been built in the Seljuk era with renovations during the Safavid period.The bazaar has a famous architecture, especially at its Timche-ye Amin od-Dowleh section, where a grand light well was built in the 19th century.

Getting around Kashan:

Abyaneh village: .This village is located 40 km from Kashan.
This historical village is very famous for its architectural style and traditional folk culture.Every year, thousands of tourists visit this historic village.

Nyasar village: This village is one of the mountainous regions of Kashan.This mountain village has a cool climate
Which in summer is one of Kashan’s bungalow?Also in this area, you can find historical monuments like Sassanid fire temple ,Reis cave, and Niasar Waterfall.

Qamsar: The capital of Iran flower and rose water.
This lush valley is located 60 km from Kashan
Every year in a special event in April, thousands of liters of rose water are obtained from the flowers of this city.
Salt Lake Aran and Bidgol: karvanseraiIt is located 35 km northeast of Aran and Bidgol city and is about 647 square kilometers.The depth of this lake varies from 5 to 54 meters.The beauties of Maranjab desert are vast Aran & Bidgol Salt Lake with its wonderful Floating Island (its call floating because it is as if there is a lost ship in the vast horizon of the desert), huge sand dunes and tamarisk trees forest. caravanserai with a pool of water in front of it in this area which is a camping point of Maranjab desert. To enjoy the touch of the sands on your fingers while walking bare foot on the sand hills and watching the dawn of the sun among the Tamarisk trees and sunset far far away, behind the horizon of the salt lake and unforgettable desert night ski where you can pick stars, stay in this desert one n.ight.

What to buy: Rose water and herbs, Pottery, Baghlava (Sweet) and the most important of them Kashani carpet are the souvenirs of Kashan.

 

Iran’s Kashan, One of Most Memorable Cities to Visit: UN Envoy

Gary Lewis, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Iran, says the central Iranian city of Kashan with a culture that is even richer than Isfahan is one of the best places to visit.

In view of the closing ceremony of a French week in Kashan, which took place in Kashan from 11 to 17 February, Lewis welcomed the beauties and cultural richness of Kashan and described it as one of the most memorable places to visit.
“As you travel to Kashan, visit the old Tepe Sialk, take the clay pots with long handles in your hands and watch the images of animals and geometric shapes on them, you observe culture and art,” the UNDP representative noted.

According to a report by ISARS from Farsi, he then pointed out the 5000-year-old Kashan civilization and its monuments and relics from Sassanid, Seljuq, Safavid and Qajar.

“I hope our French friends had the opportunity to visit all the monuments, including the Borujerdi and Tabatabaei houses.”

 “French artists visited Kashan at Tehran, Qom, Yazd and Isfahan, Kashan is a city with a much richer culture than Isfahan.”

“I have a lot of friends in Isfahan, I hope no one would inform her about my comment!” He joked.

“After returning to France, French artists will talk with people who have no idea of ​​Iran to change their opinions.”

“During four years of residence in Iran, it is the eighth time that I travel to Kashan with my wife,” he emphasized.

“After traveling to 39 Iranian cities, I can say that Kashan is my second memorable place to visit, I would always like to come here.”

Lewis said he believes Iranians are hospitable, intelligent, cheerful and proud of their culture and history.

“I see the culture of a country as its history, tourism is the link between the cultures that can be strengthened by tour guides,” he commented.
Elsewhere in his comments, he noted that a better future for different cultures can be built if their friendship goes beyond national symbols.

“This cultural event promoted two major UN mentality: creating peace and thoughtfulness, and economic opportunities,” Lewis said.

He went on to say that such events help different cultures come closer together. “Before this event, I always wondered what could be achieved by meeting other cultures.”

“During a French week in Kashan, different cultures have become accustomed to one another through art workshops of theater, photography, cooking and collages.”

Then he spoke to the members of the French Embassy who were taking part in the ceremony and said, “They are the ambassadors of friendship and a better future in terms of humanity, beyond national emblems and flags.”

Lewis invited people to keep each other and build bridges.

“Some verses of the Iranian poet Saadi Shirazi are written on the walls of the United Nations Headquarters in New York to say that all people are like the organs of a single body, so we should seek peace rather than war.”