Iran Tourist Cities

Masuleh one of the most beautiful Stair villages

 

Masuleh one of the most beautiful Stair villages

situated in a mountainous area covered with lush vegetation and luxuriant forests, Masuleh is a village enjoying the splendid natural beauty. Being a village of great antiquity, it is like a living architectural and anthropological museum, attracting a great number of tourists each year.

Masuleh is 36 kms south -west of Fuman, in the province of Gilan. It is bounded on the north by the village of Alyan, on the east by Shaft, on the south by Poshtkuh-e Khamesh, and on the west by Zanjan province. It is surrounded by the Talesh mountains, some of which , located in the west, are more than 3000 meters

high. Although Masuleh is near the Caspian Sea i is 1050 meters   above sea level. This creates a pleasant climate. Lying between the sea and the high Alborz Mountains, wich trap humidity from the air, it enjoys a pleasant climate with high annual precipitation and lush vegetation. The fluctuation of temperature varies from a high of 20 ° in to a low of -2° in winter. The annual average precipitation is 713 millimeters , wich occurs mainly in autumn and winter.

The most important mountains, affording spectacular landscapes, are as follows: Kuh -e Rash, Kuh -e Makuf , Kuh-e Dasht-e Gileh Sar and Kuh-e Gur. Many rivers originate in យ៉ា , the largest of which is the Masuleh Rud. This river wich is formed by the merging of the Zangol and Gilvan rivers, runs as a mountain stream but flows into the plain and then to the swamp of Siyah Kashim. There are some other rivers, like Andareh and Nilikhali , merging into the Masuleh Rud .

 In this area are found broad-leafed deciduous trees – maple , hornbeam, beech, walnut, taxus and fagus. Grass and vetch grow on the highlands.

Masuleh dates back to great antiquity and was on the road connecting Azerbaijan to Gilan .

The ancient village of Masuleh was located 4 kms north-west of the present one Masalar and Khortab Khani are old names of the village. In winter, it is thinly populated, since most people leave the village. The people living in Masuleh are the Talesh ethnice group , speaking the Taleshi language.

Because of the topographical features, agriculture is not an active industry and most people are engaged in animal husbandry and producing handicrafts. The articles such as gelims (rugs made of goats’ hair), jajims (fine carpets made of wool or cotton), socks. traditional dress, knives, spades, axes, scissors, and scythes are produced in Masuleh . Making a certain type of shoes called chamush is another occupation. The leather used for making chamushes are produced in the tanneries of the village itself. The shops selling traditional goods are scattered throughout Masuleh .

Some people earn their livings by selling goods to the shepherds and buying dairy products from them. Apart from natural beauty, the unique architecture of the buildings is of high attraction for tourists. Most houses are two or three storeys high . Set on the slope of the mountain, the houses are arranged in a stair-step, so that the roofs of some houses are the yards of the others. The roofs also form the public passages.

Masuleh consists of four neighborhoods : Khanehbar , Masjedbar , Asad and Kash-e sar-e-Olya. It covers an area of 150000 square meters, and the difference between its highest and lowest point is 100 meters. The configuration of the village indicates that in the past the people showed much consideration for security . The houses and the decorations  the rooms represent the oriental character of life . The lattice windows and closets with exquisite decoration  are exponents of  the original Iranian craftsmanship. Most  houses  include a certain hall in which the family lives in winter  , a small veranda  extending from the  front of the house , and a guest – room . The houses of the rich include curtain small rooms in which precious articles are kept .

The materials used for building the houses are mud-bricks stones, timbers, clay and wild ferns (which abound there and are used in the roofs). Two kinds of soils, called yellow soil and dark soil. found on the river, are used for covering the outer walls and the roofs respectively.

The configuration of the village’s buildings makes the entering of the automobiles impossible . This has helped the original atmosphere to survive. The oldest buildings date back to 300 year ago, but their architecture is similar to that of the Sassanian period  . There are eighteen mosques and five shrines in Masuleh , the mostirnportant of which are Jame mosque and the mausoleum  , the Imam Zadeh Own obn-e Mohammad-e Hanafiyyeh located in the neighbourhood of Masjedbar the door of the mausoleum  , on  which there are highly impressive carved designs, is made of ebony.

The bazaar from which a spectacular landscape can be seen, is roofless and multi-storeyed . It is in the bazaar that many of handicrafts are produced and sold.

The library of Mausleh, dating back to thirty years ago, includes over 5000 volumes . The hotel of Masuleh is an impressive building .

The people living in Masuleh have the greatest respect for their own traditions. A religious ceremony called Touqbandi, being of high importance, is taken place in the seventh night of each lunar Islamic year, in front of Jame’ mosque. The wedding ceremonies are also of high importance . In the wedding night, the bride

followed by her relatives and friends who are singing songs praising Ali (peace be upon him ), the first Imam of the shi’it branch of Islam , walks to the groom’s home , entering it just at dawn. Spelendid natural beauty, a pleasant climate, luxuriant forests, lush vegetation , the unique architecture of the buildings and hospitable people make Masuleh a point of great attraction, regarded and registered as a national asset.

 

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Travel to the most beautiful and greenest countryside in northern Iran

 

Travel to the most beautiful and greenest countryside in northern Iran

The smell of local bread, Voices of Swallows, spring blossoms, Roaring waterfalls, Massive forests, Mountains covered with flowers and plants Along with hospitable people, has created a paradise in northern Iran that attracts everyone.
A trip to northern Iran in the spring is inconspicuous.In springtime walking in the rain, among the blooms and colorful flowers, and staying under the gable roof is a beautiful and fascinating experience.Needless to explain that each season of Iran northern province has its own property.countrysides in North of Iran in addition to the greenery, with some exquisite landscapes, meadows and gorgeous forests are a beautiful collection of hundreds of small paradise and spectacular views.
To access these tiny heavens, you should cross the mountainous and green roads.
The attractions of traveling to northern provinces of Iran can be described in several sections:

Natural features
Most parts of northern Iran are covered with forest and there are about 3,400, 000 hectares of forest in the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains and Caspian Sea Provinces.These forests with 40 million years old and 80 tree species, are one of the most valuable forests in the world and is considered as a natural museum.
Alborz mountain range along west to east in the north of Iran, Continuing the Himalayas and Andes Mountains, has created very specific geographic features for this area.The Alborz mountain range and Damavand Peak are prominent in Iranian historical texts and legends.This mountain range is the longest in the Middle East and protect the northern parts of Iran from other parts like a huge historical wall.

Historical & Cultural features
Historical evidence in the northern regions of Iran confirms a history of more than 10,000 years in these areas.Evidence of residency in these areas, such as castles, towers, bridges, Historic hills, as well as the objects available in the museums, themselves testify to this historical record.Most of the historical monuments in the area have been damaged over the years due to persistent humidity.But you can still see some that are still healthy.
For example:
– The Hyrcanian Golden Cup, dating from the early 1st millennium AD (800s BC). It was excavated at Kalardasht in Mazandaran.
– Marlik hill in Guilan province with 3500 years history.
– Rudkhan Castle is a military complex which had been constructed during the Sasanian era (224-651),
– Ancient hill of Gerdkooh Ghaemshahr, with 5000 years history.
– Lajim Castle, Savadkooh, with 1000 years history.
– The Great Wall of Alexander or the Red Wall also called the Red Snake.
– The Tallest Brick Tower in the World, Gonbad-e Qabus Tower was built in 996 AD.
– The World’s Highest Natural Arch, Espahbod -e- Khorshid Cave.

People
It has been a host of historical tribal peoples from all over the world since the past, and many migrations have been made to this area.From immigration the historic tribes until the arrival of the Poles and Russians in World War, all have caused Gilan hosts many people.These people created a special sense of security in their guests, that’s why the people of this land were famous for hospitality.
They treat their friends well, but they fought hard against the enemy.The obvious example of this feature can be found in the Gilani encounter with the Arabs and for over a century of resistance to their entry into their land.
If in the architecture of Iran’s desert areas there are narrow streets and tall walls, there are still houses with short walls in Gilan.Because the desert areas have always been exposed to the invasion of the aliens and they paid a lot of attention to security.
The most important feature of Guilan peoples that attract the tourist is
the efforts of women and men side by side to the cultivation of rice and various products.A Strong social relationships and sincere cooperation are among them.

Architecture
The vernacular architecture of Mazandaran is full of
properties that are useful for new architecture.Studies in this area show that the past architecture of there is rooted in religious culture and attitude.Also   it’s beauty depend on it’s simplicity and avoiding   from extra elements.Familiarizing architectural  spaces with religious approach is a nessecity  that  can  solve  many  problems  of  new
lifestyles.The architectural style of the traditional living spaces in the houses of this region is in harmony with human dimensions.House components like stairs, Ivan, the kitchen and etc are formed by the minimum necessary in proportion to their function and avoid additional extras.

Food
Iran is all about originality.There are local and delicious dishes throughout this land.The taste of the Iranian food in northern region of Iran always remains in the minds of tourists.Nowadays Iran Northern food is so famous that it is considered as a Foodi Tour in the tour programs.The most delicious tourist attraction of Gilan is a local cuisine that has intruded the taste of nature within it.The most delicious food with the taste of nature that will keep you on the table.Gilan is the first Iranian province for local dishes. There are more than 170 local food is Gilan.According to experts Favorable weather, good soil in Gilan, is the main reason of various local foods in Guilan.

 

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Amazing Places in Tehran You Didn’t Know Existed

The must-see places of Tehran no visitors should miss!

Si-e Tir Street

Unbeknownst to even many locals, a synagogue, church, and Zoroastrian fire temple sit together harmoniously on the cobblestone Si-e Tir street. Haim Synagogue hosted Polish Jewish refugees during the Second World War, and as this number increased, a second Ashkenazi synagogue was built adjacent to it. Holy Mary Church is across the street from Adrian Fire Temple whose flame was brought from the temple in Yazd. Be careful as you walk in this area as it gets more crowded the farther north you walk, and motorcycles are merciless, often creeping up behind you on the sidewalk!

Holy Mary Church on Si-e Tir Street | © Azadi68

Holy Mary Church on Si-e Tir Street | © Azadi68

Jomeh Bazaar

Every weekend, Parvaneh Mall’s multi-storey parking garage converts to a Friday bazaar and should be experienced even if you aren’t in the market for buying anything. The first few floors are a treasure trove of antiques with everything from home décor to vintage photos, records, and gramophones. As you ascend, you’ll find unique handmade products by local artists and art gallery paintings being sold at a fraction of the retail price. Go early to avoid the crowds and to have the most choice.

Jomhuri Avenue between Ferdowsi Ave. and Shirvani Alley

Deh Vanak

The peaceful Vanak Village sits just north of bustling Vanak Square. One of Tehran’s oldest neighbourhoods, this area was once known for its grand gardens, but the charm nowadays lies in its narrow alleys (some just 90 cm wide), wooden doors, and sun-dried walls. The Iranian Garden is modelled after the typical Persian gardens and is especially picturesque when it’s drowning in colourful tulips. Vanak Zurkhaneh, a gym of traditional Persian martial arts inscribed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, and Saint Minas Armenian Apostolic Church are other sites to visit in this area.

Holy Mary Church on Si-e Tir Street | © Azadi68

Holy Mary Church on Si-e Tir Street | © Azadi68

ranian Garden, Saberi St., Tehran

Negarestan Garden

In the chaos of downtown Tehran, you may be surprised to find this oasis of serenity. Built as a summer retreat during the Qajar era, Negarestan Palace was later converted to Iran’s first modern university where the famed lexicographer Dehkhoda wrote the comprehensive Persian dictionary. This palace currently acts as a museum, housing some of painter Kamal ol-Molk’s masterpieces. The outdoor cafe in this lovely setting has, needless to say, become extremely popular with locals, and if you’re lucky, you may even get the table under the Hafezieh, a structure modelled after Hafez’s mausoleum in Shiraz.

The peaceful Negarestan Garden

The peaceful Negarestan Garden

Negarestan Garden, Tehran

Masoudieh Palace

One of the most beautiful historical buildings of the Qajar dynasty is Masoudieh Palace. Aside from its historical significance dating back to 1879, this palace allows visitors to fully experience its culture and history in the cosy cafe, with its traditional architecture and stained-glass windows and whose servers are local theatre actors. A walk around the gardens and fountains will complete the outing to this unforgettable palace.

The Qajar era Masoudieh Palace

The Qajar era Masoudieh Palace

Masoudieh Palace, Mellat St., Tehran

Zahir od-Dowleh Cemetery

North of Tajrish Square off Darband Street is the quiet Zahir od-Dowleh Cemetery where Iran’s most prominent artists and cultural figures have been laid to rest. Known as the cemetery of poets and musicians, among the most famous names here are musician Gholamhossein Darvish Khan, 19th century poet Iraj Mirza, and the 20th century poet best known for her feminist point of view, Forough Farrokhzad. The sound of chirping birds under the canopy of trees provide a serene setting where Iranians still come to pay their respects.

Zahir od-Dowleh Cemetery, Darband, Tehran

Moghadam Museum

This majestic house once belonged to the artist son of Tehran’s mayor during the Qajar dynasty. Along with a private and public wing, it has some the most exquisite tiles throughout the house. The museum displays some of Moghadam’s art and other objects he acquired during his travels. Enough can’t be said about the surrounding gardens as they completely remove visitors from the hubbub of the city centre and offer a tranquil respite.

Garden of Moghadam Museum

Garden of Moghadam Museum

Moghadam Museum, Emam Khomeyni St., Tehran

ASP Towers

Completed in the mid-70s, these residential towers once housed some well-known Iranian figures. Though the towers aren’t particular noteworthy themselves these days, the ground floor is littered with trendy cafes and restaurants and is therefore a popular hangout with the young Tehrani crowd. Homemade Iranian cooking at the cozy Mahtab Cafe and delicious Asian noodles and sushi at Wasabi are just some of the eateries all nestled within these towers. A stop at Aknoon Gallery is a must to check out the modern-meets-traditional Persian art, fashion, and jewellery.

ASP Towers, Tehran

Naser Khosrow Street

The oldest street in Tehran, Naser Khosrow has some of the most iconic landmarks. Delve into the past by first passing Darolfonoon School, Iran’s first modern school founded by Amir Kabir, a prime minister of Iran, in 1851. Further along, the gothic architecture of Saraye Roshan, one of the first commercial centres, is sure to stand out as unusual in Iran. The twin towers of Shams-ol-Emareh peek out from behind the buildings, and right across the street is Marvi Alley Bazaar with its plentiful shops, boutiques, and delicious street food.

Naser Khosrow, the oldest street in Tehran

Naser Khosrow, the oldest street in Tehran

Tamasha-gah Zaman

In the upscale Zafaraniyeh neighbourhood in northern Tehran, the Time Museum gives us a glimpse of how the most precious commodity has been measured throughout the years. Housed in a gorgeous 80-year-old manor, this museum holds an extensive collection of clocks, watches, and time measurement devices including hourglasses, sundials, and other ancient timekeepers from around the world. The outdoor cafe allows visitors to spend some extra time in the Persian garden admiring the architecture of the museum.

Time Museum

Time Museum

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Travel to Iran without Isfahan is not complete

 

Travel to Iran without Isfahan is not complete

Isfahan and Tourists

According to tourists who visited Iran and Isfahan, it is one of the most beautiful and most visited cities in Iran. It seems that there’s something in Isfahan that makes the city so likable.As it’s got some of the highlights of a trip to Iran, the absolute majority of tour operators plan the itineraries in a way that Esfehan is the first or the last stop before leaving Iran.
These special features of Isfahan can be divided into several categories.

Natural scenery

Zayande Rood

The most important and most significant natural effect in Isfahan is Zayandeh Rood River
A river with historic and beautiful bridges that give the city a dazzling effect.This 400 km long river in the provinces of Chaharmahal Bakhtiari and Isfahan, besides the special effects of nature, has provided a great deal of sports facilities for tourists.At the side of this river in addition to the farms and the lush forests have created areas for rafting and recreational sports.There are parks on both banks of the river for kilometers and this lets the people from Isfahan and environs to spend some time relaxing in the shade of the trees, stroll with friends and family and revitalize themselves and enjoy their time.Some of the royal gardens of Safavids (16th to 18th centuries) were irrigated this way.Zayandehrood’s historic bridges like the 33 bridges and khaju have provided a beautiful and deceptive effect to the river.Zayandehrood’s historic bridges like the 33 bridges and khaju have provided a beautiful and deceptive effect to the river.Walking along these bridges is one of the attractions of tourists.

City Planning of Esfehan

Chaharbagh Street

A lot can be said about the city planning of this beautiful city.
First of all, it’s green.You see several fully-shaded streets in different parts of the city as well as pedestrians, especially on Chaharbagh Street, one of the most beautiful streets of Isfahan.There’s such a broad shaded space in the middle of the street that city hall has placed benches for the people to sit down and relax.
As I mentioned before, there are parks along the river on both banks of the north and south. You can go jogging, walking, etc. for hours.
You can go on a picnic and hire a boat and go peddling.There are also good highway system and overpasses and underpasses that helps you make your inner city trips shorter and more comfortable.

Historical Monuments of Esfahan
Isfahan is known to “Half of the world or museum city “This slogan of Isfahan represents an abundance of Historical monuments
Cultural and Artistic in this historic city.The Iranian architecture of every historical period has its own charm, but as far as structural techniques, tiling and decoration are concerned, there are no other ancient monuments in Iran that could match the buildings of Esfehan.
Undoubtedly, Naghsh-e-Jahan or Imam Square is at the center of these fantastic arts.The early 17th century square with its magnificent monuments and colored shops all around created a unique setting that you will not see anywhere else in Iran.This unparalleled collection includes the Royal Palace, Jame Mosque,
Royal mosque and market collection as well as other royal palaces around the square that have all contributed to making this place an unforgettable one.
There are other mosques such as the ancient Esfehan Friday mosque which are astonishing and worth visiting.
You should add to this unique collection the churches, old houses, the Zoroastrian fire temples, as well as the historical minarets of Isfahan.
So add a free day at end of your schedule for these historic monuments.

Vank Cathedral

Handicrafts of Esfehan and Its Artists
In most parts of Esfahan, and in particular in Imam Square, you can shop, art galleries and workshops of handicrafts where you can see the actual artists and craftsmen who are creating beautiful works of art.Large collections of artistic works, carpets, miniature paintings, etc. make Esfehan the city for shopping during your stay in Iran.
These artists will welcome you in their colorful stores and you can visit these valuable artworks.These people are keeping this Iranian art alive by following the traditional styles of centuries of miniature painting in Iran.

Armenian Quarter of  Jolfa
Armenians have long been living in Iran and their history has been linked to Iran’s culture and civilization.Many regions of Azerbaijan and other cities of Iran have long been the home of Armenians.The existence of various historical churches in Iranian cities reflects the history of these people in Iran.
The Armenians of Isfahan from the time of Shah Abbas(17th century) settled in the southern part of the Zayandeh River.Jolfa is the quarter worth visiting for both its fascinating churches as well as culture. In this part of the city, you can get acquainted with the Armenian climate of Isfahan.You can find all the special Armenian elements, such as the hotel’s café restaurant and their stores, you can enjoy spending time in and having something to drink.Coffee is part of Armenian culture. So, if you want good in an interesting atmosphere, Jolfa is the place.

Isfahan and Tourists

People
The last section is about hospitable local people of Isfahan, who are so proud of their city and happy to welcome foreign travelers.This city is not only for tourists but also for Iranians themselves as one of the destinations of tourism
Every year in different seasons of the year, like the New Year, Noruz, Iranian New Year, as well as summer holidays, millions of Iranian travelers visit Isfahan and explore its beauty.So, the local people have got the reason to feel proud of their legacy.
Esfehan, because of what you have read so far, is where people have been very exposed to tourists. Tourism has brought business and employment to the city. The local population is happy to see tourists and is useful to them.
In general, if there is a reason why some travelers come back to visit Iran again and again, they are kind, generous and hospitable people. You must see it to appreciate it.

 

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5 Special Offer for Autumn Cruise

 

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.

 

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The Splendors and Surprises of Iran

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:

 

Our "Treasures of Persia" group examines the tomb of Nasser al-Din Shah at Golestan Palace in Tehran. The 19th-century Persian king was famous for his courtly visits to Europe, his large harem, and his assassination by a revolutionary in 1896.

Our “Treasures of Persia” group examines the tomb of Nasser al-Din Shah at Golestan Palace in Tehran. The 19th-century Persian king was famous for his courtly visits to Europe, his large harem, and his assassination by a revolutionary in 1896.

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.

iran-tehran-street-art-geoex

iran-tehran-street-art-geoex

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.

 

A group gathers around the National Guide at Takht-e Suleiman, a remote, ancient ruin and sacred site in northern Iran.

A group gathers around the National Guide at Takht-e Suleiman, a remote, ancient ruin and sacred site in northern Iran.

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 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.

Military service is compulsory for 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.

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 offers warm bread to a traveler and GeoEx Trip Leader Sylvie Franquet.

An Iranian woman in Kangavar offers warm bread to a traveler and GeoEx Trip Leader Sylvie Franquet.

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.

Lions, gryphons, and bulls are represented in the capitals of columns and other ruins at Persepolis.

Lions, gryphons, and bulls are represented in the capitals of columns and other ruins at Persepolis.

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.

This man 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," the guide explained, "but it's always the same man."

This man 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,” the guide explained, “but it’s always the same man.”

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.”

iran-tile-work-yazd-geoex

iran-tile-work-yazd-geoex

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 - known as the Shah Mosque before the 1979 Islamic Revolution - features master calligraphy and tile-work. Here, it 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.

The exterior of the Imam Mosque – known as the Shah Mosque before the 1979 Islamic Revolution – features master calligraphy and tile-work. Here, it 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.

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.

Esfahan's Sheikh Lotfollah 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.

Esfahan’s Sheikh Lotfollah 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.

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.

Abyaneh, a rural village in the Karkas mountains north of Esfahan, is beloved for its red-brick historical houses and its dried fruit.

Abyaneh, a rural village in the Karkas mountains north of Esfahan, is beloved for its red-brick historical houses and its dried fruit.

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).

 

 

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13 Reasons Why Everyone Needs to Visit This Island in Iran

Islands don’t usually come to mind when talking about Iran, but in fact, it has several in the Persian Gulf. The largest is dolphin-shaped Qeshm, known as “the island of seven wonders.” Read on to discover 13 reasons why everyone needs to visit this amazing island.

Untouched nature

Caves, canyons, forests, and narrow passes, all untouched and as pure as can be, are waiting to dazzle anyone who can stand the beating sun and humidity. Qeshm is a paradise, particularly for nature lovers. 

Untouched nature

 

Culture

Culture in the southern parts and islands of Iran is unlike the rest of the country. What immediately stands out is the women’s garb. Most women in Qeshm wear two types of niqab, face coverings, which are not for religious purposes, but rather stem from history. One kind resembles thick eyebrows and a mustache from afar; it was a ploy used in the past to trick potential invaders into mistaking women for men. The other is a rectangular embroidered covering that reveals only the eyes and helps protect the face from the wind, sand, and sunburn. Black chadors are a rare sight here, as women opt to wear colorful, floral ones.

Bandari music, or music from southern port cities, also has a unique flavor. It’s very cheerful, commonly played during weddings, and has a distinct dance.

Culture

Culture

 

People

Iranians are ethnically diverse, and a good place to witness this is Qeshm, which also has an Arab and Afro-Iranian population who are descendants of slaves brought here centuries ago or who came to Iran to work as sailors.

People

People

No visa needed

Qeshm is both a duty-free zone and a place where foreign tourists can enter visa-free, making it ideal for those in the Persian Gulf area who want to get a taste of Persian culture and hospitality on a whim.

Seclusion

If you ever feel the need to get away from it all, look no further than Qeshm. Aside from shopping areas crowded with people, you’ll feel as though you have the entire island to yourself. It’s not uncommon to explore the attractions without another soul in sight, and while you’re on the beaches, it’s likely that your only other company will be some camels who have also stopped by for some R&R.

qeshm_island_camels

qeshm_island_camels

Affordability

From attractions to accommodations, Qeshm is quite an affordable place to visit. Some of the attractions are free while others have a small entrance fee. Overall, you’ll find this island to be much more low-cost than other cities in Iran, while at the same time offering sites equally as, if not more, appealing.

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

UNESCO has inscribed the art of building lenj, small, wooden boats, on its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, and the best place to catch a glimpse is the shipyard near the village of Laft. These fishing vessels are in different phases of construction, being painted, or setting out on their maiden voyage.

Cultural Heritage

Cultural Heritage

Mystery

Qeshm is a mysterious locale. The high and low tides of Naz Island are unpredictable, so it’s easy to get stranded at high tide. Hara (mangrove) Forest has a similar phenomenon, and legend has it that Stars Valley is riddled with jinn. In fact, Mani Haghighi’s 2016 film A Dragon Arrives explored some of the mysteries of this island.

Mystery

Mystery

Mystery

 

Local village stays

Local B&Bs and homestays are also available on this island, many of which offer sightseeing services. While hotels are also plentiful, these low-key accommodations may offer a more genuine and unforgettable experience with locals.

Wildlife and marine life

If you set out to Hengam Island early in the morning, you can catch the dolphins who come out to play. A walk around the island brings you face-to-face with native deer who press their hooves into the ground to extract fresh water. The Persian Gulf is full of colorful tropical fish and stingrays, and in Hara Forest, you’ll cross paths with crabs, pelicans, and storks. All along the island, keep an eye out for herds of free-roaming camels who are commonly seen standing along the shore or kneeling in the water and staring out to sea.

 

Wildlife and marine life

Wildlife and marine life

 

Quick getaway to other islands

The sites on this 500-square-mile (1,295-square-kilometer) island can keep you busy, but its proximity to other islands makes it easy to explore other beautiful places such as Hormoz Island, a must-see geological wonderland best known for its Rainbow Valley. It’s also worth hopping on a lenj to Bandar Abbas and getting to know this carefree southern port city.

Quick getaway to other islands

Quick getaway to other islands

Laft Historical Port

Aside from the natural wonders, you won’t want to miss Laft Historical Port on the northern part of the island. Standing on the hill at the top, you’ll view a breathtaking skyline of badgir, or windcatchers, which are more abundant here than in Yazd. Wells and traditional water reservoirs are among the other highlights.

Laft Historical Port

Laft Historical Port

Mosques

The grand mosques of Esfahan, with their intricate tile work, are hardly what you’ll find in Qeshm, where the mosques are on the more simple side. But there lies an important difference you won’t find in most other parts: one minaret. The majority of island natives are Sunni as opposed to Shia Muslims, and their mosques reflect this difference both in their general architecture and in the number of minarets.

 

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A Brief History of Azadi Tower in Tehran

During Mehrabad’s status as Tehran’s international airport, it was Azadi Tower, the sentry to the capital city, that welcomed all visitors. A silent witness to Iran’s major historical events, this tower remains Tehran’s most iconic landmark. Read on to learn a brief history of the Azadi Tower.

In 1966, 24-year-old architecture student Hossein Amanat won a competition to design a building paying tribute to the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. The monument, formerly known as the Shahyad Tower, was completed in 1971. Combining elements of both pre- and post-Islamic architecture, the 165ft (50-meter) tall skeleton is clad in 8,000 blocks of white marble from Esfahan that are cut into various geometric patterns. It marks the west entrance to the capital city and stands on a 540,000sq ft (50,000sq meter) cultural complex known as Azadi Square, which integrates principles of the traditional Persian Garden through its immaculately landscaped lawn, pristine flowerbeds, and streaming fountains. All of these elements make Azadi Tower, or Freedom Tower as it’s also known, a favorite spot for foreign tourists eager to Instagram their arrival in Tehran.

Azadi Tower

Azadi Tower

Historically, political demonstrations have taken place against the backdrop of Azadi Tower, a solemn onlooker. These days, however, one of the only politically inspired events to take place at this site is the annual celebration of the 22nd of Bahman (February 10th), which commemorates the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. On this day, Iranians march from all parts of Tehran, eventually convening at this square.

Azadi Square

Azadi Square

Azadi Square

Visitors who fly domestically will catch a bird’s-eye view of this gatekeeper before landing at Tehran Mehrabad International Airport and being swept up by the maelstrom of traffic around the massive square. By taking the stairs or elevator to the top, you can behold buzzing, modern-day Tehran. The crypt museum, on the other hand, displays various ancient cuneiform tablets, ceramics, and pottery, as well as a replica of the Cyrus Cylinder (the original of which is housed in the British Museum). It is also a concert venue during the Fajr  International Music Festival, held every year. In 2015, Tehranis flocked to see German artist Philipp Geist’s Gate of Words, in which Azadi Tower was used as the canvas for a light installation, with words of peace, love, and freedom poetically shone in Persian, English, and German to live music. This has the tower playing less of a political role nowadays and acting more like a cultural ambassador.

azadi

azadi

 

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The 10 Most Impressive Buildings in Tehran

Although there are some beautiful high-rises and phenomenally innovative villas and residential towers in Tehran, there’s no doubt the most spectacular ones are those that have withstood the test of time. From European influence to modern takes on the traditional, here are 10 of the most impressive buildings in the capital of Iran.

Cinema Museum

Walking along Valiasr Street, you cannot help but be captivated by a mansion that demands attention. Behind Ferdows Garden sits a Qajar-era estate that houses the Iran Cinema Museum. The most delightful feature is the balcony, with its walls and columns adorned in detailed floral plasterwork and arched wooden-framed windows. The exhibitions take you through Iran’s century-old film industry, and the surrounding cafés allow you to admire the building (and check out Tehran’s artsy crowd) a little longer as you sip on some tea.

Cinema Museum, Valiasr St., behind Bagh-e Ferdows, Tehran, Iran,

Cinema Museum

Cinema Museum

 

Saraye Roshan

On Naser Khosrow Street, one of the oldest streets in Tehran, stands the bewitching Saraye Roshan. Established in 1932 as one of the first commercial centers, this gothic-inspired building is strikingly unusual in the setting of Iran. While the faces and statues, nearly nonexistent elsewhere in Iran, are more reminiscent of European architecture, the symbol of Zoroastrianism in the center, Ahura Mazda, gives it a distinctly Persian flavor. 

Saraye Roshan, Naser Khosrow Street, Tehran, Iran

Saraye Roshan

Saraye Roshan

Tamasha-gah Zaman

Sitting amidst a luxurious Persian garden, the Time Museum not only has an extensive collection of timekeepers, but the building itself is the epitome of authentic Iranian architecture. This 80-year-old manor once belonged to Hossein Khodadad, a well-known Iranian merchant, but now serves as a museum to showcase numerous clocks and watches. The pastel-blue exterior boasts windows that resemble cream-colored lace, and the inside does not cease to dazzle with it decorated ceilings, plasterwork, and colorful orosi (stained-glass) windows.

Tamasha-gah Zaman, Zaferaniyeh St., between Kafiabadi St. and Baghdadi St., Tehran, Iran,

Tamasha-gah Zaman

Tamasha-gah Zaman

Abgineh Museum of Tehran

The remarkable Glassware and Ceramic Museum is housed in a beautiful Qajar-era building constructed 90 years ago by Ahamd Qavam as his private residence and work office. It later served as the embassy of Egypt, before turning into a museum in 1976. It gracefully blends European and Iranian architectural styles with a Russian staircase to connect the first and second floors. The ornate plaster, carved wooden columns, and crystal chandeliers make the interior of this building just as beautiful, if not more so, as the exterior.

Abgineh Museum of Tehran, 30th Tir St., Tehran, Iran,

Abgineh Museum of Tehran

Abgineh Museum of Tehran

Golestan Palace

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, Golestan Palace consists of a group of royal buildings that once served as the seat of government during the Qajar era. It exemplifies a fusion of Persian and Western design, with immaculate archways, mirrored halls and ceilings, and decorative tiles all placed within the confines of a lavish Persian garden. Words don’t do justice to the ancient Persian badgir, windcatchers, and exquisite varied mosaics bordering the rounded windows, which are among the many highlights. 

Golestan Palace, Panzdah-e Khordad Square, Tehran, Iran,

Golestan Palace

Golestan Palace

Shams-ol-Emareh

Although it comprises part of Golestan Palace, Shams-ol-Emareh, or Edifice of the Sun, is a masterpiece deserving its own recognition. The monarch Nasser-ol-Din Shah started with the idea to build a tower that gave a panoramic view of the city, and in 1867, construction was finished two years after it began. Twin two-tiered towers sit atop the structure with arched windows, intricate tile work, and an open hall in the center. Though it’s not possible to climb to the top, it’s easy to imagine Nasser-ol-Din Shah’s success in achieving his desired view.

Shams-ol-Emareh, Panzdah-e Khordad St., Tehran, Iran

Green Palace

Green Palace

Green Palace

One of the buildings of the Sa’ad Abad Complex and perhaps the most beautiful is the Green Palace. It was built at the end of the Qajar era and later remodeled by Reza Shah, serving as his residence for one year, before turning into a guest house. Brought from mines in the Zanjan and Khorasan provinces, the marble used to construct its exterior has a unique hint of green. Just as elaborately designed are the interiors, with a mirror hall and a Persian rug woven over a period of seven years, among their other ostentatious features.

Green Palace, Sa’ad Abad Complex, Alborzkooh St., Tehran, Iran

Green Palace

Green Palace

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

The largest art museum in Iran, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is an impressive concrete feat in itself. To design this building, architect Kamran Diba was inspired by integrating traditional Persian architectural elements with modernity. This is particularly embodied in the four structures sitting atop the building, which resemble a modernized twist on the windcatchers of ancient Persia.

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, North Kargar St., Tehran, Iran,

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

Masoudieh Palace

Masoudieh Palace is one of the most beautiful historical buildings of the Qajar dynasty. Built in 1879, this palace has witnessed many events, including the formation of the first ministry of education and the establishment of the first official library. Among its characteristic traits are the plasterwork, mosaics, and gardens. Today, it’s a popular spot with visitors brunching in its cozy cafe with stained glass windows, before walking around to snap some photos of the picturesque edifice.

Masoudieh Palace, Mellat St., Tehran, Iran

Masoudieh Palace

Masoudieh Palace

Teatre Shahr

Built in 1972, City Theater deserves regard for its cylindrical design that combines both the traditional and modern. The standing columns add geometric patterns to the roof, which are then filled in with ceramic tiles. The grand entrance is made of wood, giving it a warm, earthy feel. It contains several stages and continues to be a top venue for the performing arts.

Teatre Shahr, Enghelab St., Tehran, Iran,

 

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Top 10 Unusual Things to Do in Tehran

While the countless historical sites, monuments, and museums in Tehran can easily fill up a visitor’s day, there are some off-the-radar activities that can offer more insight into both the present and past of the Iranian capital and its people. Here’s a list of 10 unusual things to do in Tehran.

Go gallery-hopping

Tehran has a happening art scene, and every Friday afternoon, galleries around the city open to display exhibitions of well-known and up-and-coming young artists. Your idea of modern Iran is sure to change after viewing not only the contemporary art but also the catwalk-like style of fashionable Tehranis who come to see and be seen in these galleries. Sip on some tea as you contemplate the works, meet the artists, and maybe even purchase a piece from the next big name.

Tehran

Tehran

Conquer Valiasr Street

At nearly 12 miles (19 kilometers) long, Valiasr is the longest street in the Middle East, running from north to south, and dividing Tehran into east and west. This tree-lined avenue has wide sidewalks and cascading water features that offset the hum of traffic. Starting at Rah Ahan Square in the south, you’ll pass some of Tehran’s best sites, including Saee Park, Mellat Park, and the City Theater, which also make nice resting spots, before reaching Tajrish Square in the north. Take notice of the street sculptures and art projects along the way. Not feeling up to the walk? Consider taking the bus for all of the sights, but none of the exertion.

Tehran

Tehran

Play dress up

Many of Iran’s historical sites offer the opportunity to play dress up in Qajar-era clothes, but why not do it against the backdrop of a palace from the same period? You’re sure to be doing some sightseeing at Golestan Palace, so while you’re there, toss on some royal clothes and feel like a noble as you pose alongside silver antiques, ruby pomegranates, and colorful mosaics. When you’re done, you’ll snap back into present-day Tehran, with your pictures ready in the blink of an eye.

 

Tehran

Tehran

Be transported to old Tehran

Once known as the “Champs-Élysées of Tehran”, Lalezar Street is a far cry from its former days as a thriving hub of cafés, cinemas, and theaters. Named for the tulip gardens that were once plentiful, the first modern boulevard of the city is now lined with lamp and chandelier stores, but you only have to glance up to catch a glimpse of old Tehran. You may get lost in your imagination as you reconstruct broken windows and the happenings behind them. Among the forgotten jewels on and around this street is the former Grand Hotel, home of renowned writer Sadegh Hedayat, and Ettehadieh House, an early 20th-century-style Iranian mansion where the popular 1976 TV series, My Uncle Napoleon, was filmed.

Tehran

Get an adrenaline rush at Tochal

Located in the north of Tehran, Tochal has something for everyone. For a more relaxing time, catch a skyline view of the capital or strike out on an early-Friday-morning hike to station 1 or 2, where you can enjoy breakfast with a view. Those after some more excitement can try archery or zip-lining in the complex. Even though Shemshak and Dizin are more popular ski resorts, taking the telecabin to station 7 will throw you in the middle of white, powdered mountains, without having to venture too far from the city.

Tochal

Tochal

Tour Qasr Prison Museum

One of the oldest political prisons in Iran, Qasr Prison was originally built as a Qajar palace by Georgian architect Nikolai Markov and combines elements of Persian and European architecture. It was later converted into a prison for several decades until it finally closed for good. It reopened in 2012 as a museum, with the surrounding area transformed into a public park. Framed photos of male and female political prisoners hang around the entrance while a few former inmates lead guided tours, providing first-hand accounts of the atrocities they endured during their time behind the bars of this hauntingly beautiful prison.

Qasr Prison Museum

Qasr Prison Museum

Dine among the intellectuals at Cafe Gol Rezaeieh

Along the cobblestone streets of Si-e Tir sits a quaint, unassuming café that’s easily overlooked if you don’t know what it is. Throughout its 70-plus years, Cafe Gol Rezaeieh has been the scene of Iran’s writers and artists. Displaying framed pictures from old magazines and photos of prominent figures in literature and cinema, its quirky, cluttered décor makes it feel like a museum of Tehran’s artistic scholars and their inspiration. After a day exploring the nearby museums, stop here to try the café’s famed appetizers and meals, which include borscht (beetroot-based soup) and homemade Persian stews.