Silk Road Tours offer private tailor made journeys to Iran
Tehran is the gateway for most visitors to Iran and despite is relatively young age (it only became the capital around 200 years ago) it certainly warrants spending some time there if only to see the UNESCO World Heritage listed Golestan Palace. Travelling out of Tehran perhaps one of the main highlights for many visitors is Isfahan which can easily require two days to take all of the sights in – the ensemble surrounding Imam Square requiring at least half a day. Travelling out into the desert the city of Yazd has the Bagdirs or wind towers which acted air conditioning during the baking summers. Yazd was centre for Zoroastrianism and the main temple has had a fire burning continuously for at least 1500 years. The city also has a very well preserved old town with maze of alleys which are delight to explore. Carrying on from Yazd, Shiraz – or the City of Roses – is many peoples’ favourite Iranian city. Though the sights within the city itself are limited it has a wealth of places to visit in the surrounding area. Persepolis, Pasargadae and Naqsh-i Rostam are ‘must sees’ for most visitors but also worthy of note are Bishapur which was built by captured Roman soldiers and the Sassanid city of Firouzabad. The Azerbaijan province of Iran is perhaps less visited but has many sites worthy of note. Tabriz is home to a UNESCO World Heritage listed bazaar and close by in the Ardebil the Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble offers a rare example of medieval Islamic architecture. Further to the North West there are examples of Armenian churches, also UNESCO listed, that give represent Iran’s extensive Armenian population which is particularly evident in Isfahan where they brought to in order to utilise their skills in silk trading.
Tours that visit Iran
The proverb goes that ‘Isfahan is half of the world’ and certainly two full days can easily be spent enjoying its impressive sights. Located at a strategic location in the centre in the foothills of the Zagros mountains was a major trading centre on the Silk Road. The city really flourished under the Safavid dynasty when much of it world famous Persian-Islamic architecture was constructed, centring around the UNESCO Heritage listed Naghsh-I Jahan Square – one of the largest in the world. A particular highlight are the bridges, such as Si-o-Seh Bridge, which are magnificently illuminated at night.
Some 60kms north east of Shiraz lies the UNESCO World Heritage site of Persepolis thought to have once been the ceremonial capital of Darius I. This impressive site has a 125,000 metre terrace which rises up to 13 metres above the natural ground level and is a fine example of Achaemenid architecture. A particular highlight are the reliefs on the stairs to the Apadana, used for official audiences, which depict in great detail the people of all the nations of the empire in their traditional dress. Close by is the Nahsh-I Rostam the necropolis for the Achaemenid dynasty with it impressive rock cut tombs and later Sassanian reliefs.