Mar 26, 2011

Iran - Shiraz/Persepolis/Yazd

We arrived in Iran after a long journey: flight from Damascus to Sharjah (United Arab Emirates), where we spent sixteen hours in the transit zone before our second plane. A quite special world this transit zone! You can pay to stay even a few hours in the expensive transit hotel, in a dorm or in a private room. But most of the people sleep in the waiting rooms, on the seats or on the floor. One thing we all have in common, whatever country we come from, we all take our shoes off for the night... What a perfume! 

We finally arrived in Shiraz, the cradle of Persian culture, city of relaxing gardens and poets! Hafez and Sa'di, the most renowned Persian poets, founded the literary school of Shiraz and are burried in the city. Shiraz is now mostly an administrative centre but remains famous for its universities.

Hafez Mausoleum

The most beautiful buildings of the city were built in the 18th Century during the Zand dynasty and its first ruler, the enlighted Karim Khan. Shiraz was then the capital.

The city has also some of the most exquisite mosques: Masjed-e Vakil is the only one remaining from the Zand dynasty. Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh is for us the most impressive for its architecture and decoration, especially at night when articifial light reflects on its walls. And Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque striked us with its elegance.

Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh

Nasir-ol Molk Mosque

Winter Prayer Hall, Nasir-ol Molk Mosque

At 50 kilometers from Shiraz is located the archeological site of Persepolis. To get there for a cheap and local price can become quite complicated. We walked one hour  from our host's house to the main bus station and tried to share a taxi with other people as we had been advised. But we did not succeed in making ourselves understood. When we had at least twenty taxi drivers around us, comunicating became impossible. So we reached the mini-bus station. Once we found the mini-bus going to the right direction, time for the usual price negotiation... with five bus drivers around us! Those mini-buses do not have timetables and only leave when they are full. One can wait five or fifty minutes! But the mini-bus took us only to the city closest to Persepolis, Marvdasht. Then a taxi is needed to cover the last twelve kilometers to the sight.

Persepolis was the capital and masterpiece of the Achaemenian Empire which spreads to three continent, to Ethiopia in Africa, the Danube in Europe and the Indus River in Asia. The city was taken and destroyed by Alexander the Great in 300 BC.
The ruins that can be seen today are neither big nor impressive but one needs to keep in mind that the city was lost for many centuries, burried under sand and dust until 1930.

 Xerxes' Gateway

 View of Persepolis from the Tomb of Artaxerxes III

Detail of the Palace Tachara
 Tomb of Artaxerxes II

When in Persepolis, the huge rock tombs of Naqsh-e Rostam deserve the five kilometers detour. They were built in the 6th and 5th Century BC for the "Great" kings Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. The tombs of Artaxerxes II and III in Persepolis were modelled on those previous tombs. Also eight Sassanian stone reliefs are cut into the cliff showing official ceremonies and wars scenes.


At the time of Persepolis, Zoroastrianism was the offical religion. Nowadays some of the most important festivities of the Iranian people come from this belief, for example the Persian New Year called Nowruz (new day). This celebration coincide with the first day of Spring. Families gather and share a dinner around a table filled with seven goods which names start with the letter S in farsi, for example sib (red apple), sekeh (gold coin), etc. All Iranians also buy little goldfishes to symbolise movement. In fact, the new year officially starts the 21 March at 2:45:45 am and has its full meaning of new beginning. Iraniens believe that what they are doing during this night is representative of what they will do during the year to come. That's maybe why we decided to take a train during Nowruz night! ;)

The last Tuesday evening before the last Wednesday of the year is celebrated the Chahar Shanbe-Soori (Wednesday fire). Every guest is supposed to jumps above a fire to be freed from his ill luck and/or deseases. We were lucky enough to be invited to such a party!! Considering that Nowruz and Chahar Shanbe-Soori are pre-islamic festivities, their celebrations are viewed with suspicion by the theocratic regime.

Luis jumping and getting rid of his many sins! ;)

Chahar Shanbe-Soori party


The old city of Yazd is a really unique ochre labyrinth where every single house is made of sun-dried mud bricks.. Getting lost in this ancient town in the middle of the desert is a real exotic pleasure. Some traditional houses are visitable along the counselled itinerary like Lariha Mansion. But outside this official walking tour, part of this town collapsed and a reconstruction does not seem on the agenda.

  Old city

Water Museum in a traditional house

1 comment:

  1. Ciao ragazzi, che dire... aiuto che meraviglia!
    Bacione Robi