When first I told a friend that I was going to Iran, his first reaction was: “Are you nuts? Don’t you know that country will get bombed? I hope you’ll stay far away from any nuclear facility then won’t get killed when war starts in the country!”
Well, not much good news recently on media about Iran and it’s nuclear power “conflict” with US and UK. Mostly people thought that being a woman would be hard in the Islamic Republic (must wear headscarf and no sexy outfit). But those opinions were wrong, I could hang out with Iranian girls until late at night at coffee shops, walking with Iranian guys along the street, etc. And it’s safe, just like any other country, to roam around places. There were threats (pickpockets, robbery, tourist touts, etc) but not that scary at all.
It was a very romantic city. City of love. City of flower. Perfect for honeymooners. There were two very famous poet, Hafez (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hafez) and Saadi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saadi_(poet), their tombs were major tourist destination in the city other than beautiful Eram Garden (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eram_garden), Shah Cheragh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shah_Cheragh), The Arg of Karim Khan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arg_of_Karim_Khan), Qur’an Gate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qur%27an_Gate).
Shiraz means “city of mystery” in accordance to a story about some jewels those hidden somewhere in the city, long long time ago. It also means “grapes” (Shirazi wine were very famous until all winery closed down following Islamic Revolution in 1979). Could mean “a kind of music instrument” too.
An hour trip from the city, there was Persepolis, Necropolis (Naghsh-e Rostam), Naghsh-e Radjab, Passargad. I stayed there for only 2 days then sadly must say that it was far from enough to enjoy the beautiful scenery and peaceful environment in Shiraz.
Tomb of Hafez.
With my host, Masoud, in front of king’s palace at Eram Garden.
Shirazi kalam polo is a must-taste cuisine in Shiraz.
Enjoyed the famous Shirazi palodeh with Masoud and Salman, in front of The Arg of Karim Khan.
Persepolis is important part in Christianity history. It was written that at one time then 24 years old then Jesus reached Persepolis, the city where the kings of Persia were entombed; the city of the Three Kings from The East (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) who, four-and-twenty years before, had seen the star of promise rise above Jerusalem, and who had journeyed to the West to find the new-born king. They were the first to honour Jesus as the master of the age, and gave him gifts of gold, gum-thus and myrrh. They knew, by ways that masters always know, when Jesus neared Persepolis; and then they girt themselves, and went to meet him on the way. And when they met, a light much brighter than the light of day, surrounded them, and men who saw the four stand in the way declared they were transfigured; seeming more like gods than men. Jesus also attended a feast in Persepolis. Spoke to the people, reviewed the magian philosophy, explained the origin of evil, spent his night in prayer. References: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/agjc/agjc041.htm and http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/agjc/agjc042.htm.
Persepolis was awesome!
This two headed lion must be very famous, the photo seems familiar, right?
Ka’ba-ye Zartosht (Ka’bah of Zoroaster), a 5th century B.C.E. Achaemenid-era tower-like construction at Naghsh-e Rustam, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ka’ba-ye_Zartosht.
Inside Vakil Mosque near Vakil Bazaar.
Sunrise view from the rooftop of Niayesh Hotel.
This city had different vibe than Shiraz. Isfahan is a place about history, culture, education (like Jogjakarta, “the city of student” of Indonesia). Naghsh-e Jahan Square was must-visit place (there were Ali Qapu Palace, beautiful mosques, amazing pool with beautiful water spring, arrays of shops and restaurants which offered traditional Iranian cuisines, snacks and handicraft).
And anyone who visits Isfahan must come to the beautiful bridges at nights! Khajou Bridge, Si-o-Se Pol were just two of them.
Lunch at Bastani traditional restaurants with my hosts: Mahsa and Sama, and other CouchSurfers: Rene and Rike from Germany.
Super delicious beryani.
Imam Mosque in Naghsh-e Jahan Square.
Afternoon at the front of Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque in Naghsh-e Jahan Square.
Night light under the beautiful Khajou Bridge.
The capital. It’s city of business and politics. I smelt money when I was there. People always moved in fast pace, such a hurry in crowds of 14 million people in the town. Traffic jam from dawn until night. I was hosted by Sifa, an Indonesian student who was studying for PhD on politic studies, accompanied when going around the city by Arul, an Indonesian student who was studying for master degree on microbiology.
Sifa and I, shopped for very tasty dried fruit in Tajrish Bazaar.
The view in the city. That was the snowy mountains of Tochal behind me.
The metro subway in Tehran. Very modern and always fully packed with passengers in the very busy city.
Moon and star above The Azadi Tower.
The Azadi Tower is part of Azadi (Freedom) cultural complex which is located in Tehran’s Azadi square in an area of some 5 Acres. It is the symbol of Tehran, Iran, and marks the entrance to the city. Built in 1971 in commemoration of the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire, this “Gateway into Iran” was named the Shahyad Tower (Literally: Remembrance of the Shahs) but dubbed Azadi after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It is the symbol of the country’s revival, and intended to remind coming generations of the achievements of modern Iran under the Pahlavi Dynasty. It is 50 metres (148 feet) tall and is completely clad in cut marble.
Built with white marble stone from the Isfahan region, there are eight thousand blocks of stone used in Azadi Tower. The stones were all located and supplied by Ghanbar Rahimi, whose knowledge of the quarries was second to none and who was known as “Iran’s Master of stone”. The shape of each of the blocks was calculated by a computer programmed to include all the instructions for the building work. The actual construction of the tower was carried out and supervised by Iran’s finest master stonemason, Ghaffar Davarpanah Varnosfaderani. The main financing was provided by a group of five hundred Iranian industrialists. The inauguration took place on October 16, 1971.
The architect, Hossein Amanat, won a competition to design the monument. Azadi Tower combines Sassanid and Islamic architecture styles.
This city is the most sacred for Muslim Shia, millions people come from all over the world, spiritual trip to Holly Shrine of Imam Reza. The minarets were made from real gold, the inside interior of the mosque was awesome glittering with mirror works.
In December 2011, I hosted an Iranian girl from Mashhad, her name was Mahdieh. When I visited her hometown, then I stayed at her mom’s house.
My host in Mashhad, Mahdieh’s mom, Mrs.Toussi.
Holly Shrine of Imam Reza, the minarets were made from real solid gold.