Classical Persia: short but intense, it opens a cultural window on a world that goes back to its origins at the dawn of human civilization.
Few places in the world will be able to offer a vast opportunity to review history in order to reach Middle Eastern modernity. Here in Iran, the culture always takes a step forward both in the most popular places such as the Bazaar and in the places of maximum architectural splendor. We, only by traveling in this way, can experience a sip of the intoxicating smell of the remote places that now belong to our eyes. From Shiraz to Isfahan, from Persepolis to the Temple of Fire, from Yazd to Kashan we enrich ourselves with the history of a land full of beauty that with its seductive charm tells us about an enchanting reality inherited from a relaxed territory: the cradle of the Persian Empire.
During the trip to Iran, the traveler’s eyes browse the picturesque scenes of the gardens while under the ear you can hear the constant murmur of that mighty Persia and a welcoming Iran in the round. Iran, step by step, metamorphoses into a meeting that reconciles the harmony of its civilization with its hospitable popularity.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||IKA International Airport|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please arrive at least 2 hours before the flight.|
All in all, it is necessary to know how to observe and be enveloped by a poetic and fairytale atmosphere where the dreamlike cosmos of “A thousand and one night” comes alive only with the contemplation of places and faces. And they will be our companions for the whole pleasant discovery of Iran which opens up a completely divergent new vision for us. This fascinating and contradictory land will build this image, so that human relationships and greetings accompanied by a smile become significant. That is to say, the country’s most surprising point will undoubtedly be the friendliness and hospitality of the Iranian people, a people that leaves one of the most unforgettable memories of the trip to Iran deep in the hearts of travelers. A memory that sometimes even surpasses antiquity and Iranian history. Iran due to its dry continental climate makes Persia classic: short but intense, practicable all year round.
1st day, Homeland - Tehran
Departure by scheduled flight. Arrival in the capital of Iran, Tehran located at the mountain slope of the Alborz. Meeting with the guide of SITO TRAVEL. Transfer to the hotel, overnight.
2nd day, Tehran - Shiraz
We begin the journey with a visit to the capital of Iran, Tehran: the most lively and so-called Iranian effervescent city. The Iranian megalopolis with more than 12 million inhabitants, demonstrates its refinement in a chaotic atmosphere like all the big cities in the world. Tehran is, however, a fundamental page of modern history which, making its extraordinary museums such as the Museum of Jewels available to travelers, hides the most important collection in the world. The artistic progress, the architectural interventions and the revival of the many traditional Persian style cafes makes Tehran a fascinating maze to surprise the traveler in an urban corner. Because to discover the real Tehran you don’t have to stop only at museums, but you have to enter traditional coffee shops and bars with a modern touch to the nineteenth-century Iranian style and above all walking on foot. This is the only way to meet and learn about the culture and inhabitants of the megalopolis. After rest and breakfast, we will be on the streets of Iran’s capital Tehran to discover its particularly unique rhythms.
visits of Tehran:
– National Archaeological Museum of Iran which traces history, art and culture through archaeological finds dating from the 6th millennium BC. up to the seventh century AD Islamic period, At the Museum of Tehran there is a splendid collection of ceramics and bronze plus every semester there will be a temporary exhibition of objects of high archaeological value which will then be loaned to other museums such as that of Venice, Berlin and etc. (and so on for talking)
– Golestan Palace located near the Grand Bazaar and is a remarkable complex that has its roots in the 16th century when Tehran slowly transformed from a village to a real city. Golestan means the place of flowers because it is a typical example of the wonderful Persian gardens. Modern Iranian history owes so much to the complex that where the last Pahlavi dynasty crowned itself by proclaiming the aforementioned Cyrus the Great. Then a visit to the entrance to the Grand Bazaar of Tehran where merchants have been selling cooked and raw products for a thousand years and as they say in Persian they sell “hen’s milk that the human soul”.
– National Jewelry Museum, (open only from Saturday to Tuesday) located in an abnormal safe with a 25 cm thick door, and is set up in the underground chests of the Iranian Central Bank. It houses the crown jewels, the globe studded with gems, a riot of precious stones, tiaras, crowns of the Pahlavi family and the largest pink diamond in the world also known as Darya-e Nour (Sea of Light) of 182 carats is a symbol of the victory that Nadir Shah in 1739 brought to Iran after his victorious campaign in India.
Transfer to the domestic airport for the Tehran – Shiraz flight. Arrival in Shiraz. Transfer to the hotel, overnight.
3rd day, Shiraz - Persepolis - Naqshe Rostam - Shiraz (60x2 km.)
The word Fars or Pars is the name of the region of which Shiraz is the capital of the province. Just reflecting for a moment on the word in itself we realize that here we are in the heart of the history of all of us where the Persians built Parse also called Persepolis: city of Persia. Shiraz covers a historical axis so wide that you have to expect to face a history dating back to the 4th century BC. until 1700. In Shiraz the true poetry of the Iranians is truly tangible here in the historic center the monuments, gardens, bazaar and mosques narrate a culture that embraces every unknown passenger.
If you see the inhabitants of the city who disappear at noon and then appear and spend the evening in the Arg square until late at night, do not be surprised because the inhabitants of the city love to have fun and are the most fun and lively. It is typical for them to have pick nicks.
To discover the Dionysian atmosphere of Shiraz, the name of the city tells us everything, you have to go to the tomb of the Persian high poet “Hafez” or wander in the alleys of its Bazaar where many European traders spent a period to transport his famous product. After breakfast, the morning is dedicated to an excursion to the great archaeological sites of the 4th century BC, Achaemenids and the Sasanides III century AD, it is about 70 km from Shiraz. On the way back, we will go to taste the medieval and Islamic parts and then observe the Bazar Vakil.
Visits of Shiraz:
– Persepolis, the sacred city founded by Darius in 524 BC to celebrate Nouruz festival (new day) on 21st March or the Persian New Year. Persepolis was conquered and burned by Alexander the Great as looting revenge that Xerxes did during the Persian wars. The excursion to Persepolis opens a book to the visitor to delve into the details of a majestic city where Darius and Xerxes brought the best craftsmen who were paid and insured by royal law. Here you do not just an architectural study but with the wonderful bas-reliefs of the Apadana Palace you can browse an ancient anthropological book. Among the ruins we can visit its imposing palaces that never cease to impress travelers: such as the Palace of Hundred Columns where the King received the generals to then go to the audience hall called Apadana palace with a square plan and six rows of columns, up to 19 meters high, which include the brilliant anti-seismic system for supporting the ceiling during the any shocks. The access stairways depict Satrap’s processions and the imperial guards called the Immortal soldiers.
– Naghshe Rostam, necropolis, a stunning place, which still preserves the rock tombs of the great Achaemenid kings. It is not an exaggeration to say that the site is the richest one in all of Iran because here lies a magnificent bas-relief of the Elamites, 1300 BC, the particular forms of the royal tombs and the scriptures in ancient Persian, 400 BC, and finally the very important documents of the Sassanids and the writing of the Middle Persian, 300 AD. In a single archaeological site, very amazing. One can contemplate a Persia from the time of Elam until the defeat of Valerian the Roman general.
Return to Shiraz:
– The Nasir Mosque, the term “elegance” finds its true meaning inside a sacred space with its splendid polychrome majolica tiles. The spring climate of Shiraz reflects not surprisingly on the walls, stained glass window and the exquisite tile decorations. The masterpiece of artistic beauty of the late 1900s, also called the Rose Mosque, is a welcoming place but what is striking at first glance is the chromatic world from the rose petals, iris and so on.
– The mausoleum of Hafez, the Sufi mentor, the great poet of the 14th century A.D. The mildness of Persian philosophy was born between the lines of Hafez’s poems. What makes the poet immortal is the transversally of the meaning of poetry which makes the fruit of his “Sufi” thought understandable to all readers, it is enough to find a translation of his Divan “The collection of Poems”.
If Shiraz is the homeland of mystical poetry, it owes it to their poets.
The surprise of the visit to the mausoleum consists in the fact that Hafez’s word is related to Bacchus and Venus, so to speak, that it is aversive. -For which you read Hafez walking in his heavenly garden to understand the contradiction that exists between a sweet stilnovo movement with the modernity occurred.
– The Grand Bazaar, unique in Iran for its painted brick architecture, vaulted ceilings created to maintain freshness and warmth in the different seasons.
– The Saray-e-Moshir caravanserai, we think of the term Saray and the Caravan; usually the colors that come to mind come from the desert environment, something that has to do with dromedaries and the journey on the grains of sand. If you want to be surprised by your imagination, enter the spring courtyard of the Saray-e-Moshir where we can engrave a new “process” for our dream world.
Dinner in a typical restaurant, transfer to the hotel, overnight.
4th day, Shiraz - Pasargade - Isfahan
A cultured itinerary must enrich the traveler’s wisdom, and the history of Pasargade, the first capital of the Achaemenids, the source of politics and diplomacy of Ancient Persia, is able to demonstrate the sagacity of his brilliant general known as Cyrus the Great. He was the Father of all the Medians and Persians and celebrated the conquest of Babylon with a document defined as the foundation of the human rights charter: The Cyrus Cylinder is a clay document that notes the liberation of exiles including Jews. The archaeological site of Ancient Persia, Pasargade, among its ruins, highlights the simple square-shaped Tomb of Cyrus built with stone blocks reminiscent of a Mesopotamian Zigurat at first sight.
Cyrus the Great with the construction of the tomb tries to respect its origins, that is, the ancient Iranian civilizations and in addition he also managed to surprise Alexander the Great almost after centuries after his death in the summer of 530 BC. It is said, in fact, that in the inner chamber he wrote a message to any conquerors including Alexander the Great who after hearing the words of Cyrus the great began to cry:
Whoever you are,
and whenever you come,
Since I know that you will come,
I am Cyrus
I conquered a world empire for the Persians.
You don’t envy me
for that little land that covers my body! “
After breakfast Departure from Shiraz to Isfahan
Visits of the day:
– On the way, a visit to the archaeological site of Pasargade. The city was the first capital of the Persian Empire founded in 546 BC. from Cyrus the Great during his reign. In Pasargade the real Pardis or Paradise the “Persian Garden” was born. Among the monuments and ruins on the site there are three royal palaces and a magnificent bas-relief: the Private Palace of Cyrus the Great, the Palace of the Audiences and the Tomb of Cyrus. Pasargade was once surrounded by two rivers which brought water into the city through a peculiar irrigation canal that decanted and supplied water passing through the Persian Garden.
Late afternoon arrival in Isfahan, the capital of the Safavid dynasty of 1600.
Transfer to the hotel, overnight.
5th day, Isfahan
The flower of the Thousand and One Nights of the itinerary that we find in Isfahan. The city is a historical framework that completes the journey in Iran. It is no coincidence that Isfahan attracted Pasolini’s attention to shoot some scenes of his film in the Naghsh-e Jahan square. And here’s a Persian saying that says: Isfahan is half the world. In fact, the flourishing of Islamic architecture was born here in the Naghsh-e Jahan Square where the turquoise blue color dominates its mosques and the sky of the ancient Polo field which over time has become the home of the highly prized artistic workshops that embrace the 360 degrees Square. The Safavid age corresponds to the third Persian empire that brought Iranian power back to the throne by establishing a new Persia based on political, religious and military relations. The presence of Vank Cathedral managed by the Armenian Christian community since 1605 AD. it makes a striking example. However, the Safavid power was joined by art and thus a phase of “renaissance” of civilization, culture and Persian arts was born in Isfahan.
The Islamic Renaissance period in Iran saw (sees) artistic lightning under the rule of the Shah Abbas I the Great (1587-1629), a man with an exemplary personality. In Isfahan, in a few seconds, every traveler’s dream comes true, his idealization and mythization of the Middle East: Iran and its Renaissance charm. Just think of the frescoes of the Forty Columns Palace or the splendid ceiling of the Music Hall of the Ali Qapu Palace.
Breakfast. The whole day is dedicated to visiting the city walking through the streets between the Naghshe Jahan square and the artists’ shops.
Visits of the day:
– Royal Square or Naghsh-e Jahan, in Persian (the image of the World) urban center of the city, redesigned by Shah Abbas I. In the large central square Naghsh-e Jahan (about 85,000 square meters) there are two series of arches, in the lower part there are all the workshops of the artists who produce most of Iran’s handicrafts such as miniatures, turquoise and fabrics. Naghshe Jahan square was home to an elite of merchants who were looking for artistic sophistication. in the square there are still the pillars that served to delimit the Polo field built 400 years ago.
– the pretty “Queen’s Mosque or Sheikh Lotfollah”. The majestic masterpiece of the Safavid period is defined in a harmonious and completely recognizable space for its artistic opulence. The Shah Abbas I chose the talented Iranian architect, Ali Akbar Isfahani, to head the construction of the mosque which lasted almost 17 years. The mosque, as the Shah wanted, would have been dedicated to his father-in-law the Lebanese theologian who would later have a Koranic school in Isfahan. The architect Isfahani’s masterpiece put into practice a unique model of a mosque that never existed before. The mosque in fact has neither minarets nor internal courtyard, nor an ablution basin (bathtubs for the ablution). However, the prodigious external and internal decoration, the play of light towards the mihrab, the magnificence of the calligraphy with the background of the lapis lazuli and finally the complexity and beauty of the floral motifs under the dome meant that the Sheikh Lotfollah in Isfahan would be one of the most beautiful of Iran.
– the Royal Mosque, today’s Imam Mosque. The genius of the architect Isfahani can be seen, willingly and unwillingly (willy-nilly), from outside the interior space of the mosque. In fact, when you contemplate the mosque, in the middle of Naghsh-e Jahan square – former Polo camp – you see an unusual abundance of minarets and a cunning and “designed” deviation (an astute and “wanted” deviation) from Arch. Isfahani for an aesthetic adaptation to the square.
The Imam Mosque is an unmistakable masterpiece where every decoration and every particle find its meaning in geometric symmetry. Here the internal courtyard has been decorated with an ablution basin, while around the basin there are the four imposing Iwans that represent the majesty of the use of blue colors in the sacred Islamic space. In addition to the decorative beauty, the two-layer dome – 36.3 m. of internal height and 51 m. the external one – from southern Iwan applies a peculiar system to amplify the sound or the calls of the ritual. Walk at a silent pace to hear the rumble.
– The Ali Qapu pavilion, the palace where the sovereign received his guests. Ali Qapu has six floors with a door that connected the square and the Chehel Sotun Palace. When we are in the square we immediately notice the beautiful terrace with its 18 columns, where you can certainly enjoy a wonderful perspective on the Naghsh-e Jahan square. The masterpiece of the palace consists of the incorporated details such as the fifth floor vault, the inlaid wooden ceiling, the type of pad applied on the walls of the palace which demonstrate an oriental dreamlike world. Finally, in the spine of the Ali Qapu Palace, a spiral staircase leads up to the enchanting music room decorated with stucco that depicts the vases and other similar themes which together help to make the room more acoustic.
– The Palace of the 40 columns or Chehel Sotun is the pavilion where the King granted the sessions and meeting. Another luxurious Persian Garden shines a few steps from the square and embraces one of the delights of the Safavid Renaissance: the pavilion of the Chehel Sotun Palace that still pulsates in the chest of the Persian Garden as if the luxury of real life had never ended.
Here the frescoes make themselves strummed because it is very little to define them refined and elegant. Admiring the paintings and the stories they narrate means permission to open the cultural and anthropological door to identify oneself with the most important characters in the history of the Middle East of 1600 – 1700.
Dinner in restaurant and overnight at the hotel.
6th day, Isfahan
Iranian multi-ethnicity is a relevant factor in understanding Iran today. While some nomads resided and still reside in the Iranian plateau for several centuries, other ethnic groups such as Turkmens or faithful of other religions, such as Christians, came to Iran following geopolitical reasons, recognizing in this state tolerance towards other ethnic groups and religions; this has always been an added value given by a millenary culture. Just think, in this specific case, of the Armenians who had to move to Iran on the direct order of the Shah Abbas I. In fact, the Armenians of the Jolfa area of Armenia, in the 1920s, left their homeland forever, devastated due to a continuous conflict between the Ottomans and the Safavids, and came to Isfahan, starting a new socio-religious phase, building both their churches and the headquarters of their so-called Armenian Caliphate. The Jolfa district in Isfahan welcomed the Armenians, and the Shah Abbas I, in a manuscript, signed by himself, allowed them to establish new commercial and religious relationships, giving them some freedom completely supported by the Safavid Court. . The Armenians have opened an important commercial route in the heart of the capital of the Safavids “Isfahan”. In addition, the headquarters of the Armenian Caliphate focuses primarily on the publication of the new religious texts, using the invention of Gutenberg in Iran. All in all, Isfahan is a historical summary of the events managed by the Armenians, who still live in the Jolfa district where the architectural (architectonic) beauty and the details of the frescoes of the Vank Cathedral surprise any type of traveler.
– Vank Cathedral and its museum tell the story of the diaspora of the Armenian people who have lived outside their mother earth for more than 300 years. Iran not only knew how to welcome its guests, but above all it protected them from serious conflicts that threatened social life in the Armenian neighborhood of Isfahan. Today, in the courtyard of the Vank Cathedral, the Armenians with such care and caution have opened a new ethnological museum, where you can immerse yourself in the real culture of a country so far and almost, thanks to the information displayed in the galleries of this historic showcase of the Armenian people. But the story does not end here because Vank Cathedral – not the only Church in Isfahan – invites the Armenian community to celebrate religious holidays and above all to commemorate the genocide. In fact, every year on April 24, the Armenians gather in the Vank Cathedral commemorating the deportation and elimination of their compatriots, about 1.5 million dead. As soon as you enter the elegant courtyard of the Vank Cathedral, going down the stairs of the main entrance you will notice one of the most important monuments of the Armenian people, dedicated to people deported during the great tragedy.
– Moving to Isfahan means being surprised and enriched by the local culture. When you go to the Friday Mosque (Masged Jamè) from the Jolfa district, you must absolutely cross the Zayandeh Rud river. On the way you see a simple sign of how the river marked the urban border between the two religious quarters of Isfahan. The passage from the Armenian area, arriving in the hugely popular area of the mosque on Friday, brings us back to the official religion of Iran: Shiism. The visit of the Friday Mosque in Isfahan, to say the least, , to say the least, it is the most important visit because here you can admire the Iranian Islamic architectural progress that occurred from the seventh century until 1900. So it is not wrong to point out that the Friday Mosque is the oldest and most complete in the whole country. Here the details are infinite and the spaces are immense. An exemplary model of an altar called the Mihrab of Olgiaito was born in this mosque in the 14th century; the building has a complex stucco composition consisting of three-dimensional inscriptions that blend with floral and geometric carvings. The mosque has two clearly recognizable spaces even for the inexperienced eye: internal space and external space. It is wonderful to admire the monochromaticity of the brick colors in the interior space and the turquoise blue and lapis lazuli colors in the exterior space. The passage from one space to another makes us travel through time especially when we are under the magnificent Dome of Taj al-Moluk considered to be the most beautiful, among the brick ones, in all of Iran. – The end of the visit to the Friday Mosque now leads us to an unexpected discovery in the middle of people’s traffic. Here in Isfahan, when a visit ends, another starts and the traveler unconsciously prepares to listen to the narratives of the city as if Shahrzad read them directly from “A Thousand and One Nights”. And here is the popular bazaar immediately after the exit of the main entrance of the Mosque. Now, for those who like to get lost in the popular streets, you must know that the time has come to be free by taking a walk among the shops and the perfumes and in this way, we can reach Naghshe Jahan Square in 40 minutes. Before turning right and following the covered corridors of the Bazaar, you can satisfy the traveler’s curiosity by going directly to another historical district of Isfahan, to visit all the synagogues of the Jewish community of Isfahan, where the Jews practice their worship. There is talk of a multi-ethnicity in the true sense of the word and not easily found in other parts of the world.
Free time. Dinner at the restaurant and overnight at the hotel.
7th day, Isfahan– Kashan - Airport
There are made many trips to the Middle East, there are visits to hundreds of beautiful places, but when we talk about the Cradle of Civilization we don’t talk about Persepolis or Isfahan, even if they represent two very important phases in the history of Iran, but let’s talk about Kashan, located on the Sialk hill, excavated in the 1930s by the French archaeologist Roman Grishman. A hill dated between 6000 – 5500 BC was discovered in Kashan, considered the first human settlements who descended from the caves. The story in Kashan is an infinite book considering the first houses built by human, up to the construction of a ziggurat from 3000 BC. The most important museums in the world owe it to Kashan precisely because the Sialk hill filled their shelves with its unique pieces of ceramics which were artistic masterpieces, considering the dating of their production.
When we talk about the house, in Kashan it always represents an exemplary model for getting to know the local culture better. Because in addition to having the millenary hill, Kashan displays its nineteenth-century villas, also known as bioclimatic houses. It should be known that Kashan enjoys a desert climate and a remarkably hot summer period.
The invention of the city’s inhabitants led to the birth of a house in two or three different levels where the person can be simply to cool or warm in a living room or a hall depending on the current season. But the importance of the city is not only the variety of houses that exist.
Kashan is known rather for the production of valuable Rose Water of Persia. In fact, the trip to Iran now absorbs its original perfume, that is, the perfume of rose petals that is grown on the central hills of Iran.
This beautiful city arose in a green oasis, still today hosts some of the most beautiful traditional houses in the region, such as the magnificent home of wealthy merchant of Tabatabaei family. During the visit we can contemplate the details in of a house patriarchal mold, where the head of the family, father, “Pedar” family tends to gather the sons and have them in the same villa as a matter of availability and family economic management. Furthermore, the nineteenth-century mansion highlights two factors of Iranian-Islamic architecture: introversion and extroversion.
In Kashan there is also the Bagh-e Fin, one of the most famous Persian gardens that can be visited during the trip to Iran. The Fin Garden was designed by Shah Abbas I (1557-1629), as an earthly vision of Paradise. The concept of the Persian Garden takes the soul only when the traveler listens to the melody that springs from the lapping of the water, along the path of the various canals. Even today, the central water pond called the “camel’s throat” (Shotor Galu) and it has the duty to distribute the water in all the side channels, using the simple theory of communicating vessels. In 1600, the Persian Garden in Iran became important because Shah Abbas I chose it as the ideal place for the royal coronation when he ascended the throne. But two centuries later, the Qajar kings also chose the Persian Garden of Fin in Kashan as operational headquarters of the Court. In the middle of the green of the Fin only cypresses and plane trees can tell us about the symmetry and elegance of the plan of the Persian Garden. On the other hand, there are still magnificent frescoes in the building built by the Qajar kings that date back to the 70s of the 1800s. Finally, to find out the secrets of the Fin Garden, we must enter the Historical Hammam complex, which is famous for the story of the assassination or suicide attempt of Amir Kabir, the reformist of the Qajar administration.
The sun is going down and the landscape of the return journey becomes more and more reddish according to the sun’s rays that hit the way back to Tehran. The trip to Iran seems to have started just two hours ago, and as soon as you are slowly understanding Iran and the Iranians, it’s time to close the baggage and return to your country. But there is a special difference in the baggage before departure and after; now it is not full only of many emotions and enthusiasm, but it also includes a lot of culture. Usually the traveler worries about the extra kilos in his baggage and while the color of the sky is fixing, he thinks about how to organize the gifts; he would like to buy everything from pistachios, to fabrics, to turquoise, However, we know that in the baggage there is everything but except of one thing: the hospitality of the people that we found around the Bazaars, in restaurants or in archaeological sites.
This image is engraved in the hearts and it is the immortal souvenir that the traveler takes wherever he goes and for all those who have enjoyed this tour it will be a right motivation and a good incentive to return to Iran for the second time.
8th day, Tehran – Home land
Transfer to the airport for back flight.