“Discovering the Iranian Plateau” – This is a classic journey, during which you will follow the traces of the civilization of ancient Persia in its maximum splendor. The tour, in addition to visiting archaeological sites, is dedicated exhaustively to indispensable details to get to know one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world, as well as the first in Mesopotamia and the Indus valley.
Few places in the world are able to offer us the opportunity to be in contact with the followers of Zartosht, known as Zarathustra: the prophet of the Zoroastrians who 15 centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ founded the first monotheistic religion. In Iran, religious culture is a relevant point. There is a metamorphosis between the cult of Zoroastrianism and Shiite Islam. The procedure of religious changes arouses keen interest since even today during your journey to Iran you can visit some places of worship of the great religions of the world such as: the Fire Temple in Yazd, the Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque in Shiraz and the Vank Cathedral in Isfahan.
Only by traveling, you can discover these intoxicating wonders that during the tour, reveal themselves to our eyes. Moving from Shiraz to Isfahan, from Persepolis to Isfahan, from Tehran to Kashan we can admire the history of a land full of beauty that with its seductive charm narrates an enchanting reality inherited from the Persian Empire.
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 nights” 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 who leave 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 “Discovering the Iranian Plateau” program, practicable all year round.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||IKA International Airport|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please arrive at least 2 hours before the flight.|
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 visiting 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. To discover the real Tehran you should not stop only at museums, but also 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. In the Museum of Tehran, there is a splendid collection of ceramics and bronze pieces in addition to temporary exhibitions of objects of high archaeological value held every semester which will then be loaned to other museums such as that of Venice, Berlin and so on.
– Golestan Palace, located near the Grand Bazaar, 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 this complex 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 everything from soup to nuts for thousand years.
– National Jewelry Museum (open only from Saturday to Tuesday), located in an abnormal safe with a 25 cm thick door, 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 known as Darya-e Nour (Sea of Light) of 182 carats that is a symbol of Nader Shah’s victory 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
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 widely 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 where the monuments, gardens, bazaars and mosques narrate a culture that embraces every unknown visitor.
If you see the inhabitants of the city disappearing at noon and appearing again to spend the evening in the Arg square until late at night, do not be surprised because the people of Shiraz are known for their taste for nature and picnics and are considered to be the most lively and fun people in the whole country.
To discover the Dionysian atmosphere of Shiraz, the name of the city tells us everything. You have to visit the tomb of the great Persian 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 visit Vakil Bazzar.
visits of Shiraz:
– Persepolis is a sacred city founded by Darius in 524 BC to celebrate Nowruz festival (new day), or rather the Persian New Year, on 21st March. 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 admire an architectural study but with the wonderful bas-reliefs of the Apadana Palace you can browse an ancient anthropological book.
Among the ruins you 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.
– Naghsh-e Rostam is a necropolis and a stunning place, which still preserves the rocky tombs of the great Achaemenid kings. It is not an exaggeration to say that this site is the richest one among all in 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 manuscripts of the Middle Persian, 300 AD. In a single archaeological site, one can contemplate a Persia from the time of Elam until the defeat of Valerian, the Roman general who fought against Shapur.
Return to Shiraz:
– 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 transversality of the meaning of his 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: perhaps it could seem a subversive poem!
– 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, as we think of the term Saray and the Caravan; usually the colors that come to mind are the ones of 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 - Yazd
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 who 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. In addition, he also managed to surprise Alexander the Great centuries after his death in the summer of 530 BC. It is said that in the inner chamber he wrote a message to all conquerors including Alexander the Great who began to cry after hearing the words of Cyrus the great:
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 before leaving for Yazd, we will visit the Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque in Shiraz, one of the most beautiful sites during the journey to Iran.
– The Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque. The term “elegance” finds its true meaning inside this sacred space with its splendid polychrome majolica tiles. The spring climate of Shiraz reflects surprisingly on the walls, stained glass windows and the exquisite tile decorations. The masterpiece of artistic beauty of the late 1900s, also called the Rose Mosque, is a welcoming place. However, at first glance, the striking feature of this mosque is the chromatic world from the rose petals, iris and so on.
After the visits, departure for Yazd.
– On the way, we will make a visit to the archaeological site of Pasargade. The city was the first capital of the Persian Empire founded in 546 BC. by Cyrus the Great during his reign. In Pasargade, the real Pardis or Paradise the “Persian Garden” was born. Among the monuments and ruins of 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.
– Halfway before arriving in Yazd, we will make a visit to the town of Abarkoh: a particular urban example where the construction of the houses involved the use of Adobe (bio architecture) which acted as insulation during the summer and winter.
The same system has been applied for the construction of an ancient icehouse that supplied and produced ice in the hottest months of the year. In Abarkuh, we visit one of the oldest cypresses in the world which according to some sources will be approximately 4000 years old.
Overnight in a traditional house converted into a hotel in Yazd.
5th Day, Yazd
To understand the root of Zarathustra’s philosophical thought one must know its fundamental principles. Zarathustra’s message established the difference between good and evil therefore what was right from what was wrong. Zoroastrianism has existed for three thousand years in Iran and it is the first monotheism in the world. According to Zarathustra, the only God, Ahura Mazda, creator of the sensitive and supersensitive world, causes an eternal conflict with the forces of darkness, headed by the antidium called Ahriman. Therefore, the followers of Zarathustra have the task of choosing between the black and white and contributing with their own actions to save the world. After the arrival of Islam in the seventh century, this religion, belonging to the the ancient Persian Empire, was abandoned by most people. During the trip to Iran you will hear many times the name of Ahura Mazda and his own antidium Ahriman; the first means “Wise Lord”, characterized by infinite light, omniscience and goodness and is a “Benevolent Spirit”, opposite to the “Evil Spirit”, the second is the lord of darkness, violence and death.
Breakfast. Day fully dedicated to visit the city, one of the most interesting cities in Iran.
– The Towers of Silence, where everything stops, in fact contains a cemetery used until about 70 years ago and it is very different from the common ones, because it is a sacred place for the Zoroastrians. In this particular holy field, the deceased were brought to the top of the tower by special workers the “Salar”, and they were the only ones who could touch the dead. The corpses were left inside circular buildings and there the bodies, thanks to the atmospheric agents and vultures, became bones and were subsequently moved to the well in the center of the tower, where they would find perpetual rest. The four elements of nature: air, water, fire and earth are considered sacred by the Zoroastrians. The earth could not be contaminated with human remains, therefore, the burial of the bodies was not to be seen and cremation was not planned for the same reason.
These places were called: the Towers of Silence, And here the silence is true, deafening, softened only by the sound of the wind.
– Atash-Kadeh – Fire Temple. It is wrong to think that Zoroastrians worship fire. Before going to a Fire Temple, where sacred fire still burns, one must recognize fire as the sacred element. Since according to this philosophy, it is the source of purity and light. This is the true direction in which the Zoroastrians practice their worship. Here in Yazd in the Temple of Fire this sacred flame has been burning over 15 centuries and has never been extinguished. The priestly duty or that of the Magician of the Temple is to empty the ashes and supply the wood to keep the flame lit, so that practitioners can turn to it because it is considered a source of good.
– The Water Museum. In Iran, especially in desert areas like Yazd, there was an underground irrigation system that supplied the oases with fresh water from the underlying aquifers, through a system of underground channels even twenty kilometers long, with inspection wells called “mil”, artificially excavated along the path of the canal. These vertical wells guaranteed access to the underground tunnel, both for the withdrawal of water and to facilitate the necessary maintenance works.
The channels, in Persian known as Kariz or Qanat, were dug by yielding the natural inclination of the ground, so that they conveyed the waters of the aquifers towards the cultivation land or an inhabited center. Even in the long path, the channels suffered minimal loss of water by evaporation and did not contaminate drinking water.
Through the Water Museum you have the opportunity to know the details of this millennial work of Iran.
– Historic center and ancient Fahadan district. Yazd owes its fame mainly to the architecture of the old town, entirely built by adobe; the most important monuments of the historic center, however, are the “wind towers” that can be seen from the far distance. Thus, Yazd has also been called the “city of wind towers”.
These towers, called Badgir (literally “wind catcher”) serve to provide the necessary ventilation, since the houses do not have many windows to the outside. During the day, Badgirs remove hot air from the inside and, during the night, conducts fresh air from outside to inside the building. The system takes advantage of two environmental conditions: the difference in air pressure and the difference in temperature.
In Fahadan, in addition to the wind towers, we can admire other very important buildings because the city was considered so safe that, on the occasion of the invasion of Persia by Genghis Khan in the early thirteenth century, many intellectuals and scientists took refuge there.
– Masjed Jame- The Friday Mosque – The two tallest minarets of Iran rise from the portal of this mosque, with a height of 48 meters.
This mosque is not only famous for the height of the minarets, but also for the splendid main portal, decorated with inlaid majolica tiles; it is in fact an artistic masterpiece that offers one of the most fascinating works of travel in Iran. To observe the details of the cut of the majolica tiles, just get close to the main facade.
Then, in the labyrinth of the old town, surrounded by walls, we can visit the refined examples of traditional houses, without entering sites such as the Mausoleum of Seyed Rokn Addin, the cenotaph of the 12 Imams, 12th century, with the inscription in Kufic letters of the names of the 12 Shiite Imams and the Alexander Prison.
– The ancient Bazaar and the Amir Chakhmagh complex.
– Dinner at the restaurant and overnight at the hotel.
6th Day, Yazd – Meybod – Naein – Isfahan
After breakfast, departure for Isfahan. To reach the city of Isfahan we have to cross two desert cities: Naein and Meybod.
In Meybod we can visit a caravanserai, a traditional ice-house and the brilliant tile and ceramic industry. The term caravanserai is composed of kārwān “caravan of camels” and sarāy “building” indicating a building or set of buildings intended. – in the East – to welcome travelers and merchandise, both as a stopping place on commercial roads and as a point of arrival or storage of goods near or within cities. The caravanserai in turn was divided into two different social categories: Royal and popular.
In Naein, on the other hand, we visit a splendid mosque with an octagonal minaret, the beautiful prayer niche “Mihrab” and the qanat, the ethnological museum, moreover, it is possible to attend the traditional weaving process of camel wool and turning it into fabric. After that, we continue the journey to Isfahan.
Along the way, we visit the town of Meybod with the characteristic hand-painted ceramic factories.
– There is a complex that includes a Caravanserai and its Icebox. This construction with the shape of trullo served above all for the conservation of ice during the summer. Ice production took place during the winter in the outdoor pools in front of the icebox. With its conical shape, it protected the internal tank that contained ice and protected it from the sun. The diameter of the internal tank – corresponds to the level of the entrance door – also reaches 13 meters and gradually decreases, almost 6 meters, the diameter decreases. Therefore, the internal height of the icebox from the lowest part to the highest point of the dome was 21 meters.
Continue the journey to the desert town of Naein, famous for its handmade carpets and visit:
– The Jamè Mosque, with an interesting Mehrab and the old fascinating Bazaar, now in disuse.
At the end of the day, we arrive in Isfahan, one of the most beautiful cities in Iran, dinner and overnight at the hotel.
7th Day, Isfahan
The flower of the Thousand and One Nights is the cherry 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 is 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 makes a striking example. However, the Safavid power was gathered by art and thus, a phase of “renaissance” of civilization, culture and Persian arts was born in Isfahan.
The Islamic Renaissance period in Iran 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 visit the city walking through the streets between the Naghsh-e 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 Naghsh-e Jahan square (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. Naghsh-e 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. 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 places of Iran.
– The Royal Mosque, which today is known as 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 deliberate deviation) from Arch. Isfahani for an aesthetic adaptation to the square.
The Imam Mosque is an unmistakable masterpiece where every decoration and every particle finds its meaning in geometric symmetry. Here the internal courtyard has been decorated with an ablution basin around which 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.
By being in the square, we immediately notice the beautiful terrace with its 18 columns, where you 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.
8th 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 Armenian Caliphate. The Jolfa district in Isfahan welcomed the Armenians, and Shah Abbas I, in a manuscript signed by himself, allowed them to establish new commercial and religious relationships, supporting them and their freedom completely 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 focus 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 also protected them from serious conflicts threatening 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 Zayandehrud 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, it is the most important visit because here you can admire the Iranian Islamic architectural progress that occurred from the seventh century until 1900. Therefore, 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 and external space. It is wonderful to admire the monochromatic colors of the brick 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 you can reach Naghsh-e 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 talking 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.
9th Day, Isfahan– Kashan
After breakfast, departure for Kashan, the city with the predominantly Qajar style, with mirrors and colored glasses, extraordinary stuccos, internal courtyards, domes embellished with paintings and impeccable geometries. There are made many trips to the Middle East visiting hundreds of beautiful places, but when we talk about the Cradle of Civilization we do not talk about Persepolis or Isfahan, although they represent two very important phases in the history of Iran. Talking about Kashan; it is 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.
– Along the way we will stop the town of Natanz, to admire the Friday Mosque, Masjed Jamè, and the Abdol-Samad Mausoleum.
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.
Dinner in a restaurant and overnight in a traditional hotel.
10th Day, Kashan – IKA airport in Tehran
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.
– We will visit Sultan’s Hamam with a splendid roof and the Mosque and Madrasa Agha Bozorg, a Koranic school.
Transfer to Tehran airport, dinner and overnight at the IBIS hotel.
11th Day, Tehran – Home land
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.
Transfer to the airport for back flight.