Shiraz attractions and World Heritage Sites/ Perspolis – pasargad
Shiraz is one of the Iran tourist attractions. Shiraz is the fifth most populous city in Iran and the capital of Fars Province (Old Persian as Pârsâ). Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the (Roodkhaneye Khoshk/ The Dry River) seasonal river. It has a moderate climate and has been a regional trade center for over a thousand years.[persiantourismguide]
The oldest city in ancient Persia, Shiraz is regarded as the cultural capital of Iran and the city of poetry, gardens and love. The sixth most populated city of Iran, Shiraz is famous for its laid back atmosphere also its many historical and natural sites.[toiran]
This enchantress of a city leaves all visitors enamored with Shiraz attractions ranging from the ruins of the ancient Achaemenid capital in Perspolis, its necropolis Naqshe Rostam and the mysterious Cube of Zoroaster, the final resting place of Cyrus the Great in Pasargad and the ruins of Bishapour to the lush Eram and Jahan Nama gardens, extravagant Qajar mansions like Zinat ol-Molouk and Qavam houses, striking Jame Atiq and Nasir-ol-molk Mosque and the historic Quran Gate.[toiran]
In the 13th century, Shiraz was a leading center of the arts and sciences due to its many scholars and artists. The poet of love Hafez, whose poems have captured the hearts of many throughout the world, hailed from this city. The tombs of Hafez, Saadi, and Khwaju Kermani in the city are stunning structures erected in memory of these legendary bards.[toiran]
Shiraz was the capital of Iran during the Zand Dynasty from 1750 to 1781. The Zand Royal District consisting of the Karim Khan Fortress, Vakil Mosque, Vakil Bazaar and Vakil Bath is a reminder from that era.Shiraz is also home to Pouladkaf, Iran’s second largest ski resort, which draws skiers to its crisp mountain air and beautiful slopes from all over the Middle East from December to March.[toiran]
Perspolis /UNESCO World Heritage
More than any other ancient site in Iran, Perspolis embodies all the glory and the demise of the Persian Empire. It was here that the Achaemenid kings received their subjects, celebrated the new year and ran their empire before Alexander the Great burnt the whole thing to the ground as he conquered the world.
Transport to Perspolis and nearby sites is a problem. There is a scheduled bus service between Shiraz and Marv-Dasht but not to and from Perspolis itself, so the easiest solution is to hire (and retain for the return trip) a taxi, if not from Shiraz (50km southwest) then from Marv-Dasht about 15km away If possible, two visits should be made to the site: in early morning to explore when the light is much ‘whiter’, and about 90 minutes before sunset, when the stone takes on a softer, golden colour.
Most of the stone now has a rough grey appearance, a result of wind-blown dust over the millennia, so do make a point of visiting the National Museum in Tehran to see the ‘waxed’ reliefs and column ensemble from Perspolis. This rich, dark brown stone set alongside a creamy limestone was the original colouring.
If you are limited to one visit, it will take three hours or so to walk around and take photographs, especially if you plan to walk up to the Achaemenid royal tombs behind for a magnificent view over the site. Take a telephoto lens or binoculars for viewing these tombs; these will also be useful if you’re going to Naqsh-i Rustam (usually included on the same day).
Pasargad /UNESCO World Heritage
Pasargad was the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire to be built under the command of Cyrus the great. This work is a prominent example of the Achaemenid royal art and architecture and an unrivaled Witness of Persian civilization that remains to this day. The tomb of Cyrus the Great is one of the most important parts of the Pasargad, which is almost wholesome. Shiraz is here.
Except for it, The prison of Solomon, The Private Palace,The Audience Palace, The Gateway Palace and Caravanserai of Mozaffari are part of Ancient art in Pasargad. Pasargad was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004.
an Achaemenid political centre that predates Perspolis. Another 50 kilometres north of its more famous successor, it’s not the most convenient of destinations, but the striking solemnity of Cyrus the Great’s ancient tomb, now surrounded by inhospitably harsh terrain, justifies the effort. The founder of the Achaemenid Empire, his isolated tomb is built upon a broad-stepped base, and was allegedly visited by Alexander the Great himself, after he conquered Perspolis. Shiraz s here.
A 3km drive northwards from Perspolis across the main Shiraz to Isfahan road brings you to Naqsh—e Rustam. Take your binoculars or telephoto lens. The words naqsh (‘picture’) and ‘Rustarn’, a legendary Persian warrior, were given to this place by locals seeing the Sasanian rock reliefs of jousting and investiture scenes, but the four Achaemenid tombs carved high into the rock face are more dramatic for today’s visitors.
The first, on the left, was probably the tomb for Darius Il (d405 BCE); the next for Artaxerxes I (d424 BCE); the third and most imposing, held the remains of Darius the Great (d486BCE); and the last, on the adjoining rock face, was carved for Xerxes I (d465BCE) or possibly Xerxes Il (d423BCE). Why the rock face was worked in such a cruciform shape is unclear. Perspolis and pasargad are here.
Perhaps it symbolized the empire, covering the four quarters of the known world, the four cardinal points or perhaps an abstract stylisation of the Ahura Mazda figure (the head and torso, the protective wings etc). Or perhaps the surfaces were prepared for inscription panels, as at Bisitun, which were never added.
As with the Perspolis tombs, the Achaemenid ruler is depicted as if standing above a columned portico, making an offering to the fire altar with the composite Ahura Mazda figure flying above. He stands on a platform held up by representatives of the subject nations. pasargad is here.
Before going over to the rock reliefs below the tombs, walk over to the half- submerged stone cube building to appreciate the original ground level. Known locally as the Kaba-e Zardust, it is a single-storeyed building with one entrance and no windows, standing 12.6m high.
Not far from Shah-e Cheragh, the Nasir-ol-molk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque, is one of Shiraz’s most famous buildings. The Qajar-era mosque, completed in 1888, is celebrated for its delightfully colourful interiors: the stained-glass windows, intricately painted tiles and arches, and innumerable Persian carpets create a mesmerising, kaleidoscopic aesthetic which can’t fail to astound.
Combined with rows of delicately carved pillars, each angle of Nasir-ol-molk Mosque is more photogenic than the last. It is a two-ivan mosque built 1876—87 by Mohammed Hassan, with a covered arcade on the left (facing the sanctuary) and the winter several synagogues in the city, and Shiraz also has a fire temple.
Bagh-e Eram (Eram Garden) /UNESCO World Heritage
Away from traffic is the beautiful Bagh-e Eram, a garden named after one of the four gardens of Paradise described in the Quran. It is said that the governor of Shiraz visited the Louvre Museum in Paris and accordingly ordered the hike in entry price. Even though this garden is lovely, it is small and, of course, has no world renowned antiquities on display, unlike the Louvre.
It was created by a chief of the Qashqai clan around 1823, with a house later rebuilt by Hali Mohammed Hasan Mi’mar with reception rooms, an orangery, stables and pavilion. Both garden and buildings were confiscated in 1953 and given to the late shah for his private use; this was when the original mud-brick enclosing walls were torn down and replaced by fencing. Later, the university was permitted to establish a botanical garden.
After the fall Of the Pahlavi regime it was returned to the Qashqai family, but then given back to the university, and today it houses the Law Faculty. Sections of the lower garden are out of bounds, and water rarely runs in the irrigation channels, but it is still a lovely place. Most plants and trees are labelled with Farsi, Latin and common English names.
If you are keen on roses, they are in the formal gardens behind the main building. Entry into the building itself is not permitted, but the exterior is photogenic enough with its late- 19th-century tiling under the roof.
The main panel shows the legendary Sassanid king, Khosrau, coming across the Armenian princess Shirin bathing while to the right is the Quranic/biblical story describing how the beauty of the prophet Yusuf (Joseph) caused the ladies in Pharaoh’s court to cut their fingers while peeling fruit. Above, the meeting of King Soleyman (Solomon) and the Queen of Sheba, Bilqis, is depicted.
There are three other major gardens in Shiraz but two are 20th-century constructions, owing little to the classic Persian garden layout but pleasant enough now the price for foreigners has been lowered.
Afif-Abad Garden/ UNESCO World Heritage- Shiraz
Afif-Abad Garden is a museum complex in Shiraz, Iran. Located in the affluent Afif-Abad district of Shiraz, the complex was constructed in 1863. It contains a former royal mansion, a historical weapons museum, and a Persian garden, all open to the public. It’s an old and beautiful garden with it’s residence by the middle of the city. A very quiet and pleasant place to visit and take lots of photos even for couples. You can also rent traditional clothes for more interesting photos.
Also suggested is the Bagh-e Dalgousha (‘Garden of Heart’s Ease’) nearby. The extensive grounds broadly retain their 1820 layout (actually originally set out in 1790) although the water channels have been relined with tacky turquoise tiles and the original mud-brick walls were destroyed in 2000 for new railings.
In the centre stands a pavilion from late Zand or early Qajar times, in this dramatic setting with the surrounding hills and tall cypresses. Together with the Bagh-e Eram, this garden and a small one within the newly opened Arg of Karim Khan Zand are the best examples of the ‘classical’ Persian garden outside Mahan and Kashan.
Narengestan Garden – Shiraz
Qavam house or Naranjestan Garden was built in 1257 until 1267 Hijri during the reign of Naser al-Din Shah and by the order of Mohammad Ali Khan. The building of this garden is about 940 square meters and its basement is about 3500 square meters in area.
The citadel, Arg-e Karim Khan Zand- Shiraz
The City centre The citadel, Arg-e Karim Khan Zand was built around 1767 and is perhaps the best preserved 18th-century example in Iran. Its use from the 1930s as a police station and prison long prevented access, but in autumn 1999 part of it was opened to visitors.
Four 15m round towers with good brick patterning mark the corners of the enclosure joined by 12m high walls which, in Zand times, surrounded an audience hall, barracks, bathhouse, and garden with two pools. When a Qajar prince used the Arg as his official governor’s residence, further building and decoration were undertaken.
Over the main entrance is a huge tiled panel depicting an episode from the Shah-nameh in which the famous Persian warrior, Rostam, fights the white Div (demon). The entry vestibule leads into the main Zand court.
A notice in charming, broken English quickly dispels any tiredness and it’s pleasant walking around the central, four-garden layout, noting the original stone water channels in the paving.
Restoration work means it takes but little effort to imagine colourful 18th-century public audiences held under the painted talar verandas, with waterpipes and tea prepared with hot coals from the numerous fireplaces.
A suite of rooms which once housed the Cultural Heritage Organisation is now a museum of daily life of the period, complete with atrocious waxwork dummies which completely kill the atmosphere, as do the red ropes limiting free access.
The small hamam near the courtyard entrance, until recently a delightful tea house, is now firmly locked. Nearly all the teahouses are currently shut except for State operated ones; no reason has been given. Outside, across the street is the small octagonal reception pavilion of Karim Khan Zand, Bagh-e Nazar.
Set in a small garden gloriously smothered in bougainvillea, it offers another peaceful haven away from Shiraz’s traffic and crowds. At its centre is an octagonal pavilion, home to the small Pars Museum. Now reopened after restoration, it houses a small collection of mainly 18th- and 19th-century items. Most of its original interior is intact and the tiled panels outside are mainly contemporary with the building.
Karim Khan (d1779) must have loved this place as it was chosen as his mausoleum, but he was not allowed to rest in peace. Agha Mohammad Qajar (not known for his generous nature) ordered the remains to be exhumed and sent to Tehran, where they were reburied in the Golestan Palace, so that every time the Qajar shah and his ministers crossed the threshold they trod on Karim Khan. At least Reza Shah Pahlavi stopped this practice in 1925, allowing the Zand family to re inter his remains.
Bazaar-e Vakil- Shiraz
Bazaar-e Vakil: The main bazaar area is within walking distance of the Arg. As the name suggests, its construction formed part of the extensive building programme undertaken by Karim Khan, so-called vakil (regent) to the last Safavids. Rents from the bazaar and its hamam endowed the Masjid-e Vakil, constructed around 1773, and for many years out- of-bounds to foreign tourists.
It retains a sense of intimacy despite its large size and is organised on the two-ivan plan. Forty-eight stumpy stone columns, each carved in a barley-sugar spiral, mark the sanctuary area. The original mihrab of 1634, which suggested that an earlier mosque had been demolished, is no longer in place, but the 18th-century, 14-stepped minbar cut from one huge block of marble, is.
Some idea of the tile decoration inside can be imagined from the exterior panels. Purists may raise eyebrows at the flamboyant flower motifs and the colourful pastel palette but our spirits soar at such cheerful ornateness.
Not all the tiles are original, as some restoration was carried out in 1828 and later years. Next door towards the main road is the bathhouse, converted in 2001 into a tea house and restaurant but now closed by the authorities. It has recently reopened as the private traditional Art & Handicraft Museum so at least the charming interior can still be seen.
Backtracking past the mosque takes you into the carpet section of the bazaar. The Bazaar-e Vakil maintains much of its late 18th-century character with a northeast to southwest orientation (the direction of Mecca) laid out about a century earlier.
Originally, it was one long avenue with four large caravanserais to accommodate merchants, but in the 20th century a main road was constructed across the avenue and two of the four caravanserais were demolished in a widening scheme.
Quran Gate (Darvazeh-e Quran)
Entering Shiraz from the north, the first visible monument is the Quran Gate (Darvazeh-e Quran), originally built in the 10th century in the city walls. It was Karim Khan Zand who ordered a Quran to be placed in the gatehouse so that all travellers would be blessed as they left for the open road.
In the 1950s increasing motor traffic dictated a new road and the demolition of the gate, whereupon a Shirazi citizen paid for its rebuilding in its present state. Halfway up the hillside, above the gate, is the tomb of one of Shiraz’s famous poets, Khvaju Kirmani (d 1352), and one of the eight known Qajar rock-reliefs, cl 824, showing Fath Ali Shah (d 1834) on a throne dais supported by two angels, with two of his numerous sons in attendance.
Recently, these hillsides have been landscaped with terraces, water cascades and the odd kiosk, and a tea house, the Khajou. While they offer unparalleled views of the city lights at night, the tramp noise and pollution are overpowering.
Ali Ibn Hamzeh Holly Shrine
Nearby, down from the 18th-century bridge, is situated the Ali Ibn Hamzeh Holly Shrine, constructed perhaps in pre-Seljuk times to honour a relative of the fourth Imam. Its two minarets, exterior dome, entrance vestibule and courtyard rooms, however, date from the late 18th and 19th centuries. If, as is likely these days, a visit to Shah-e Cheragh shrine is not possible during your stay, this shrine possesses similar extensive Qajar mirror work on its interior walls and vaults.
There is one entrance into the shrine sanctuary (women are asked to don a chador) and as the qibla wall is immediately to the right on entry, one should move quickly to one or other side to minimise disruption to anyone praying.
Shah-e Cheragh Shrine- Shiraz
Shah-e Cheragh Shrine is a funerary monument and mosque in Shiraz, Iran, housing the tomb of the brothers Ahmad and Muhammad, sons of Mūsā al-Kādhim and brothers of ‘Alī ar-Ridhā. The two took refuge in the city during the Abbasid persecution of Shia Muslims. The tombs became celebrated pilgrimage centres in the 14th century when Queen Tashi Khatun erected a mosque and theological school in the vicinity.
Shāh-é-Chérāgh is Persian for “King of the Light”. The site was given this name due to the nature of the discovery of the site by Ayatullah Dastghā’ib (the great grandfather of the contemporary Ayatullah Dastghā’ib). He used to see light from a distance and decided to investigate the source.
He found that the light was being emitted by a grave within a graveyard. The grave that emitted the light was excavated, and a body wearing an armor was discovered. The body was wearing a ring saying al-‘Izzatu Lillāh, Ahmad bin Mūsā, meaning “The Pride belongs to God, Ahmad son of Musa”. Thus it became known that this was the burial site of the sons of Mūsā al-Kādhim.
- Kalam Polo or Cabbage Rice – A mixed rice dish with meatballs and cabbage seasoned with saffron and basil.
- Shirazi Salad – A salad consisting of chopped cucumber, tomatoes and onion with a verjuice and dried mint dressing.
- Faloudeh or Paloudeh Shirazi – A dessert consisting of thin vermicelli noodles mixed in a semi-frozen sugar and rosewater syrup served with lime juice.
The most valuable souvenirs of Shiraz is crafted. these crafts are contained :
Basketry, Bouria-bafi, Carpet, ilium,Ceramic, Davatgari, Gabbeh, Ghalamzani, Mirrorwork, Mo’arraq, Khatam, Monabbat, Pottery, Seven-colored Tiles, Silversmithing, woodcarving aside crafts muscat, sour orange flower, date palm, lemon and lime juice, distillates and Faludeh are the most prominent souvenirs of Shiraz.