A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Jimpat


Back to Tehran

This morning we left Abyaneh, headed for Tehran.
Our first stop was Kashan. We visited the Borujerdi House, a home constructed in the mid-1800s by an architect. It exhibits frescoes throughout, and several courtyard gardens.
We then visited the Bozorg Mosque and Madrassah. This lovely building was constructed in the late 1700s. It is one of a handful of locations that we have visited at which the women in our party must wear chadors, in addition to the usual headscarves.
Finally in Kashan we visited the Fin Garden. Completed in the late 1500s, it is the oldest garden in Iran, and a popular destination for visitors.
We resumed our trip, continuing north to the city of Qom. Qom is said to be the most conservative city in Iran, and a destination for religious pilgrims. We visited the Shrine of Fatima bint Musa. We were not permitted to take our bus into the city, but instead had to park on the outskirts and take a shuttle bus. Once at the shrine, the women and men entered the complex through different security portals, and the women had to don chadors. A local guide described to us what we were seeing from the outside. We saw several very grand prayer halls, some adorned in gold.
We continued northward to the outskirts of Tehran, where we visited the Shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini. This massive complex has been under construction since Khomeini died in 1989. The interior of the shrine, which centres on Khomeini’s tomb is exceedingly lavish, more like Disneyland than a shrine to a humble cleric.
We returned to our hotel in Tehran. In the evening we went for a final dinner as a group, before saying our goodbyes. We travelled with a great group of people who we hope to run into again someday. Iran has been a truly fabulous experience - particularly the wonderfully warm and friendly people. As westerners, we cannot quite get our heads around the notion that the women must wear headscarves, while the men are free to dress normally, and we sense that this is largely enforced upon the population by a religious minority. Nevertheless, the country has been a delight to visit.

Borujerdi House
Inside Borujerdi House
Bozorg Mosque and Madrassah
Bozorg Mosque and Madrassah

Bozorg Mosque and Madrassah
Bozorg Mosque and Madrassah

Bozorg Mosque and Madrassah
Bozorg Mosque and Madrassah
Us ladies entering Qom
Shrine of Fatima bint Musa
Shrine of Fatima bint
Inside Qom complex
Inside Qom complex
Inside Qom complex
Inside Qom complex
Separate entrances for women and men
Fin Garden
Shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini


Posted by Jimpat 08:51 Comments (0)


Off to the village of Abyaneh

Today we were back on the bus to our next destination. Along the way we traveled through more mountain passes and desert areas before stopping in the town of Natanz. In Natanz our guide had arranged a lovely picnic at a local park for us to enjoy. As the chicken wing kebabs were being grilled we took the opportunity to explore the park. The chicken wings were served along grilled tomatoes and chili peppers, Iranian bread, and a yogurt dip. Delicious!
We then boarded the bus to visit Sheikl Abolsamad Mosque, though we did not go inside. Near the Mosque were the remains of a 3rd century Fire Temple.
The area surrounding Natanz is well known for its pomegranate orchards and saffron fields.
We continued our bus ride up into the hills north of Natanz to one of the oldest village in all of Iran called Abyaneh. The village is located on a hillside and the buildings are all made out of a red clay, which are suppose to be warm in winter and cool in summer. The local women still wear their traditional costume, which is a long white scarf with a flower pattern on it, that covers their shoulders and torso. Once we settled into our hotel rooms we ventured into the townsite of Abyaneh. It was nice to walk through the endless twisting alleys of this ancient village.

Our picnic
Exploring the park
Exploring the park
Sheikl Abolsamad Mosque
Fire Temple


Locals in Abyaneh
View from Abyaneh
Walking through Abyaneh
View of Abyaneh

Posted by Jimpat 09:59 Comments (0)


Isfahan Day 2

This morning we walked to the Naqsh-e Johan Square. This Square was constructed in the 16th century, and is the 2nd largest square in the world, after Tiananmen Square. We visited the Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, built as a private mosque of the royal court. The tile work in this Mosque was exquisite.
We crossed the square to visit the Ali Qapu Palace. This is a large, six-storey palace with a terrace overlooking the square, from which the ruler watched polo matches. The upper floor of the palace was particularly interesting as it included stucco and plaster decorations of various vessels and cups.
We visited a shop in the bazaar where some of our colleagues purchased miniature paintings. This bazaar is one of the oldest and largest in the Middle East.
We then walked to The Chehel Sotoun Palace and gardens. Known as the 40 Column Palace, the entry is supported by large wooden columns. The palace walls are adorned with beautiful paintings of historical scenes. The gardens were another lovely example of Persian gardens.
In the afternoon we visited the Vank Cathedral, an Armenian Christian church on the south side of the river. The church, built in the 1600s, is decorated with frescoes in the inimitable Orthodox style.
We then went to a Music Museum. We were treated to a very entertaining performance of Iranian music performed on traditional Iranian instruments. We were given a tour of the extensive collection of unique and unusual instruments from this region.
Finally, we went for pizza in a funky restaurant in the lively Armenian quarter.

View of Ali Qapu Palace
Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque ceiling
Stucco and plaster decorations of various vessels and cups.
Ceiling of stucco and plaster decorations of various vessels and cups.
Chehel Sotoun Palace and gardens
Chehel Sotoun Palace and gardens
Inside Chehel Sotoun Palace
Inside Chehel Sotoun Palace

Inside Chehel Sotoun Palace
Inside Chehel Sotoun Palace
Part of Vank Cathedral Complex
Inside Vank Cathedral
Inside Vank Cathedral
Inside Vank Cathedral

Posted by Jimpat 06:39 Comments (0)


Isfahan Day 1

Today was a public holiday in Iran, and it was very quiet. The streets were nearly empty!
We set off on foot for a walk along the Zayandeh Rud river. The wide river is full to its banks as a result of rains this year, but apparently it is normally totally dry this time of year. There is a beautiful park along the river. We returned to the 33 Arches Bridge in daylight. We also visited the Khaju Bridge, built in 1650, with its 23 arches. Finally we visited the Shahrestan Bridge.
We then visited Golestan Shohada, a military cemetery dedicated to soldiers who died in the Iran- Iraq war. There are thousands of graves, each with a photograph of the soldier, some of whom appear to be very young, and all of whom are considered to be martyrs for their country. We learn of the irony that the USA and Britain supported Iraq in this war, only to then turn around and declare Iraq to be their enemy.
We visited the Pigeon Tower, a former dovecote used to harvest guano, and then went to Hasht Behesht Palace and gardens, dating to the 17th century.
We had lunch in the beautiful Hotel Agassi, a converted caravanserai, and took a tour of some of their beautiful rooms.
The balance of the day was free time. In the evening we were on our own for dinner. As no restaurants open until after sunset, due to Ramadan, we went out about 8:00 pm. We had little luck finding a restaurant due to the public holiday, but eventually crossed the river and found one at a hotel. We were the only Westerners in the place, and there was no English, but the staff and other patrons were very friendly and helpful, and we managed fine.

33 Arches Bridge
Khaju Bridge
Khaju Bridge
Khaju Bridge
Khaju Bridge
Khaju Bridge
Locals riding bikes by the bridge
Golestan Shohada
Golestan Shohada

Pigeon Tower

Posted by Jimpat 06:23 Comments (0)


To Isfahan

Today we left Shiraz, and headed to Isfahan.

Before leaving Shiraz, we visited the Pink Mosque (the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque). This beautiful mosque was constructed in the late 1800s, and makes liberal use of pink tiles, creating one of the prettiest mosques that we have seen.

En route to Isfahan we stopped to visit the tomb of Cyrus the Great, first king of the Persian Empire. His Tomb, at Pasargadae, consists of a huge pyramid of stones, topped by a large stone burial chamber. According to records from the time of Alexander the Great, the burial chamber originally contained a golden sarcophagus and artifacts of the king, though these were later looted.

Upon arriving in Isfahan, we went out for dinner at a large and popular Iranian restaurant, and enjoyed more traditional Iranian dishes. As it is Ramadan during our visit here, we are able to eat dinner only after sunset, about 8:00 pm. After dinner, we strolled to the river and enjoyed the 33 Arches Bridge, a popular spot for evening strollers. During our time in Iran, we have been overwhelmed by the friendliness of Iranians. Frequently, we are stopped in the streets by Iranians who, often with minimal English, ask us where we are from, and welcome us to Iran. We have also been struck by the very close nature of families here, observing how they seem to enjoy as much time together as possible. It has been clear to us that Iranians are wonderfully warm and friendly people.

Pink Mosque
Pink Mosque
Pink Mosque

Pink Mosque
Pink Mosque
Pink Mosque
Tomb of Cyrus the Great
Baby camel we saw along our drive
Bridge of 33 Arches

Posted by Jimpat 00:40 Comments (0)

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